The Books That Inspired Your Favorite Horror Movies


My October tradition is attempting to watch a scary movie every night. 31 horrifying movies in a month! So far, I’ve watched three…so I’m not exactly “killing it” (get it?!) While researching what scary books to read, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a lot of my favorite scary movies were inspired by books. For this post, I have compiled a list of TWENTY books and the movies that were inspired by them! Try not to scare yourself too much while watching [or reading] these! 


  1. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971)

Synopsis: The changes in eleven-year-old Regan were so gradual that her mother, Chris Macneil, did not recognize for some time just how different Regan was from the child she had known and loved. Eventually, it was as if another entity had invaded the child. Desperate for help, Chris turned from the doctors to Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest who was trained as a psychiatrist and had a deep knowledge of such phenomena as Satanism and possession. Is it possible that Exorcism might be the only answer?

Movie Adaptations: The Exorcist (1973)


  1. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

Synopsis: “A very young woman’s first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate…An estate haunted by a beckoning evil.

Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls…”(Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: The Innocents (1961), The Turn of the Screw (1974, Made for TV), Presence of Mind (1999), In a Dark Place (2006)


  1. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (1967)

Synopsis: Rosemary and her actor husband, Guy, settle into a New York City apartment unaware of the strange activities of their neighbors. By the time she discovers that her neighbors are leading a satanic coven, it may be too late for her and her unborn child.

Movie Adaptations: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)


  1. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

Synopsis: Patrick Bateman is a handsome, intelligent, and charming 26-year old who works on Wall Street. He is also a complete psycho. This black comedy takes us on a tumultuous ride between bordering The American Dream- and its worst nightmare.

Movie Adaptations: American Psycho (2000)


  1. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983)

Synopsis: “Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare…” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: The Woman in Black (1989, Made For TV in the UK), The Woman in Black (2011)


  1. The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz (1974)

Synopsis: “A beautiful young model. The old brownstone apartment she simply had to have. The grotesque blind priest who watched down on her day and night from an upper-story window. The pair of perverted creatures who wanted her to join their circle. The mad little old man who gave her tea and sympathy. The cool, calculating, supremely rational lover who first mocked her fears.

And the secret you will never be able to forget, even if you try…” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: The Sentinel (1977)


  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Synopsis: The classic Gothic horror tells the story Dracula and his attempt to move from Transylvania to England in order to spread the “undead curse” and feast upon new blood and the efforts of Professor Abraham Van Helsing as he leads a small group of men and women against the perils of Dracula.

Movie Adaptations: Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (1931), Dracula: Horror of Dracula (1958), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)


  1. Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979)

Synopsis: “For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past — and get away with murder.” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: Ghost Story (1981)


  1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

Synopsis: “four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: The Haunting (1963), The Haunting (1999)


  1. Psycho by Robert Bloch (1959)

Synopsis: Exhausted and lost on a stormy night, Mary Crane makes the decision to stop at a motel for a hot shower and rest for the night. When she approached the unlit neon sign announcing vacancy at The Bates Motel, she stopped right away to get a room. The manager, Norman Bates, seemed friendly…if a little odd.

Movie Adaptations: Psycho (1960), Psycho (1998)


  1. The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells (1896)

Synopsis: Edward Prendick, a shipwrecked man, is rescued by a passing boat and is left on the island home of Doctor Moreau, a scientist who creates human-like hybrid beings from animals. The Island of Doctor Moreau deals with a number of philosophical themes, including pain and cruelty, moral responsibility, human identity, and human intrusion with nature.

Movie Adaptations: Island of Lost Souls (1933), Island of Dr. Moreau (1977), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)


12. Misery by Stephen King (1987)

Synopsis: Paul Sheldon, a best-selling novelist, finally met his biggest fan- Annie Wilkes. After an automobile accident, Annie finds Paul and acts as his nurse-tending his shattered body. Annie is more than an avid reader and fan of Paul’s work…she is also his captor, keeping his prisoner in her isolated house.

Movie Adaptations: Misery (1990)


  1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988)

Synopsis: “There’s a killer on the loose who knows that beauty is only skin deep, and a trainee investigator who’s trying to save her own hide. The only man that can help is locked in an asylum. But he’s willing to put a brave face on – if it will help him escape.” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)


  1. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)

Synopsis: Robert Neville is the last man on earth. But he is certainly not alone. Every other man, woman, and child have become a blood sucking vampire. By day, Neville hunts the undead through the ruins of cities that once housed a population. By night, he barricades himself in his house and waits for dawn…hoping he makes it through the night.

Movie Adaptations: The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), I Am Legend (2007), I Am Omega (2007)


  1. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte (1992)

Synopsis: “Lucas Corso is a book detective, a middle-aged mercenary hired to hunt down rare editions for wealthy and unscrupulous clients. When a well-known bibliophile is found dead, leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas’sThe Three Musketeers, Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment. He is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and swashbuckling derring-do among a cast of characters bearing a suspicious resemblance to those of Dumas’s masterpiece.” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptation: The Ninth Gate (1999)


  1. The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier (1952)/ Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier (1971)

Synopsis: The story The Birds tells of Nat Hocken, a farm worker, and his family in an England Peninsula who begin getting attacked by birds. “The title novella of [Don’t Look Now] features John and Laura who are on holiday in Venice. But it is a dangerous place for them as they are being followed by two old sisters and there is a killer on the loose.” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: The Birds (1963), Don’t Look Now (1973)


  1. Ring by Koji Suzuki (1991)

Synopsis: “A mysterious videotape warns that the viewer will die in one week unless a certain, unspecified act is performed. Exactly one week after watching the tape, four teenagers die one after another of heart failure.

Asakawa, a hardworking journalist, is intrigued by his niece’s inexplicable death. His investigation leads him from a metropolitan Tokyo teeming with modern society’s fears to a rural Japan–a mountain resort, a volcanic island, and a countryside clinic–haunted by the past.” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: The Ring (2002)


  1. The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (1972)

Synopsis: “The women of Stepford are not all that they seem…All the beautiful people live in idyllic Stepford, Connecticut, an affluent, suburban Eden populated with successful, satisfied hubbies and beautiful, dutiful wives. For Joanna Eberhart, newly arrived with her husband and two children, it all seems too good to be true…But just beneath the town’s flawless surface, something is sordid and wrong – something abominable with roots in the local Men’s Association.” (Goodreads)

Movie Adaptations: The Stepford Wives (1975), The Stepford Wives (2004)


  1. The Shining by Stephen King (1977)

Synopsis: Danny Torrance was only five years old, but that didn’t stop him from seeing psychic visions, the old cook at The Overlook hotel called it “shining”. When Danny’s dad, Jack Torrance, gets a job as a caretaker at The Overlook; Danny’s visions turn violent and out of control. The hotel seems to be speaking to him…and they want him to stay.

Movie Adaptations: The Shining (1980), The Shining (1997, Miniseries)


  1.  The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)

Synopsis: “On December 18, 1975, a young family of five moved into their new home, complete with finished basement, swimming pool, and boathouse. Twenty-eight days later, they fled in terror, leaving most of their belongings behind.” (Goodreads) This is the non-fiction account of the terrifying experiences of the Lutz family after moving into a home and the scene of a mass murder by Ronnie DeFeo- a 23 year old convicted of fatally shooting his parents, brothers, and sisters.

Movie Adaptations: The Amityville Horror (1979), The Amityville Curse (1990), The Amityville Horror (2005), The Amityville Haunting (2011), there is actually an entire series you can view here and countless documentaries.



Author: Revitalized Reading by Danica

Working in a public library for three years has introduced me to some of the most interesting books and book related ideas! I am a creator, dreamer, and lover of all literature and i'm here to share my bookish ways with you!

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