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Beyond Boogeyman: the 7 most underrated Stephen King movies and TV shows

The literary works of Stephen King have led to countless adaptations for film and TV, so there were always bound to be a few that have been overlooked by the public. Though not all of them can be smash hits like Carrie or 2017’s It, there are still some King-based projects that deserve more recognition from audiences, even if some of them don’t stick to the source material.

The Boogeyman is the latest in a long line of King adaptations built to scare audiences. Whether or not you thought the book was better, these seven adaptations are still some of the most underrated projects based on King’s substantial bibliography.

The Stand (2020)

Whoopi Goldberg stands in a field in The Stand.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Based on one of King’s greatest novels to date, The Stand follows a group of people as they survive a global pandemic created by a man-made superflu and take part in a Biblical war between the holy Mother Abigail and the evil sorcerer Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård of Infinity Pool). This CBS streaming series had the bad luck of arriving just as COVID-19 shut down the world, and it seems like many more eyes would have been watching this Lord of the Rings-style epic if not for that circumstance.

Yes, this miniseries did many things wrong, from cutting back on Nick and Tom’s individual stories to its portrayal of Nadine (Amber Heard) and Trashcan Man (Ezra Miller), who were played by two of the most controversial actors in recent memory. Also, the decision to tell the story with a nonlinear narrative rubbed plenty of audiences the wrong way. Nevertheless, when compared to the 1994 miniseries, the reboot features much better visual effects and plenty of fantastic performances (with Montana Story‘s Owen Teague stealing the show as Harold Lauder). It even features a brand new ending written by Stephen King himself, which warrants a viewing from fans of his classic novel.

Stream The Stand on Paramount+.

Doctor Sleep (2019)

A woman's eyes glow in Doctor Sleep.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Even though this is the sequel to one of the most esteemed horror films of all time, Doctor Sleep fell under the radar when it hit theaters, receiving just as much fanfare as its predecessor did upon its release. Taking place 40 years after The Shining, it follows an adult Dan Torrance, now a recovering alcoholic, as he fights to protect a young girl also gifted with the “shine” from a cult of psychic vampires known as the True Knot.

Director Mike Flanagan (Midnight Club) stays true to Stanley Kubrick’s original film by following the same narrative and including many loving tributes. At the same time, this sequel fully embraces the supernatural elements of King’s story and uses elements from his version of The Shining that Kubrick controversially changed. And with brilliant performances from the cast, this follow-up should satisfy fans of either King’s book or Kubrick’s film, making it the sequel audiences didn’t know they needed.

Doctor Sleep is streaming on Max.

The Outsider (2020)

A man stands with a bloody nose in The Outsider.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This HBO miniseries follows a jaded detective who investigates the brutal death of a young boy at the hands of his Little League coach. However, the detective learns that the perpetrator was in two different places at the exact time of the murder, forcing him to open his mind and accept that something unbelievable is afoot.

The Outsider plays like a more adult version of It, blending procedural crime drama with supernatural horror to create a harrowing tale of loss and grief in a small community. With such a sprawling mystery, stellar performances, and nail-biting suspense, this show should not be an outsider to the best adaptations of King’s work.

The Outsider is streaming on Max.

11.22.63 (2016)

James Franco as Jake in "11.22.63."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This Hulu miniseries follows an English teacher who goes back to the year 1960 to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But as he waits for the fateful day to come, he must discover the truth behind JFK’s murder while avoiding attempts on his life by both human and supernatural forces.

With all the mysteries and conspiracy theories surrounding this tragedy, the show keeps the audience guessingas to how everything will play out. But with all the loving connections James Franco’s protagonist makes in his new life, the story manages to stay grounded and relatable enough to appeal to a vast audience.

Stream 11.22.63 on Hulu now.

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Carla Gugino glances to the side in Gerald's Game.
Courtesy of Netflix

Before he terrified Netflix streamers with The Haunting of Bly Manor, director Mike Flanagan took one of King’s most obscure and restrictive stories and made it into a cinematic masterpiece. The story follows a woman left handcuffed to a bed after her husband suddenly dies during their romantic getaway.

While the premise may not sound that exciting, Gerald’s Game transcends the confines of its limited setting to depict a surreal and horrifying voyage into the protagonist’s mind and the childhood trauma that lies within. And with Carla Gugino giving the performance of a lifetime, audiences will find themselves mesmerized by this film and unable to look away (except maybe during that gruesome “de-gloving” scene).

Gerald’s Game is now streaming on Netflix.

Pet Sematary (2019)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Pet Sematary has always been a difficult story to adapt due to its dark, layered story and its wretchedly hopeless ending. Even the 1989 film, which many have deemed a classic, still has its fair share of detractors. However, the remake deserves more credit than it got back in 2019.

The story does deviate from the source material, specifically by making Louis and Rachel’s daughter, Ellie, the undead villain instead of little Gage. However, it still features plenty of great scares and terrific acting, especially from the undead Ellie. The film also stays true to the book by making the demon Wendigo the master of the titular cemetery and the overarching antagonist.

Pet Sematary can be rented or purchased digitally on Prime Video.

1922 (2017)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Set in the early 20th century, this Netflix original movie follows a farmer who murders his wife with the help of his teenage son, only for the two perpetrators to be haunted more and more by their unspeakable crime and the vengeful ghost of their victim. Since this film scored a frightening 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s surprising to see it be all but forgotten by general audiences.

This slow-burning ghost story might not be to everyone’s liking, but it is still a chilling tale exploring how guilt can follow someone like a shadow and slowly eat away at their lives for years until it destroys them. Such a drawn-out punishment brings new meaning to the phrase, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

1922 is now streaming on Netflix.

Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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