The 20 best Stephen King movies you need to see (but can't unsee)

10. IT (1990)

The movie: Technically a TV mini-series, but who even remembers watching this on TV? Adapted from King's doorstep-sized tome, IT follows a group of adults who fight back against a child-killing nasty from their youth.

What it got right: In retrospect, IT is seriously flawed. But Tim Curry's performance as evil clown Pennywise is unforgettably terrifying, and for that alone, this earns its spot on the list. The new movie seems to be heading in the right direction, though, so fingers crossed.

09. Storm of the Century (1999)

The movie: Another mini-series, this four-hour epic sees the town of Little Tall Island hit by a storm that knocks out all communication with the outside world, and stops anyone from leaving until it's over. And while they wait for the storm to blow over, the town's residents have a mysterious murderer to deal with

What it got right: Well, not the runtime. But the ending makes it all worthwhile, and there are enough creepy moments along the way to keep you going. Ideal to pass the time on a dark and stormy night.

08. The Dead Zone (1983)

The movie: When he wakes up from a coma, Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) discovers that he's developed psychic abilities.

What it got right: Telekinesis as body horror? With director David Cronenberg on hand, that's what we get here, though the gore and violence is notably more restrained than Cronenberg's other work. Theres also Christopher Walken playing manic like only he can. Delicious.

07. Dolores Claiborne (1995)

The movie: When she's accused of killing her old employer, Dolores Claiborne's (Kathy Bates) estranged daughter Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh) returns home to help. But the case only serves to stir up long-buried secrets.

What it got right: Five years after she blew our minds as Annie in Misery, Kathy Bates nailed it with another King property, bringing her A-game as the titular Dolores. Convincing as both the old and young woman, Bates wraps her tongue around some fantastic lines and manages to earn genuine empathy. An over-looked classic.

06. Carrie (1976)

The movie: Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is an outcast at high school. Her own suspicions that she has telekinetic powers coincide with an impromptu invite to the prom. 

What it got right: Brian De Palma's film is a love letter to cinema. With its meticulously planned camerawork, its long takes, its crash zooms and its careful-careful tension-cranking, Carrie is a wonder to behold. Sissy Spacek's far from bad, too.

05. Misery (1990)

The movie: After a horrific car crash, author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is rescued by his biggest fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Convalescing at her home, Sheldon soon realises that fans aren't always the nicest of people

What it got right: Hiring Kathy Bates, for a start. As the hobblesome fanatic, she's terrifyingly believable not least when lurching from crazy-happy to plain crazy-crazy. It's a testament to director Rob Reiner that the single-location ploy doesn't get stale, too.

04. Stand By Me (1986)

The movie: Four young boys set out into the wilderness in search of a dead body.

What it got right: King's always excelled at two things, 1) eking out an element of truth in even the most fantastical premise, and 2) writing kids. With Stand By Me, he hit the motherlode, crafting a quartet of believable nerds and letting them tell the story at their own pace. Marvellous.

03. The Green Mile (1999)

The movie: John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is arrested for rape and murder, but as he gets to know the guards on Death Row, their opinions of him begin to change.

What it got right: In short, heartstring-pluckage. Long-time King fan Frank Darabont handles the source material with obvious reverence, and his film is a tender, moving portrait of miscarried justice. Great performances, too.

02. The Shining (1980)

The movie: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his wife (Shelley Duvall), and their young son go to look after an isolated hotel over the winter, where Jack begins to lose his mind.

What it got right: According to Stephen King, nothing. But Kubrick's immaculately directed chiller has so many well placed scares and unforgettable images that we'd have to respectfully disagree.

01. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The movie: Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent to prison for murder. There, he meets Ellis Boyd Red Redding (Morgan Freeman), and starts to plan his escape.

What it got right: Famously shunned at the cineplexes, Shawshank found its redemption in the home video market, where it was soon acknowledged as a modern classic. How anybody overlooked it at the cinemas is beyond us.