32 Horror Movies Based on Books That Are Just as Terrifying
It's no secret that some of the scariest horror movies of all time were adapted from some truly terrifying books. The master of horror novels, Stephen King, has practically had his entire library transferred to the big screen, but there are some great horror authors whose names you may never have heard. Before you pick your next read, take a look at the books that inspired your favorite scary movies, and make sure you've caught up with all the horror movies based on true stories!
You know what's funny about 2007's The Mist? Literally nothing. It's a horrific story of a mysterious mist that takes over a town, leaving one group of residents stranded in a grocery store. It's insanely grim, and it features one of the bleakest twists in horror movie history. Sound like a good read to you? Great, you should definitely check out The Mist, Stephen King's 1980 novella that the movie is based on.
When you hear someone say "candyman," do you think of a friendly guy who works at the local candy shop, or do you think of an urban legend who murders people with hooks and has a mouth full of bees? If you're in the latter group, you may be interested to learn that the 1992 film is based on a short story called "The Forbidden," by Clive Barker.
Stir of Echoes
If 1999's Stir of Echoes paranormal horror flick gave you goosebumps, you should check out the inspriation, Richard Matheson's 1958 novel. The book version, A Stir of Echoes, may not feature shirtless Kevin Bacon, but it's just as freaky.
Two years before the movie came out, Scott Smith published The Ruins. Both the movie and the book follow a group of young friends who get on an adventure through the Mexican jungle, only to stumble upon some sacred ancient ruins. Not only are the locals pretty pissed, the ruins themselves are possessed by an evil force.
Gore Verbinski's frightening 2002 film served as a catalyst for American adaptations of Japanese horror films. Even before the original foreign film was released in 1998, the story of a killer video tape (LOL, video tapes) was giving people heart attacks in book form: Koji Suzuki's 1991 novel Ring inspired both movies.
As the film's original poster boasts, Jaws is based on "the terrifying no. 1 bestseller" by Peter Benchley. Benchley wrote the novel after being inspired by stories about Frank Mundus, a shark fisherman known as "Monster Man."
Remember this 1999 film starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor? It's a remake of a 1963 film, which is based on The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Published in 1959, the book centers on a group of people who go agree to stay at an old house that may be haunted. (Spoiler alert: it is very haunted.)
Not only did Clive Barker bring the Candyman to life, he also invented the nightmare-inducing Cenobite known as Hellraiser. Barker published the novella The Hellbound Heart in 1986, and the following year, Hellraiser hit theaters. It spawned a series of sequels, but none of the films can compete with the short novel that inspired the franchise.
The Wicker Man
OK, 2006's The Wicker Man may not have terrorized your soul — sorry, Nicolas Cage — but the 1978 novel by Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer might. The two actually wrote the novel after their 1973 horror film of the same name, expanding on the story presented in the film.
Anyone who has seen Misery knows it is virtually impossble to get some of those torture scenes out of your brain, and the same goes for the book. Stephen King released Misery in 1987, and it only took three years for the movie, which won Kathy Bates an Oscar, to come out.
Dreamcatcher is one of Stephen King's strangest books, and it become one of his most bizarre movie adaptations in 2003. Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Timothy Olyphant, and Damian Lewis star in the movie about a group of friends who go camping but end up in the middle of an alien invasion. Farting plays a big role in this story. Seriously.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Jeff Goldblum starred in 1978 alien horror movie, but before it hit the big screen, then and in 1956 (when the original film was released), The Body Snatchers was a revolutionary science fiction book by Jack Finney. Even if you haven't seen the films or read the book, you're probably familiar with the plot: aliens begin to take over the bodies and minds of ordinary people.
The Woman in Black
Susan Hill's 1983 horror novella inspired a TV movie in 1989, but the 2012 version with Daniel Radcliffe is much more popular. The Woman in Black follows a man who visits a sleepy English town on business, only to find that the place is haunted by a ghost who is somehow causing children to die.
Roman Polanski's celebrated adaption of Rosemary's Baby will stay with you long after you watch it. The freaky film was inspired by Ira Levin's incredibly successful 1967 novel, the release of which lead to a boom in horror books.
Haven't heard of this movie? That's probably for the best, at least when it comes to your sanity and ability to sleep. The 1999 Japanese film is based on Ryu Murakami's Audition, about a widowed filmmaker who essentially conducts a casting call for a new girlfriend. He becomes obsessed with one of the girls, but she's not as innocent as she seems.
The 1989 horror movie isn't Steven King's best adaptation, but the book is much better. The 1983 novel Pet Sematary tells of a doctor who moves his family to a new town and soon discovers that they are living near a Native American burial ground.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
One of your favorite '90s horror movies is actually based on Lois Duncan's 1973 book, I Know What You Did Last Summer. Of course, the movie takes quite a few liberties with the tale, like making the sadistic stalker into a tall, slicker-wearing figure with a hook as a weapon.
The Moth Diaries
Published in 2002, Rachel Klein's The Moth Diaries is all about a couple of best friends at boarding school. Oh, and one of them may be a vampire. The movie version, starring Lily Cole and Scott Speedman, was released in 2011. It didn't score great reviews, so you're better off sticking to the book with this one.
Afraid of dogs? Don't even try to read Cujo, Stephen King's novel that was turned into a movie in 1983. Cujo is a friendly Saint Bernard, until he sniffs out a powerful evil force that turns him into a bloodthirsty monster. So fun!
Let the Right One In
Later adapted into an American movie, this 2008 Swedish film will freak you the eff out. It follows a young boy as he befriends a vampire who has just moved to town. John Ajvide Lindqvist pushlished Let the Right One In in 2004.
World War Z
This movie falls somewhere between thriller and horror genres, but hey, zombies. The 2013 film, starring Brad Pitt, is an adaptation of Max Brooks's 2006 novel, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. The book itself is much different than the film, as it catalogues several personal accounts of a (fictionalized) zombie war on the planet.
Interview With the Vampire
Ah, another Brad Pitt gem. Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire was turned into a chilling film in 1994, featuring Tom Cruise as the main vampire Lestat. If you've been enchanted by the film, you have to read the book version, published in 1976.
Even those who barely know the first thing about horror films have heard of Alfred Hitchcock's classic film featuring the character of Norman Bates. What they may not know if that the movie is based on Robert Bloch's novel, Psycho, which was released in 1959.
Poor, mild-mannered Carrie just wanted to be the prom queen. Instead, she gets blood poured over her head and accidentally on-purpose kills all her classmates in the 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie. Chloë Grace Moretz starred in a 2013 remake, but the movie failed to pack the same punch as the original starring Sissy Spacek.
The Silence of the Lambs
Put on a pot of tea and don't plan on talking to anyone for the next several days once you crack open Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs. It's a sequel to his 1981 novel, Red Dragon (which also became a film), and it is scary as all get out. The 1991 film adaptation is good, but the book is great.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Seth Grahame-Smith turned the former president into a uniquely skilled vampire hunter in his 2010 horror mashup, which was adapted into a film in 2012. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has its comedic moments, but thanks to its gore factor, it absolutely counts as a horror movie.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Even before Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Grahame-Smith wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which combined the story from Jane Austen's classic novel with, well, zombies. The movie was released in 2016, and it's hard to tell whether Austen would approve.