The book was better! Or was it? Our book expert Liz and Eric talk about some of their favorite adaptations from the page to the screen.
Horror movies, from the very beginning, were usually adapted stories from 19th century tales, and horror producers continue to mine popular horror novels to this day. From Mary Shelley to Clive Barker, from Bram Stoker to Anne Rice, and H.P. Lovecraft to Stephen King, many of our favorite scares were dreamed up by some of the darkest thoughts of some fairly twisted individuals on the written page.
Liz has been dying to talk about the connection between books and films, and our selections this week span the whole range of the genre, from TV and thrillers, to scary children’s stories and best sellers. Reading horror is an investment, a commitment to the story, and allows you to get more into the internal psychology of horror. The reader gains insights into the minds of monsters that otherwise get overlooked in film, or can only be suggested at. Those of you who are devotees of the horror novel know the thrill of turning the page… press on! Dare to read that next page. It’s more of a conscious decision than just taking in the moving picture.
But we’ve all come across the book that we want to see turned into a movie. Stephen King has made a virtual mint by having novels that are so accessible that they translate with ease to the big screen. But even his best stories can be undone if not handled by a director and actors of great import. For every Shining with Kubrick, Nicholson, and Duvall you get… Dreamcatcher. Or The Mangler. Or Graveyard Shift.
H.P. Lovecraft has his squamous fingerprints throughout horror cinema. Though many films are influenced by H.P. Lovecraft, we have yet to get the definitive production of his masterwork, At the Mountains of Madness, though we have been close. Guillermo Del Toro was close, and he had Tom Cruise lined up to play in it, but the producers balked at an R-rated horror epic that would cost over $100 million, and so we still wait. I’m hopeful that Del Toro’s huge success with The Shape of Water may convince a studio to take notice… and so we wait.
We are beginning to see some new popular horror novelists arrive on the scene, with their best sellers getting the Hollywood treatment. One of Liz and Eric’s favorite authors, Grady Hendrix get some of his materials to the screen, and he is screenwriting Satanic Panic, which is getting released in Festivals now. Joe Hill has gotten Horns into theaters, and NOS4A2 is arriving to AMC, as they expand their horror offerings. (Lest we forget AMC’s crown jewel, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead… though many of you probably already have, in its fading glory.)
So, was the book better? Read the book, watch the movie, and then decide for yourself! But, if you want a starting point, you can start here with these recommendations.