7.8/10
149,077
331 user 147 critic

Misery (1990)

After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
1,380 ( 291)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Pet Sematary (1989)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Behind a young family's home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.

Director: Mary Lambert
Stars: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne
Carrie (1976)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom.

Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
Cujo (1983)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Cujo, a friendly St. Bernard, contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town.

Director: Lewis Teague
Stars: Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Danny Pintauro
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A big-city reporter travels to the small town where her mother has been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman that she works for as a maid.

Director: Taylor Hackford
Stars: Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer
Christine (1983)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
Firestarter (1984)
Action | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A couple who participated in a potent medical experiment gain telekinetic ability and then have a child who is pyrokinetic.

Director: Mark L. Lester
Stars: Drew Barrymore, David Keith, Freddie Jones
Crime | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A mysterious new shop opens in a small town which always seems to stock the deepest desires of each shopper, with a price far heavier than expected.

Director: Fraser C. Heston
Stars: Max von Sydow, Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia
Poltergeist (1982)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A family's home is haunted by a host of ghosts.

Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, Craig T. Nelson
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won't lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.

Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund
Scream (1996)
Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.

Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette
The Exorcist (1973)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

When a girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
Stand by Me (1986)
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy.

Director: Rob Reiner
Stars: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Jerry Potter ...
Pete
Thomas Brunelle ...
Anchorman (as Tom Brunelle)
...
Anchorwoman
Julie Payne ...
Reporter #1
...
Reporter #2 (as Archie Hahn III)
...
Reporter #3
Wendy Bowers ...
...
Edit

Storyline

Best-selling novelist Paul Sheldon is on his way home from his Colorado hideaway after completing his latest book, when he crashes his car in a freak blizzard. Paul is critically injured, but is rescued by former nurse Annie Wilkes, Paul's "number one fan", who takes Paul back to her remote house in the mountains (without bothering to tell anybody). Unfortunately for Paul, Annie is also a headcase. When she discovers that Paul has killed off the heroine in her favorite novels, her reaction leaves Paul shattered (literally)... Written by Andrew Backhouse (andback74)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

This Christmas there will be... Misery. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Miseria  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,076,834 (USA) (2 December 1990)

Gross:

$61,276,872 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Jack Nicholson was offered the role of Paul Sheldon but passed because he was not sure he wanted to do another movie based on one of Stephen King's novels, after what he had experienced with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining (1980). See more »

Goofs

After the search in the snow slope where he fails to see the overturned car, Buster comes back to his car there is a lot less snow on the road. See more »

Quotes

Annie Wilkes: He didn't get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Misery the Pig - Herself See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hart of Dixie: Snowflakes & Soulmates (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO #1
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performed by Liberace
Courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department
Arranged by Liberace
Published by AVI Music Publishing Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
The best horror film ever adapted from a Stephen King book
11 February 2007 | by (Baltimore, MD) – See all my reviews

"Misery" accomplishes something which Hitchcock achieved in "Psycho" but which very few modern horror films achieve: it entertains without seeming exploitative. Even the movie's most gruesome scene, which ranks up there as one of the more memorably horrifying moments in all of cinema, ends with a laugh that somehow doesn't cheapen the material--maybe because it arises so naturally from the basic situation which the movie takes very seriously. We're not being urged to find the violence itself entertaining, as is the case for so many horror films these days. Rather, the humor is a way of breaking the tension of a desperate, nightmarish scenario. It is, we suspect, what helps the protagonist survive the ordeal.

Like many of the greatest thrillers, "Misery" begins with a bizarre set of coincidences. A bestselling romance novelist named Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is on his way to the countryside to work on his next book when a blizzard causes his car to crash, leaving him severely injured and unable to walk. Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a retired nurse and obsessive fan who was following him, takes care of him in her house without letting him leave or contact anyone. She is upset that he has recently killed off a central character in his series, and she forces him to write the new book more to her liking, though in total isolation from the outside world. His family and friends fear him dead, but the local sheriff (Richard Farnsworth) is investigating a little more closely.

"Misery" belongs to a unique genre in which a single character is trapped in a small area and spends the entire story attempting to escape. I've been fascinated by this type of story ever since I first read Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum." With his fine attention to detail, Stephen King has made two notable contributions to the genre: "Misery," and the unfilmable "Gerald's Game" (where a woman spends the entire novel handcuffed to a bed in the middle of nowhere). Everything is topsy-turvy in a story like this. The protagonist must adapt to a weird new set of rules that put a diabolical twist on normal routines. To most people, a house is a mundane setting where you wake up every day and leave without blinking an eye. For a house to become a prison seems almost unthinkable. Stories like "Misery" have the urgency of a nightmare, where the thing you fear most is always on the verge of happening.

In particular, this movie has much in common with the 1962 suspense drama "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (which I recommend). The basic structure of the story is the same, involving a disabled person in the house of an insane woman, who subjects her captive to physical and psychological tortures while almost everyone on the outside doesn't even know the victim exists. But in the older film, the motives were simpler, rooted in sibling jealousy and old wounds. "Misery" brings the conceit to a new level by making the captive a famous writer and the kidnapper a crazed fan. The movie makes much of the irony that she's a pretty good editor. She's not really sadistic or vengeful, as was the case with the Bette Davis character in "Baby Jane." The tortures she inflicts on Paul are the natural result of her trying to fit him into her bizarre little world.

Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her performance, one of only three horror performances ever to receive that award. (The other two are Fredric March for "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and Anthony Hopkins for "Silence of the Lambs.") One of the best actresses working today, she's fortunate not to have been typecast in this sort of role. She later proved herself quite adept at playing vulnerable women, like the battered wife in "Dolores Claiborne." She brings to the role of Annie a certain earthiness that you don't expect in this kind of role. She plays the character as a woman who doesn't perceive herself as insane, who acts bubbly and cheerful most of the time and seems to view her sudden mood shifts as merely a personal weakness. At times, the movie almost comes off as a demented parody of a normal relationship between a man and woman living together.

The very best of the Stephen King horror movies, "Misery" is a film which I count among my favorites even though it is so intense I sometimes have trouble sitting through the whole thing. With a screenplay by William Goldman, who has a knack for developing bizarre torture scenes (the Nazi dentist torture in "Marathon Man," the Machine in "The Princess Bride"), the movie manages to be scary and classy at the same time--a rare feat for a modern horror picture. Kathy Bates is in my nightmares!


77 of 89 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

"The IMDb Show": Alan Tudyk, His Top 5 Star Wars Droids, and Denzel's Dream Role

"The IMDb Show" Thanksgiving special: Alan Tudyk ranks his top five droids, we talk with the cast of Roman J. Israel, Esq., and we share our favorite Thanksgiving TV episodes.

Watch the show