5. Dreamcatcher (2003)
For once, it is not a case of poorly-adapted source material, because even diehard King fans can admit that he kind of lost it with “Dreamcatcher”. The movie sees a group of friends traveling to an isolated cabin in the snow-covered mountains for their annual hunting trip. There, they encounter a man lost in the woods, who turns out to be infected with an alien lifeform, not unlike the Chestburster from “Alien”, and the friends become involved with an alien invasion.
The movie suffers from all of the worn-out tropes found in King’s stories, but it brings nothing new to the table. The characters are clichés, the plot is rehearsed, the story itself is just bizarre (in a bad way), and it was poorly received.
However, the strange nature of the book, and therefore the movie, is kind of understandable. In 1999, King was in a horrible car accident, and the book helped him recuperate from said accident. Furthermore, King has stated that he was under the influence of some strong medicine while he wrote it. He has later stated that he did not like how the book turned out.
4. Desperation (2006)
“Desperation” follows a couple driving through the Nevada desert where they are stopped by a sheriff (Ron Perlman), who arrests them for possession of marijuana and sends them to jail in the deserted town of Desperation, from which no one has emerged alive.
The movie is based on the 1996 novel of the same name, and directed by Mick Garris, who has worked with King before (their collaboration has resulted in, among others, “Riding the Bullet”, which just barely missed this list, and the TV miniseries version of “The Shining”).
Unsurprisingly, “Desperation” did not turn out that well. From the book to the movie, much was changed, to the point where the ending was barely the same. The plot was way too predictable, the acting was terrible, and the dialogue was ridiculous, to the point where it referenced plot points that had happened in the book and not in the movie.
Unlike several other adaptations on this list, the source material for “Desperation” was simply too long, resulting in the plot just skipping around in the story, and entire backstories getting lost in translation.
3. Maximum Overdrive (1986) & Trucks (1997)
Here is an interesting case of two bad movies based on the same short story. “Trucks” was first published in 1973, and later in the anthology “Night Shift”, and it was not a very popular story until it was made into a movie… twice. The two movies (and the short story) follow the over-the-top-bizarre story of trucks (and other machinery) coming to life and terrorizing humans.
“Maximum Overdrive” holds a special place in the heart of people who love bad Stephen King movies, since it was directed by King himself (the first and only movie he has ever directed). In 1986, a trailer was released for the movie, in which King was standing in front of the main truck’s face, telling how he “just wanted someone to do Stephen King right,” and promising to “scare the hell out of you.” That trailer is especially hilarious to watch after watching “Maximum Overdrive”.
The hilariously bad movie received overwhelmingly negative reviews, and King received a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Director. Reportedly, King has later on admitted that he was “coked out of his mind” during the production of the movie, and he later stated that the movie was the worst adaptation of his work.
Following the ‘success’ of “Maximum Overdrive”, the Canadian-American movie “Trucks” was released in 1997. It is unclear whether the movie is a remake of “Maximum Overdrive” or just another adaptation of the short story, but nevertheless, “Trucks” managed to capture what had made “Maximum Overdrive” terrible.
Shot on a significantly smaller budget, “Trucks” managed to recreate the same goofily over-the-top action and acting. Both movies have since gained a cult following for being so bad they are hilarious.
2. Cell (2016)
“Cell” is the most recent movie to be adapted from one of Stephen King’s book. The movie is based on the 2006 novel of the same name, and it stars Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack. Both the movie and the book center on a zombie outbreak through people’s cellphones, where Clayton “Clay” Riddell (Cusack) tries to find his estranged wife and son.
On his journey he is joined by Thomas “Tom” McCourt (Jackson) and Alice Maxwell (Isabelle Fuhrman), among others, and together they face the threat of the “Phoners”.
While the book was not King’s best, it was certainly entertaining, it had an interesting narrative, and you cared about the characters, all of which could not be said about the movie. “Cell” was universally panned by critics, it holds a score of 0% at Rotten Tomatoes, the audiences hated it, and it holds a place on most lists of “Worst Movies of 2016”.
Fans of the book would argue that it can barely be described as an adaptation, since the only thing that remained the same was the characters’ names and the basic premise. None of the charm carried over from the source material, and as an adaptation it fails completely.
Even if you did not read the book, the movie is terrible. The characters are bland and unlikeable, the story is a mess, and the camerawork is a joke. However, the worst crime the movie committed was that it was not even enjoyably bad it was just boring.
1. Children of the Corn franchise (1984 – ?)
The worst part of “Children of the Corn” is strangely enough not the movie itself, but the franchise it spawned. The silly 1984 movie managed to garner six sequels, a remake, a sequel to the remake, and a new sequel scheduled for 2017. The plot centers on the fictional town of Gatlin, Nebraska, where a cult of children, led by the silver-tongued 12-year old Isaac, kills everyone over the age of 18.
The movie fails as a horror movie, having little to no scares, no suspense, and on several occasions it tries to make corn scary, while it managed to make creepy kids the opposite of scary.
However, the movie gained a cult following for being so over-the-top laughable, for trying so hard to be scary, and for the very entertaining performance by John Franklin (who, ironically, was 25 at the time of filming), who plays Isaac.
Due to the cult success of the movie, it turned into a franchise, but all of the sequels, and of course the remake, were worse (in varying degrees) than the original.
Author Bio: Alexander Buhl is the Denmark based cinephile with a passion for rule-breaking movies. His enthusiasm for movies is only exceeded by his enthusiasm for complaining about the overused clichés in movies.