Many classic and well-known films have originated from books. Goodfellas, for one, is based on Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi, a non-fiction account of the life of real-world mobster Henry Hill. Even Die Hard – arguably one of the most “Hollywood” films to ever grace the silver screen – was largely birthed from Roderick Thorp’s thriller Nothing Lasts Forever.
Spookily (ahem), the same is also true for several celebrated horror movies. For this Halloween, we’ve rounded-up five classic horror films inspired by the tortured minds of depraved authors, and not just soulless Hollywood scriptwriters. To start off…
1. Psycho by Robert Bloch
To some, Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary 1960 film might appear slightly tame next to the gory heights of today’s blood-soaked shockers, but Psycho frightened cinema-goers of its day like nothing else before it. Robert Bloch’s novel, released only a year prior, is just as creepy and unnerving – even without ever actually seeing the consequences of Norman Bates’ psychopathic familial obsessions!
2. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty’s original novel was greatly inspired by reported cases of demonic possessions and exorcisms in the late 40s. As if his written accounts didn’t already petrify his readers, he also went on to write the script for what is now regarded as one of the most disturbing and influential horror films ever made. Interestingly, Blatty actually sees The Exorcist as more of a psychological thriller than horror film. Well, I must respectfully disagree – demonic head swiveling and spider-walking on bedroom ceilings are surely reasonably horrific things in the eyes of those who have been subjected to seeing them…
3. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
Fair enough – this isn’t necessarily a “classic” by most people’s standards. (Unless your point of comparison is the rest of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s film career, in which case it’s basically her Citizen Kane.) But everybody knows it all the same. Curiously, the 1997 slasher changed many aspects of the original book’s narrative, which was ultimately quite different in tone. Besides, reading the book can never capture the shoddiness of Freddie Prince, Jr.’s acting. Personally, I think that’s a bit of a shame.
4. Jaws by Peter Benchley
Some people might not consider Jaws to be much of a horror film, and they’d be right – but only if the sight of a crooked-toothed great white shark coming up from the water for human dinner is not something they find particularly frightful. Author Peter Benchley wasn’t particularly well-known at the time of the book’s release, but Jaws went on to be a great success. Steven Spielberg’s ultra-tense treatment of his work did the book justice, even terrifying the public enough to spook them away from swimming near popular beaches for a time!
5. (The) Ring by Koji Suzuki
Koji Suzuki’s Ringu spawned an effectively creepy film which then went on to spawn a Western remake as well as a litany of copy-cats. A considerable amount of key elements were changed in the translation from book to film; but whether you’re reading the original book or watching one of the films, it’s quite easy to come away deathly afraid of its infamous ghostly girl villain… and never turn your T.V. on again.