4. The Mist (Novella)

Original publication date: 1980
Included in: Skeleton Crew (1985)

First off, let’s show love where it’s certainly due: Frank Darabont’s movie version of The Mist is one of the most underrated films of the last 10 years, genre-specific or all-encompassing. And it has one of the bravest endings you’re likely to ever see. But, as Darabont himself would surely tell you, his movie only exists because Stephen King is such a master storyteller.

Tapping into themes explored in Rod Serling’s dynamite Twilight Zone episode “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street,” The Mist shows how us human beings can do worse things to each other than any gigantic creatures from parallel dimensions are capable of, though the tale is full of flying beasts and inhuman murderers armed with scaly tentacles.

As a large blanket of mist engulfs a quiet suburban town, a ragtag group of neighbors and strangers barricade themselves inside a supermarket, where they proceed to terrorize each other physically and emotionally before the mist’s monstrous dwellers do their parts to draw gallons of blood. In signature King fashion, the horror comes from mankind and the supernatural in equal measure—don’t expect to feel good about humanity after reading The Mist’s final ambiguous words.