An evil entity haunts a small Maine town every 27 years in the form of a killer clown in the horror film ‘It.’ Warner Bros.
Filmmakers have been adapting Stephen King books for decades now, which means there have been some classics and some clunkers.
Here’s how those two movies rank with the best and worst of King’s theatrical releases, starting with the bad:
5. Cell (2016)
At least the concept gets an A: Cellphones turn a large percentage of the population into mindless rage monsters. Execution, though? Well, that’s a big fail, even for a faux zombie flick.
4. Graveyard Shift (1990)
Insane stuff happens at a reopened textile mill, people start dying and it’s all because of … a ginormous rat. Even if the monstrous rodent wasn’t a special-effects fumble, the film is Z-grade across the board.
3. The Dark Tower (2017)
The biggest sin here isn’t the filmmaking — which is certainly bad — but the complete whiff on creating an expansive fantasy world. Although Idris Elba does what he can as gunslinger Roland Deschain, everything around him is a miss.
2. The Mangler (1995)
The late director Tobe Hooper is a horror staple, but this travesty isn’t. Hooper rounds up another genre legend, Robert Englund, for this awful movie about a possessed laundry press, which cleans up in the competition for worst King movie villain.
1. Dreamcatcher (2003)
A good cast (Morgan Freeman, Damian Lewis and Timothy Olyphant) and ace director (Lawrence Kasdan) are completely wasted in an abhorrent mishmash of lifelong bromance, alien invasion and government conspiracy.
And now for the good:
5. (tie) Carrie (1976)
Sissy Spacek exudes quiet, tortured grace as a teenager just blossoming into womanhood, leading to bullying from classmates and her abusively religious mom (Piper Laurie). The last 30 minutes is a jaw-dropping transformation from childhood innocence to murderous hysteria.
5. (tie) It (2017)
Taking the friendship stuff from Stand By Me and weaving in a deliciously evil clown in a poufy wardrobe, It works magic on a lot of different levels. Warning: May not be for those skeeved out by buckets of blood shooting out of a sink.
4. The Dead Zone (1983)
Christopher Walken is a psychic schoolteacher who “sees” someone’s secrets if he touches them, including a vision of a nuclear holocaust after shaking the hand of a senatorial candidate (Martin Sheen). Did we mention this thing feels kinda timely?
3. 1408 (2007)
In the most underrated King movie, a supernatural skeptic (John Cusack) who writes about haunted places takes interest in the legendarily creepy room of a New York high-rise. It’s astoundingly kooky but also a thoughtful study of cynicism and belief.
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
There’s not much scary here other than some jail guards. Instead, what makes Shawshank an all-timer is the core friendship of two inmates (played by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman) who figure out they’d better “get busy living or get busy dying.”
1. The Shining (1980)
King notoriously disliked Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, but it’s by far the best of the entire lot. Come for the infamous scenes — “Heeeeere’s Johnny,” anyone? — but stay for the exceptional exploration of isolation, one man’s descent into madness, and the terrifying effect on his family.
Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ launches on the big screen with stars Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba. Sony Pictures