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Stephen King Movies

Looking for the perfect mix of chills and emotionally-investing stories for date night? Look no further than these five masterful Stephen King adaptations.

Continuing my series where I bring you recommendations for the best film and television shows to watch with your sweetie or to win over a potential mate while on a first date, I am thrilled to bring you the top five best Stephen King adaptations for horror romance.

To describe American writer Stephen King as prolific would be something of an understatement. To date, he has written over 60 novels and sold 350 million books, many of which have been adapted into films and TV series. The reason his work is so popular is that he presents his audience with an emotional rollercoaster. Expect captivating plots, strong characters, creeping suspense, terrifying situations, and dark humor — everything you could hope for when snuggling with someone special on the couch.

Here are the five most recommended Stephen King horror films, according to an internal poll conducted by dating specialists from

1. Carrie (1976)

The storyline may go down a well-worn path — a bullied teen gets revenge on her tormentors – but the execution is horrific and compelling. The titular Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a friendless misfit, shielded from the outside world by her mother, a religious fanatic. Her first experience of menstruation comes as a shock that she is not prepared for. King stated this experience formed the central concept of his novel: female sexuality and power. The bullies in Carrie’s high school plan to publicly humiliate her, without realizing they are quite literally playing with fire. Carrie possesses latent ‘telekinetic’ powers and can control objects with her mind. Sharp objects. Flammable objects.

When payback finally gets delivered in a most explosive way, you and your partner will be enthralled.

WHERE TO WATCH: Watch for free on Starz, or rent for as low as $1.99 from Amazon (available to rent on many other platforms as well). 

2. The Dead Zone (1983)

Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) awakens from a coma to discover he has developed psychic powers, including an ability to foresee events. This awareness, existing beyond his normal perception, is him tapping into the ‘dead zone.’ By making contact with people, he can receive visions and advise them accordingly. There is also a moral fiber to the story. Johnny has a vision of ambitious politician Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) becoming US president and launching a nuclear war, and he resolves to assassinate him for the good of mankind.

Although this is based on an earlier novel (first published in 1979), the twisting narrative and Walken’s strong performance combine to produce a highly effective horror yarn.

WHERE TO WATCH: Watch for free on Amazon Prime, Peacock, or Pluto TV. 

3. IT (1983/2017/2019)

One reason the original Stephen King miniseries (1990), or the more recent two-part feature film adaptation (Chapter One, 2017 and Chapter Two, 2019), is so ideal for date night is the extended length — giving you a great excuse to stay closer longer. The 1990 version with Tim Curry as Pennywise clocks in at 3 hours and 7 minutes. IT Chapter One is a healthy 2 hours and 14 minutes, while IT Chapter Two is nearly three hours long (2 hours and 49 minutes to be exact).

You can get engrossed in this tale of seven childhood friends reuniting in the town of Derry to face their respective demons, after being terrorized by a demonic clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård in the 2017/2019 version). The climactic sequences of the recent adaptation are set in an underground lair, with the filmmakers relying on their significant special effects budget to relay the horror rather than the psychological terror of earlier sequences.

Overall, this is a gripping thriller with some strong characters and stellar performances from both the young cast and their adult counterparts. Watch Chapter One and Chapter Two back to back may be quite a commitment, but it certainly makes for an emotionally packed, white-knuckle thrill ride for any date night.

WHERE TO WATCH: You can rent IT (1990) on Amazon. IT Chapter One (2017) and IT Chapter Two (2019) are available for free on HBO/HBO Max (or rent them from a variety of VOD platforms). 

4. Misery (1990)

Directed by Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally), this is the antithesis of a comedy. Annie (Kathy Bates) is a superfan of thriller writer Paul (James Caan). When fate decrees he should be immobilized on her doorstep after a car crash, she nurses him back to health. But she’s no angel of mercy, and this crazed fanatic (in every sense of the word) won’t let him escape without a price. Just as thrilling and wickedly entertaining as the book, the film works on several levels. It’s even a bit of a love story — albeit a rather twisted one.

Widely considered one of Stephen King’s best film adaptations, the incomparable Kathy Bates won a well deserved Oscar for her work here. Misery is an absolutely brilliant, powerful acted, and terrifying masterpiece that has only gotten better with age.

WHERE TO WATCH: You can watch this acclaimed horror classic for free on HBO/HBO Max. 

5. In the Tall Grass (2019)

Based on a novella by King and his son Joe Hill, this creepy story focuses on a patch of grassland, towering over whoever enters, where mystery lurks. Becky (Layla De Oliveira), six-months pregnant, and Cal (Avery Whitted) are traveling to San Diego when they stop for a break. Hearing a voice calling for help from the field of tall grass, they both make their way inside, only to discover there seems no way out. En route, they encounter others who appear to have come to the same conclusion. As the characters continually find escape routes thwarted, your blood pressure will rise – in a good way!

One of King’s most recent adaptations, this film benefits from a great concept and some strong psychological horror. Many things are intentionally left vague or unanswered, leaving you and your date with plenty to discuss and interpret together after the credits roll.

WHERE TO WATCH: You can check this one out for free on Netflix. 

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