It (1990)

If I had to choose between which adaptation of Stephen King's epic novel I like better, I would choose this two-part tv movie. Not just because it sticks a little closer to the book, but also of how authentic it looks. There's no debate that no matter how many times this 1150 page novel gets adapted, the "children's half" will always be preferred over the "adult's half" of the story. The 2017 movie is a perfect example of this. That's because the whole idea of the Stephen Kings's It is about facing and conquering childhood fears. Pennywise becomes that representation of that fear that preys on children's traumas. Even before they face IT, they already had their own problems at home.

I'll admit that the Muschietti movies are memorable in their own ways, but the 1990 TV movie was the one that made clowns really scary. Surethere was already Killer Clowns From Outer Space, but King took this idea and made it better. I'm not saying he stole anything from that movie, it's just that he created a very well made killer clown from outer space (another dimension, as a matter of fact). If you're someone who's only familiar with Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise, then you should give this one a try. It has Seth Green and Tim Curry. 

Misery (1990)

Here is another Stephen King adaptation that's more of a Thriller than a horror. Both the book and the movie tells of one big psychological metaphor for King's relationship with his fanbase in the 80s. Just like in his previous novels he puts himself in the story with a different name. Annie Wilkes represents the worst case scenario of what a fanbase can unleash. One of the only characters, Paul Sheldon, is trapped in one single room for most of the film. He eventually goes from being a patient to a hostage once Annie makes him revive the one fictional character that's given her life meaning. Of course I need to mention the differences between the book and the movie. For one thing, the book doesn't have any characters besides Paul and Annie other than a few cops who get killed. The "hobbling" scene is much more brutal in the book. The film's ending was also slightly different than the book but I don't want to spoil it. 

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Would you believe that this groundbreaking, award-winning horror film was technically a sequel? It's true! There was a film called Manhunter which adapted the first book in the Hannibal Lecter series "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris. The Silence of the Lambs was the one movie that got serial killers back on the horror radar. Anthony Hopkins cannot be matched as the Hannibal the Cannibal. Other actors such as Mads Mikkelsen tried to live up to the role, they were so close to doing that but couldn't quite make it. What makes Hannibal such a unique character in this film is that he gets under everyone's skin both behind and beyond bars. I would recommend reading the first two Thomas Harris books first, just for the sake of nostalgia. Also, check out the second adaptation of "Red Dragon" that also stars Anthony Hopkins as well as Ralph Fiennes and Edward Norton. 

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Not only is this big-budget film the 2nd closest to the novel, it's also one of the most favored. The first reason being it's A-list cast. You got Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, and Keanu Reeves. To be honest, a few of the performances here aren't as good as I remember. Reeves as Jonathan Harker comes out as flat, even when it looks like he's trying to step up later in the movie. I can understand why Anthony Hopkins didn't try as hard as he should have as Van Helsing. He just came from starring in an award winning movie the previous year. Plus, he probably knew that he could never live up to Peter Cushing's performance in the role. 

The second reason why it's favored is the visual effects which helped express Coppola's vision of the timeless story. In every other scene you either have overacting at its finest, or someone screaming while there's intense opera music playing. There are some people who mistake the original novel as a horror romance, when it's really just a horror story. I don't know why they had to create an actual relationship between Dracula and Mina. Although Coppola probably wanted to make his adaptation seem different than most of the previous ones. 

Interview With the Vampire (1994)

It's hard to say which of these two is my favorite vampire movie: The Lost Boys (1987) or Interview With the Vampire (1994). The Lost Boys delves into the idea of eternal youth. Interview With the Vampire is all about the other thing that comes with vampirism, eternal torment. Anne Rice's vampires are the perfect blend of both sexy and scary. Many authors of young adult books have tried to live up to  Rice's legacy and usually fail. If I had to choose one exception, it would be Charlaine Harris' "Sookie Stackhouse" novels. It's like Twilight but for adults and therefore better.

Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise were phenomenal in their starring roles. It's become well-known to fans of Anne Rice (who wrote the book and the script) that Brad Pitt was absolutely miserable during production. The makeup and contacts were so uncomfortable that he almost left. A few of the other minor roles such as Claudia (Kristen Dunst) and Armand (Antonio Banderas) were also well done. Check out the TV series on AMC. It's not quite as good as the movie but still well worth your time, especially with Season 2 coming out in May.  

From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have always been a dynamite pair in the world of cinema, especially when it came to Mexican westerns. This crime drama turned vampire flick is no exception. The first 40-60 minutes centers around two bank robbers fleeing to Mexico with a family of hostages. Once they arrive at a strip bar called "The Titty Twister," things get worse for all of them. Then they have to work together to survive the night from a whole nest of demonic vampires. Horror legend Tom Savini makes an appearance as a badass biker with a gun harnessed to his crotch. 

Scream (1996)

One of the biggest appeals of this movie is how well it brought back the slasher genre and celebrated it at the same time. From 1990 to 1995, this genre was well known to be worn out. Scream (1996) started a whole new generation of slasher films while also introducing the old ones from the 70s and 80s to young audiences with little references throughout the movie. Classics like Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) were mentioned at least once or twice. It has this crime/mystery feeling to it as well. As the nerd character Randy points out "Everybody's a suspect!"

Honorable Mention: Vampires (1998)

This one goes out to the vampire hunters that the story is almost entirely focused on. The main antagonist Valik surprisingly doesn't grab your attention as much as Jack Crow (James Woods) does. Loosely based on a novel by John Steakley, this western-style film is one of John Carpenter's lesser known movies but still worth your time. 

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

I'm not a HUGE fan of Tim Burton's work, but this is one of the only recognizable adaptations of the Washington Irving story. The silent film and Disney animation are worth checking out. I never watched the tv series, but I feel like it should have gotten more recognition. This particular adaptation takes very little from its source material but manages to have that special Burton gothic atmosphere with fog, bright red blood, and of course Johnny Depp. This is truly a Halloween-themed movie that you should only watch in October to get into the holiday's spooky spirit. I'm hoping to visit Sleepy Hollow, NY one day to see where it all began. 

Underworld Series (2003-)

Vampires and werewolves fighting a centuries-long war? I'm surprised someone didn't come up with this idea sooner than 2003. The basic gist of the original follows vampire death dealer Selene who has already spent six centuries hunting down what remained of the Lycan clan after the supposed death of their leader Lucian. Once Selene discovers they're looking for a human, she realizes things are not what they appear to be. Kate Beckinsale is iconic in her tight leather outfit and machine pistols. If you're looking to get into this series for the first time, you should start with the prequel, Rise of the Lycans (2009). 

Honorable Mention: The Witch (2015)

As a catholic, I don't dig the very concept of witchcraft because of the practices. Witches and warlocks only care for themselves and are willing to sell their souls for mere advancement. In modern times, witches are given are more feminine/feminist side with young adult shows such as Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and The Originals. Still, Anya Taylor-Joy's performance in this movie is great as always. 

It (2017) and It Ch.2 (2019)

There have been good Stephen King adaptations and there have been the not-so-great adaptations. It (2017) is not only one of the best, but also one of the most popular. So much so that it's been parodied in animated shows such as The Simpsons. When it comes to who makes a better and scarier Pennywise, Bill Skarsgaard beats Tim Curry by a mile. All I can say about It Chapter 2 (2019) is that it's almost as good as it's predecessor. They could have done better with the ending though. It doesn't have the greatest message.