Stephen King has a theory that he’s cursed, and the hex manifests itself in the form of film appearances. “He said, ‘Actually, you have to know that I’m a jinx,’” Andy Muschietti, the director of the IT movies, told Vanity Fair when Chapter Two debuted. “Apparently all the movies that he was in with a cameo ultimately bombed. He wanted to warn me.”
In ranking the 20 best Stephen King movies of all time—though there have been plenty of memorable TV adaptations of King’s books but that’s another list for another day. The really exceptional King adaptations may not feature a guest appearance from the author himself, but they share the trait of following the narrative of the book more faithfully. (Look no further than 2017’s The Dark Tower to see how completely rewriting King’s structure is a pathway to cinematic disaster.)
Another intriguing phenomenon of this list is how often filmmakers make repeat appearances. Directors Rob Reiner, Frank Darabont, and Mike Flanagan and screenwriter William Goldman each grooved with King’s style in a way that led them back for more.
So HERE’s a rundown of the 20 best Stephen King movies ever—as ranked by Vanity Fair. As it is with a certain demonic 1958 Plymouth Fury, your own mileage may vary depending on your mood.