Stephen King was an English professor as a young man, and spent his spare-time writing short stories and novels. His first official novel that was published was Carrie, and has since had over 250 novels, short stories and non-fiction books released under his name, as well as under the name Richard Bachman, which was a pseudonym that he had created during a brief period. Many of his books have been developed into movies; which has made Stephen King one of the most popular writers in the world.
Included in this list are Stephen’s scariest movies, rated from the least daunting to the most terrifying. This does not include made-for-tv movies; such as Bag of Bones, short film movies; such as Creepshow, or television shows; such as Under the Dome. Many of the films on this list are not as good as the books, so this guide is comprised of precisely the movie itself; where the book has no “stand” on the outcome of each film.
10. Carrie – 1976 & 2013
Both the original movie, Carrie, and the remake (that was created almost thirty years later), were equally creepy. Although it isn’t the scariest of Stephen King’s films, it is unquestionably comprised of masses of blood. Carrie was born to a mother who was raped, and believed that her child was the Devil. The mother went as far as to almost killing her immediately after she was born, but changes her mind before she could do the deed. Carrie gets picked-on in high school by the “popular” girls and actions go seemingly too far when a few of those girls dump a bucket of pig blood on her head at prom; right after Carrie receives the title of prom queen. Carrie practices the art of telekinesis, and gets her revenge towards the end of the movie.
9. Secret Window – 2004
Johnny Depp plays a writer who has an alter-ego but does not realize it throughout the movie. In the film, he catches his wife being unfaithful, so he escapes to a cabin to be by himself, in order to write his novel. There are many signs in the movie that lead him to realize that not only is he Mort the writer, but Shooter; who happens to be a serial killer. The movie has many gory moments, but it is generally a psychological film; as there are tangible people who have a different personality and it makes you think that this could, for all intents and purposes, happen to someone at any given time.
8. IT – 1990
Although IT may not be the scariest of Stephen King’s movies, it just may very well be for those who are petrified of clowns. Tim Curry plays Pennywise, the Dancing Clown, and appears to children who are reflected as outsiders when they are young. Many children are killed by Pennywise when he lures them into the sewers by offering candy or balloons. The surviving children want to get rid of this evil character, and get together to destroy him by any way possible. Pennywise disappears for several years, but then comes back when those same children become adults. The group that swore they would get rid of the malicious creature as they got back together again as adults, finally managed to destroy it. At least that’s what they think happened. The movie is left open at the end; where Pennywise is laughing as life “appears” to return to normal.
7. Cujo – 1983
Even though a dog doesn’t sound that terrifying, Cujo was a Saint Bernard that was bitten by a bat that had rabies and went rabid. Being larger than a child, it is difficult to tame a wild dog once he is bound and determined to destroy anything and anyone in his path. A couple moves into a small town with their young son, Tad, and meets a mechanic who works on their car. Cujo is the mechanic’s dog that the family meets and seems perfectly normal; the family thinks nothing unusual about the dog when first visiting him.
When her husband goes out of town, Donna notices that her car is acting peculiar and that it needs repair, so she goes to see the mechanic, along with her son. The mechanic was a very abusive man towards his dog, and Cujo kills him and his neighbor. Donna did not know this at the time she went to meet him. When she arrives at the garage, the rabid animal appears, and when Donna tries to drive away, her car dies. Donna and Tad are trapped in the vehicle as the dog attacks the car repeatedly, and they are worried that they might die of heat stroke if they don’t abscond quickly. Eventually, Donna finds a bat and is able to beat the dog away so they can escape.
6. Children of the Corn – 1984
Burt and Vicky are on a much-needed vacation to California, when they take the back roads through Nebraska and happen upon a strange city. They accidentally run over a little boy on their drive, and choose to stay in the village to see if they can help. The entire town happens to be governed entirely of creepy children who “sacrifice” any and all residents of the community on their nineteenth birthday. All of the kids appear to be possessed and the travelling couple spends the movie trying to escape their evil clutches. Watching this movie will make some people think twice about corn fields when driving through the country; at one point, Burt is tied to a large cross, consisting of corncobs and raised to be sacrificed by their evil God. The entire town is ultimately one large cornfield, and the couple has to detect their way through the eerie cornstalks to find their way back to the road and to safety.
5. 1408 – 2007
In the movie 1408, John Cusack plays Mike Enslin; an atheist writer who specializes in haunted houses and hotels. He finds his way to the Dolphin Hotel, where it is said that the room 1408 is haunted and many people who have stayed in that room have died untimely deaths. As someone who does not believe in ghosts, Mike stays in the room despite unheeded warnings from the hotel manager, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Throughout the film, Mike sees all kinds of strange happenings; including his dead daughter, the many people who have jumped to their deaths from the room window and talks to his estranged wife. Although this is not an edge-of-your-set type horror movie; it shows how the mind can play tricks on someone, even causing irrational behavior on even the most sensible people.
4. Pet Sematary – 1989
Pet Sematary is one of those movies that will upset you if you read the book first, as it is somewhat altered from the printed version. Nevertheless, it is one of the scariest movies by Stephen King, and will most likely leave you on the edge of your seat. The movie begins with a family moving into a town in the countryside; with a road nearby with several semi-trucks that pass by at high speeds. One day, the family’s cat is struck by one of the trucks, and they bury it in the cemetery that is made just for the animals of the town, named Pet Sematary; in which there was a sign with the name put up by the previous residents. The main character, Louis, is instructed by the neighbor that there is a place behind the cemetery where people can bury their pets and somehow, they come back to life; but for some reason, the animals are never the same. Louis decides to bury the family cat in this area, and soon after, the cat becomes resurrected and is visibly evil. Trepidation ensues when the little boy named Gage becomes hit by one of the trucks travelling down the busy road. His father then needs to decide whether it would be worth it to bury him in the burial grounds that were used to bring back the cat.
3. Misery – 1990
Misery is a character out of a novel that the main character, Paul Sheldon (played by James Caan) has written about in the past. Paul doesn’t want to write about Misery any longer, so he decides to take a drive to work on a novel with different characters. As he is traveling home, he gets caught in a storm and his car goes off of the road, and is saved by a woman who claims to be Paul’s “biggest fan.” This woman is played by Kathy Bates, who won an award for her performance in the film. One of the most memorable parts of the movie is when she finds out that Paul had tried to escape her house; as she had refused to allow him to leave after helping Paul recuperate from injuries. She takes a sledgehammer and breaks both of his ankles, which will make it near impossible for him to attempt to escape again. Paul eventually gets away, writes his new novel and makes a new life for himself.
2. The Mist – 2007
In a small town in Louisiana, an artist by the name of David Drayton leaves his wife alone to go to the store for supplies after a huge storm; bringing his son along. When he arrives at the small grocery store, the power goes out and a vast fog starts to cover everything outside, leaving it practically unmanageable to travel anywhere. After people start going outside to investigate what is transpiring, they start to disappear. Eventually the customers inside the store notice large monsters killing off the folks who dare to venture outside. One man mentions that the military had done something pertaining to the mist that is covering the town, and that they had opened up another dimension. A crazy woman that is stranded inside of the store with the others is extremely religious, and gets most of the store to follow her and her beliefs; causing considerable mayhem in the process. The devout woman makes it very difficult for anyone to leave the store, but eventually David, his son and a few others manage to escape; but only for a little while.
This movie has all of the essential basics of a horror movie; fear, blood, gore, monsters (including spiders) and a mass amount of violence. After watching this movie, you will hope that there is not a dense fog lurking outside.
1. The Shining – 1980
Jack Torrance is a writer who takes a job as a caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. He thinks that the seclusion of the building will give him the silence he needs to finish a novel, plus he can make a few extra dollars in the process. He brings his family with him to his new job; including his wife and young son, who appears to have extraordinary powers. Jack’s son, Danny, can see spirits that have haunted the hotel throughout the years; including a set of twin girls who want him to “play with them.” He also has premonitions about terrible things that will happen in his new home, and uses (what appears to be) blood to write the word, “Redrum” on one of the doors, which is “murder” spelled backwards.
The information is given in the movie that the hotel was built on an old Indian burial ground and that the last caretaker had gone insane because he could not leave; due to the place being practically buried by the snow. Jack ends up following in the footsteps of the previous caretaker and tries to kill his family. A few of the most terrifying aspects of this movie were the mental conditions of the characters, and the maze in front of the hotel made of tall bushes that Jack’s wife gets lost in when he is chasing her.