Stephen King is a commercially successful American author who earned the title the King of Horror. But it is not just a mere moniker, it reflects to all of his works. For many years, his books had terrified people and some of his characters even terrorized us in our dreams. Yet, he did not stop creating worlds of terror. He is a very prolific writer. As of 2018, he had written a total of 58 novels plus several hundreds of short stories. Until now, he is still writing more books. His stories did not stop capturing our imaginations on print. His books had been adapted many, many times into movies and TV series with a total 58! And it’s not just a book –turned- into –a- movie- instant -hit scene because almost all of his adapted stories also became included on classic must watch list. That’s a lot of number and a feat that many authors can only dream of. Of course, we can’t list down that 50ish books in here so here’s the list of the master’s top ten horror books adapted into movies. Warning, there might be some spoilers ahead!
Misery is a psychological horror novel published in 1987 and was then nominated in the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel later in 1988. The story revolves around Victorian-era writer Paul Sheldon. He was involved in a car accident which shattered his legs but rescued by a former nurse and coincidentally his works’ demented fan named Annie Wilkes. She transported him to her house instead of bringing him to the hospital. In there she found out what he did to his character Misery Chastain in his latest book. He forced her to modify the story. She also saw that he already wrote a new manuscript, Fast Cars. In her rage, she left him in the house for two days without any food, water, and painkillers. After several attempts of escape, Annie cut his foot with an ax and when he complained that a page is missing in his Misery manuscript, she cut his thumb as a punishment. He finally made his escape when he finished his novel “Misery’s Return.” When he showed it to her, he burned it using a lighter. Annie became desperate for saving it. Seeing his chance, he lifted the heavy typewriter and hit Annie’s head with it. After several scrambles, Andy tried to put the burning paper on Annie’s mouth. Finally, police troopers arrived, finally able to save him. The book is later adapted to film in 1990 played by James Caan and Kathy Bates who also received an award for Best Actress Performance in Oscar.
9. The Shining
The Shining is a horror book published in 1977 and adapted to film in 1980 which also became one of the greatest horror film ever made. Afterward, it has a television mini-series adaptation in 1997. The story takes place in an imaginary Overlook Hotel. It revolves around the lives of Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and five-year-old son Danny. Jack is an aspiring writer and they moved to the hotel when he was accepted as the winter caretaker. He has an alcohol problem and anger management issues which resulted in several misfortunes before. He is hoping that the hotel’s seclusion will make them happier and will bring them closer. Unknown to his parents, Danny has a psychic ability known as “the shining.” Danny Halloran, the hotel chef, also possesses a similar ability thus making them friends. Danny realizes that his presence in the hotel makes the supernatural beings stronger. The beings, frustrated that they can’t control Danny, controlled Jack. They also took advantage of his liquor problems and anger issues. Jack tried to kill his wife and son. He also destroyed the snowmobile and radio, their only connection to the outside world. Danny then sends a psychic distress message to Halloran, who is working in a resort in Florida. Halloran then went back to the hotel and helped him. Jack was eventually killed by his possessors and Danny, his mother, and Halloran made their slim escape.
8. The Shawshank Redemption
The complete title of the novella is “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” and part of the collection in “Different Season.” It is then shortened to “The Shawshank Redemption” in the now classic movie. The story is set in Maine in 1947 and it is about the conviction of Andy Dufresne, a banker, on the double murder of his wife and her lover. Despite his claims of innocence, he was sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary to serve a double life sentence. In the prison, he befriended Red who always smuggles stuff from outside. Andy asks Red to give him a large pin-up of Rita Hayworth. He is also an amateur geologist and he asked Red to give him a rock hammer for him to shape rocks he collects from the exercise yard. Norton, a corrupt warden in Shawshank, realized Andy’s useful skill as a banker so he used him to launder the money he collected from bribes. Andy then told Red of his secret, that he already has another identity and this other identity will move to Mexico to own a resort hotel. After years of incarceration, Andy managed to escape by years of chipping the wall using his rock hammer. He used the large pinup to cover that wall. Once he breached the wall, he broke the sewage and his way out to the field. He is assumed dead when they found his prison clothes in the outfall. Weeks after, Red received a postcard from a certain Peter from the boundary of Mexico. Afterward, Red received his parole and followed Peter to Mexico, breaking his parole. The movie won Best Picture nomination and several other awards. Red was played by Morgan Freeman and Andy by Tim Robbins.
7. The Mist
The Mist is a horror novella by Stephen King featuring otherworldly monsters concealing in a mysterious mist. Set in fictional Bridgton, Maine, the townspeople suddenly found their town enveloped in an unnatural mist after a night of violent thunderstorm. Most of the plot happened inside the local supermarket where commercial artist David Drayton and other locals trapped inside. Whenever somebody tries to escape, a monster will appear from the mist and will instantly kill the person. They eventually made it into the car for escape, driving towards Hartford and the uncertain future. The story is adapted into a film in 2007 and a TV series in 2017.
6. The Dark Tower
The Dark Tower is a science fantasy eight book series. The series expands around King’s multiverse, linking several of his novels. The protagonist Roland Deschain is inspired by Clint Eastwood’s character in “Man With No Name.” The first part, “The Gunslinger” became a film and hit the theaters in 2017 starring Idris Elba. Deschain is the last surviving member of gunslingers, a knightly order. The Dark Tower’s world has the social and technological characteristics of the American Old West yet its political organization likens to a feudal society. His quest is to find the Dark Tower, a legendary building that is said to be the connection of all universes. The book is not only adapted to films but also to comics. It also prompted to several non-fiction books analyzing all of the King’s magnum opus.
Firestarter is a science-fiction-horror-thriller masterpiece by Stephen King. Published in 1980, it was adapted a few years later in 1984 starring Drew Barrymore. The book is about the father/daughter pair named Andy and Charlene “Charlie” McGee being pursued by a government agency name “The Shop.” When he was in his college years, Andy participated in “Lot 6” experiment run by The Shop. Lot 6 is a hallucinogenic drug which resulted in Andy’s auto-hypnotic mind power, which he called the “push” and his wife Victoria Tomlinson’s minor telekinetic ability. The power has a physiological side effect; it gives them a crippling migraine and brain hemorrhage. But their daughter developed a terrifying pyrokinetic power. After years of surveillance, The Shop murdered his wife and his daughter kidnapped. He got this information through a psychic flash. He pursued his daughter’s abductors and by using the push, he saved her from them. The pursuers continued until they caught them and had them separated. In the end, both of them managed to escape, yet stopped by Rainbird, a Cherokee and war veteran. Andy died but not until he instructed Charlie to avenge her parents’ death and make this event into public so that the government will not repeat this again in the future.
4. Hearts in Atlantis
Hearts in Atlantis is not just a normal book; it is a collection of two novellas and three short stories with recurring characters. The stories are about baby boomer generation that failed to live up to its ideals. The first and longest part is titled, “Low Men in Yellow Coats.” Set in the 1960 Harwich Connecticut, it follows the story of the young boy named Bobby Garfield who befriended a psychic guy named Ted Brautigan. Ted confessed to Bobby that he is being followed by dangerous men he called the “low men.” Next story is titled “The Hearts of Atlantis” which takes place in 1966. It follows the story of a college freshman named Peter Riley who is addicted to playing Hearts in an all-male dormitory at the University of Maine. The students in the University have student draft deferment thus they are exempted to join the Vietnam War. The students’ addiction to the game made their grades suffer, thus putting themselves at risk. Peter also meet Carol, Bobby’s childhood friend with whom he had a short relationship with. The next story is titled, “Blind Willie” and it is about a Vietnam war veteran named Willie Shearman. He is suffering from a somatoform disorder and he thinks that this is the penance when he beat Carol. He continued to write apologies to her on his notebook. He also keeps a scrapbook following Carol’s life: her involvements in militant activism and the bombing of a recruiting office, which earned her the name Red Carol. She is believed to be dead during the raid of their headquarters. The next story is titled “Why We’re in Vietnam” tells a story of the two war veterans named John Sullivan and Dieffenbaker when they reunited in a funeral. They revisited their experiences of the war in Vietnam. The last part of the book has a title, “Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling.” It tells the story of Bobby Garfield returning to his hometown after 40 years to attend his friend John Sullivan’s, funeral, who apparently suffered a heart attack in the previous chapter. He also wants to find closure on his relationship with Carol Gerber and Ted Brautigan. In the park, she found Carol alive but scarred and badly burned. She now goes in the name Denise Schoonover. He also showed her several items from Ted for her. The book is adapted in 2001 entitled Hearts in Atlantis starring Anthony Hopkins as Ted Brautigan. It received critical acclaims.
Carrie is the turning point of Stephen King’s writing career. The book did not almost see the light of the day when he throws away the first three pages of the first draft of the book. Luckily, his wife Tabitha saw the crumpled papers in the wastebasket and read it. Realizing that it is a great story, she urged her husband to finish the book. It did not become an instant phenomenal success when it was published in 1974 but it, later on, adapted to 1976 supernatural horror film and became a classic. The inspiration for the plot hit him when he was doing a janitorial job in Brunswick High and when he also read an article about telekinesis. The story revolves around a bullied and unpopular high school girl named Carrie. When she discovered that she has a telekinetic power, she decided to use it against her bullies. The turning point of the disaster is when one of her high school bullies, Chris Hargensen decided to shame her in front of the whole school by arranging her winning the prom as the queen. Chris and Billy Nolan, her boyfriend, set up a bucket of pig’s blood above the stage. The bucket knocked Tom, Carrie’s prom date, off, rendering him unconscious. Almost everyone in attendance, even some of the teachers, laughed at Carrie and it pushed her to edge. Remembering her power, she thinks of ways to exact revenge. She locked all the doors and turned on all the sprinklers despite of the electrical equipment inside. It caused the electrocution of several people. Walking on the road, she unleashes destruction in the fictional town Chamberlain. She also sends a telepathic message to the townspeople saying that it is all caused by Carrie White. She later died of her wound inflicted by her mother during their confrontation. The book was also adapted to a Broadway musical, a TV series and another movie in 2013.
2. Salem’s Lot
Salem’s Lot is Stephen King’s second book which was published in 1975. The story is about a writer named Ben Mears who returned to his hometown Jerusalem’s Lot (or Salem’s Lot for short) in Maine. He had lived there when he was five through nine years old and he returned there after twenty-five years to write a book about the long-abandoned Marsten House. Ben then have a romantic relationship with Susan Norton, a young college graduate. He discovered that the old house has been purchased by two partner businessmen: an Austrian immigrant named Kurt Barlow and Richard Straker. But it is only Straker is seen in public because it is said that the former is in a long business trip. Their arrival coincided with the death of a young boy Ralphie Glick and the death his brother Danny, who later became the town’s first vampire. Danny then infected several locals including his own mother. He failed to infect his classmate Mark Petrie when he holds a plastic cross in front of his face. In just several days, a lot of townspeople had transformed into vampires. Ben, Susan, Mark, the local priest, Father Callahan, and Matt and his doctor joined together to fight the spread of the vampires. It turns out that Barlow is the master vampire. He captured Susan and turned her into a vampire. Father Callahan also tried to ward him off but it turned out that he lacks faith thus his cross became powerless. Ben and Mark then succeeded to destroy the master vampire. In the epilogue, they went to Mexico where they confessed to a Mexican Catholic priest about the terrifying incident. They then returned to Salem’s Lot and put the entire town on fire to destroy what remains of the vampires. The books are adapted miniseries in 1979 and another in 2004, all received Emmy nominations.
This is a book that magnifies our fear toward the clowns. One of the best horror books written, it tells the story of the four rag tags facing their worst fears. Set in the 1950s fictional Derry, the terror started for the protagonists when Bill’s younger brother, Georgie, got murdered by It. It is an entity that terrorizes people for many years, taking a “slumber” every 27 years and preys on children. It manifests in a person’s phobias and fears but it usually takes the form of Pennywise the Clown. The protagonists of the story are the seven children who formed a group named the “Losers Club.” They are Ben, an overweight child who sees It as a mummy, Eddie as a leper, Richie as a werewolf, Stan as two drowned boys, Bill as Georgie’s ghost, Beverly as a fountain of blood in the kitchen sink, and Mike as a flesh-eating bird. The group discovered that the series of terrifying events as something that has been done by It and it arrived in Derry millions of years ago. When they were young, they made a compact to kill the It. They forgot about it when they grow up they started to live their own adult lives but Mike, who has stayed in Derry called all of them after 27years to go back in Derry because a string of mysterious murders is happening again. All of them, except Stan who committed suicide because of his terrorizing fear, go back to Derry to accomplish what they had promised when they were young: to kill the It. The book was adapted to a movie in two parts: one was last 2017 and it became a hit. Now, a sequel of the movie is coming to theaters in 2019.