Out of 52 Stephen King Movies, Only 3 Scored Above 90% on Rotten Tomatoes

Out of 52 Stephen King Movies, Only 3 Scored Above 90% on Rotten Tomatoes
Image credit: Legion-Media

The best film adaptations of the books by the King of Horror, praised by critics and audiences alike.

Stephen King 's work has been the subject of a significant number of film and television adaptations over many decades. In the 70s, Brian de Palma's Carrie was a huge success. In the 80s, King's work became widely recognized and we saw many adaptations, most notably Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. The 90s brought internationally acclaimed masterpieces like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, as well as numerous television projects, many of which the author himself worked on. The 00s are likely remembered for two movies, 1408 and The Mist, and the 2010s and 2020s saw a new wave of popularity for the horror genre as many talented filmmakers from Andy Muschietti and Mike Flanagan to Rob Savage attempted to reinterpret the work of the King of Horror.

All in all, the journey of Stephen King's novels to the big and small screen has spanned nearly 50 years, and many adaptations have been either unquestionably great or, to put it mildly, not so good. As a rule, most of them have not received unambiguously enthusiastic reviews from critics, and according to Rotten Tomatoes, not many movies based on King's books have high ratings (and even fewer have the status of 'certified fresh').

However, there are still three feature films that have scores over 90% — let's take a look at what these films are and what critics and audiences have praised them for.

3. Misery

Out of 52 Stephen King Movies, Only 3 Scored Above 90% on Rotten Tomatoes - image 1

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Release Date: November 30, 1990

Genre: Psychological thriller, Drama

Where to Watch: Apple TV, Prime Video, Vudu, Spectrum

It's an uncomfortable and creepy story about the near-phobia associated with the effects of sudden fame and how audiences lose touch with reality. In the story, successful writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan) has an accident in the mountains and is rescued by a woman named Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who is a huge fan of his work. But things go horribly wrong when Annie discovers that her favorite heroine has been murdered. And so, the writer must answer for the deed...

Misery is an all-time classic among King's adaptations, delivering a superb thriller with powerful performances from Caan and Bates.

2. Stand by Me

Out of 52 Stephen King Movies, Only 3 Scored Above 90% on Rotten Tomatoes - image 2

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Release Date: August 22, 1986

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Coming-of-age

Where to Watch: Hulu, Apple TV, Prime Video, Vudu

Like Misery, this film was directed by Rob Reiner, but Stand by Me, based on the novella The Body, belongs to the coming-of-age drama genre and follows a group of teenagers on a trip to find the body of a missing boy. It's a hilarious yet heartbreaking road movie full of teenage discoveries and first reflections on life, death, and relationships with loved ones.

The movie proved to be incredibly nostalgic yet relatable, making it one of the best King adaptations of all time.

1. Carrie

Out of 52 Stephen King Movies, Only 3 Scored Above 90% on Rotten Tomatoes - image 3

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Release Date: November 3, 1976

Genre: Supernatural horror

Where to Watch: Max, Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu

And of course, we couldn't help but mention Brian De Palma's masterpiece, which is still considered one of the best horror films in the history of cinema. Despite its supernatural elements, Carrie is an in-depth exploration of the psyche of a teenage girl subjected to constant stress, bullying, and domestic abuse, whose mental health eventually collapses, leading to a tragedy.

Carrie may not be an overtly scary movie, but it is frightening in its perennial themes and heartbreaking plot full of teen angst.