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Stephen King: 5 Unadapted Stories That Would Make Excellent Movies

With several of King's high-profile projects on the horizon, many others still deserve to be made. Here are the best picks, along with dream directors and casting.

Stephen King

Stephen King


After the wildly popular reception of the “It” trailer, author Stephen King tweeted a message on April 4 that made fans very hopeful for the adaptations slated to drop in 2017:

King’s films and TV series have a tendency to be varied in terms of quality, but if that tweet is to be believed, there’s a definitely a renaissance afoot. Now that filmmakers seem to be able to hit the right tone from his work, here are five properties that have never been adapted that could make for successful endeavors, along with director and lead actor picks that would be pitch-perfect. To narrow down the picks, any novel or short story that is in some stage of acquisition, development, or that has been made already is ineligible.

Duma Key

“Duma Key” (2008)
Dream Director: Richard Kelly
Dream Lead Actor: Michael Shannon as Edgar Freemantle

It’s puzzling that this bestselling novel hasn’t been turned into a film yet. While it’s a long novel, “Duma Key” is a relatively straightforward tale of a troubled man who moves to Florida, gets haunted by ghosts and starts painting dark premonitions of the future that put his loved ones in grave danger. It doesn’t hinge on any of the mythology that makes some of King’s books incomprehensible for newbies and has many visual scenes that would look handsome on the silver screen. To bring it to theaters, it would be compelling to see “Donnie Darko” director Richard Kelly balance the dark tone with surrealistic future and dream sequences. Michael Shannon would be excellent as the troubled protagonist, and he can definitely pull off the perfect beachwear necessary for the role.


“Roadwork” (written as Richard Bachman, 1981)
Dream Director: David Mackenzie

Dream Lead Actor: Brad Pitt as Barton George Dawes

This tale of a man taking on the government has renewed relevance in these times of political unrest and could have been a perfect grindhouse movie in an alternate ’70s. It’s easy to imagine “Hell or High Water” director David Mackenzie sinking his teeth into the story of Barton George Dawes, a man who takes extreme measures when his house faces demolition due to a planned highway headed through his property. Put a cowboy hat and beard on Brad Pitt and you’ve got the perfect grizzled lead, broken inside due to the dissolution of his marriage and death of his son.


“Joyland” (2013)
Dream Director: Sarah Polley
Dream Lead Actor: Logan Lerman as Devin Jones

This dreamy ghost tale of the mid-’70s is a crowd-pleasing, breezy story set at a very cinematic amusement park. Sure, the team behind “Adventureland” could probably do a bang-up job on an adaptation, but it would be compelling to get a bold director like Sarah Polley behind the camera. Her thrilling documentary “Stories We Tell” was a compelling mix of nostalgia and mystery, and she could definitely bring a grace to “Joyland.” For the lead, Logan Lerman does coming-of-age stories like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Indignation” so well that this could be his big-time breakout.

Night Shift

“I Know What You Need,” from “Night Shift” (1978)
Dream Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Dream Lead Actor: Shailene Woodley as Elizabeth Rogan

This short story, in which a young woman finds herself drawn to a man who may be using voodoo to control her, could easily be fleshed out to a feature-length thriller. With “Big Little Lies” wrapped, it would be bold to reunite director Jean-Marc Vallée with Shailene Woodley. Vallée proved in “Lies” that he has a steady hand with flashbacks and faulty memories, which are thematically appropriate to “Need.” Also, Woodley can conjure up the perfect mix of vulnerability and strength needed to flesh out the protagonist. Bonus: Get Donald Glover to play the devious but sympathetic love interest Ed Hamner, Jr.

Four Past Midnight

“The Sun Dog,” from “Four Past Midnight” (1990)
Dream Director: Julia Ducournau
Dream Lead Actor: Daniel Kaluuya as Kevin Delevan

This pulp novella about a camera that reveals a haunted spirit has a hook that has been aped to the point of being a horror trope, but it’s never been executed to maximum impact. In this case, bring in the experts: Blumhouse could produce “Raw” director Julia Ducournau’s take on the material, as she’s familiar with unraveling strange new worlds. If you age up protagonist Kevin Delevan, you could put “Get Out” lead Daniel Kaluuya into the role and have box-office gold. With director and star both able to perfectly ratchet up the tension, it would give the proper gravitas to a story that could otherwise skew too campy.

Revisit the ‘It’ trailer below:

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