Stephen King is one of the most adapted authors ever, but only a select few filmmakers have gotten the chance to direct his material more than once. On the surface, adapting King might seem like a thankless job. After all, King’s constant readers are a demanding bunch, and will pick over an adaptation of his work with a fine-toothed comb, looking for flaws. On the other hand, King material is almost guaranteed an audience, and that’s always a boon for directors.

Done right, a King movie can become iconic, cementing itself in both horror and pop culture history. While Stanley Kubrick was certainly already an icon before The Shining, it’s still one of his best films. The success of IT has probably guaranteed Andy Muschietti a career as long as he wants one. Christine gave John Carpenter one of his biggest commercial success stories. There’s even the chance a non-horror King adaptation will go big, such as The Shawshank Redemption, considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made.


Without any further ado, here are all the directors who ventured into King territory multiple times. Some of them found glory, while others came up short at least once. Either way, they will now and forever be associated in some way with literature’s greatest master of horror.

George A. Romero

George A. Romero, who sadly passed away in 2017, invented the modern zombie genre, and was also a close friend of Stephen King’s. Romero directed King movies twice, the first coming with 1982’s Creepshow, possibly the gold standard for anthology films. The stories Weeds and The Crate were adaptations. Later, in 1990, Romero directed an adaptation of King’s split personality novel The Dark Half.

Lewis Teague

Lewis Teague’s first time directing King came in 1983, helming the popular adaptation of King’s rabid dog novel Cujo. Teague brought experience directing killer animals in with him, having helmed 1980’s quite good Alligator. Teague would adapt King again in 1985, directing the anthology film Cat’s Eye. King wrote the script himself, with the stories Quitters, Inc. and The Ledge being adaptations.

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Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner is arguably a King whisperer, having directed two King-based films, and crafting an all-time classic both times. The first time came in 1985, with Stand by Me, a movie King found so effective that he had to compose himself after seeing a screening. Then in 1990, Reiner directed Misery, featuring an Academy Award-winning performance by Kathy Bates as the ultimate obsessed fan.

Mary Lambert

Mary Lambert gets an odd distinction on this list, being the only director to helm a King adaptation, and its non King-based sequel movie. Lambert directed the first Pet Sematary adaptation in 1989, which most believe outstrips the 2019 remake. Then she returned in 1992 to direct Pet Sematary 2, a sequel which invented new characters and a new plot, but that obviously wouldn’t have been possible without King’s novel source material.

Frank Darabont

Reiner may be a King whisperer, but nobody has a better track record with King adaptations than Frank Darabont, boasting three classics. The first was 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption, which many feel got robbed at the Oscars. Then came 1999’s The Green Mile, another prison-set King story featuring Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan. Finally, Darabont directed his first King horror story with 2007’s The Mist.

Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper, best known for directing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, holds the distinction of helming the first movie-style TV miniseries based on King, with 1979’s well-remembered Salem’s Lot. Much later, in 1995, Hooper directed The Mangler, a movie most people probably don’t remember at all. To be fair, the short story isn’t one of King’s best to begin with.

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Mick Garris

While he’s not always the most successful at it, no one has directed more King adaptations than the author’s good friend Mick Garris. Garris first directed 1992’s Sleepwalkers, King’s first screenplay not based on an existing work. In 1994, Garris helmed the highly regarded miniseries version of The Stand, and in 1997, was behind the camera for King’s remake of The Shining. In between, Garris directed the anthology Quicksilver Highway, featuring the King story Chattery Teeth. Garris went on direct 2004’s Riding the Bullet, 2006’s Desperation, and 2011’s Bag of Bones.

Tom Holland

Tom Holland – not to be confused with the MCU actor – is best known for directing Child’s Play and Fright Night, but has dipped into King territory twice. In 1995, Holland directed the time travel miniseries The Langoliers, and in 1996, Holland helmed Thinner, King’s tale of a weight-loss curse.

Craig R. Baxley

Craig R. Baxley gets his own specific distinction on this list, as while he’s directed three King miniseries, none of them were based on existing books. Instead, King penned 1999’s Storm of the Century, 2002’s Rose Red, and its 2003 prequel The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer directly for TV. While it wouldn’t be enough to get him on this list by itself, Baxley also helmed every episode of King’s short-lived TV series Kingdom Hospital.

Mikael Salomon

Easily the least known director on this list, Danish filmmaker Mikael Solomon first directed the 2004 miniseries version of Salem’s Lot, which is okay, but isn’t nearly as celebrated as the first adaptation. Solomon later helmed the 2014 TV movie Big Driver, starring Maria Bello as a sexual assault victim who gets her deserved revenge.

Andy Muschietti

So far, Andy Muschietti is the only director to helm a King adaptation and a sequel officially sanctioned by King, those of course being 2017’s IT and 2019’s IT Chapter Two. To be fair though, the two films only adapt one book, albeit one of King’s longest tomes.

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Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan is already one of the hottest directors in horror today, and is well on his way to Stephen King whisperer status. Flanagan directed the excellent Netflix movie Gerald’s Game, then moved on to the quite good but unjustly ignored Shining sequel Doctor Sleep. Thankfully, the latter is finally getting attention on home video. Flanagan is also set to direct an adaptation of Revival.

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