10 Horror Movie Adaptations That Were Better Than The Book

The Black Phone, just released on June 24th, seems to be bucking a trend where many other horror movies failed. Certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and with an even higher audience score, people seem to love it as much, if not more, than the Joe Hill story on which it is based. While many readers never like a movie as much as the book it was based on, there are some cases where it ends up better than the book. This is even the case when the book was actually good too.

In the horror genre, it is a very different feeling to read a book and watch a movie. When reading, the horrors build in a person’s mind and that is hard to match when they can see everything on a movie screen. However, there are movies that take what was scary about the book and then add visual flair and scares to make it even more frightening on the big screen.


The Ritual (2017)

The four friends in the woods in The Ritual

The Ritual was a Netflix horror movie that stands tall as one of the better horror pickups for the streaming service. It was based on the novel of the same name by Adam Nevill. The story is about four friends who go hiking, but after one gets hurt, they end up lost in the woods and realize something is hunting them.

The book and movie are very different in terms of their plot beats and the book has a twist that seems a little wrong after seeing the movie first. Between the cult in the movie being a better option than the bad guys in the book and the monster design being great in the movie, the Netflix release is much more satisfying.

The Mist (2007)

The Mist - David Drayton and Billy

The Mist is a Stephen King novella and one of his more beloved stories. It focused on a father and son trapped in a supermarket when a fog rolls into town. Monsters start to come out of the fog and attack people. Even scarier are the religious fanatics in the supermarket who feel they need a sacrifice to please God.

While the novella is a good one, the 2007 movie is a minor masterpiece. Directed by Frank Darabont, the same man who directed the King adaptations of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Milehe amped up the terror concerning the fanatics and then added on one of the most horrifying endings in horror movie history, one that King himself called one of the best.

The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist is one of the most famous horror movies ever made and created the template for what exorcism movies would look like for years after its release. It was also based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, which itself remains iconic in exorcism fiction literature.

This is a case where both the movie and the book were good, with priests called in to try to exorcise a demon from a 12-year-old girl named Regan McNeil. The book remains a classic, albeit a little long-winded and dated, but the movie is still considered a masterpiece of horror cinema, helping it stand the test of time as the better of the two.

Pontypool (2008)

Pontypool is an interesting case study for a horror movie that was better than the book in just about every way. There is a very good reason in this case, as the author of the book – Tony Burgess – wrote the screenplay for the movie and made some drastic changes.

The book is a little hard to get through for many, with the style of writing a little difficult. However, he moved it to the big screen, and the stage before that, and told a superior story of a town overrun with a virus that sends people into a murderous frenzy, while a lone radio announcer tries to work out what has happened.

The Shining (1980)

Jack Torrence in The Shining, stumbling through the frozen hedge maze, looking exhausted and angry

A big debate among fans is which is better: Stephen King’s The Shining or the Stanley Kubrick movie adaptation. Even King hates the movie because he feels it is not a loyal adaptation of his story. However, there is a way to like both on different levels.

The Shining is a beloved horror novel, a book about a haunted hotel that destroys the lives of a man and his family. However, while it is a great book, the movie is considered a horror masterpiece, with the story of a man slowly losing control thanks to the machinations of the hotel. Many consider The Shining one of the best horror movies of all time, moving it higher than the book on which it is based.

Jaws (1975)

Shark trying to eat people in Jaws

When Steven Spielberg directed Jaws, it ended up changing everything about Hollywood. This was the movie that created the modern-day summer blockbuster and remains one of the most beloved horror movies ever made. It was also effective enough to scare people away from beaches for years.

The movie was based on the novel by Peter Benchley. The book is decent, and it has good and bad moments. However, it is nowhere near as memorable as the movie, which remains a beloved classic.

American Psycho (2000)

Patrick Bateman with an ax in American Psycho.

Bret Easton Ellis wrote American Psycho and many fans considered it a movie that was unfilmable, meaning there was little chance it could be transferred to the big screen and tell the same story. However, the movie ended up taking what was good about the book and improving on it.

The biggest reason that American Psycho is better than the book is the casting of Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, a man who might be a serial killer. What made the movie special was that it left figuring out what was real or not up to the viewer. The novel was polarizing, but the movie was well-received and might have helped Bale earn the role of Batman a few years later.

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Danny Torrance sees Redrum in Doctor Sleep.

while The Shining is considered a horror classic, making it slightly better than the book on which it is based. However, the comparison between the movie and book of its book and sequel, Doctor Sleepis easier to measure. Doctor Sleep is a good book, but no one considers it a masterpiece.

The movie Doctor Sleep is also not a masterpiece, but it does something the book never could do. It was a perfect sequel to both the book and the movie. The movie, directed by Mike Flanagan, was able to tie up Danny’s story following the movie’s events, while also giving Jack his proper goodbye, as the novel of The Shining did.

Ringu / (1998) The Ring (2002)

Samara Morgan from the 2002 horror movie The Ring.

Most horror fans know that The Ring was based on a Japanese horror movie called ringu. However, what some fans might not know is that the Japanese movie was based on a novel written by Koji Suzuki. The original movie has a cult following while the American version is the more popular, at least in America, and is considered the best of the Japanese-to-American horror movie remakes.

The movie cut a lot of what the book and Japanese version consisted of, eliminating much of the psychic phenomena and making it more of a mystery for the journalist as she searched for evidence to save her life. The idea of ​​a videotape bringing death was also better told on a movie screen than through a book. While the book is a good read, The Ring movies have become a cultural phenomenon.

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

Clarice and Hannibal come face to face through glass in The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs was a good book by Thomas Harris. It was the second in his series about Hannibal Lecter. Its adaptation wasn’t even the first movie based on the series, as manhunter came two years earlier, based on the novel save dragon. However, the books were pulp mystery novels and the movie was something bigger.

With Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal and Jodie Foster as FBI Agent Clarice Starling, the movie was a massive success. It became one of the rare horror movies to win the Oscar for Best Picture and did more than that, by sweeping all the major categories including Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director.

NEXT: 10 Things That Still Hold Up About The Silence Of The Lambs Today

Leslie Grace as Batgirl and Ben Affleck as Batman

An Old Plan For Affleck’s Batman Can Bring Batgirl Into The DCEU

About The Author

Leave a Comment