In this list we will only be looking at films based on books, not the books themselves. Although we hope to revisit these films at a later date and compare them to the books they’re based upon. What’s your favourite horror film based on a book? Did it make our list?

Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh star in Psycho

Psycho (1960)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

Based On: Psycho by Robert Bloch (1959)

Based on the novel. Marion Crane is on the run after stealing a large sum of money from her boss. She stops for the night and meets Norman Bates, the shy proprietor of a secluded old motel, but all is not as it seems at Bates Motel. As evidenced by the not-so-popular remake, this film is just untouchable.

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Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins star in The Silence Of The Lambs

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine

Based On: The Silence Of The Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988)

An adaptation of the novel. A young FBI trainee seeks the advice of an imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter – a brilliant psychiatrist turned cannibalistic serial killer – to help catch a serial killer named ‘Buffalo Bill’ who skins his female victims. My favourite thing about this film is probably the tense conversations between Clarise Starling and Hannibal Lecter.

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Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Storm Reid and Aldis Hodge star in The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man (2020)

Director: Leigh Whannell

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid

Based On: The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (1897)

Loosely based on the novel. After his supposed suicide, a woman believes she is being stalked and gaslit by her abusive and wealthy ex-boyfriend. Despite others not believing her, she becomes adamant that he has acquired the ability to become invisible. My favourite film of last year. This film perfectly blends a classic tale in a modern way.

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Jack Nicholson, Louise Burns, Danny Lloyd and Shelley Duvall star in The Shining

The Shining (1980)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd

Based On: The Shining by Stephen King (1977)

Based on the novel. Jack Torrence, an aspiring writer, takes up a job as the off season caretaker at a hotel with a dark history. Isolated with his family, Jack’s mental stability begins to unravel. I know Stephen King doesn’t particularly like this adaptation, which I understand, it certainly does have it’s flaws. Overall though, I view this film as a masterpiece, and one of my favourite horror films of all time.

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Christopher Lee stars in The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man (1973)

Director: Robin Hardy

Starring: Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt

Based On: Ritual by David Pinner (1967)

Inspired by the novel. Devout Christian and Police Sergeant Neil Howie is sent to an isolated island in search of a missing girl. Once there, he is appalled and disturbed to find that the inhabitants have abandoned Christianity and now practice a form of Celtic Paganism. My absolute favourite film about cults, nothing else ever quite compares.

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Bill Skarsgård, Wyatt Oleff, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard and Jaeden Martell star in IT

It (2017)

Director: Andy Muschietti

Starring: Finn Wolfhard, Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis

Based On: It by Stephen King (1986)

Based on the novel. Seven children are terrorized by a deadly shapeshifting being, whilst also facing their own inner demons. I really loved this adaptation, and did prefer it to the mini-series. It’s like a summer feel-good film meets horror – it shouldn’t work, but it does.

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Bruce Greenwood, Carla Gugino and Carel Struycken star in Gerald’s Game

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas

Based On: Gerald’s Game by Stephen King (1992)

Based on the novel. A married couple arrive at an isolated house for an erotic getaway. When her husband dies of a sudden heart attack, Jessie must find a way to survive, whilst also battling her inner demons. Yet another Stephen King adaptation on this list, what can I say? The guy can write a good story.

Winona Ryder, Gary Oldman and Sadie Frost star in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves

Based On: Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Based on the novel. Dracula comes to believe that a young woman named Mina is the reincarnation of his beloved Elisabeta. He travels to London to pursue her, leaving carnage in his wake. The classic vampire love story set to a beautifully gothic backdrop – and some great performances by British actors.

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Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer star in Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies (2013)

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton

Based On: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (2010)

Based on the novel, which is inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. R is a zombie, and Julie is a human, but when they meet, a love begins to grow. Their love is threatened by their societal differences, despite R beginning to regain his humanity. Yes, it’s the classic star-crossed lovers story we’ve seen many times, but this managed to be endearing and insightful of the societal prejudices we still face today.

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Austin Zajur and Zoe Margaret Colletti star in Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)

Director: André Øvredal

Starring: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Austin Abrams, Michael Garza, Austin Zajur

Based On: Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz (1981)

Based on the children’s book of short stories. When Stella and friends decide to explore a supposedly haunted house, they find an old book full of handwritten stories. Not only are these stories scary; they’re coming true. I loved seeing the stories from the book come to life in this film, which is definitely where it shined.

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Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Andrew Robinson and Ashley Laurence star in Hellraiser

Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Starring: Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins, Sean Chapman

Based On: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (1986)

Based on the novella. A couple moves into an old family home, but the wife finds her ex-lover (her husband’s brother) in the attic room – not wholly human. She must now bring him human sacrifices to help him be whole again. This film is particularly interesting because it was made by the man who wrote the book, which is probably what helps to make it so good.

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Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, and Christina Ricci star in Addams Family Values

Addams Family Values (1993)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Starring: Christina Ricci, Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd

Based On: The Addams Family by Charles Addams (1938-1988)

Based on the characters of the comics. In this sequel to The Addams Family (1991) Uncle Fester marries Debbie Jellinsky – a serial killer intending on murdering Fester for his inheritance. Meanwhile, Wednesday and Pudsley are sent to hell i.e. summer camp. This film is so fun, I love anything featuring The Addams Family, but Wednesday inciting chaos at summer camp makes this one my favourite.

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Will Smith stars in I Am Legend

I Am Legend (2007)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Willow Smith, Charlie Tahan

Based On: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)

Only loosely based on the novel. Robert Neville is a virologist who is the last human in New York. A virus which was created to cure cancer has infected most of mankind, turning them into nocturnal mutants. Neville is immune to the virus and is working to develop a cure whilst defending himself from the hostile mutants. One of the more interesting Post-apocalyptic films I’ve seen, which is excelled by a stunning performance from Will Smith.

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