Before there was easy access to all things cinema, people who wanted to find their chills and thrills had to look for them in books. It’s with that in mind that some of the best horror movies we’ve come to love and know have sprung from the page, creeping upon the big screen. As fans of these stories, not only do we want to have a visual representation of our characters battling against evil, but we want to feel the emotions that spooked us out with each turn of the page. Here are ten great horror movies that were adapted from books.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Adapted from Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name
The plot of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula almost identically follows that of Stoker’s, making for a faithful adaptation. It paints each scene detailed throughout the novel in elegant and gothic fashion. With Gary Oldman taking on the iconic role of Count Dracula, accompanied by fellow co-stars Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a horror tale of chilling magic and drama.
The Exorcist (1973)
Adapted from William Peter Blatty’s novel of the same name
While the book alone is spooky as hell, it’s William Friedkin’s film adaptation that makes for a nightmarish concoction of terror. The film immerses viewers into this hellish, isolated setting of evil and fright as they witness the possession of one little girl, and the decay of her family. The film takes the chilling nature of the novel’s words, and crafts them into horrific visuals. With the terrifying imagery, the film is able to take the fright to an all new level of disturbing.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name
While there are a couple takes on Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, Mary Lambert’s 1989 adaptation takes the cake. The movie still offers plenty of cheesy moments in its acting and dialogue, yet, it also brings with it an unsettling atmosphere. Towards the halfway point in the picture, things begin to become chilling and bothersome, as the horror and creepiness intensify. The movie takes the book’s aura, translating each horrifying moment of the novel into a lingering creepiness.
Adapted from Ryu Murakami’s novel of the same name
Murakami’s Audition is an easy-to-read novel, for it mostly skims over events, leaving most of the adrenaline and horror for the end. Takashi Miike’s Audition is much different right from the beginning. As soon as the picture starts rolling, there’s an immediate unease and anxiety introduced. Things only get crazier when the gore comes into picture, and trust me, it’s more brutal to see than to just read. Watching the actual scenes play out is much more horrific, for having the violence before our audience’s eyes makes for under-the-skin tension.
Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Adapted from Jean Redon’s novel of the same name
Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face brings to life the chilling nature of the original story, helping to bring out the novel’s tension. Not only does the film provide us visuals to the unnerving nature of our mysterious masked lady friend, but the film also offers a remarkably airy atmosphere that looms with a sense of anxiety and darkness.
Interview With The Vampire (1994)
Adapted from Anne Rice’s novel of the same name
Similar to the Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, Neil Jordan’s Interview With The Vampire captures the gothic essence of Anne Rice’s tale. Thanks to the enchanting (and at times cheesy) performances of both Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, the audience finds itself in a romantic realm of frights, chills, and drama. Jordan’s film is one of the most honorable adaptations in the horror world, carefully matching detail for detail with the original story.
Adapted from Kôji Suzuki’s novel of the same name
It’s important to note that when we are talking about a solid adaptation, Hideo Nakata’s Ring takes top place over the American remake. The novel makes for a captivating horror/thriller, with the movie translating the tension with great care. While some minor character background details shift slightly, we are still given an anxiety-provoking journey with plenty of mystery and scares. The film makes for an almost perfect adaptation that grabs hold of what made the novel so terrifying and gripping in each scene.
Let The Right One In (2008)
Adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel of the same name
Forget the American remake ever happened, all your attention should be on Tomas Alfredson’s version of Let The Right One In. As one of the most unique horror tales of our time, the film masterfully captures the chills, drama, and romance that was throughout the original novel. From beginning to end, the film carries with it an elegant and chilling aura that weaves us into its story and characters. This adaptation masterfully captures the themes of the original novel, and luring viewers into a beautifully cold and dark setting.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Adapted from Ira Levin’s novel of the same name
Roman Polanski’s film adaptation is a near-perfect retelling of the novel. The film serves as a means to use visuals to entrance us into the oddness and horror that takes place around our protagonist. Mia Farrow’s performance is captivating to the point of displaying the innocence of her character as she is surrounded by numerous evil forces. The brilliant acting goes beyond the enticing dialogue of the novel, adding an extra layer of tension among the cultist within the film.
There you have it, ten great horror films based on horror novels. Are there any I missed you would have included? Sound off in the comments.
Michael Pementel is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago's Creative Writing Program. When he isn't writing for Film Daddy, he writes full time for Metal Injection and New Noise Magazine. He has also written for Alternative Press, Film Inquiry, and The Curator. He's the Social Media Manager for death metal record label Ultimate Massacre Productions. When not writing, he enjoys a hot cup of black coffee, a good book/video game/film, and to cuddle with his fiancée and cat.
Follow Michael on Twitter @pementelm.