Adaptations of STEPHEN KING’s books that he openly disliked

Stephen King did not speak positively about all adaptations of his work.

Maja Budka

5 December 2022

Stephen King

Stephen King needs no introduction. He is one of the most popular and prolific contemporary American writers. His books are world bestsellers, so it’s no wonder that studios buy the rights to them almost immediately after the premiere and transfer the literary possessions of the master of horror to the screens. However, King is known not only for his macabre imagination, but also for his sharp tongue and criticism of his film adaptations. He does not spare bitter words and does not waste the opportunity to express his contempt during interviews. Probably the most famous film based on his book, he called “a beautiful Cadillac without an engine.” Here are the film adaptations of Stephen King’s works that the writer probably doesn’t want to see a second time.

Graveyard Shift

Stephen King

Hardly anyone really remembers the film from 1990, an adaptation of a story from the Night Shift collection. She is mainly known for being considered by King himself to be the absolute worst. In an interview with Deadline, King, when asked what his least favorite film based on his works was, replied bluntly: “Do I even have to say that? There are a few movies that I feel like… yuck. One of them is the Graveyard Shift. It’s just short-term cinema.” In fact, the film directed by Ralph S. Singleton did not receive very high ratings. King’s approach is also shared by his fans. Few actually like this movie.

The Shining

Stephen King

In the case of The Shining, fans and viewers do not so readily share the author’s opinion. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is considered one of the best horror films in cinema history. The lines of Jack Nicholson, playing the role of Jack Torrance, the scene with the bicycle, ax or typewriter have gone down in history forever. Despite this, King’s approach is clear and transparent. As the writer revealed in one of the interviews: “I think The Shining is a good movie and it looks great, but it’s still a big, beautiful Cadillac without an engine inside.” Where did this reluctance come from? Perhaps with a high bar. The Shining is King’s most personal and intimate book, and the character of Jack Torrance was intended to be a reflection of the author’s character. Anyway, it was to this character that King had the greatest reservations. In his opinion, when you first look at the character of Jack played by Jack Nicholson, you immediately see that he is a crazy man. According to the writer, the film lacks any kind of tragedy because there is no noticeable change in the character who struggles with his mental health and eventually loses his mind. Of course, it was also about the fact that Kubrick deviated from the book when writing the script, which King doesn’t like very much. Interestingly, the sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, King has more sympathy for.

The Tommyknockers

Stephen King

The miniseries about a monster with supernatural powers lurking on the residents of the small town of Haven is also not high on King’s personal top list. As he admitted in an interview with The Rolling Stone, The Tommyknockers, directed by John Power, seemed to the writer to be “a bit cheap and done in a headlong way. I think they missed the point of the book.”

It must be admitted, however, that while the 1993 miniseries is not among the best, King is also reluctant to acknowledge the original, the 1987 book The Tommyknockers . What’s more, the author explained that he was “far from sober” while writing the novel and called it terrible.

The Dark Tower

Stephen King

The Dark Tower is a great series of books that clearly stand out from the other novels of the master of horror. Over the years it has also managed to win over a host of loyal fans. So needless to say, some were sincerely happy to hear about the upcoming adaptation, but the rest had more concerns than hopes. The Dark Tower is a fantasy story whose world is heavily unreal. It presents itself better in the reader’s imagination than on the screen. There are exceptions, of course, but Nikolaj Arcel’s film is not one of them.

When the dust of disappointment settled after the film’s release, Stephen King also revealed his thoughts. The author accused the studio of taking the easiest and safest route. As he said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “The biggest problem is that it was considered to be a PG-13 film.” According to the author, the film The Dark Tower lost a lot on this.

Maximum Overdrive

Stephen King

Let it suffice that King called the 1986 film, based on the short story Trucks, “a movie for morons.” Most amusingly, however, Stephen King himself was at the helm of the production, responsible for the script and direction. The film turned out to be a disaster, to which King remorsefully admitted.

In an interview, he confessed that “the problem with the film is that throughout the production period I was crazy and didn’t know what I was doing.” This is one of the few moments where King, instead of acrimoniously attacking others, beats his chest and puts all the blame on himself (and his drug addiction at the time).


Stephen King

Firestarter is King’s acclaimed novel about a girl who can start fires with the power of her mind. In an interview with American Film magazine, King made it clear how much he is not a fan of the film adaptation of the novel of the same name, and he did so rather bluntly. “Arsonist is one of the worst films, even though plot-wise it is very close to the original. It is tasteless. It resembles canteen potato purée. There are also special effects that make no sense to me.”

King also had comments about the actors in Mark L. Lester’s 1984 film. He didn’t like the role of David Keith, and King accused Martin Sheen, who played the role of Captain Hollister, of simply “duplicating the character of Greg Stillson,” a character from Dead Zone, whom he also played in David Cronenberg’s 1983 film (this is also an adaptation of King’s book, but one the author likes).

The Running Man

Stephen King

Stephen King’s main objection to the film is that the filmmakers had to forcefully make the main character into a muscle-packed hero. Guess who starred in the lead role. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. The film, directed by Paul Michael Glaser, has its fans, but King eventually made a mockery of the production, saying that the work has nothing to do with the original, his 1979 science fiction novel, except for the title. Ultimately, the writer demanded that his name be removed from the promotional materials.


Stephen King

The book Dreamcatcher was the first that King wrote after his terrible car accident. So the co-authors are strong painkillers that King was taking at the time. Years later, the author admitted that the novel was “messy” and he was not fond of it. The same goes for the film adaptation.

Warner Bros. made a big-budget film of the same name based on the book. It also assembled an impressive cast, including Morgan Freeman, Damian Lewis, Thomas Jane and Timothy Olyphant. That didn’t help, however. The film’s calling card is mainly the bizarre monster creations and not very successful CGI. After time, King agreed with this assessment, likening the film to a disaster involving a speeding train.

The Lawnmower Man

Stephen King

The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 science fiction film based on the short story from the collection Night Shift. However, the film didn’t win many fans, and Stephen King is certainly not one of them. The effects may have been impressive in the early 1990s, but such productions get old quickly, and today, objectively speaking, they just look kitschy. Not even a young Pierce Brosnan helped.

However, King’s hatred of the film grew to such proportions that the writer sued the studio. The court granted the request and ordered that the author’s name be removed from the title and promotional materials for the film. This was argued on the grounds that the film version has almost nothing to do with his story and could damage the writer’s reputation.

Maja Budka

Maja Budka

I write about film and art with a cat on the keyboard. I like animation and films lined with gentle absurdity.

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