13 Horror Movies Based on Books

Posted on Jan 30, 2024

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Written by Chandler Bolt

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Most likely you have read a book and watched the movie that was based on the book. Sometimes the book is better, sometimes the movie, While other times both are equally good.  

Some of these are well known to have been based on books. While others might surprise you that the movie was based on a novel.

Below is a look at the 13 horror movies based on books:

Silence of the Lambs

I have to say the book was awesome, but the movie was even better. What did it for me was Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster bringing the characters of Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling bringing the characters to life. Particularly Hopkins’ portrayal of the Lecter. Despite the short amount of screen time in the movie, I can’t think of a better super villain in all of cinema.


My vote for this one is that the book was better than the movie. At least the original 1976 movie which is the one I watched. Perhaps it was the 70’s production or more likely I got more into the book as to how the main character felt while being bullied by her classmates and got the ultimate revenge.

Salem’s Lot

Here’s another of the Stephen King books that had a movie based on it. I liked the book better than the movie. A lot of times you get more into the characters with books than with the movies. This was because in this one at least, you get into the characters’ feelings and thoughts throughout the book.


For this one, I liked the movie the best. When a movie outdoes the book, it is usually because of the actors’ portrayal of the characters. And it certainly was the case here by all of those involved. Of course, one of the greatest directors of all time, Steven Spielberg, didn’t hurt. And that film score when the shark went in for the kill, you can feel it inside you almost shouting at the character, “Get out of the water!”

Interview With The Vampire

Another vampire movie and another one where the horror movie based on the book gets my vote as being better. Again, the actors – Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst – brought the characters to life. 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

There are countless adaptations of the classic horror novel by Stoker. Most of which the book was better simply because the acting and the production didn’t measure up. But the 1992 movie outdid all of the movies and outdid the book. Gary Oldman, in particular, was amazing as the mysterious Count Dracula and pretty much made the movie what it is.

The Mist

What is it about Stephen King’s books that so many have been made into movies? Not just the awesome stories and writing. In this one, the movie was better than the book. Why? The ending. Even King himself has said that he never thought of doing that, expressing how it was “so anti-Hollywood.”

The Invisible Man

Based on the 1897 H.G. Wells’ novel The Invisible Man, this 2020 movie was updated for modern times. And this horror movie based on the book was the superior one. You can truly feel in the movie, the woman’s desperate attempts to keep away from the abusive ex-boyfriend. Her fear that the man who supposedly took his own life truly didn’t leave her.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

The Jennifer Love Hewitt movie was based on the Lois Duncan novel. For this one, the movie gets my vote as being better. The novel was more of a mystery, whereas the movie was a slasher type horror movie. Quite scary as you didn’t know who was going to get killed and when or who the killer was. The sequel to the first movie while good, as sequels usually don’t, didn’t quite measure up to the first movie.

The Ring

Imagine if you will, that you watch a video and then within a week you die. That’s the premise of the movie and book The Ring. Both the US movie and the Japanese movie. Having watched the American movie and not the Japanese movie I can only comment on having liked the US movie better than the book. As per usual, you really get the feel of things in a movie when the filmmakers  – all involved including cast and crew – draw you in. Just remember to be careful what videos you watch because those images stay with you.

The Island

Another movie based on a Peter Benchley book. The story is about an investigative journalist who checks out a series of missing boats in the Caribbean. Unbeknownst to him, the cause of the missing boats was due to descendants of pirates who had terrorized the area for centuries. And no, Johnny Depp is not in the story. I liked the book better for this one. With the book, you can see the characters develop and get into the characters’ heads more. And often you don’t get that with the movie. But I would still recommend both as they were both entertaining.

The Birds

An Alfred Hitchcock movie based on the short story by Daphne Du Maurier. Despite the movie being directed by one of the masters of the genre, for me, I liked the book better. Had something to do with the 1960’s production value and being used to what we have today. I just didn’t get the same feeling in the movie while watching as I did while reading the story.

The Stand

Of course, King would have the most on a list of 13 horror movies based on books. I am comparing the 1994 series with Gary Sinise and the over 1400 page complete and uncut edition of the novel. The novel wins out on this one. That’s mainly because the book has everything it could possibly have. The made-for-TV movies had to cut out a lot to get it into eight hours. That’s generally how it goes for movie adaptations.

There you have a list of the best 13 horror movies based on books. Read and watch all of them and enjoy the horror marathon.

PS: If you’re interested in learning to write a horror novel, Self-Publishing School can help.

This guest post was written by Ian Worrall. Ian is the author of the vigilante justice books No Remorse No Regret and No Rest For the Vengeful, as well as the novelette Witness Unprotection. The third book in the series, No Mercy For The Guilty, is being revised as of the writing of this post.

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