For more than 50 years, Stephen King has been the face of horror novels, and as such has seen endless adaptations of his own work, yet there are still plenty of terrifying stories to be brought to the screen. Stephen King began his career in 1967 with his first short story “The Glass Floor” and continues to write bestselling novels to this day. King is best known for the horror genre and has written some of the most iconic horror stories such as “The Shining”, “Pet Sematary” and “Carrie”.
Due to King’s vast body of work, it would be very difficult to adapt every single story of his. In addition, the author has already gained fame for the current Stephen King film franchises.However, King certainly has pieces that are understated and intensely scary that would work well on screen. Of the many Stephen King stories yet to be adapted, these are the best and most terrible candidates.
10 The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
“The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” is a 1999 novel that follows a young girl named Trisha who gets lost on a hike with her family. After several days in the woods, wandering deeper and deeper, Trisha begins to have hallucinations ranging from her favorite baseball player, Tom Gordon, to supernatural elements, including the evil wasp-faced God of the Lost. This story is particularly scary because it plays with the ideas of what is real and the reality of getting lost in the woods. A film adaptation was planned in the early 2000s, but fell through and has now been picked up again in the last few years.
Written in 2013, “Joyland” tells the story of Devin, a teenager who starts working at an amusement park called Joyland. Together with his friends, Devin tries to solve the murder of a local girl, and in turn becomes the next in the line of victims. Once again, “Joyland” emphasizes a more realistic, human threat like a serial killer, and has the particularly creepy backdrop of an amusement park. This would certainly make for a colorful and tense Stephen King adaptation. “Joyland” was slated to be adapted into a TV series on Freeform, but there has been no development beyond an initial treatment of the pilot.
8 Gingerbread girl
Stephen King’s “The Gingerbread Girl” is a short story written in 2007. The story follows a grieving mother who stumbles upon a murder while jogging and is quickly caught by the serial killer. Although shorter than a regular King novel, this story does not lack intensity or fear. The anticipation and threat of danger for the main character makes this short story a particularly heartbreaking story and one that would work well in a movie, especially as it could expand on the main character’s backstory. In 2018, a film adaptation directed by Craig R. Baxley was announced with Stephen King helping with the script.
7 Duma key
“Duma Key” is a 2008 novel about Edgar Freemantle, a man who suffers a debilitating accident and moves to an island off the coast of Florida. While there, Freemantle rediscovers his love of art, but finds that his sketches provide intense insight into the past and have the ability to change the future. Led by a haunting protagonist, “Duma Key” is a complex but satisfying story that focuses on many creepy and sinister elements. The novel is full of traumatic events, mystery and the uncanny power behind art. Despite the many interesting aspects of this novel, a film adaptation has yet to materialize.
A 2014 novel inspired by Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” “Revival” is a novel about a young boy and a priest who weave in and out of each other’s lives over many years. Despite this seemingly innocent concept, the novel delves into many dark subjects, including loss of faith, the terminally ill, and the afterlife. This Lovecraft novel contains many difficult moments and events and hinges on the horrifying idea that there is nothing after death. All in all, this is a very dark novel with no hope of a happy ending. A film adaptation starring Russell Crowe was in development for several years until it was scrapped in 2020.
5 I am the door
Although King’s 1971 “I Am The Doorway” is science fiction, this short story certainly has plenty of horrific aspects. It follows an astronaut who comes into contact with an alien mutagen. The protagonist then undergoes a horrifying transformation as eyeballs form on his hands. Not only does this story include the skin-crawling trope of extraterrestrials, but it also includes themes of voyeurism and apocalypse. The main character’s struggle for his autonomy and sanity is a truly unsettling experience that would likely leave the audience uncomfortable and scared. Although the story has been adapted into various short films, it has yet to reach a mass audience in feature film form.
“Insomnia,” released in 1994, is exactly what the title suggests, except much more troubling. It tells the story of a man who suffers from insomnia so severe that he begins to hallucinate, but he wonders if this new vision is actually another plane of reality. Like “Duma Key”, this novel has a complicated plot, but this does not prevent it from having a tense atmosphere. With a mix of supernatural elements and serious doubts about reality, “Insomnia” is a wild ride that would make for an interesting screen adaptation, especially given its many connections to other Stephen King horror novels. No film adaptations have ever been discussed for this novel.
3 The long walk
Of King’s many misfit stories, “The Long Walk” is most surprising because of its intense young-adult dystopia. This 1979 novel explores a brutal competition in which teenage boys must complete a trip along US Route 1, except that if the boys go under four miles per hour, they will be shot on sight. Just based on the concept, this is a high risk and terrifying story. The boys’ support for each other also creates a very chilling atmosphere. No doubt this would make a very popular movie or TV series. A film adaptation is currently in development with director André Øvredal at the helm.
2 The excursion
King’s 1981 short story, “The Jaunt,” is similar to “I Am The Doorway” in its brevity and shocking science fiction concept. In ‘The Jaunt’, time travel has been invented, but it comes with a host of risks that end in a disturbing disaster. When the protagonist and his family decide to time travel to Mars, the dark history of science quickly unfolds. The ending of this story in particular is very shocking and one that the audience will likely not soon forget after experiencing it. A television adaptation is currently in development by Dave Erickson.
Despite being one of King’s most disturbing novels, the concept of “Rage” makes it a controversial choice for the adaptation, and is ultimately the reason the book has been pulled from the shelves. 1977’s “Rage” tells the story of a teenage boy who takes his math class hostage at gunpoint. The story is incredibly tense and definitely offers a scary but unfortunately realistic scenario. Although this story would likely make a relevant and horrifying adaptation, King allowed the book to be pulled from the shelves because of the way it directly inspired school shootings. Therefore, this controversial King novel was never adapted and probably never will be in the future.
Though Stephen King have written endless stories that would make great screen adaptations, some of which have unfortunately gone by the wayside. And while many of these stories have been picked up for adaptations or are currently in the works, they certainly have plenty of development to go before they become blockbuster hits. Overall, though, these stories are some of King’s scariest, and when and if they get made, they’ll likely be remembered among King’s greatest works and adaptations.