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From Page to Screen: Five Horror Films Based on Books

Friday, December 6, 2019 | Opinion

By: Tyler Doupe

In a world of reboots, remakes, and sequels, it’s almost a given that most feature films are going to be based on or inspired by some form of intellectual property. Hell, BLACK CHRISTMAS is being remade for the second time in the past thirteen years.

Books have long been (and continue to be) a major source of inspiration for many a screenplay. Without the tomes upon which they are based, there never would have been filmic greats such as THE EXORCIST, ROSEMARY’S BABY, or THE SHINING. My aim today isn’t to shine the spotlight on movies that many already realize originated in literary form, but to showcase a handful of titles you may not know are based on works of fiction. Read on for five feature films you probably aren’t aware are based on books!


It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hard to deny that VALENTINE is a giallo-inspired slasher with some inventive and brutal kill sequences. Horror journalist Zena Dixon has even gone so far as to call it “A Respectable Alternative to MY BLOODY VALENTINE”. Regardless of how you feel about the picture, what might surprise you is that it is based on the lesser known Tom Savage book of the same name. The screenplay for the 2001 film deviates quite a bit from the source material, but the skeletal outline of a scorned student taking revenge on former classmates over Valentine’s Day remains intact.


THE SENTINEL tells the tale of a model and actress who experiences a series of peculiar goings on after moving into an old apartment building in New York City. The 1974 tome upon which the film was based was written by Jeffrey Konvitz, who also adapted his work of literature for the screen. The novel was a bestseller at the time of release, however, more than forty years later, many horror fans are unaware that the flick was inspired by a book

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I mentioned the tendency to remake and sequel-ize films in the introduction to this piece and few titles embody that trend better than THE RING series. The concept has been adapted into a made-for-TV movie, a Japanese feature film, sequels to said feature film, an English language remake, as well as two sequels to that remake. If you’re a horror fan, you are probably familiar with most of the filmic incarnations, but it may surprise you to learn that all of the various adaptations originated with the (somewhat lesser known) 1991 Japanese horror novel, RINGU.


This Hammer Horror film hit theatres in 2012 and was followed by a sequel in 2014. The original is based on the 1983 novella of the same name by Susan Hill. There is also a lesser-known 1989 made-for-TV film that tells the same basic story of a young man visiting a small town who is haunted by a restless spirit. If you haven’t checked out the TV movie, it’s slightly better than you might expect. A little research suggests that the novella didn’t gain much notoriety during its original printing, but the 2012 film brought in a respectable worldwide gross of $127,730,736. 

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Stir of Echoes

This Kevin Bacon starrer was overlooked by a lot of moviegoers in the year of its release. 1999 also marked the debut of the more famed supernatural thriller, THE SIXTH SENSE. As such, STIR OF ECHOES didn’t really find its audience until home video. The film is based on the 1958 tome, A STIR OF ECHOES by Richard Matheson. Both tell the story of a man who suddenly gets in touch with his latent psychic abilities. One reason the novel may be less known to the average moviegoer is that the film was released more than forty years after the book upon which it is based.

What are some of your favourite horror films based on books? Let us know in the comments section below. And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!