You Should Rewatch These Classic Stephen King Movies Before You Watch Hulu’s Castle Rock

by Caitlin Bell
Stephen King Castle Rock

Hulu’s Original Castle Rock premiered July 25th and is just what fans of Stephen King’s multiverse have been waiting for. The two and a half minute trailer has us thrown back into the gritty, dark, and often disturbing world of King. And with J.J. Abrams as a showrunner, we know this is going to be a good one! Thus far, there are five episodes out with new ones out each Wednesday — but what exactly is the show about? Well, you’ll just have to watch to find out for yourself, but there are some classic King movies you might want to brush up on before digging in.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Image via IMDB

Arguably the best King adaptation, The Shawshank Redemption is the first movie you must watch before diving into Castle Rock. Not only does the prison feature prominently throughout the show, this is just an excellent film.

Just to refresh your memory (in case you haven’t seen it on TNT or AMC lately) Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman star as two convicted felons serving life sentences at Shawshank Penitentiary. Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, who is sentenced to two life sentences for killing his wife, and Freeman plays Red, who is also in for killing his wife. They bond over their shared misery at the hands of the guards and warden (played by Bob Gunton). It’s an amazing journey towards finding peace and finding redemption.

The original short story this film is based on is called “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” — you can reread it in Stephen King’s collection called Different Seasons.

Needful Things (1993)

Needful Things (1993)

Image via IMDB

Not all King movies are created equal, this we know is fact. However, you really have to give Needful Things a watch before you dive into this Hulu show. Ed Harris stars as Sheriff Pangborn, and you are going to want to keep that name in mind as you go on your journey to the town of Castle Rock.

Needful Things is centered around a new shop opened by Leland Gaunt called Needful Things. The townspeople who enter his store seem to find objects of their dreams and desires. The only payment Gaunt requires is a favor, a seemingly innocent prank played on someone else. The jokes cascade out of control and soon the whole town is doing battle with itself. Sheriff Alan Pangborn thinks it has something to do with Gaunt.

Not only is this movie key to the show, it is also an amazing book. Reread the book, watch the movie, then tune into Hulu.

Cujo (1983)

Cujo (1983)

Image via IMDB

This movie reference will be gone in a blink of an eye if you aren’t paying attention. My husband is the one that caught this (he caught the reference for the next film as well) and good thing he did! 1983 was a different life time for special effects, and it shows in this movie. It’s campy and terrible, but worth a spare moment.

Cujo is the dog bitten by a rabid bat. In the book, we are gifted the dogs conscious as it descends into madness, and on screen we are gifted with pure terror. The terror we watch as a mother and son (characters named Donna and Tad) are trapped inside a car by the deranged dog is almost more scary than a monster movie. Pure fear and desperation are etched on their faces as they realize the full extent of their dogs disease. There is a hopelessness in knowing you are at the mercy of an unseen entity.

That hopelessness permeates Castle Rock, too.

Stand By Me (1986)

Stand by Me (1986)

Image via IMDB

Not only does this have a slew of amazing actors — Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman to name a few — it is also one of my personal favorite King adaptations. The reference to this one was also a “blink and you’ll miss it moment” (thanks, again to my husband for this one!).

In the summer of 1959, in Castlerock, Oregon, four 12 year-old boys are the best of friends. And since small town life is full of gossip, they learn about the location of the body of a local boy who has been missing for several days. WIthout a care in the world as to what their parents will say or think, they set off into woods to find the body. In the typical art form of Bildungsroman, the boys learn about themselves, the meaning of friendship, and how to stand up for what is right.

Much like The Shawshank Redemption, this film is based on a short story. Stand By Me was originally the short called “The Body” — you can also find it in the same collection as “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption“..

Carrie (1979)

Carrie (1976)

Image via IMDB

This movie is not referenced in Castle Rock, however Sissy Spacey has a starring role in the show — we can’t just leave this classic off the list! Much like with Cujo, keep in mind that the effects in this have aged and show as campy for our modern sensibilities. Yet, it is infinitely better than the many remakes from more current times.

Carrie is a girl brought up by a domineering and religious mother. After she has an embarrassing incident in the showers, her classmates tease her ruthlessly. One of the students does feel remorse over this and decides to have her boyfriend ask Carrie to the prom. Carrie is happy and excited, but other students vow to embarrass her further (girls are so mean). During prom the mean girls do get revenge, but so does Carrie as her mental powers are unleashed upon all.

Thanks for reading!  What are your favorite Stephen King movies? Did we miss any movie references in Castle Rock? Let us know down below!

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to MovieBabble via email to stay up to date on the latest content.

Join MovieBabble on Patreon so that new content will always be possible.

What movie topic should I discuss next?  Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!

Related Articles


Before Your Start Watching Castle Rock… – Geek Cred March 31, 2020 - 3:54 pm

[…] to check out some source material prior to delving into Castle Rock. Caitlin Bell’s post “You Should Rewatch These Classic Stephen King Movies Before You Watch Hulu’s Castl… is a great starting point! Please check out her suggestions on MovieBabble… and then check […]

calypte August 12, 2018 - 6:25 am

Misery was a great adaptation. And – don’t judge me! – I really liked the screen version of The Running Man. Looking forward to Castle Rock coming to the UK, sounds interesting!

Nick Kush August 10, 2018 - 5:25 pm

Want to join the MovieBabble staff? Check out this link in your browser to get started:
Be sure to check out the MovieBabble Patreon page:

Anonymous August 10, 2018 - 1:22 pm

Fantastic post! Love each of these novels/short stories and movies, and I can’t wait to dip into Castle Rock! Thanks for the heads-up!

All The Real Parts August 17, 2018 - 4:10 pm

Thanks for the share, by the way! Excellent. :)

Rachel August 10, 2018 - 8:59 am

Great post. Castle Rock is an amazing show. The Shining was also mentioned in the show. I have not read the novel by Stephen King but I have seen the movie.

Caitlin Bell August 10, 2018 - 10:55 am

Yeah – we noticed that in the last episode, too! We will for sure have to do a “Part Two” for this piece.


Leave a Comment Below!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: