the shining

No matter what anyone says, Stephen King is the final word on modern horror.

Unfortunately, most of the cinematic adaptations of his work hover somewhere between mediocre and dreadful. But never fear, out there in that mountain of Stephen King mini-series, film and TV adaptations that have been produced over the years (there are currently twenty adaptations in production, NBD), there are some seriously entertaining stories. These are the five best times King’s ideas have made it to the screen (in no particular order):

The Mist (2007)
Starring Tom Jane and set in a quiet upstate New York town, this book-to-film creation is a terrifying character study that examines how a community reacts to the impossible coming true. It was helmed by Frank Darabont, who has taken on a few King adaptations. Most horror films avoid discussing religion, and very few build fully-realized characters. Darabont does both and result is harrowing.

Under the Dome (2013-)
From a very thick tome comes this TV series that seems determined to live up to its creator’s name. Although some shifts occur in the plot, the important elements concerning a mysterious force field descending upon a rural community and what follows is impressively rendered.

The Green Mile (1999)
Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan star in this Depression-era tale of a death row prison guard befriending an inmate with a special gift. For a story set in such a dark setting, it’s nevertheless masterfully illuminated by some lofty themes.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Among one of the most underrated films of all time, this King adaptation tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a wrongfully-convicted man’s stay at Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife. It follows his struggle to both physically and spiritually escape the confines of incarceration. It seems Frank Darabont and Stephen King make a pretty good pair.

The Shining (1980)

Although Stephen King himself has stated that he doesn’t like Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel, this film is a master class in epic horror. While the novel is character-driven, Kubrick stripped down the film to simple and utterly terrifying images. There are parts of the book that resonate, but an elevator full of blood is unforgettable.

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