Mental Floss

The 15 Best Stephen King Movies and TV Shows You Can Stream Right Now

Jake Rossen
Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo star in 'The Outsider' (2020).
Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo star in 'The Outsider' (2020). / Bob Mahoney/HBO

In 2017, It, an adaptation of horror legend Stephen King’s 1986 novel, became the highest-grossing horror film in history. It was a fitting badge of honor for the prolific horror novelist, who has seen dozens of his books and stories transferred to film, often with only mixed success.

Fortunately, there’s still plenty of King-inspired material that lives up to his name. Take a look at 15 movies and television shows currently streaming that capture the essence of King’s work.

1. Stephen King's It (1990)

The special effects might be less than impressive, but this 1990 made-for-television miniseries adaptation of King’s 1986 epic is still a treat thanks to the performance of Tim Curry as Pennywise, a clown who’s the living embodiment of evil. Producers considered Roddy McDowall, Alice Cooper, and Malcolm McDowell before casting Curry, whose scare tactics were seen by more than 37 million viewers.

Where to stream it: HBO Max

2. Creepshow 2 (1987)

A macabre King vibe inspired this anthology, a sequel to 1982’s Creepshow, which the writer collaborated on with horror master George A. Romero. The standout of the sequel: “The Raft,” about a group of college kids who find a sentient blob of sludge at a lake that makes their weekend getaway anything but relaxing. Two other King stories, the bowling-centric “Pinball” and “Cat From Hell,” were planned but cut due to budgetary concerns. The latter wound up in 1990’s Tales From the Darkside: The Movie.

Where to stream it: Amazon Prime

3. 11.22.63 (2016)

King’s revisionist take on JFK’s assassination comes to life in this Hulu original series. James Franco stars as a professor who discovers he can travel back in time to prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting at the motorcade in Dallas. Unfortunately, those heroics have consequences in the future. The late director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) was originally slated to helm a feature based on the book before the rights eventually went to J.J. Abrams.

Where to stream it: Hulu

4. Gerald’s Game (2017)

Carla Gugino’s weekend getaway with her husband turns into an endurance test when she finds herself alone and handcuffed to a bed. Slowly, creeping horrors both real and imagined begin to materialize. To keep her sanity—and her life—she’ll need to escape by any means necessary. King loved the movie, which he described as “hypnotic.”

Where to stream it: Netflix

5. In the Tall Grass (2019)

King’s 2012 novella—co-written with his son, Joe Hill—is a classic King conceit of taking the mundane and making it terrifying. After chasing a boy into a thick patch of farmland grass, two siblings realize that it harbors dangerous and mystifying entities. Patrick Wilson co-stars.

Where to stream it: Netflix

6. The Mist (2007)

One of King’s most gut-wrenching adaptations comes courtesy of Frank Darabont, who had previously helmed 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption. In a small Maine town, artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) finds himself trapped in a grocery store as a strange fog envelops residents—and brings with it a terrifying menagerie of creatures. Darabont had previously adapted a King short story, “The Woman in the Room,” as a low-budget project in the early 1980s. As he did with most budding filmmakers, King sold him the rights for $1.

Where to stream it: Netflix

7. The Shining (1980)

Widely regarded as the best King adaptation of all time, this Stanley Kubrick film is actually not all that well-liked by King himself: He felt it failed to capture key elements of his 1977 novel (in 1997, King remade it as a miniseries starring Steven Weber). But it’s an undeniably rich and evocative horror show, with writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) slowly becoming unwound as he and his family settle in for an isolated winter at the Overlook Hotel.

Where to stream it: HBO Max

8. Cat's Eye (1985)

Several King stories are stitched together in this anthology film. Drew Barrymore has a problem with a troublesome troll; James Woods finds that quitting smoking can be deadly; Robert Hays makes a bet he can survive a walk on a high-rise ledge. Director Lewis Teague had previously directed Cujo (1983), while Barrymore had starred in Firestarter (1984).

Where to stream it: HBO Max

9. Stephen King's Storm of the Century (1999)

King wrote this original miniseries for ABC about a mysterious stranger named Linoge (Colm Feore) who terrorizes a small town during a snowstorm. He’ll leave them alone—but only if they agree to a horrifying request. King has called it his favorite among all of his made-for-television work.

Where to stream it: Hulu

10. The Dead Zone (1983)

Christopher Walken has the weight of the world on his shoulders as Johnny Smith, a teacher who emerges from a coma with psychic powers. When he encounters a power-mad politician (Martin Sheen) with destructive tendencies, Johnny must decide whether to take drastic action. King’s 1979 novel also inspired a USA Network television series starring Anthony Michael Hall, which is available to stream for free on Tubi.

Where to stream it: HBO Max

11. Children of the Corn (1984)

King’s short story from 1978’s Night Shift collection imagines a small town in which children are free to explore their most violent impulses without any parental supervision. Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton are a couple who stumble upon this kid-run community and quickly come to regret it. The film franchise has grown to nine movies, but you’re best off sticking with the original.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime

12. A Good Marriage (2014)

When Joan Allen finds some incriminating evidence pointing to her perfect husband (played by Anthony LaPaglia) being a serial killer, she must decide between the love of her life and a monster who takes lives. The film is based on the novella of the same name in King’s 2010 collection Full Dark, No Stars.

Where to stream it: Amazon Prime via Freevee

13. 1922 (2017)

Full Dark, No Stars also contains the novella 1922, which Zak Hilditch adapted into a Netflix film in 2017. It’s less about what Nebraska farmer Wilfred James (Thomas Jane) will do to keep his wife from uprooting their family to the city and more about the very messy (both literally and psychologically) aftermath of those actions. The corn had already mostly been harvested by the time filmmakers started shooting in Vancouver, so the stalks you see in the movie were either shipped in or added during the editing phase. The rats, however, were all actually on set.

Where to stream it: Netflix

14. The Outsider (2020)

King’s 2018 novel The Outsider grew out of the author’s urge to write about someone who was inexplicably in two places at the same time. The story—which was optioned as a miniseries almost immediately after its publication—follows the supernaturally charged investigation of a child’s murder in Oklahoma, seemingly committed by an upstanding citizen (played by Jason Bateman) who also happens to have an unshakeable alibi. Ben Mendelsohn stars as the lead investigator, with help from private detective Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo), whom King considers “one of the most interesting characters in my entire lexicon.”

Where to stream it: HBO Max

15. Lisey’s Story (2021)

In this adaptation of King’s 2006 novel of the same name, Julianne Moore stars as Lisey Landon, a widow plagued with once-repressed memories unearthed over the course of a treasure hunt left by her dead husband (Clive Owen). With J.J. Abrams as producer and Spencer director Pablo Larraín behind the camera, the miniseries is both mentally and visually arresting; King was so invested in the project, in fact, that he agreed to write all eight episodes, something he hadn’t done for one of his TV adaptations since 1997’s ABC version of The Shining.

Where to stream it: Apple TV+

A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2022.