There are thousands of horror movies and tens of thousands of horror books. As a matter of fact, only a handful of great movies was adapted from books and sometimes, they don’t translate well when made into movies but, here are some of the exceptions of great movies that came from equally great books.
Note: To avoid making this a Stephen King list, we limited the number of films that were based on his books. We need to give other people a chance.
1. The Omen by David Seltzer
The Antichrist has arrived, in the form of an American ambassador’s son. The original film starred Gregory Peck. The book has spawned a set of franchises that continues today on AMC TV Network including Damien which launched just this year. The story and the movie contain some of the most haunting scenes ever created. While the film adaptations are great, the book is breathtaking.
2. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The film has a 1970’s feeling to it… with dark paneling and lots of shocking noises. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it’s so much a product of its time. The book, yet, is much more timeless with uncomfortable scenes and excellent writing. This book should be on everyone’s summer reading list.
3. The Shining by Stephen King
There are many movie adaptations of Stephen King’s books, but this one, of course, is been considered the best. The book is a powerful and terrifying story that only gets worse as you begin to see Jack Nicholson in the lead role. King wrote the book, Kubrick directed the film, and you will be curled up in fear.
4. Psycho by Robert Bloch
Take a great book and give it to a legendary director and you get… Psycho. Alfred Hitchcock took this book to places that almost no other horror movie has. The tale of Norman Bates began in the mind of Robert Bloch and has now, also spawned an AMC series, Bates Motel.
Most terrifying about the book is that it is not influenced by the story of Ed Gein, the serial killer. In fact, the book was almost complete when Gein was caught. There is only a single line that alludes to him, and that was added very late. A terrifying art reflecting an even more terrifying reality.
5. The Hellbound Heart (Hellraiser) by Clive Barker
Though a low-budget film, it’s a cult classic. The book is far scarier than the movie. In the book, Barker imagines a world filled with cenobites… The extra-dimensional beings whose job it is to usher souls to Hell and torment them. If you love Hellraiser, or any of the franchise of movies, graphic novels, books, cartoons, or even action figures like me then you definitely should get around reading The Hellbound Heart – you’ll love it!
6. Carrie by Stephen King
The master is back. In this case, there isn’t one movie but two that are both excellent and different. This is King’s first book and it is a masterwork of terror and insight. It all started with the girls, the high school, a place where humiliation and pain are familiar to all. For Carietta “Carrie” White, it’s where she discovers her terrifying power.
7. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
This is one of those cases where the book is better than the movie and the movie, despite not as terrifying as the book, won an award. Hannibal Lecter is easily one of the terrifying characters ever created. The novel is a nearly perfect tour de force of police procedure and horrifying serial killers. The story is made terrifying by, not one, but two serial killers moving in and out of Agent Starling’s life.
8. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
This movie has been voted the scariest film of all time. The book is worse. Blatty somehow managed to take an obscure Roman Catholic ritual that was rarely performed and turned it into one of the most fascinating and yet terrifying stories ever written. Perhaps the fact that it’s based on a true story makes it, even more, scarier.
9. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Did you like The Hunger Games? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. Imagine a movie involving a psychotic nutjob whose idea of okay is to send children out to kill each other – That’s Battle Royale. The movie is subtitled, but even people who hate subtitles in a movie will love this. The book is powerfully intense with an incredible writing that’s as vivid as the movie screen.
10. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
Is it a true story? Does it matter? This is the story of a home possessed by evil spirit. The kind of spirit that drives one man to kill his entire family and another man to come close. The book spawned a franchise of films and knockoffs that still continues till date. It’s a perfect book as a light summer read or an intense late night terror.
Grab a book. Darken the house. Wait for the terrors to surround you with these great authors.