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Stephen King’s Favorite Movies: 17 Films the Author Wants You to See

From "Mystic River" to "Dementia 13," horror's foremost living literary icon is also an outspoken cinephile. These are the movies he likes, including adaptations of King classics "Stand by Me" and "The Shawshank Redemption."

Movies Stephen King Likes or Has Given a Good Review: "Mystic River," "The Way of the Gun," "X" and "The Hitcher"

(Clockwise from bottom left): “The Way of the Gun,” “Mystic River,” Stephen King, “X,” and “The Hitcher”

Courtesy Everett Collection/Getty Images

Stephen King is a tastemaker of terror. Ever since breaking out with “Carrie” — the sordid tale of a telekinetic teenager adapted into Brian De Palma’s 1976 classic starring Sissy Spacek — the horror author has had a hand in shaping our nightmares.

With dozens of novels, novellas, and short stories to his name, the 75-year-old writer has provided inspiration to just as many genre filmmakers. Mike Flanagan, the mastermind behind Netflix’s super successful “Haunting” anthology, has two King adaptations under his belt, including 2017’s “Gerald’s Game” (also released by the streaming giant) and 2019’s theatrically released “Doctor Sleep.” He’ll take on “The Dark Tower” as a TV series next.

Frank Darabont earned his three Oscar nominations working on Best Picture nominees “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile,” both of which were based on King’s short stories. He’s also behind 2007’s “The Mist,” among numerous other King adaptations. Rob Reiner delivered the film closest to King’s heart with 1986’s “Stand by Me”: a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story starring Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, and the late River Phoenix. Reiner would deliver Kathy Bates her first Best Actress nomination (and only win) with 1990’s “Misery”: a kidnapping thriller anchored in the infamous psychological implosion of brilliant King creation Annie Wilkes. David Cronenberg, George A. Romero, and more legends have also taken on King.

The “Pet Sematary” author has spoken about various adaptations of his work over the years. Many will recall his lambasting of Stanley Kubrick’s widely celebrated “The Shining”: the 1980 Jack Nicholson masterwork King has likened to “a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it.” He has been just as blunt about films that have nothing to do with his work, but that King says he still dislikes. For example, he hated “Kill Bill Vol. 1” enough to write a complete review of it in 2007: calling Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film “narcissistic” and “not important.”

It’s those harsher words that have made King’s approval worth pursuing in Hollywood. Whether he is endorsing recent films on Twitter or calling out decades-old favorites in interviews, King’s opinion holds enough weight to sink a body and turn the tides for projects big and small. Listed in no particular order, here are just 17 of the films Stephen King has publicly recommended.

[Editor’s note: This list is not comprehensive and will serve as a living document to be updated over time.]

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