Aug 28, 2015

13 Books That Should Be Horror Movies

Article By: Giaco Furino

Sometimes all you need to get your pulse pounding is a good book. Light a lamp, put on your reading glasses, and sink into a scary page turner. Some books, like The Shining, go on to become incredible movies that influence the genre for decades. Others get short shrift.

Whether these novels have a dusty old adaptation or missed out entirely on the silver screen treatment, we took a look at thirteen of the best horror novels currently not being done justice by Hollywood.

1. "Hell House" by Richard Matheson

In what some consider the pinnacle of haunted house stories, Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) tells a tense, taut tale of an investigative team trying to figure out whether or not a famous house is haunted. While Matheson himself wrote a fine screenplay for the 1973 adaptation The Legend of Hell House, there’s plenty more room for better material, better scares, and with today’s effects, better hauntings!


2. "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski

This 2000 novel by Danielewski takes the idea of a “Story within a story” and amps that up to the tenth power. This book about a man who finds a book about a film about people who go crazy in a maze-like house (did you get all that?), would make the perfect mind-bending project for a director like Michel Gondry or Christopher Nolan. The fact that this complicated story has a gooey center of murder and mystery... well that only adds to the fun!


3. "Books of Blood" by Clive Barker

Some really wonderful horror films have come out of Clive Barker’s massive 1980’s omnibus of wretched, gory, and depraved tales. We’ve gotten movies like Candyman and Midnight Meat Train, and even a film called Clive Barker’s Book of Blood, but there is so much more to extract from these tales! With six total books “of blood” in his series, there’s plenty more to film.


4. "Carrion Comfort" by Dan Simmons

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This sprawling epic about powerful psychics who use their abilities to bend the wills of others is just screaming for the Hollywood treatment. Written in 1989, Carrion Comfort follows FBI agents as they delve into a series of strange incidents that eventually lead them to a secret society of nasty psychics with “The Ability”. Super powers, an FBI manhunt, a global conspiracy... how has this not been made into a movie yet?


5. "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James

The last time we saw an adaptation of Henry James’ famous ghost story The Turn of the Screw, it was in a 1994 flick with Patsy Kensit and Julian Sands which set the story in the 1960’s. We think this creepy tale, full of victorian dread and scary children, would be a smash hit if lovingly recreated today. Imagine how creepy the scene of Flora talking to a ghost in the woods would seem on the big screen!


6. "Off Season" by Jack Ketchum

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Here’s a book for the blood and gore crowd! This nasty novel about inbred island psychopaths and the fools who get in their way would make for one of the ugliest, shocking movies in recent horror history. The book, originally published in 1980, was so grisly that Ballantine Books withdrew it from shelves after it sold out of its first print run. So think what a stir it would make at the box office.


7. "Alone with the Horrors" by Ramsey Campbell

Spanning 30 years of the career of one of horror’s leading writers, Alone with the Horrors: The Great Short Fiction of Ramsay Campbell  is a testament to the author’s ability to freak us out. There are too few horror anthology films these days, and a couple of the thirty-nine stories in this book, put in a collection, would make for a wonderful flick.


8. "Those Who Hunt the Night" by Barbara Hambly

This classic horror whodunit from 1988 follows an old vampire of London and an ex-spy for the British government. Together under a tenuous partnership, the two look for clues to catch a culprit killing all of London’s vampires. Like Dracula meets James Bond, this book has already got the plotting of a thriller, so the transition to film should be easy!


9. "Constable and Toop" by Gareth P. Jones

Let’s not let the adults have all the fun here! Constable & Toop tells the story of a young boy who can see the dead in Victorian London. He helps them out when he can, but when ghosts start going missing, the young lad gets in way over his head. Perfect for kids during Halloween, this young reader favorite would make a fun and spooky movie.


10. "Dead in the Water" by Nancy Holder

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This tale of a summer vacation gone wrong won the Bram Stoker Award for best novel in 1994. Shipwrecked and seeking help, vacationers climb aboard a creepy ship to escape their troubles. But as the ship sails into the fog they realize they’re far from saved. With a nice big budget and some terrifying special effects, Dead in the Water could be a huge summer hit in theaters.


11. "Strangers" by Dean Koontz

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A group of strangers find each other at the Tranquility Motel, where their blocked memories lead to dark secrets. Full of shady government dealings, paranoia, and a big cast of colorful characters, Strangers by suspense master Dean Koontz would make a thriller mind-bender ala Memento.


12. "Lost Souls" by Poppy Z. Brite

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Written while the author was a wild, awesome teenager, Lost Souls follows a group of would-be vampires (and actual vampires) as they go on a wild road trip to New Orleans. Full of blood-sucking, lust, violence, and cheap thrills, this novel would make for a rollercoaster of a horror movie.


13. "The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls" by Claire Legrand

Finishing off with another book for youngsters, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is a frightening little tale about the prim and proper Victoria and her schlub of a friend, Lawrence. When Lawrence goes missing she goes looking for him, and comes across a bug-filled, torturous school of manners where flunking could have serious consequences. We’d love to see this in theaters, it’s scary enough for kids and adults, and would definitely be a real crowd pleaser!

Giaco Furino is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on,, and other sites.

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