- Stephen King remakes have had varying levels of success, with some successfully updating storytelling techniques and visual effects.
- While there are solid remakes like “It” and “Pet Sematary,” there are also ones that fail to capture the atmosphere of the original films.
- The best Stephen King remakes showcase strong performances, updated visuals, and stay true to the essence of his stories. “It Chapter One” is considered the best remake so far.
Most of the prolific adaptations of horror author Stephen King came out in the ’80s and are considered classics, but several modern Stephen King movie and TV remakes have debuted in recent years. Hollywood rarely gets Stephen King right, and many of King’s movies and series have been of varying quality over the decades, and recent adaptations have provided the opportunity for updated storytelling techniques and improved visual effects. While horror heavy-hitters like Universal and Blumhouse are making solid Stephen King remakes, there are plenty more to come including Salem’s Lot and Christine.
As different directors and actors collaborate together to make their own impact on King’s large body of work, it’s clear that some are better executed than others. For every remake of high-quality like It, there’s a Pet Sematary that can’t quite replicate what made the original film such a moody and atmospheric experience. From direct-to-video films with indie budgets to blockbusters, these Stephen King remakes reveal the best and the worst of the legendary horror auteur’s career.
11 Children Of The Corn (2009)
With its low budget and lack of recognizable actors, this adaptation of Children of the Corn from 2009 couldn’t elevate itself above its direct-to-video aesthetic. Written and directed by Donald P. Borchers, who produced the 1984 classic, it’s actually more faithful to Stephen King’s short story and takes some risks with the horror sequences involving the children who rise up and slaughter their parents. Unfortunately, fans who are used to some of the other made-for-TV Stephen King movies like The Mangler or The Langeliers will still find it difficult to get past its amateur feel.
10 Children Of The Corn (2023)
This long-delayed remake of Children of the Corn was filmed in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic and finally released in 2023. It’s marginally better than the 2009 remake, but it chooses to show much of the gore that the 1984 version wisely left up to the viewers’ imaginations. It isn’t connected in any way to the lore of the franchise, and while it presents the interesting premise that children might want to kill their parents due to ruining the planet and forcing them to eat the heavily modified corn strains growing in their backyards, its plot, acting, and pacing are too convoluted to appreciate it.
9 Trucks (1997)
Trucks is loosely based on the Stephen King story of the same name that was made into a movie called Maximum Overdrive, which King directed himself in 1986 and represents the only adaptation of his own work that he ever spearheaded creatively. There’s a real lack of horsepower to this remake about rampaging semi trucks, and it’s considered even worse than King’s attempt, which was a box office flop. If the Christine remake does well, there’s a chance that Trucks could get adapted properly in the near future as the horrifying take on Transformers that it is.
8 Pet Sematary (2019)
Pet Sematary was a satisfying retelling of one of Stephen King’s most famous stories, capturing its eeriness while at the same time updating some of its scariest scenes with slightly better visual effects. The haunted burial ground was one of the most salient aspects of the film, besides a strong performance as Jud Crandall from John Lithgow. Unfortunately, there are still problems with this Pet Sematary remake, and the story has some pacing issues that prevent it from being higher in this list of Stephen King remakes.
7 Firestarter (2022)
Reliable horror production company Blumhouse and director Keith Thomas came together to make Firestarter, a remake of the ’80s classic starring young Drew Barrymore. Better production values and more dynamic visual effects elevate it, but this Stephen King remake changes the Firestarter book, and the lack of depth in the characters played by Zac Efron and Ryan Keira Armstrong suck all the oxygen out of the plot. While it certainly has a few solid horror components, a rushed conclusion means that there’s very little payoff.
6 Carrie (2013)
While it’s difficult to top the original Carrie, the 2013 Stephen King remake does an admirable job of updating the story of his famous telekinetic teen from the ’70s to the ’10s with an emphasis on cyberbullying. Chloë Grace Moretz as the titular tormented protagonist and Julianne Moore as her formidable mother bring conviction to their roles. While it might not be as moody as Brian De Palma’s version (which took home an Academy Award), the addition of some strong visual effects, the third act has even more carnage and gore than its predecessor when Carrie finally takes her revenge.
5 The Mist (2017)
Based on one of Stephen King’s novellas, The Mist was a series and a remake of the Frank Darabont film from 2007 starring Thomas Jane. The series was set in the small town of Bridgeville, Maine, where its inhabitants are cut off from the rest of the world by an ominous mist containing predatory creatures. The long-format storytelling allowed for a lot more character development and a more in-depth look at the breakdown of society as the foreboding vapor drifts ever closer.
4 The Shining (1997)
Mick Garris directed this miniseries based on one of Stephen King’s most famous novels and a remake of the Stanley Kubrick film. Steve Weber takes on Jack Nicholson’s role as Jack Torrance, the new caretaker who moves into the mysterious Overlook Hotel with his family for the winter, and the series does a commendable job of showcasing his manic descent into madness. King preferred this version to Kubrick’s celebrated film as he felt it retained the supernatural aspects of his novel, and provided more information on “the shining” ability Danny has.
3 The Stand (2020)
Alexander Skarsgard and James Marsden star in this glossy version of The Stand, a remake of the miniseries from the ’90s about a post-apocalyptic world controlled by a violent plague. 108-year-old Mother Abigail and a ragtag group of survivors including everyday working-class heroes must find a way to combat the forces of darkness and save humankind. One of the best characters is Randall Flagg aka the Dark Man whose lethal smile and disturbing powers are the stuff of nightmares.
2 It Chapter Two (2019)
It Chapter Two managed to continue the momentum of It Chapter One with an older cast and a significant time jump. With the Losers Club all grown up and trying to process their experiences in Derry as children, the film offered a slightly more mature take on its horror by trading some of the jump scares and surreal visuals of the previous film for more psychologically disturbing suspense. Pennywise becomes even more desperate to pick off his prey this time around, making Bill Skarsgard’s performance as the Killer Clown even more deranged, and solidifying him as an iconic horror legend.
1 It (2017)
Andy Muschietti’s It Chapter One took the world by storm in 2017 as a remake of the It mini-series from the ’90s that starred a very creepy Tim Curry as Pennywise. This remake not only had an incredible cast of young performers but truly terrifying scenes that made the most of Pennywise’s powers and thirst for children’s fear. The standout component of the film was Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, whose tour de force portrayal grounded the film and made its coming-of-age story even more meaningful for the Losers Club, and helped make It Chapter One the best Stephen King remake so far.
World News || Latest News || U.S. News