Stephen King is one of the world’s most prolific horror storytellers, so it’s no surprise that many of his works have been adapted for the big screen. From classics such as Carrie and The Shining, through cult oddities like Maximum Overdrive and Children of the Corn to the recent likes of IT Chapters One and Two, King is undoubtedly the master of the genre.
We've currently got King on the brain because the Firestarter remake is about to land in Cineworld. This slick update of the 1984 horror shocker, itself based on a King property, focuses on a young girl whose terrifying pyrotechnic abilities are sought by sinister forces. Zac Efron brings the star power and The Vigil director Keith Thomas keeps the overwrought atmosphere churning.
Not all of King's novels have found their way onto the big screen, however. Here are seven of his stories that haven’t been turned into films yet…
1. The Long Walk (1979)
After breaking into the literary horror world with Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining, King gave us The Long Walk in 1979 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.
Best described as The Hunger Games meets Speed, the novel (which King began writing at university) takes place in a dystopian future. Teenage boys compete in the eponymous annual event, in which they must continuously walk above a speed of 4mph or face being ‘ticketed'. Alongside an engaging premise, The Long Walk dives into themes of existential terror as the boys march onward.
New Line Cinema currently holds the rights to the novel and is reportedly working on an adaptation with Trollhunter’s André Øvredal at the helm. But following two failed attempts and the removal of a gorgeous short fan film, we’ll just need to wait and see with this one.
2. Insomnia (1994)
Another of King’s novels that take place in the fictional town of Derry, Insomnia follows the recently widowed Ralph Roberts as he begins to suffer from severe – you guessed it – insomnia. As the plot progresses, Ralph and a small group of other sufferers find themselves experiencing a host of supernatural phenomena.
Weighing in at around 800 pages, this violent blend of sci-fi and horror is a true epic that leans into King’s fantastical side. Indeed, it may be the novel’s sheer scale that’s prevented it from being adapted for the big screen.
3. The Regulators (1996)
The Regulators was published alongside another of King’s novels, Desperation, and was intended as a ‘mirror’ novel, taking place in a parallel universe and featuring many of the same characters. Whereas the latter follows a group of civilians as they're held captive by an unhinged sheriff in an abandoned mining town, the former is akin to a slasher novel, with many of the same faces being hunted by the same supernatural presence, but in a suburban setting.
While Desperation was turned into a 2006 TV movie starring Ron Perlman and Tom Skerritt, there’s still no sign of its Regulators counterpart – despite King tweeting in 2014 that there had been talks to turn it into a TV series.
4. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999)
In the same year that The Blair Witch Project brought terror to cinemas, Stephen King published a novel with a similar storyline. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’s plot revolves around a nine-year-old girl who’s thrust into a struggle for survival when she gets separated from her family during a hiking trip.
Armed only with scarce supplies and her trusted Walkman – which enables her to listen to a baseball game featuring the titular pitcher – the youngster’s ordeal gets worse as she ventures deeper into the forest. With hunger and dehydration causing strange hallucinations, she soon begins to sense a dark presence watching her – but could the foreboding figure be a figment of her imagination?
5. Duma Key (2008)
Taking the horror from Maine to Florida, Duma Key sees artist Edgar Freemantle retreat to the titular fictional island after he’s injured in a work accident. While there, he discovers that his paintings have a psychic connection, and are able to depict what’s happened and what’s to come. In typical King fashion, the paintings become increasingly twisted, with a ghost ship drawing ever nearer to the shore.
While a film adaptation is reportedly in the works, it’s been stuck in development limbo.
6. Gwendy’s Button Box (2017)
Co-written by Richard Chizmar, Gwendy’s Button Box is a devilish tale that reminds us to be careful what we wish for. While out for a run, 12-year-old Gwendy is greeted by a mysterious stranger who gifts her the titular supernatural box, telling her it’ll help her achieve her goals.
As time goes on, however, Gwendy learns just how much power the box has over her. With events becoming ever stranger, she realises that her nightmares are more real than she thought.
7. Elevation (2018)
Elevation is as upbeat as a Stephen King novel gets. Taking place in the same town as Gwendy, it centres around Scott, a man who’s afflicted by a peculiar weight-loss disease and is caught up in an argument with the lesbian couple next door.
Alongside the enticing mystery surrounding Scott’s illness, the horror here is less to do with supernatural happenings than the effect prejudice can have on communities. While there’s certainly enough of King’s trademark strangeness to please the horror crowd, the real beauty of Elevation comes from its lessons in the value of unity, proving how powerful King is as a writer.
Click here to book your tickets for Firestarter, opening in Cineworld cinemas on 13th May.
What classic Stephen King stories do you want to see adapted for the big screen? Let us know @Cineworld.