Next Score View the next score

    Stephen King stories so nice (well, maybe not ‘nice’) they’ve come to the screen twice

    Left to right: Amy Seimetz as Rachel, Hugo Lavoie as Gage, Jason Clarke as Louis and Jeté Laurence as Ellie in PET SEMATARY, from Paramount Pictures.
    Kerry Hayes
    From left: Amy Seimetz, Hugo Lavoie, Jason Clarke, and Jeté Laurence in the new “Pet Sematary.”

    It’s been estimated that Stephen King’s fiction has sold between 300 million and 350 million copies. With popularity like that, it’s no wonder Hollywood is his biggest fan. The Internet Movie Database lists 288 King adaptations: movies, TV movies, TV series, shorts, video games.

    Still, it’s one thing for a King work to be adapted. What may be even more impressive is that there have been several remakes of King adaptations. The latest example, “Pet Sematary,” opens April 5. Jason Clarke plays a man who moves with his family to a small town and finds out . . . well, it’s based on a Stephen King novel, so you can just imagine. Even if you can’t, he certainly did. That’s what makes him Stephen King. The first “Pet Sematary” movie came out in 1989.

    Here’s a look at eight examples of onscreen double-dipping, King-style. It excludes sequels (an even larger category) and examples of movies based on King novels that then became stage plays. “Misery” has not one but two stage versions. “Carrie” was one of the all-time Broadway bombs. It was a . . . musical. Scary, huh?




    Get The Weekender in your inbox:
    The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie

    With all due respect to Faye Dunaway, Spacek should have gotten the best actress Oscar. At least she was nominated. You’d be hard-pressed to name a finer performance in a King adaptation. Brian De Palma did the gory directorial honors.

    Julianne Moore (left) and Chloe Moretz star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Screen Gems' CARRIE. 17carrie
    Michael Gibson
    Julianne Moore (left) and Chloë Grace Moretz in “Carrie.”


    Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore


    Despite excellently cast leads, and a talented director in Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”), this version has more in common with the musical than the original film.

    Salem’s Lot


    David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin

    Tobe Hooper directed this TV movie about a New England town invaded by some familiar fang-tastic, crucifix-averse supernatural creatures.



    Rob Lowe, Andre Braugher, Donald Sutherland

    Mikael Salomon directed this two-part TV miniseries.

     Jack Nicholson at the maze in "The Shining." The hotel's hedge maze is a reference to the myth of the Minotaur, Kubrick theorists claim, in "Room 237," directed by Rodney Ascher. PHOTO CREDIT: Warner Brothers 19room
    Warner Bros.
    Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”

    The Shining


    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Stanley Kubrick directed. It’s the gold standard for King adaptations — even better than the original “Carrie” or original “Dead Zone” — except that King hated it.


    Steven Weber, Rebecca De Mornay

    Kubrick didn’t direct it, so this three-episode TV miniseries is a lot more canonical, King-wise.



    Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Carrie Nye, E. G. Marshall, Viveca Lindfors

    The cast is so large because the film is a five-story anthology. George A. Romero (the “Living Dead” movies) directed. De Palma, Hooper, Kubrick, Romero, David Cronenberg (see below): Early on, King got the red-carpet directorial treatment.


    Logan Allen, Madison Bailey, Hannah Barefoot, Nelson Bonilla, Connor Christie

    A series set to stream later this year on AMC’s Shudder service.

    FOR USE OTHER THAN FOR THIS SHOW/FILM PLEASE CONTACT NETWORK OR FILM COMPANY. TELEVISION BOOK 5/23/99 Christopher Walken in 'The Dead Zone'' Pix Credit: Paramount Pictures Published in NYT 05/23/99 - TELEVISION section Published Caption: Christopher Walken in 'The Dead Zone,'' a 1983 film of the Stephen King novel. (Paramount Pictures) Published in NYT 02/11/01 - TELEVISION Section Published Caption: Christopher Walken in 'The Dead Zone" (1983). (Paramount Pictures) Library Tag 09182005 Arts & Entertainment Library Tag 11232007
    Paramount Pictures
    Christopher Walken in “The Dead Zone.”

    The Dead Zone


    Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams

    Walken plays Johnny Smith, who emerges from a coma with psychic powers? David Cronenberg directed? There’s such rightness here one can only paraphrase Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters”: Are those trick questions?


    Anthony Michael Hall, Nicole de Boer

    The cable series ran on USA Network.

    Children of the Corn


    Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor!)

    A small town. Human sacrifice. Not good. Directed by Fritz Kiersch (so much for red-carpet treatment).


    David Anders, Kandyse McClure

    Donald P. Borchers directed this TV movie. Oh boy, that He Who Walks Behind the Rows! Even the walls have ears (different kind of ears).

    Pet Sematary


    Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster!)

    Mary Lambert directed, but the important point for King aficionados is that he did the screenplay. He did the script for “Creepshow,” too.


    Jason Clarke, John Lithgow

    This time King turned over screenwriting honors to Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler.

    Mark Feeney can be reached at