Top 13 Best / Worst Horror Movies based on Books

Books are magical. Immersing yourself in the depths of the written word can whisk you away to the far reaches of imagination and drag you naked through the intricacies of epic tales of love, adventure, romance and horror. Unfortunately, the way I see it, books take a lot of time away from the more important enjoyments in life like drunkenly and maniacally weilding a chainsaw just to f*ck some sh*te up. I have also found that booze can pretty much bring on the same fuzzy feeling comparable to the satisfaction of finishing a book but much faster. Additionally, accurately adapted movies can blast the story into your brain well enough for you to convince your friends you are actually able to read a book without it beginning with the words “Marvel Comics Presents…”. For your convenience I have brilliantly tossed together a list of horror movies adapted from books into two categories; “Watch repeatedly” and “Avoid at all costs”. This list is slightly different than my normal lists in that half is composed of awesome adaptations and the other half is an awesomely composed list of inaccurate and upsetting retoolings.

First, the good:
1) Interview With The Vampire
This movie was beautiful, elegant and full of bloodsucking freaks. The book was eloquently written with constant themes of regality that translated perfectly onto celluloid through the artistic and often sepia toned visions of Neil Jordan. The overall aesthetic of the movie was perfectly dark and victorian and the story unfolded with a tragic and brilliant pace. Also, you just can’t beat the fiery vampire carnage scene as far as pure awesomeness goes.

2) 30 Days Of Night
The art of Ben Templesmith constantly explodes my brain and I never thought a movie would be able to capture the essence of it but then I shut right the hell up after watching this eye feast. I felt that the story was a little slow but loved the beautiful compilation of vampiric imagery and sadistic violence. I have always been a fan of the razor toothed, psychotic, demon vampires and I loved watching these monsters unleash their torturous brand of hell on the innocent townsfolk.

3) Dracula
Bram Stoker’s book was written in letter form. I know you haven’t read it so I thought I should tell you that upfront. Also, the love story aspect is quite different but this doesn’t stop the 1931 and 1992 adaptations from being amazing and accurate movie versions of the classic novel. The macabre settings and aristocratic nature of the characters were portrayed perfectly and Bela Lugosi and Gary Oldman being gods among insects doesn’t hurt.

4) Frankenstein
Mary Shelly’s nightmarish tale of a mad scientist playing God and the sorrowful existance of a man made zombie creature without a place in this
world is one of my favorite stories ever told. I read the book and loved it and the only movie I would say comes even close to capturing the essence of the tale is the original 1931 movie. Boris Karloff was brilliant and James Whale’s direction was beyond perfection. Some of my favorite scenes from any movie ever are from this iconic film.

5) Rosemary’s Baby
The escalation in both the book and movie is so slow and steady and the tension builds so strongly that by the climactic end your head will most
likely explode like a grapefruit filled with dynamite. Roman Polanski really brought to visual life the rising hopelesness of the setting and the feeling of the movie never left the realm of reality the book conveyed.

6) Misery
Stephen King has had many movies made from his books. Some are sh*te and some are gold. Misery is one of the most chillig and upsetting books I had ever read, let alone seen. It will always have a special place in my heart. Also, I tried that wooden-block-and-hammer-to-the-ankles-thing, it totally works and hurts. Boy, was my face red when I found that one out.

8) The Exorcist
Again, the book and the movie shared a very tense and scary escalation. The movie was very much paced the same as the book and every detail really mattered. I think what makes this movie so good is the desperation and simplicity of the situation. I’m very glad they didn’t skip over the technical religious details when adapting the book to film.

And now, the worst:
1) Queen Of The Damned
This movie is a giant middle finger in the face of those who loved the books for what they were and/or wanted a follow up to Interview With The Vampire that, on some level, could compare. I’m not saying that, had this movie been conceived without connection to its beautiful, gothic victorian predecessor that it wouldn’t have rocked, but, as an adaptaion of both ‘The Vampire Lestat’ and ‘Queen Of The Damned’, this was a sh*t covered turd.

2) I Am Legend
Why the hell is it so f*cking hard to use the source material when making a movie based on that source? Huh? Seriously! The book is so amazing and yet no adaptation of it has yet captured even a fraction of the magic except for maybe “The Last Man On Earth” with Vincent Price. The book is all about desolation and reflection. The vampires know where he lives and they taunt him nightly until he drinks himself to sleep with classical music blaring to drown out the vicious roars and taunts until he wakes up hungover and goes vamp steaking. One of my favorite scenes in any book I’ve read is the burning mass graves scene during the martial law stage of the outbreak. I was really looking forward to seeing this on the screen yet, the movie makers saw fit to skip over everything I loved about the book. Even the title has a completely different relevence. Why not just be inspired and make a movie without soiling the good name and story of a great book?

3) Amityville Horror (2005)
George Lutz was furious at the depiction of himself in the remake considering nowhere in his non-fiction book does it ever describe him hunting his family with an axe. I love the Amityville story, I even liked the remake a lot, but rather than display the horrifying testimony of the Lutz family, it goes for cheap Hollywood cliches and ruins the subtle escalation of occurances while diminishing the whole based-on-actual-events vibe all the while making the real George Lutz look like an axe murderer. I’d be pissed too if I wasn’t actually an axe murderer… which I am, ladies.

4-The Shining
First off, shut up. I know you love this movie and so do I, I just hate it as an adaptation of Stephen King’s book. I’m sure you took a bunch of pretentious college film classes about how anything Kubric touched is an instant classic but there is no excuse for this. This movie has almost nothing to do with book aside from the basic premise. Also, I think the feeling of the movie was all wrong. If you really want to know what the book was about but hate reading as much as I hate sobriety and pants, watch the mini-series that aired a few years ago.

5) The Mist
This was one of my favorite Stephen King stories. I always daydreamed about having to survive stranded in a grocery store and would often chuckle to myself at the inevitable shenanigans that would take place. The addition of interdimentional, hellish monsters just made this story my cup of brains, but, I thought the movie just lacked the charm of the short story. It seemed like it had everything the book had but I just constantly felt like it was missing something. I know the story ends up being a downer anyway but this movie just had no element of fun to it. Even the scenes with the monsters were somehow bled of any excitement I perceived when reading it. It was a very well done movie and I do own it, but I just couldn’t shake the constant and overwhelming feeling of stagnation.

6) Anything Lovecraft
I love H.P. Lovecraft and I always will. Again, this complaint falls into the same category as the “I Am Legend” fiasko. Why the sh*t can’t anybody
just adapt his stories as is? Why does there always have to be all this added bullsh*t and stupid, boring ridiculousness? “Dagon” was OK, I guess, but still, it was pretty far from the source material. Why have we not gotten a good Cthulhu movie? We get sh*tty monster movies churned out every day but nobody will fund or accurately adapt some of the best monster stories every written? What the hell? “The Reanimator” as a movie was also good as a stand-alone concept but it didn’t deliver the big budgeted, vintage, chilling tone it deserved. All I am asking for is a nice production value put into some of the greatest tales of terror ever told. Come on Hollywood, quit being an asshole?

Ok, I’m glad you agree with my every word again. There is no mystery as to why you worship me. But, if there are any book-to-movie adaptations I left off of either list, please feel free to bitch at and belittle me in the comments below even though we both know you think I’m awesome. Again, thanks to Scarlet for additional geniusness. High-five!

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One Response to Top 13 Best / Worst Horror Movies based on Books

  1. Robert says:

    Wait, you think Amityville is a true story? It has been said numerous times that the novel was actually fake.

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