Top 10 Horror Book Adaptations

A list of top ten horror book to film adaptations, consisting of both modern and classic films that please both film and book lovers.

The horror genre is immensely popular within the film industry as well as the publishing industry, with new horror films and books being crafted on a regular basis. In this day and age a large number of horror fanatics get their thrills from cinema or television rather than actually picking up a book so book to film adaptations is a somewhat popular fixation amongst those members of the audience. There have been many celebrated novels adapted into feature films over the years and here we pick out ten of the most worthy ones.


10. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this adaptation of the classic 1897 novel by Bram Stoker stars Gary Oldman as the blood sucking Count Dracula. The eerie movie version of the novel portrays Dracula’s efforts to acquire the heart of Mina Murray (played by Winona Rider) whom he believes to be the reincarnation of his wife Elisabeta. Although the film lacks the malevolence which the novel is so greatly renowned for, the film’s creepy atmosphere and impressive cast bestows this adaptation with the value it deserves.

9. Interview with the Vampire

Neil Jordan’s atmospheric adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire is a surreal and idealistic version of the moody and unsettling tale. Closely adapted to the novel’s story, the feature film produced a violent and magnificent film with some shocking images and a notable cast with a remarkable performance from Kirsten Dunst as the manipulative and evil Claudia, her character controversial due to some of the scenes that include the young actress. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise do not go unnoticed as the beautiful Gregorian vampires Louis and Lestat. Interview with the Vampire is visually stunning with a creative set, costumes and performance, the film never loses elegance whilst at the same time it maintains the eeriness thanks to the director’s spine-tingling take of the novel.

8. The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs is a tense, chilling thriller directed by Jonathan Demme adapted from Thomas Harris’s novel of the same name. This film is praised for its main cast consisting of Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins; they both portray the characters Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter with such credibility making the film truly nerve-racking. The brilliant storytelling from Thomas Harris and the excellent vision of Jonathan Demme make The Silence of the Lambs an unforgettable film.

7. Misery

This brilliant tale of terror and obsession stars James Caan as the between careers writer and Kathy Bates as the obsessed sociopath. Kathy Bates tackles the role of Annie Wilkes with such certainty, bringing the frightening character to life.  James Caan is not overlooked in his role as the wounded rescued novelist; his character Paul Sheldon portrays such boldness in the way he manoeuvers his captor to his advantages throughout the film. Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s chilling thriller is a film of uncertainty and manipulation delivering the sweats and chills, the kind that makes you put your hands on your face and look through the gaps in your fingers but at the same time being unable to look away in fear of missing what will happen next. The captivating performances, the rich dialogue and the clever script are all attributes of a well-made film.

6. Rosemary’s Baby

Roman Polanski’s atmospheric adaptation of Ira Levin’s horror novel brings true fear to life through the increasingly malevolent intentions of the sinister couple next door on an unsuspecting couple. Mia Farrow gives a powerful and very convincing performance as Rosemary Woodhouse, alongside Ruth Gordon who plays a chilling, scary neighbour Minnie Castevet, making Rosemary’s Baby just that bit more unsettling. The eeriness and the paranoia that Roman Polanski creates on screen never fades, making it a powerful influence in the horror genre today.

5. American Psycho

Whilst not as shocking as the novel, this adaptation of American Psycho, directed by Mary Harron, is still a deeply harrowing experience, especially the disturbing performance from Christian Bale as the slick psychopath Patrick Bateman. American Psycho is a bold adaptation of a beautifully written, at times intensely violent, novel by Brett Easton Ellis with some comical elements crafted within, making it a highly successful film.

4. Carrie

With one of the most terrifying prom scenes in cinema history, Carrie is a disturbing tale of supernatural powers and high school brutality. Sissy Spacek plays the terrorized and misunderstood teen whose life undertakes a drastic change when she discovers she has the power of telekinesis. Not only does Carrie White endure the ruthless bullying at her high school, she also has a mother whose fanatical beliefs cause her to constantly surpress and torment Carrie. Piper Laurie’s disturbing performance as Margaret White single-handedly brings terror to the screen; she is a truly creepy character. Director Brian DePalma effortlessly brings Stephen King’s scary story to life.

3. The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s creepy loosely adapted story of Stephen King’s The Shining is a brilliant horror rollercoaster ride with unexpected twists and turns that leave the audience mesmerised after each watch. Jack Nicholson delivers pure horror as the crazed psycho Jack Torrence with Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd as his terrorized wife and son. Years after release, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is still a film to be reckoned with.

2. Psycho

Renowned for its intense shower scene, 1960’s Psycho is a film that will always be appreciated and remembered. Filmed with skill and style, Alfred Hitchcock knows how to set the scene and the mood. Hitchcock’s adaptation of Robert Bloch’s Psycho could be considered the film that created modern horror, Hitchcock shows that you don’t need unnecessary gore to create fear and discomfort – the shower scene in Psycho creates that alone. Anthony Perkins plays such a convincing Norman Bates that it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Psycho by Robert Bloch was loosely based on the crimes of Ed Gein, making the characters in his novel just that little bit more terrifying, especially when brought onto the big screen. Almost 50 years after its release Psycho still remains a horror masterpiece.

1. The Exorcist

William Peter Blatty’s marvelous story telling in The Exorcist proves to work not only on paper but also on the big screen. William Friendkin’s adaptation of the novel shows just how terrifying a story about a possessed young girl can be.  Upon its release in 1973, The Exorcist was deemed too grotesque for audiences and was banned in many cities and countries. William Friendkin’s sheer genius in crafting such an intense film with a superb cast left his audience is such awe that ambulances had to be called to theatres. The characters are so well developed, the story so well adapted that it is no wonder that The Exorcist is and will always be one of the scariest films of all time.

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