Stephen King’s Greatest Book to Movie Adapatations

Source: Pexels

With the release of the 2013 book ‘Doctor Sleep’ having just hit our screens, this marks yet another Stephen King Novel that has been movie-fied. 

Since the first adaptation in 1976, many of Kings stories have been turned into cult classics, with new versions coming out year after year. However, there are those which still resonate with us and those that maybe we didn’t know came from King’s intense imagination. 

Beware: Spoilers to follow!


Carrie follows the story of Carrie White as she goes through highschool, with an overbearing, religious mother and no friends. Carrie has an unbelievable secret though: an extraordinary ability to control things with her mind. After a very cruel, humiliating ordeal happens at the prom, Carrie’s full powers take hold, much to the detriment of everyone who ever did her wrong. 

Carrie was King’s very first published novel, which was originally published in 1974. It is now one of the most frequently banned books in schools across the United States, due to it’s intense themes of bullying and hatred within school environments. Originally, Stephen King had thrown the novel in the rubbish, and was only convinced to continue writing it when his wife Tabitha fished the pages out of the bin, saying she’d help him write from the perspective of a young woman. 

Since its first publication, it has been adapted into 3 feature films in 1976, 2002 and 2013 and a stage show in 1988 and 2012. It is now known as one of King’s most well known novels. 

Pet Semetary 

When Louis and Rachel Creed move to a new town with their two young children Ellie and Gage, they had no idea there was an ancient burial grounds just a short walk away from their new home. The Pet Semetary is a place where whatever is buried comes back to life, however with deadly flaws. One day the burial ground calls to Louis after a horrific accident, however he realises, it’s all just going to get worse from here on. 

Published in 1983, Pet Semetary was nominated for  a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1986 and has since been turned into two film adaptations, in 1989 and 2019. Originally inspired the tragic death of their family cat, in which King had to explain to his young daughter about death, he wondered what would happen if the cat were to suddenly reappear. King revealed after it’s publication that due to many parts of the storyline, out of all his novels, Pet Semetary scared him the most. 

Source: Shane Leonard via Stephen King Press Office


The novel is split into two parts, with the first half happening between the years 1957 and 1958. It follows the lives of friends Eddie, Bill, Richie, Ben, Stanley, Mike and Beverly and their treacherous fight against Pennywise the clown. The clown, which is really a demon in disguise, haunts their town, returning every 27 years to feast on children. The second half shows the group fully grown, with yet another battle against Pennywise to banish him once and for all. 

Many blame Pennywise the clown for their fear of clowns. The novel was originally published in 1986, with over 1000 pages, making it one of King’s longest novels. It was received strangely by readers, who said it was ‘to heavy to hold, never mind read’. 

It has since been adapted for the screens twice, with a TV series in 1990, with Tim Curry as Pennywise. It was recently created as a feature-length film, with the story split into two films, 2017 and 2019. Pennywise the Clown has since been named as one of the scariest clowns in film or pop culture. 

The Shining 

Following the life of recovering alcoholic and aspiring writer Jack Torrance, who accepts an offer as an off season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. Taking his family with him, they begin to notice something strange happening with their son Danny. He possesses ‘the shining’, the ability to see the hotel’s horrific past. Soon the hotel’s supernatural influence begins to take it’s toll on Jack’s sanity much to the detriment of his son and wife. 

The Shining was published in 1977, inspired by a stay in The Stanley Hotel in Colorado. Being alone in the hotel as it was nearly the off season, with long empty hallways and empty restaurants, King was plagued with a dream one night where his three year old son was running through the corridors screaming, being chased by a fire hose. 

The infamous Stanley Kubrick adaptation was released in 1980, much to King’s disgust, as he didn’t like how his characters were changed in the story. It does however remain as one of the greatest horror films ever created with a cult following some 40 years after its original release. In response Stephen King oversaw a second adaption in 1997 into a television miniseries.

Stephen King was inspired to write Pet Semetary by the death of his Cat. Source: Pexels



When popular writer Paul Sheldon is seriously injured after a car accident, psychotic fan Annie Wilkes takes him to her house where she treats him. As he begins to gradually recover, he realises he is a prisoner in her home, with catastrophic results including the amputation of Paul’s leg. 

Published in 1987, King was struggling with an alcohol and drug addiction. His previous novel ‘The Eyes of the Dragon’ had been heavily rejected by his fan base who only wanted him to write horror books. Misery acme a metaphor for how trapped King felt within his life, tied to the horror genre whilst also at the mercy of his addictions. 

A film adaptation was released in 1990, with actress Kathy Bates winning the 1990 Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes. 

There have been many more amazing film adaptations of Stephen Kings books, with special recognition going towards The Shawshank Redemption and The Children of the Corn. It will never be determined what has been the greatest adaptation of King’s works, but one thing is for certain: Stephen King is truly the King of Horror. 

By Emily Yarwood

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