Your Imagination Isn't Always Better: Nine Horror Films We Love as Much as the Books
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No silly, not Christmas or back to school day…Halloween. Whether you were sent off on your first horror journey by Stephen King or his son, Joe; by H.P. Lovecraft or Edgar Allan Poe, there are bound to be film adaptations of almost all your favorites. Here are a few of ours.
1. The Exorcist, based on the William Peter Blatty novel
Director William Friedkin initially excised this spider-walk scene because of visible effects. With the aid of newer technology, the effects were erased and years later, the scene was added back—resulting in a deliciously creepy few moments. But it’s the glorious mood captured by Friedkin and cinematographer, Owen Roizman that make The Exorcist one of my all time favorites. -CD
2. Let The Right One In, based on the John Ajvide Lindqvist novel.
Original Swedish Flavor only, please. From the strong casting of child actors Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson to the perfectly bleak backdrop of Stockholm, the film is a perfect recreation of the stomach-churning novel. Oskar’s plight as a lonely, unsure, bullied young boy is horrible enough without the vampire Eli catching his attention. Yet, you can’t hold anything against Eli or her actions because she’s just as lonely and unsure as Oskar. - JC
3. The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel
Although (and because) Kubrick changed so many things his film created a case of double-love; each medium is terrifying in its own way. For me, there’s never been a novel vs. film debate; one doesn’t negate or take the place of the other. In this quintessential scene, mallet was changed to axe, and Nicholson ad libs the famous line: “Here’s Johnny!” -CD
4. The Amityville Horror, based on the Jay Anson novel.
The last time I was this disappointed by a book, I threw it across the room. Anson writes about the supernatural occurrences that allegedly plagued the Lutz family like he’s writing a car manual. To say that the films are a vast improvement is an understatement. Personally, I prefer my Amityville Horror with manly eye candy. -JC
5. Christine, based on the Stephen King novel
Once I started King, I couldn’t stop (well, until I got to the crap that was Lisey’s Story and Under the Dome); Christine was one of the early reads that got me hooked. I’m a sucker for John Carpenter’s moody (and musical) touch, and Keith Gordon was the perfect Arnie. Unlike the ridiculously silly Maximum Overdrive (foolishly directed by the author himself), Christine was one of the better King movie outings. -CD
6. Pet Sematary, based on the novel by Stephen King.
I think I only need to remind you of two things to prove that this novel made a visceral, terrifying movie: Achilles tendon and Zelda. I totally pulled a Joey and left this book in the freezer more than once. -JC
7. Hellraiser, based on Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart
Here’s a case where the book author adapted his own novel, and it turned out well. Barker is a great writer whose descriptions of Frank’s book torture are difficult to bring to life—and regardless of how successful that particular aspect was—Hellraiser brought us into the terrifyingly creepy alternate dimension where the Cenobites reign. -CD
8. The Silence of the Lambs, based on the Thomas Harris novel
What can I say that you don’t already know? Demme’s take on Harris is as good as it gets. Though many people enjoy Michael Mann’s Manhunter (based on Harris’ Red Dragon), I never truly felt Cox’s Lecktor. Hopkins embodied Lecter, Foster’s Clarice blew us away, and don’t even get me started on Ted Levine. But best of all, the film is just as terrifying as the read. -CD
9. Carrie, based on the Stephen King novel
King’s first published novel was also his first work adapted to film (and introduced me to Brian De Palma, who has made a few of my favorite films). Sissy Spacek completely embodied King’s frreaky-yet-sympathetic outcast; likewise Amy Irving’s ability to tread the line as a member of the group who taunts Carrie, and the haunted, remorseful last (sort of) survivor. From what I’ve read about the recent reboot, De Palma’s scary tribute will stand as the classic. -CD