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Stephen King-Inspired Movies and Shows to Watch With Hulu’s ‘Castle Rock’

It’s Halloween in July with the launch of Hulu’s buzzy new Stephen King inspired seriesCastle Rock.”

But in case that show alone isn’t enough to satisfy TV watchers’ thirst for summertime fear, there are plenty of other creepy King adaptations that are worth a late night viewing — and many even serve as the sources for countless easter eggs hidden in the new horror series.

Here’s a sampling of King-based movies and TV shows made throughout the years.

Carrie (1976)

Carrie - Sissy Spacek - 1976

Decades before Sissy Spacek accepted the role of Ruth Deaver in Hulu’s “Castle Rock,” she portrayed the telekinetic title character in the first movie adaptation of King’s “Carrie.” Spacek’s bloody performance as a traumatized teenage girl shocked moviegoers in the infamous prom scene from King’s breakout novel.

Salem’s Lot (1979)

Salem's Lot - 1979

One of the earliest King adaptations, “Salem’s Lot” brought the author’s second published novel to the small screen as a TV movie starring David Soul as a writer who teams up with a young fan on a mission to rescue a small town infested by vampires. The film received three Emmy nominations, including nods for the music and makeup that made its blood-sucking monsters so horrifying.

The Shining (1980)

While King famously disliked director Stanley Kubrick’s take on one of his most famous novels, many consider “The Shining” — as well as Jack Nicholson’s chilling lead performance as Jack Torrance — to be a horror masterpiece. The hotel murder thriller terrified audiences with twin ghosts and “redrum” — though many of the film’s iconic images are not part of King’s novel.

The Dead Zone (1983)

The Dead Zone - 1983

Based on King’s science fiction thriller, “The Dead Zone” stars Christopher Walken as a science teacher whose life is altered by a coma-inducing car crash. But the movie really gets into the eerie King spirit when Walken’s character awakens from the coma to find himself in possession of a strange ability that allows him to experience others’ lives.

Stand by Me (1986)

Stand By Me 1986

“Stand by Me” contains nearly all of the essential King elements, including a ragtag bunch of young boys, a mysterious missing child case, a dead body, and a summer-gone-wrong, all set in the small town of — you guessed it — Castle Rock. Directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell, “Stand by Me” is another Oscar-nominated film based on King’s short story “The Body.”

It (1990)

Tim Curry It 1990

Before Bill Skarsgard brought Pennywise the Dancing Clown to the big screen in 2017, Tim Curry originated the monster’s fear-inducing fake makeup in a 1990 miniseries adaptation of King’s novel of the same name, which follows a group of kids who team up to take down the bloodthirsty circus performer after a string of children go missing in their small town.

Misery (1990)

Misery - 1990

Another Reiner-King collaboration, “Misery” stars Kathy Bates as a deranged woman who holds her favorite author hostage after rescuing him from a car crash. Bates won both the Oscar and Golden Globe for her haunting lead actress performance as Annie Wilkes in 1990 — the first of three Oscar nominations and seven Golden Globe nominations for the actress.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Tim Robbins Shawshank Redemption

Regarded by many as one of the greatest films of all time, “The Shawshank Redemption” is so engrained in cinematic history, it’s easy to forget it began with King’s short story “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.” Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, and directed by Frank Darabont, “The Shawshank Redemption,” tells the story of inmate Andy Dufresne (Robbins) and his complex plan to escape Shawshank State Prison — which is also an important setting in “Castle Rock.”

The Stand (1994)

The Stand - 1994

King wrote all four episodes of the 1990s miniseries based on his post-apocalyptic novel of the same name. It stars Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald. The show tells the harrowing tale of survivors of a global plague who turn against one another when the rest of the world’s population dies.

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Dolores Claiborne

Bates returned to the King universe in 1995 to star alongside a young Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Dolores Claiborne,” which, like many of King’s most successful works, begins with a murder mystery that find’s Bates’ titular character accused of killing an elderly woman she serves as a maid. Leigh plays her daughter, who grapples with the pair’s toxic family history amid the murder trial.

The Green Mile (1999)

Another King prison drama directed by Darabont, “The Green Mile” stars Tom Hanks as a Death Row guard who discovers one of the inmates (Michael Clarke Duncan) — accused of child murder and rape — possesses a superhuman power. The adaptation based on King’s 1996 novel of the same name received four Oscar nominations in 2000, including best picture and supporting actor.

11.22.63 (2016)


Prior to “Castle Rock,” Hulu also tapped the King universe for a miniseries adaptation of his historical suspense drama “11.22.63.” The period show stars James Franco as a disillusioned English teacher who travels back in time to try to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Though “11.22.63” does contain scattered elements of horror, it reads — and watches — lighter compared to many of King’s other works.

It (2017)

Bill Skarsgard It 2017

The first big screen take on King’s child-murdering circus clown devoured the 2017 summer box office, grossing $700.4 million globally. Skarsgard led the film as Pennywise, while Derry’s misfit team of child heroes featured “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Lieberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Sophia Lillis. “It: Chapter 2” floats into theaters on Sept. 6 2019 with a new adult Losers’ Club led by Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader.

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