stephen king adaptations
[Photo via Warner Bros.]

Stephen King is one of the most popular and prolific authors in history. As of this writing, the man who reinvented horror for a generation has over 200 novels, novellas and short stories in print. With over 50 of his works adapted for TV and film so far, there’s still plenty more King for Hollywood to mine for its next blockbuster. 

With The Stand miniseries set to debut in December, here are 10 of King’s best unadapted novels and short stories that are ripe for the screen. 

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“Bad Little Kid”

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Featured book from my unread bookshelf. 🎊🎉📚🙈 This is the first King book that I’ve struggled with. It’s a collection of short stories, but some of them just fall flat for me. I shouldn’t have started with this collection, because I’ve heard it’s pretty weak compared to his other collections. I just finished “Afterlife”.. but I really need encouragement to give the rest of the book another try. . . Have you read this? What do you think? Should I keep going? What were your favorites? What’s his BEST short story collection? 😩HELP!!! . . #book #books #bookish #bookworm #booknerd #bookphotography #bookporn #bibliophile #currentlyreading #read #reading #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #goodreads #igreads #booknerdigans #booklover #bookreview #booktag #theunreadshelfproject2018 #idratherbereading #modernmrsdarcyreadjngchallenge #modernmrsdarcy #stephenking #bazaarofbaddreams #thebazaarofbaddreams

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This frightening short story from King’s 2015 anthology, The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams, raises a complicated ethical question. Is the murder of a child ever justified? When attorney Leonard Bradley visits his client, convicted child murderer George Hallas, just before his execution, he’s expecting a confession. However, what Hallas relays to his lawyer is the inexplicable tale of a supernatural entity that’s haunted him since childhood. Featuring King’s creepiest monster since Pennywise The Clown, Bad Little Kid” is gripping, thematically complex and terrifying. 

“Home Delivery”

With the continuing popularity of zombies on film and TV, it seems impossible that one of the best stories about the hungry dead written by the world’s greatest living horror author has yet to be adapted for the screen. Yet, that is the case with “Home Delivery.” First appearing in John Skipp and Craig Spector‘s influential Book Of The Dead in 1989 and then in King’s 1993 collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes, “Home Delivery” tells the story of how the zombie apocalypse affects a small island community off the coast of Maine. Poignant and frightening, “Home Delivery” features sympathetic, relatable characters and a unique take on a well-worn genre trope delivered in King’s trademark style.

“I Am The Doorway”

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What’s your favorite short story? I read the Night Shift collection last summer, and it is seriously packed full of some of the craziest, weirdest, and most haunting short stories I’ve ever read. I of course loved the ‘Salem’s Lot related ones, “I Am the Doorway”, “Sometimes They Come Back”, and “the Boogeyman” the most, though I really enjoyed almost all of them. The one that stuck with me the most, though I kind of hated it when I was reading it, was “The Lawnmower Man.” The concept was just so strange, weird, novel, disgusting, and surreal to me! Besides this collection of short stories, I’ve read a LOT of short stories over the years by classic authors since I took a ton of lit classes my first two years of school. I’ve also read all of Neil Gaiman’s short stories. I think they’re such a fun size of a story to really explore different concepts and possibilities, but obviously it’s not really possible for much character or plot development. I really enjoy them though, and I have a whole bunch (including Poe’s and Lovecraft’s) waiting on my TBR stack. • • • #nightshift #iamthedoorway #shortstories #stephenking #lovecraft #gaiman #salemslot #nisareads #readabook #horror #horrorbooks #literature #fantasy #scifi #bookworm #bookdragon #goodreads #books #bibliophile #reader #readerforlife #booknerd #bookstagram #bookgram #bookhoarder #igreads #booksofinstagram

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“I Am The Doorway” has been adapted as an independent short. However, this early story from King’s 1978 collection, Night Shift, has the makings of an excellent sci-fi/horror feature. With a plot reminiscent of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass Experiment, “I Am The Doorway” is the story of a former astronaut whose shattered body becomes the vehicle for an evil alien presence. Evocative of both the cosmic terror of H.P. Lovecraft‘s best stories and the feel of 1950s science fiction, “I Am The Doorway” contains some of King’s most bizarre and compelling imagery.

Read more: Marilyn Manson is not Randall Flagg in ‘The Stand’ and fans are confused

Insomnia

1994’s Insomnia is a testament to King’s uncanny ability to connect seemingly average people to events with universal implications. Taking place in King’s fictional town of Derry, Maine, the setting of It, with connections to King’s sprawling fantasy series The Dark Tower, the novel tells the story of Ralph Roberts, an aging widower whose insomnia allows him to see hidden aspects of the universe. Drawn into a conflict between godlike opposing forces of the multiverse, Roberts learns about the true nature of life, death and reality. Obviously, Insomnia would pose a challenge to adapt to the screen. However, in the hands of the right director, say, Guillermo del Toro, Insomnia would make for a visual experience containing both spectacle and thematic weight.

The Plant

Originally conceived as a kind of literary Christmas card for his friends, King published the as yet unfinished novel The Plant in three installments between 1982 and 1985. King attempted to publish the novella as an ebook on his website in 2000, charging readers a dollar per chapter on “the honor system.” Sadly, this experiment failed, and King seems to have abandoned the project. Told through a series of letters and memos, The Plant is the story of an editor at a paperback publishing house who receives a strange manuscript along with some disturbing photographs from an apparently deranged author. After contacting the police, the editor receives a weird plant from the enraged author. Although we won’t know how the strange events of The Plant pan out until King decides to finish the now decades-old story, what we have so far definitely seems like it would make a great movie or TV miniseries.

Read more: 10 horror movie plot twists no one ever saw coming

Rage

In the intervening four decades since its 1977 publication, Rage has become King’s most eerily prophetic work. Written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, Rage is a suspenseful novel that deals with the motives of a troubled teen who takes his high school class hostage at gunpoint. Disturbed by the book’s connection to recent school shootings, King has allowed it to go out of print. Nevertheless, a cinematic version of Rage would make a gripping and supremely relevant cautionary tale if its hot-button subject matter were handled by a sensitive filmmaker.

“The Reach”

 

One of King’s most touching and poetic short stories, “The Reach,” from his 1985 anthology Skeleton Crew, is a poignant tale of dignity in death. Having never traveled from her island home off the coast of Maine, 95-year-old Stella Flanders intuits that her cancer, which she’s kept secret from her family, is in its final stages. Beckoned by the spirit of her dead husband, she sets out alone across the frozen reach to see the mainland before she dies. Spurred on by the singing voices of deceased loved ones, she makes it across. Substituting his typical scares for a real emotional punch, “The Reach” is a classic ghost story that represents King’s often undervalued maturity as a storyteller.

Read more: Stephen King’s ‘Revelations Of Becka Paulson’ is becoming a CW show

The Regulators

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"𝚃𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎’𝚜 𝚊 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚒𝚗𝚜𝚒𝚍𝚎 𝚘𝚏 𝚂𝚎𝚝𝚑 – 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚊𝚗 𝚒𝚍, 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚊𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚖𝚊𝚗𝚒𝚏𝚎𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚏 𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚘𝚗𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚢, 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚊 𝚑𝚒𝚝𝚌𝚑𝚑𝚒𝚔𝚎𝚛, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚜𝚘𝚖𝚎𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚕𝚒𝚔𝚎 𝚊 𝚝𝚊𝚙𝚎𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚖. 𝙸𝚝 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚔. 𝙰𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚔. 𝙸𝚝 𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚔𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚘 𝚖𝚎 𝚝𝚘𝚍𝚊𝚢. 𝙸𝚝 𝚌𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚜 𝚒𝚝𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚏 𝚃𝚊𝚔.“ . 📕Book Review!📘 . The Regulators by Stephen King . The companion piece to Desperation, written by King's sadistic alter ego Richard Bachman, The Regulators takes a very different approach to the same core concept. Where Desperation is a frenetic slasher horror, The Regulators is a frantic suburban bloodbath, with 'Bachman' going to great lengths to outdo one previous gory scene with another. . Ironically, what I loved about Desperation – its fast-paced action – is one of the things I liked the least here. The best parts of The Regulators were the flashback scenes in the style of diary entries and letters, where the non-stop gore took a back seat to a quieter, creeping dread. There's an amazing body-horror underneath all the blood splatter, and I can't help but think that if King wrote this and not 'Bachman', I'd have found it more enjoyable. . I'm also not sure that its ties to Desperation really helped this book. When you discover more about the root cause of the carnage, the familiarity you feel is really cool, but the central characters sharing names just confused me 🙃 and I'm not sure the purpose of that is ever truly explored. . I definitely enjoyed The Regulators, and despite what I literally just said (lol) I enjoyed reading this and Desperation back to back (or should I say back to Bach 😏), and would absolutely recommend them both! . ⭐️⭐️⭐️ . A massive thanks to @gothicbookworm and @longlivetheking19 for hosting the #backtobachreadalong this month! And head to @gothicbookwormdesigns for more cool postcards like the limited edition one in the photo! . #theregulators #stephenking #stephenkingbooks #stephenkingfan #stephenkingfans #horrorfan #horrorbooks #scarybooks #scary #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #reading #igreads #bookworm #booknerd #read #fiction #booksofinstagram #instaread #books

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Returning to his Bachman pseudonym, King published The Regulators in 1996 as a “mirror” to his novel Desperation. Although Desperation was adapted as a 2006 ABC television film starring Ron Perlman, The Regulators has yet to find its way to the screen. In the novel, an evil entity known as Tak exploits the thoughts of an autistic child to wreak havoc on an Ohio suburb. Surreal and incredibly violent, The Regulators finds King returning to some of his favorite themes, albeit through the gritty perspective of his Bachman persona.

Rose Madder

Despite rumblings of a proposed film version in 2011, King’s 1995 novel Rose Madder has so far evaded adaptation. The story of Rose Daniels, a woman on the run from her abusive cop husband, Norman, the novel finds King blending elements of dark fantasy and Greek mythology with realistic settings and subject matter. After taking a job as a hotel housekeeper, Rose trades her wedding ring for a painting of a woman in a rose madder dress. The painting turns out to be a portal to another world and the key to exacting revenge on her murderous husband. Much like Insomnia, a film version of Rose Madder would need the hand of a skilled and imaginative director. Yet, with the right person at the helm and a well-crafted script, the novel would no doubt make a compelling film.

“Survivor Type”

If you’ve ever wondered what Cast Away’s inspiring message of the resilience of the human spirit would be like filtered through the unhinged imagination of King, your answer lies in the short story “Survivor Type.” Featured in King’s 1985 anthology Skeleton Crew, “Survivor Type” is a thoroughly mean-spirited story that has made even the hardiest of constant readers to close the book in revulsion. When the cruise ship he’s traveling on sinks in the Pacific, disgraced surgeon-turned-drug-smuggler Richard Pine finds himself stranded on a desolate island. With few supplies except for his cache of heroin, the desperate doctor resorts to amputating and consuming parts of his own body to survive. Adapted twice as an indie short in 2011 and 2012 and for the upcoming animated The Creepshow Halloween Special on Shudder, “Survivor Type” is definitely deserving of a feature-length treatment. Naturally, there’s no way the Hollywood mainstream would touch this gruesome tale of autocannibalism. However, someone such as Takashi Miike or David Cronenberg could no doubt turn “Survivor Type” into a body-horror classic.