Down 238 this week

Misery (1990)

R  |   |  Thriller  |  30 November 1990 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 125,647 users  
Reviews: 307 user | 126 critic

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.



(novel), (screenplay)
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

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



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

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
It (TV Mini-Series 1990)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In 1960, seven outcast kids known as "The Loser Club" fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. 30 years later, they are called back to fight the same clown again.

Stars: Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Annette O'Toole
Pet Sematary (1989)
    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)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Carrie White is shy and outcast 17-year old girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, and unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates for the last time 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  

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

Director: Lewis Teague
Stars: Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Danny Pintauro
Christine (1983)
Action | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 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
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 Clarke Heston
Stars: Max von Sydow, Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia
The Exorcist (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

When a teenage 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
The Birds (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette
Apt Pupil (1998)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A boy blackmails his neighbour after suspecting him to be a Nazi war criminal.

Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Ian McKellen, Brad Renfro, Joshua Jackson
Cape Fear (1991)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange
Poltergeist (1982)
    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


Complete credited cast:
Jerry Potter ...
Thomas Brunelle ...
Anchorman (as Tom Brunelle)
Julie Payne ...
Reporter #1
Reporter #2 (as Archie Hahn III)
Gregory Snegoff ...
Reporter #3
Wendy Bowers ...
Misery the Pig ...


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


The Tide Has Come. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Miseria  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)


$61,276,872 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Stephen King was quite impressed with Kathy Bates's performance in this film, so much so that he later wrote two more roles for her. The title role in his novel Dolores Claiborne (1995) was written with Bates in mind. King also wrote the script for The Stand (1994). His original novel featured a (male) character named Ray Flowers. Upon hearing that Bates wanted to be involved in the mini-series, King re-wrote the part as a woman, just so Bates could play the part. See more »


When Paul is looking at Annie's scrapbook, her name in one of the news headlines and the body of the article reads "Anne M. Wilkes," but the accompanying photo gives her name as "Annie C. Wilkes." See more »


Paul Sheldon: [holding a rolled-up page of his manuscript] Remember how for all those years, nobody knew who Misery's real father was, or if they'd ever be reunited? It's all right here. Does she finally marry Ian, or will it be Winthorne? It's all right here.
[lights a match and with it, lights the page]
Annie Wilkes: Paul you can't!
[drops her glass]
Paul Sheldon: [Still holding the burning page] Why not? I learned it from you.
[Puts the burning page down onto his manuscript, already on the floor, burning it]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Misery the Pig - Herself See more »


Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.5 (2005) See more »


Written by Larry Grossman
Published by Fiddleback Music Co., Inc., New Start Music and Eric Lieber Music, Inc.
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!

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

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Is this actually a plot hole? peggy714
Very disappointing .. if you read the book walpen87
'Dom Perignon' :) TuesdayGirl
James Caan is the king of of the "Are you Crazy look?" iheartnormi
What is the scariest scene in the novel isimness
Funniest scene in the movie. numberjuan
Discuss Misery (1990) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: