First off, understand that an underrated Stephen King film isn’t quite the same as other underrated films. Your typical underrated flick isn’t seen by many at all, but an underrated King piece is simply a far lesser viewed picture than the bulk of his other adaptations. So, you may have seen some of these, even if there are millions yet to unearth these gems.
Now that I’ve cleared up my position in regard to this article, you can sit back, seek out some treasures and prepare to add a few movies to your personal collection.
Cat’s Eye – It’s not that Cat’s Eye is underrated, it’s the fact that the film has gone completely forgotten. That’s insane, because it’s an awesome little anthology with some super creepy stories, and it also features a young Drew Barrymore, walking Brainiac (seriously, if you didn’t know, James Woods is technically a genius) James Woods, and Charles S. Dutton. Give this one a go if you’re trying to kick the nicotine habit!
Golden Tales – Here’s another anthology that very few seem to know about. It’s low budget, and it certainly isn’t easy to find, but it’s an entertaining film that stars Marcia Cross, Bruce Davison and Paul Dooley. The budget is meager, but the final result isn’t half bad!
Apt Pupil – Apt Pupil (not the original, but the remake) still has quite a few fans running about, and that’s great. However, when pundits and fans alike tend to list King’s greatest adaptations, Apt Pupil is severely neglected. This tale of a youngster who prods his neighbor into sharing tales of Nazi Germany and his position as a Nazi is absolutely haunting, and it leaves a mark on the psyche. Both Brad Renfro and Ian McKellen are unbelievably impressive.
The Dark Half – The Dark Half had a lot of momentum upon arrival in the early ‘90s… and then as the years ticked by, fans forgot the flick existed. It isn’t a masterpiece, that’s for damn sure, but it is surprisingly enjoyable, and Timothy Hutton does a rather impressive job in juggling two entirely different characters. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for a much younger but awesome as usual Michael Rooker. If you let this one fly under the radar, you may be surprised by what you find.
Quicksilver Highway – Time hasn’t been all too kind to Quicksilver Highway. It hasn’t aged particularly well, and maybe that’s why it isn’t a sought-after commodity. But it’s a fairly solid anthology piece directed by Mick Garris and it features stories from not just King but Clive Barker as well while Garris handles the teleplay. Top-notch performers Christopher Lloyd, Matt Frewer, Veronica Cartwright and the late Bill Nunn.
Riding the Bullet – I honestly have no idea why this film isn’t held in much higher regard. It’s wildly creepy and atmospheric. It also features the most haunting performance of David Arquette’s career. He’s terrifying, and Jonathan Jackson is fantastic as the unwilling passenger in George Staub’s (Arquette) hotrod headed for Hell.
Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King – This entire series went overlooked by the public. Perhaps it was the format in which these stories were delivered (a mini-series stretched across eight episodes), perhaps it was feeble promotion. Whatever the case, there are some terrific stories here, including adaptations of Autopsy Room Four, The Road Virus Heads North and The End of the Whole Mess.
Big Driver – Everyone loves a good revenge tale, and King delivered a fine one here. The film didn’t turn too many heads due to its direct to television debut, but it’s a highly entertaining piece of work and the gorgeous Maria Bello is pitch-perfect as the victim with vengeance on the mind. Ignore the fact that this was a made-for-TV movie and enjoy it for what it is: seriously intense!
A Good Marriage – I’m still wondering how A Good Marriage didn’t catch on with most fans. Sure, the release was relatively quiet, but director Peter Askin did an amazing job of creating a creepy, and profoundly unsettling little tale of a husband with a gruesome past time, and a wife who learns of his horrific hobby. Tremendous film that should have garnered big praise for Joan Allen, the extremely unsettling Anthony LaPaglia, and Stephen Lang.
11.22.63 – Now don’t get me wrong, 11.22.63 has a nice following, and earned plenty of respect among fans. The problem was, it aired on Hulu, and Hulu is still working to find its own feet in terms of original content. So, in other words, if you’re one of the 10’s of millions who haven’t subscribed to Hulu, you’ve missed out. Hulu’s growth continues, which means more eyes will eventually find their way to 11.22.63, and that’s a good thing. Consider this a temporary addition to this particular list.