10 Stephen King Books That Deserve Another Adaptation

With the release of firestarter later this year, the number of Stephen King adaptations continues to grow. Not all have been winners, but when they work, they can equal, or even surpass, the book on which they are based.

Being as popular as they are, many of King’s books, including firestarter, have already been adapted to film and television, but that shouldn’t stop filmmakers from revisiting them. These books may already have a screen version out there, but they’re still ripe for an update.


10 The Dead Zone

Stephen King The Dead Zone

King’s story of a psychic using his powers to stop a dangerous man from being elected president already has a great film adaptation, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Christopher Walken giving one of his best performances. However, it’s been nearly forty years since the movie’s release, more than enough time for a new movie to feel fresh.

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A new director (perhaps David’s son, Brandon) could get a lot of mileage out of protagonist Johnny Smith discovering he is a psychic and how it changes his life. Plus, in our current age of superhero movies, seeing a man grapple with extraordinary powers and how they can be used for good might have a new resonance.

9 Dolores Claiborne

Stephen King Dolores Claiborne

Although it often gets lost in the shuffle due to coming out on the heels of The Shawshank Redemption, Dolores Claiborne is perhaps one of the most underrated Stephen King adaptations. It’s an engaging story with a lot of twists and turns, and Kathy Bates ‘performance her as Dolores almost equals that of her work her in Misery.

Even though it’s one of Stephen King’s non-horror works, Dolores Claiborne is still very suspenseful, with Dolores’ guilt or innocence in the murder of her employer being a genuine mystery. But it’s also a great family drama, delving into what it’s like to suspect a parent of a horrible crime, and how it affects one psychologically.

8 Christine

Stephen King Christine

If the “King of Horror” has an equivalent filmmaker, it just might be John Carpenter. Christine was Carpenter’s take on a Stephen King novel, and it’s a very good one, telling the story of Arnie Cunningham, a nerdy teenager who gets a new car, only for the car to be sentient and obsessed with him.

However, much has changed for teens since 1983, and it would be interesting to see an updated version of Christine that shows how modern life might affect the plot. The story also has a lot of relevance today, with subtext about abusive relationships and how they can change people for the worse bubbling right beneath the surface.

7 Under the Dome

Stephen King Under The Dome

Under the Dome already had a TV series that ran for three seasons, but despite initial positive reception and high ratings, it became more contentious as it went on. With that in mind, plus the deviations from the source material after season one, the book could benefit from a more self-contained adaptation.

At over 1,000 pages, the book is probably too sprawling to fit all the good parts into one film, but a miniseries would be perfect, especially given how it’s worked for King books in the past. A network like HBO or a streaming service would be a great place for it, given the lack of content restrictions compared to the previous show’s home, CBS.

6 The Running Man

Stephen King The Running Man

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger at the height of his 80s stardom, The Running Man is a great dystopian sci-fi action movie, but it’s a very loose adaptation of the Stephen King novel (published under the pen name Richard Bachman). Therefore, a more faithful adaptation would be a breath of fresh air.

Fortunately for the Redditors who think it should be remade, there actually is another version of The Running Man in development, with Edgar Wright attached as director and apparently with an eye for greater accuracy to the book. With more emphasis on the book’s reality TV elements, it could have a more satirical edge than the 1987 movie.

5 Cujo

Stephen King Cujo

The character of Cujo has become an icon, his name a byword for a dangerous dog, and the novel that shares his name is a terrifying story for lovers of man’s best friend. It had a film adaptation in 1983 which, while it’s a cult classic now, received mixed reviews then, and plenty of today’s viewers haven’t seen it.

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Cujo has the potential to be a great horror film that plays on people’s fears of their beloved dog going bad, especially in an era filled with feel-good dog movies. It would also be fun to see a new take on Castle Rock, which hasn’t made a film appearance since Stand by Me in 1986.

4 Apt Pupil

Book cover for Apt Pupil.

Like The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by MeBryan Singer’s Apt Pupil is based on a novella from King’s collection Different Seasons. Despite a terrific performance from Ian McKellen, the film is overall a mixed bag, meaning a new movie would have an easier time standing on its own than if it were remaking a universally beloved original.

Apt Pupil‘s story of a teenage boy becoming obsessed with Nazism could make an effective cautionary tale in an era where fear of extremism is sky-high. While it’s not a horror story, it’s certainly a disturbing look into the psychology of evil, so it has the potential to be one of the scariest King-based movies yet.

3 The Stand

Stephen King The Stand

It’s true that Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic epic has already gotten the miniseries treatment twice, the latest just being released in late 2020. However, despite an excellent cast in The Stand’s 2020 reboot, it received mixed reviews, with much criticism being directed at its confusing non-linear structure, while still having moments where the novel’s brilliance shines through.

The Stand is a hard work to adapt, but history shows that it can be done, and learning from the mistakes of previous adaptations could help a future crew make something really special. It could give audiences a definitive version of Rick Flagg, one of King’s most terrifying villains.

2 ‘Salem’s Lot’

Salem's Lot book cover

One of Stephen King’s favorite novels of his own, ‘Salem’s Lot is a classic vampire tale with lots of dread and suspense, while also being a great portrayal of the decay of small towns. Much of the first half deals with the townspeople’s day-to-day lives with the supernatural aspects in the background, which makes for a nice slow-burn.

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Like The Stand, ‘Salem’s Lot’ has twice gotten the miniseries treatment, but it’s been eighteen years since the book was last adapted to the screen. Sure enough, a film version is coming this September, directed by Annabelle Comes Home‘s Gary Dauberman.

One The Dark Tower

Stephen King The Dark Tower 7

As great as many of King’s books are, The Dark Tower belongs in a category all its own, being a sprawling multi-book saga that tells an epic story and takes readers on a journey through the unique and fascinating Mid-World, King’s own Middle-earth. Perhaps because it’s so big, it’s also proven to be one of the most difficult King stories to portray onscreen.

The 2017 film version of The Dark Tower was derided by critics on top of being a box office failure, suggesting that a TV series would be a better route for capturing the richness of the source material. Although a planned TV series appears to have stalled, there’s always hope that a proper adaptation can see the light of day.

NEXT: 15 Essential Stephen King Stories Better Than The Movies

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