The Most Popular Book-to-Scream Adaptations

Posted by Marie on October 1, 2018
Goodreads Horror Week 2018

Horror Week is sponsored by Dark Corners, an Amazon Original Stories Collection.


Hollywood has a long-standing tradition of adapting horror novels into frightening films. From 1930s classics like Dracula and Frankenstein to last year’s acclaimed remake of Stephen King’s IT, theatergoers won’t be facing a shortage of screams anytime soon.

Many adaptations have become just as iconic (if not more so) as their source material. Think Linda Blair’s hair-raising performance in The Exorcist, the blood-curdling shower scene in Psycho, or how the phrase “Hello, Clarice” instantly brings a certain cannibalistic dinner host to mind.

Because we’re all about reading the book before seeing the movie, we rounded up some of the most popular horror adaptations on Goodreads. For easy browsing, we sorted these titles into several spine-chilling themes. Which ones have kept you up at night, and which ones will you be adding to your Want to Read Shelf?


Possessed Properties

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The Devil Made Me Do It

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Creature Features

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The Classic Monster Mash

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Hostile Hospitality

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Evil at the End of the World

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Perilous Playmates

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Accursed Outcasts

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Which adapted horror novel would you recommend as a great read? Let us know in the comments!

Check out the complete coverage of Horror Week:
13 Terrifyingly True Tales
A Guide to the Ghastly Subgenres of Horror
50 Most Popular Horror Novels on Goodreads

Comments Showing 1-50 of 71 (71 new)


message 1: by Tanya (new)

Tanya I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all.


message 2: by Margaret Jones (new)

Margaret Jones Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

Yes, I say this all the time! If you've read the book you realize that the movie really doesn't make much sense. The miniseries from the '90s with Steven Weber was much closer to the book.


message 3: by Reader453 (new)

Reader453 I plan to check out Netflix's adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House.


message 4: by Holly (new)

Holly Margaret Jones wrote: "Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

Yes, I say this all the time! If you've read the book you realize that the movie really doesn't m..."



Yes.

The opening footage gives me motion sickness. The horrendous annoying noises in the soundtrack and Wendy......oh my gods, Wendy drives me insane. I want to hit her in the head with an axe myself whenever I'm forced to sit through this film.


message 5: by { U n s o l v e d M y s t e r y } (last edited Oct 01, 2018 08:57AM) (new)

{ U n s o l v e d M y s t e r y } The Woman in Black is fantastic! Perfect for this time of year!


message 6: by Lyndy Ann ♫ (new)

Lyndy Ann ♫ JAWS is my all time fave movie but I disliked the book did not like what the character Ellen Brody did in the book,


message 7: by Lyndy Ann ♫ (new)

Lyndy Ann ♫ Reader453 wrote: "I plan to check out Netflix's adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House."

Me too 👻


message 8: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Lopez Lyndy Ann ♫ wrote: "JAWS is my all time fave movie but I disliked the book did not like what the character Ellen Brody did in the book,"

OMG! Same! Jaws = Fave Movie / Really disliked the book. One of very few book/movie adaptations where I liked the movie more.


message 9: by Dinara (new)

Dinara Tengri Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

You're absolutely right. So much of the book's subtext and characterization gets lost.


message 10: by Lyndy Ann ♫ (new)

Lyndy Ann ♫ Jenn wrote: "Lyndy Ann ♫ wrote: "JAWS is my all time fave movie but I disliked the book did not like what the character Ellen Brody did in the book,"

OMG! Same! Jaws = Fave Movie / Really disliked the book. On..."


Thanks Jenn nice to know I am not the only one.


message 11: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Keys Lyndy Ann ♫ wrote: "JAWS is my all time fave movie but I disliked the book did not like what the character Ellen Brody did in the book,"
I have said it is one of the few books where the film adaptation is actually *better*.


message 12: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I totally agree. The miniseries was much better. I also really like the miniseries they made out of The Stand.


message 13: by Wanda (new)

Wanda Maynard If I was going to recommend one book, it would have to be MISERY by Stephen King, because it was the way she went about getting her victim. Scary stuff.


message 14: by Dinara (new)

Dinara Tengri Margaret Jones wrote: "Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

Yes, I say this all the time! If you've read the book you realize that the movie really doesn't m..."


Finally, someone who speaks my language! Kubrick bastardized King's story, and I'm glad King had the chance to make things right with Weber's version.


message 15: by Zoe (new)

Zoe What about Pet Sematary?


message 16: by Phil (new)

Phil Read 10 of these. quite surprised. Is Jaws horror?


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Phil wrote: "Read 10 of these. quite surprised. Is Jaws horror?"

Yes, definitely.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* As for The Shining, I loved the Kubrick version and found the mini-series way too melodramatic and badly acted.

I liked the book (except the ending).


message 19: by Guin (new)

Guin I think Stephen King's "CUJO" needs a remake was totally disappointed with film. Yes, I read the book before seeing the movie.


message 20: by Wanda (new)

Wanda Maynard I guess JAWS could be considered horror. A killing machine.


message 21: by Estelle (new)

Estelle 17 out of 24!

The Exorcist, The Silence of the Lambs and Psycho are all excellent reads and movies! I can't recommend them enough.


message 22: by Dirk (new)

Dirk Reader453 wrote: "I plan to check out Netflix's adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House."

There are two adaptions out of this book. An old black and White Adaption from 1963 and the new one from 1999.
Both are good, but the original Version is more like the book.


message 23: by Darlene (new)

Darlene Two of my favourites are here: The Exorcist and The Shining. Both books are excellent.


message 24: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Watched 18 of 24, read 3. I'm a child of the video tape and Blockbuster.


message 25: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Lesperance Ladypyrate wrote: "Lyndy Ann ♫ wrote: "JAWS is my all time fave movie but I disliked the book did not like what the character Ellen Brody did in the book,"

I have said it is one of the few books where the film adapta..."


Yea it is rare to be able to say that, but I agree the movie was much better. I felt that the characters in the movie worked better with the story line rather than a random affair bring played in.


message 26: by Holly (new)

Holly Rosemary's Baby will always be one of my favorite film adaptations of a novel.

While the story was faithful to the novel. Polanski was a genius with the lighting, casting, camera angles, art direction, just everything that makes the difference between a quality film and an okay film. Using the Dakota for the Bramford was just the icing on the cake.


message 27: by Greg (new)

Greg Carson One of the best novels turned into a TV miniseries (twice) was Salem's Lot by Steven King


message 28: by Lyndy Ann ♫ (new)

Lyndy Ann ♫ Sarah wrote: "Watched 18 of 24, read 3. I'm a child of the video tape and Blockbuster."

Watched 21 of 24 but only read 2, love horror movies.


message 29: by Anton (new)

Anton Aylward The scariest movie of all time for me is the original "Alien".
I was so impressed with the perfect B-movies horror format par excellence that I took my then girlfriend to see it. When I drove her home she wouldn't go into her house until I'd been though it and turned all the lights on and brought out her cat to the car.
But is there a book the movies was based on as opposed to a book-of-the-movie?


message 30: by Beth (new)

Beth Seawell Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

I completely agree. That movie has always fallen flat to me, and people just want to go on and on about how scary it is. Uhhh, which part? It has some great horror imagery (the wave of blood, the decomposing woman, stuff like that), but the dialogue is so forced and unrealistic it hurts my ears.


message 31: by Barb (new)

Barb I read 24 can’t believe I missed that many of the others


message 32: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Read 11 out of 24. Watched only 6....


message 33: by Arwen (new)

Arwen Read 13, seen 15...
Dracula I have read and re-read and re-re-read, and enjoyed the movie (Coppola's) tremendously each time I watched it (numerous times).


message 34: by Brittany (new)

Brittany Holly wrote: "Margaret Jones wrote: "Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

Yes, I say this all the time! If you've read the book you realize that the..."


I absolutely agree!! Wendy is so mousy (instead of the badass she is in the book) and Danny is a toddler who can't even speak. It's pretty much a movie showcasing Jack Nicholson. I can't believe the movie is considered a horror "classic."


message 35: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes The film was disappointing, but Peter Straub's Ghost Story was a chilling read.


message 36: by Jens (new)

Jens Raab Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

Same! I thought I was quite alone with my sentiment. Glad to see that's not the case! :D
Everybody seems to praise Kubrick's adaptation over the skies, I never understood why, haha! He completely changed the meaning of the story.


message 37: by Jens (new)

Jens Raab Anton wrote: "[...] is there a book the [Alien] movies was based on as opposed to a book-of-the-movie?"

Not exactly. But apparently the original Alien movie is sufficiently similar to A. E. van Vogt's stories Black Destroyer and Discord in Scarlet (later combined into the fix-up The Voyage of the Space Beagle) that he reached an out-of-court settlement with the film company.


message 38: by Stacy (new)

Stacy Ditto Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. What a great book!


message 39: by Nightfalltwen (new)

Nightfalltwen The Woman in Black is my all time favourite scary story. I saw it first as a play in London and then read the book. Both were equally amazing.


message 40: by grammarchick (new)

grammarchick Margaret Jones wrote: "Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

Yes, I say this all the time! If you've read the book you realize that the movie really doesn't m..."


THANK YOU! It's good to know I'm not alone in my feelings about the miniseries. I can't seem to find many people who've seen it. Far and away, much better than the movie.


message 41: by Holly (last edited Oct 03, 2018 05:16AM) (new)

Holly Whitney wrote: "Margaret Jones wrote: "Tanya wrote: "I dislike Kubrick's adaptation of the Shining. Doesn't do the novel justice at all."

Yes, I say this all the time! If you've read the book you realize that the..."



Actually, we all share this feeling with Stephen King. He hated it too, which is why Stephen King's The Shining also exists.


message 42: by Book-Bosomed (new)

Book-Bosomed  blog Kubrick's film adaption of The Shining far exceeds the book. Don't waste your time on King's mini-series version. Horrible casting.
Rosemary's Baby is a good one for following the book though but still translating well on screen.


message 43: by Lyndy Ann ♫ (new)

Lyndy Ann ♫ Arwen wrote: "Read 13, seen 15...
Dracula I have read and re-read and re-re-read, and enjoyed the movie (Coppola's) tremendously each time I watched it (numerous times)."


Dracula was my comfort blanket in school, so much so my teacher gave me a copy.


message 44: by Spinecracker_ (new)

Spinecracker_ I Am Legend shouldn't be on this list at all. All the book and the movie have in common is the title. Literally could not possibly be any more different. (Both are good, you just have to stop yourself from comparing them)


message 45: by John (new)

John McDermott For me it has to be Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker. It was of course filmed as Hellraiser. Love Pinhead !!


message 46: by Mario (last edited Oct 03, 2018 02:09PM) (new)

Mario If you listen to one horror audiobook, make it The Exorcist, read by William Peter Blatty. A great novel and an incredible storyteller.


message 47: by Cass (new)

Cass I’ve read seven, currently reading one, and I’ve seen thirteen of these but hopefully will see the rest by the end of October 🎃👻 !!


message 48: by Leo (new)

Leo So glad to see that King is almost in all of these categories.


message 49: by Eita (new)

Eita Kaleb -"Gerald's Game" by Stephen King.
-"Pines" by Blake Crouch.
A section about "Thriller psychological" would be great.


message 50: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Lyndy Ann ♫ wrote: "JAWS is my all time fave movie but I disliked the book did not like what the character Ellen Brody did in the book,"
I feel the same too! I was so excited to read the book, and couldn't believe such a great movie came from that!


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