Stephen King is among the most frequently adapted writers of history, up there with Charles Dickens, the Brothers Grimm and William Shakespeare for inspiring the most successful page-to-picture creations. From Rob Reiner and David Cronenberg to Mike Flanagan and Andy Muschietti, genre filmmakers have been clamoring to accept King’s words for decades.
There’s no shortage of material to shoot, of course. Horror’s reigning titan of literary dread has written more than 60 books and 200 short stories: many of them rooted in King’s signature weirdness and the believable humanity that turned 2017’s “It” into a global sensation. King has teamed up with his son Joe Hill to produce even more film material in recent years. The pair’s novel “In the Tall Grass” became a Netflix movie in 2019, and Hill enjoyed his own success with Scott Derrickson’s 2022 adaptation of “The Black Phone.”
Nearly all of King’s titles boast the imaginative nightmares for which the author is famous: a perverse fascination with audiences that for better or worse is now tried and true. King has found some success in adapting his own work; see the scripts for George A. Romero’s “Creepshow” (1982) and Mary Lambert’s “Pet Sematary” (1989). But these days, he mostly contributes to Hollywood through carefully crafted books and snide little tweets.
Outspoken as ever, King regularly takes to social media to share his thoughts on politics and the state of pop culture. The Maine-born writer occasionally slips into his own cinematic opinions, usually reacting to on-screen interpretations of his work but occasionally taking aim at what he’s recently seen. King brutally separated the merits of Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” and Michael Bay’s “Transformers,” even calling “Mars Attacks!” a “landmark of horror”. Those are harsh words, sure. But does the adage “if you can’t say something nice” really apply to the guy who invented “Misery”?
Listed in no particular order, here are 24 movies and one TV show Stephen King didn’t like or gave a bad review. These include the author’s critiques of King’s adaptations, from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” to Mark L. Lester’s “Firestarter” and Brett Leonard’s “The Lawnmower Man.”