90s Stephen King: Which Film Sits Atop The Kingdom’s Throne?



Last time on Diabolical Debates, we here at 1428 discussed the best Stephen King adaptation from the 1980s. While we all have our own favorite Kings films- much like most things in life- we should be able to respect our fellow humans opinions. So it was only fitting to discuss the film we feel is the best King flick of the 1990s. So without further keystrokes, let’s get to this baby, shall we.

Billy Cripps:

Stephen King‘s IT (1990)

‘Your every fear – all in one deadly enemy.’

We’ve had our say on the best Stephen King movies of the 80s; now it’s time for the 90s. There was an even bigger boom of King movies in this decade. My favorite King movie of the 90s also happens to be my favorite of his books. The tale of 7 kids taking on an ultimate evil that preys on children known only as IT. While the 1990 version of Stephen King’s IT was a made for TV mini-series, this mini-series is still leaps and bounds better than the majority of the theatrical release drivel we’re force fed today.

I still remember when it first aired. I couldn’t have been more than 3 years old. I didn’t watch horror at that age and was at my aunt’s house where they were watching it. I just happened to look up and seen Pennywise revealing his sharp teeth to poor little Georgie. The Loser’s Club, or Unlucky 7, each have their own run-ins with Pennywise (played by the immortal Tim Curry) leading to a final showdown. You can’t kill evil, only subdue it.

“Awww, come on bucko! Don’t you want a… balloon?” -Pennywise

So many years later they have to return to Derry and face IT one more time. While the Stephen King’s IT mini-series is great, there was still plenty left out from the book that would have made IT so much better. In the book, Pennywise has many more forms than just a clown which is what he heavily is in the mini-series.

It is for this reason I am glad there is talk of a theatrically-released remake. While no one will be able to touch Tim Curry’s performance, with an R-rated theatrical release they will be able to stick to the book a little better, although there are some things in the book that will never make it into a movie.

My colleague Joey Click will argue that a mini-series doesn’t count as a movie, but hey, I say if it’s on home media and can be watched in one setting, it counts. Now to me what makes a great actor is that at some point the actor isn’t just acting anymore; they simply become the character. Legend has it that Tim Curry was so convincing as Pennywise that even on-set, everyone was afraid to go near him.

Everyone involved in the production of IT did a tremendous job, from the child actors (including Seth Green) to the adults. The story sucks you in. The effects could have been much better, but for TV in 1990, IT was pretty good in that respect. For all its TV restraints, IT follows the book fairly well.


Joey Click:


The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

‘Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.’

I’ll tell you Fright Fans, this was a tougher choice than picking between Leatherface or Pinhead for “most likely to torture” at the horror Olympics… of course pinhead would win that one, but still.

Of all the awesome King adaptations from the 1990s, the two stand out films are, without a shadow of a doubt, Rob Reiner’s Misery and Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption. While I do highly enjoy the pick of my fellow writer and long-time friend of mine, Billy Cripps, Tommy Lee Wallace’s IT doesn’t measure up to these two immortally iconic features.

More from 1428 Elm

Let’s start with why I love Misery. Arguably the best King adaptation in existence, Misery is a vastly interesting take on the riggers of creativity, with the implication of that creativity on fragile minds of page-turning obsessives. Misery’s a film that feature one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in the history of not only horror, but in the entire cinematic experience in the form of Annie’s obsessive tactics to keep Paul bedridden and continually writing. That scene kept me up at nights and to this day, I’ve never been able to shake it.

But no matter how much that scene makes me feel an over-exhaustive sense for fear and cause me to examine the human mind, it’s nothing compared to the joy and ecstatic happiness the final scene The Shawshank Redemption provides.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” – Andy Dufresne

If you are unfamiliar with the story of Shawshank, it basically breaks down to this: Andy Dufresne. a smart but down on his luck (not to mention his marriage) accountant, is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to Shawshank prison. When he shows his seemingly meek face to the “lifers” of the maximum security prison, everyone thinks he’ll either will be a huge pushover or one of the more masculine men’s “girlfriend”. Only these inmates didn’t account for the former accountants personally accountability with willingness to fight and inspire. Soon, Andy becomes friends with many fellow prisoners, not to mention finding a best friend in Red- long member of the Shawshank game also serving a sentence for murder- and Andy begins to change the way the whole system is ran. Only, everyone in Shawshank isn’t a fan of ol’ Andy. Now he must navigate the trenches of Shawshank while doing the diligence of Warden Norton, the resident tyrant and head leader in charge.

In a story departed from King’s usual scare stories (which I understand is a little odd of a choice for this post seeing as it isn’t horror), The Shawshank Redemption is a power piece of art. Without ruining the film for people with this magnificent tale still ahead of them in their lives, it’s a truly gripping tale of perseverance as well as the power of art and the true meaning of inspiration- that end scene is the epitome of this idea.

On top of that, the 1994 film, adapted from King’s short story Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption, is executed to amazing results by the filmmakers and performers. Frank Darabont, who also pienned the script with King’s approval (as well as the reason you Horror Heads have the television phenomenon The Walking Dead), directs the hell out of the picture. Some scenes with great direction include, but aren’t limited to, a scene where a certain inmate meets his demise, the scene on the roof involving beer, and the pull-back shot when Warden Norton truly sees what Andy has been up to are just a few prime examples of Darabont’s prowess on display in The Shawshank Redemption– my love of the final scene has already been mentioned of course.

The actors of Shawshank are also top notch.

Tim Robbins is freaking brilliant as Andy Dufresne, simultaneously showing us many emotions and sides to a man in a situation he shouldn’t have been in. Seriously, there isn’t a human emotion that Robbins doesn’t have to display in the film, and if it weren’t for the film being nominated the same year as Tom Hanks (for his stunning portrayal of Forrest Gump in the Robert Zemeckis classic), Robbins would have easily won the statue- same goes for the picture as well.

Morgan Freeman

is also magical in


, playing Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding , resident jailhouse “Yoda” of the prison. Morgan is always great and Darabont casted his Red perfectly in Freeman- there simply isn’t an actor alive who could have done better in the role. He’s in control, authoritative, and most importantly, human in the film- something Freeman is known to do with ease.


Everyone has their own favorite King flicks, regardless of the decade or genre, and these are just two opinions of the best King adaptations from that great decade called the 90s. While you may not agree with how we feel and our choices for best adaptation, we all have to agree Stephen King is one of the most influential minds of our lifetime and a true master of the pen. We here at 1428 hope you had a great time going down memory lane, because we had a great time Horror Heads. Until next time, Keep on creepin’ on, Soldiers of Springwood.

Join 1428 next time when we discuss the horror genre’s best and more effectively used “Final Girl”, only on Diabolical Debates.

Next: Diabolical Debates: Best 1980s Stephen King Adaptation