For as long as King’s been been publishing, Hollywood’s been knock-knock-knockin’ on Stephen’s door for more. First came 1976’s Carrie, two years after he published that first novel, which made household names of the author, Brian De Palma, Sissy Spacek, and the humiliating viscosity of pig’s blood. The 1980s saw a slew of adaptations, the highlights being The Shining, Stand by Me, and The Running Man (the book for which was published under pulp fall-guy name Richard Bachman). As for the ’90s, well…it’d be the best decade ever for just The Shawshank Redemption. But nope, there was also Misery and The Green Mile!
In recent years, it’s been about cats (Pet Sematary), clowns (It Chapter Two), and kids (Doctor Sleep). So let’s get this fire started with all rated Stephen King movie adaptations by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: Not even the melding of Stephen King and George A. Romero's writing sensibilities can elevate this spineless anthology, which is too simple in its storytelling and too skimpy on the genuine scares.
Synopsis: This second horror anthology presents more eerie tales based on Stephen King stories. One episode finds a cigar-store Native American... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though it deviates from Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a chilling, often baroque journey into madness -- exemplified by an unforgettable turn from Jack Nicholson.
Synopsis: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer's block.... [More]
All Stephen King TV Series, Miniseries, TV Movies Ranked
TV has been a favorite home to adaptations of Stephen King books and short stories into series, mini-series, and TV movies since 1979 TV series Salem’s Lot. Whether developed for television or straight-to-video — remember video tapes? — TV and movie translations of, or based on, the horror master’s work have long been fan favorites, even if they didn’t receive much critical acclaim.
But which is the best? Rotten Tomatoes dug up 30 Stephen King made-for-TV movies, TV shows, and streaming series and ranked them by their Tomatometer scores. The top 10 is made up of six of the most recent King adaptations — yay, progress! — including The Outsider, which hit HBO in 2020.
Some titles, like The Dead Zone with Anthony Michael Hall, that happened before Peak TV don’t have enough reviews of their seasons to get series-level scores and are listed alphabetically at the end of the list below (that is, you will see them first as you read down the page). Season 1 of The Dead Zone, for instance, has a 77% score on 13 reviews, but has no scores on its other five seasons and therefore doesn’t meet the criteria for a series-level score (at least half of a show’s seasons must have scores).
You may also note that while films that are Certified Fresh are clearly labeled here, TV shows are Certified Fresh by season, and season badges won’t show up in a mixed list of film and series-level scores — click through to the shows’ overview pages to find out how many seasons are Certified Fresh.
Have a look at all Stephen King TV and streaming series and movies ranked by Tomatometer. Have we forgotten your favorite? Remind us in the comments.
Critics Consensus: This made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King's classic fails to impress or bring anything new to the table, - or to the prom - paling even more in comparison to the 1970's memorable version.
Synopsis: Tormented by her fellow high-school students, a teenager (Angela Bettis) uses telekinesis as a tool for vengeance.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Director Tobe Hooper and a devilishly charismatic James Mason elevate this television adaptation of the Stephen King novel, injecting the vampiric tradition with fresh blood and lingering scares.
Synopsis: Based on the Stephen King novel, Ben Mears (David Soul) has returned to his hometown of Salem's Lot to write... [More]
The Dark Tower‘s long journey from fans begging Stephen King to complete the book series to being optioned into development hell to an Idris Elba/Matthew McConaughey anti-buddy fantasia concludes this Friday, prompting this King-sized gallery of every Stevedore movie adaptation (no weird sequels!) ranked best to worst by Tomatometer!
The new year is almost upon us, which means most of you have already bought all the holiday gifts you’re going to buy this year. Having said that, this week’s home video releases are a little more off beat than last week’s, even if they aren’t as well-reviewed. Read on for details:
Little girls in peril really seem to set Denzel Washington on the warpath, don’t they? Washington reunited with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for this gritty thriller based on the 1980s television series of the same name, and though results were less impressive this time around, critics mostly thought The Equalizer was a decent flick. Chloe Grace Moretz plays the damselette in distress, a teenage sex worker named Alina who happens to be pals with ex-black ops agent Robert McCall (Washington). When Alina is beaten by her pimp, McCall takes him out, running afoul of the Russian mob and throwing himself back into a life he swore he’d leave behind. Those looking for a bit of swift, stylish justice meted out by an aging but still effective Denzel will get plenty of that — and, frankly, little else — here, but sometimes that’s okay; critics largely thought it was enough, anyway, awarding the film a 61 percent Tomatometer. It’s another thin week for new releases, so this’ll make a decent watch for action junkies.
Kevin Smith?s second foray into horror wasn’t a huge failure, but it wasn’t especially well-received by critics, either. In fact, the story behind Tusk‘s creation is arguably more interesting than the film itself: Smith and fellow Smodcast-er Scott Mosier came across an ad placed for free living space… provided that the tenant dress like a walrus. The ad was later revealed to be a joke, but that didn’t stop Smith and Mosier from conjuring an entire hypothetical story about a man who is held captive and slowly transformed into a walrus by a mad surgeon, and thanks to Smodcast fans who voted to have the tale brought to life on screen, Tusk was born. Critics appreciated the film’s wry self-awareness, but felt that the story’s premise nevertheless was too thin to stretch into a feature-length film, resulting in a mediocre 39 percent Tomatometer. If you’re looking for a bit of ridiculous genre fun, this might do it for you, but don’t expect to be blown away.
Also available this week:
Stephen King’s A Good Marriage (37 percent), starring Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia in a thriller about a woman who discovers what may be her husband’s darkest secret while he is away on business.
Last Weekend (29 percent), starring Patricia Clarkson in a dramedy about a family matriarch who gathers her sons to their vacation home for a final weekend together before she sells it.
Elsa & Fred (25 percent), starring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer in a comedy about two aging romantics who find each other.
Season four of Showtime’s Shameless (100 percent), starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum in a dark comedy centered around a highly dysfunctional family, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Season two of Cinemax’s Banshee (89 percent), about an ex-con who assumes the identity of a murdered local sherriff, is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.
As the old promotional tagline goes, “You’ve read the book — now see the movie!” In the case of David Fincher‘s Gone Girl (adapted from Gillian Flynn‘s page-turning bestseller), critics say that’s sage advice, for the film is a psychologically penetrating thriller that’s chilling and darkly funny — and it features a performance from Rosamund Pike that’s likely to catapult her to the big-time. Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Pike) are a seemly idyllic couple. However, when Amy goes missing, and the media descends on their small Midwestern town, Nick looks increasingly suspicious. The pundits say the Certified FreshGone Girl is well-acted, intelligent, and deeply unsettling — in short, what we’ve come to expect from Fincher. (Watch our video interview with the cast and crew here.)
That creepy doll Annabelle cut such a striking presence in The Conjuring that she got her own movie. Unfortunately, the critics say it’s too bad she couldn’t get a better one; despite a few undeniably effective scares, Annabelle is by and large a compendium of horror movie cliches. A young couple with a baby on the way witnesses the shocking murder of their neighbors by a satanic cult. Soon, our heroes experience sinister goings-on throughout their house ; could that weird vintage doll the husband purchased be the cause? The pundits say Annabelle is a pretty generic haunted house flick, though it’s spooky enough on occasion to wish it were more.
Nicolas Cage plus the Book of Revelations should equal apocalyptic excitement, right? Apparently not. Critics are less than — ahem — enraptured by Left Behind; they say it’s a limp, clumsily crafted potboiler with cheesy special effects and minimal character development. Based upon the bestselling novels by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, the film stars Cage as Rayford Steele, a disaffected airline pilot who witnesses several passengers and crew members vanish in mid-flight. Steele must safely land the plane while chaos reigns on the ground. The pundits say Left Behind is mostly amateurish and largely bereft of thrills.
Fresh on TV this week:
This Amazon Prime dramedy is winning high praise for its honest, empathetic, and funny depiction of a dysfunctional family; critics say Transparent (98 percent) features top-notch performances from the likes of Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, and many more.
Gracepoint (73 percent) is an American adaptation of the critically-adored British detective series Broadchurch, both of which star David Tennant. And while critics say it’s not quite as sharp as its predecessor, it’s sophisticated and stylish, and features a strong lead performance from Anna Gunn.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Nas: Time Is Illmatic, a documentary about the making of one of hip hop’s greatest albums, is at 100 percent.
Last Hijack, a documentary about the life of a Somali pirate, is at 100 percent.
The Blue Room, a thriller about a man whose adulterous affairs lead to serious trouble, is at 90 percent.
For Those In Peril, a drama about a man who survives a mysterious fishing boat accident off the coast of Scotland, is at 89 percent.