Stephen King: Six of the worst movies made from the master of horror's writing

STUFF

Six terrible Stephen King movie adaptations

Fifty-four novels, 350 million copies sold, nearly 200 short stories written – the prolific world of Stephen King has proved fertile ground for both the TV and movie world.

But not everything this writing Midas has touched has turned to cinematic gold.

With The Dark Tower releasing in New Zealand cinemas this week (and already a flop abroad) and a new version of 1986 novel It on the way in September, we thought it was a good time to look back at some of the worst adaptations of the King oeuvre on the big screen.

Movie adaptations of Stephen King's works have a patchy record. For every Stand By Me or Shawshank Redemption, there's a ...
MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

Movie adaptations of Stephen King's works have a patchy record. For every Stand By Me or Shawshank Redemption, there's a Sleepwalkers or Silver Bullet.

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Carrie

If you watch only one version of Carrie - don't make it this 2013 one.

If you watch only one version of Carrie - don't make it this 2013 one.

Nope, not the classic Sissy Spacek one, the terribly tween one launched in November 2013 and the one which starred Chloe Grace Moretz, fresh off the success of Kick Ass. All wide-eyed, open-mouthed, looking like she's permanently stubbed her toe as she wanders from one miserable encounter to the next, Moretz couldn't pull this together. 

While the telekinesis sequence at the prom ended up equal parts terrifying and balletic, I couldn't help but wish one of them would have hit me in the head to dull my senses. But alas, it did not, and another King-based misfire thudded into the cinema. - Darren Bevan

Cell

It's John Cusack vs the world's mobile network, in Cell.

It's John Cusack vs the world's mobile network, in Cell.

Samuel L Jackson and John Cusack had already successfully combined for 2007 King adaptation 1408.

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However, this 2016 effort deservedly basically went straight to on-demand, its premise of cellphone users being turned into rabid killers having already been executed to far better effect in 2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service.  - James Croot

Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher featured a young Damian Lewis.

Dreamcatcher featured a young Damian Lewis.

While this 2003 sci-fi actioner boasts what would now be a dream cast – Morgan Freeman, Damian Lewis, Jason Lee, Donnie Wahlberg – what they collaborated on resulted in a nightmarishly unwatchable mess.

Part of the problem lay in the original premise. What starts out as the tale of four friends with telepathic powers turns into an alien invasion movie of thudding ineptitude. Notable only for giving the world the word "s...weasel"  – coined by the characters as a nickname for the invading Byrum. - JC

Firestarter

Firestarter was the first movie Drew Barrymore made after E.T.

Firestarter was the first movie Drew Barrymore made after E.T.

Certainly not the finest two hours of Drew Barrymore, George C Scott or Martin Sheen's career, this 1984 adaptation of King's 1980 pyrokinesis tale is mostly notable for taking a potentially interesting premise and turning it into something akin to watching paint dry.

While the adults endlessly debate what should be done about little Charlie, Barrymore spends most of the movie screwing up her face in order to convey psychological powers. It's unknown whether James McAvoy used this as preparation for bringing to life Professor Charles Xavier decades later. - JC

The Lawnmower Man

The Lawnmower Man - even Stephen King himself couldn't stand the sight of it.

The Lawnmower Man - even Stephen King himself couldn't stand the sight of it.

Before he finally found his calling as 007, Pierce Brosnan struggled to make the transition from TV star to movies in clunkers like this 1992 sci-fi horror. He plays Dr Lawrence Angelo, a scientist who uses a human guinea pig for his experiments involving a combination of drugs and virtual reality.

As well as boasting simply awful CGI (this was the year before Jurassic Park remember), the movie was also notable for bearing "no meaningful resemblance" to King's original 1987 short story, a fact the author himself brought up when he sued the producers for originally calling it Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man.  - JC

Sleepwalkers

Sleepwalkers: seriously silly and sleep-inducing cinema.

Sleepwalkers: seriously silly and sleep-inducing cinema.

This 1992 duffer may have had an uncredited appearance from Star Wars alum Mark Hamill and King himself playing a caretaker in a cemetery (Pet Cemetery anyone?), but for many it'll be the film where cats laughably saved the day.

Incorporating some guff about shape-shifting vampires, the film's decidedly silly tone clearly hadn't been passed on to the actors who were trying to take it seriously. Still, who knew vampires could be dispatched by some truly awful cat-got-your-tongue acting? - DB

 

 

 - Stuff

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