Stephen King has written 64 books and many books, novellas and short stories written by Stephen King have been adapted for film and TV, fans know that only some adaptations are worth it. While King’s characters, storylines and horror/science-fiction elements are brilliantly plotted, fans are often disappointed in the movies and TV shows that result.


Related: The Shining May Be A Great Movie, But It’s A Terrible Adaptation

When thinking about well-crafted horror movies based on books, fans immediately think of Stephen King since he is so profile. But there are some films worth checking out that did a great job with their scary source material, including a short story written by Clive Barker and the book The Stepford Wives.

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Updated on October 17, 2022 by Aya Tsintziras: Stephen King continues to be one of the most popular writers and King’s latest release, Fairy Tale, follows a teenager who suddenly finds himself able to enter a parallel world. While there have been two horror remakes based on King’s work released in 2022, with Pet Sematary and Firestarter bringing these scary stories to life once again, there are other interesting horror films based on work by other writers.


The Stepford Wives (1975)

The 1975 film The Stepford Wives was based on the book by Ira Levin, which was published in 1972. When Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) moves to Connecticut with her family, she realizes that the housewives seem like clones and then learns that there is a science-fiction element to life here. While the 2004 remake starring Nicole Kidman is one of the worst horror movie remakes, the original is a fascinating look at being a wife and mother and the pressure that society puts on women.

The Stepword Wives is a great example of sci-fi done right and also has a smart political and societal message.

Paula Prentiss, who played Joanna’s good friend Bobbie Markowe, told Entertainment Weekly, “It’s the first of the women’s-lib kind of movies. It isn’t pounding you on the head. It’s doing it through horror and comedy, and that’s a good genre”.

Ringu (1998)

The Japanese film Ringu, which was released in 1998, is adapted from Koji Suzuki’s book, which was published in 1991. The American version, The Ring, which was released in 2002, follows the same story, one that horror fans know and love. There are many memorable 2000s horror movie quotes and some great lines from The Ring.

In Ringu, Masami Kurahashi (Hitomi Sato) and Tomoko Ōishi (Yuko Takeuchi) are best friends who talk about the videotape that is cursed. Tomoko is the first to die, much like Amber Tamblyn’s character Katie in the U.S. adaptation. Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima), Tomoko’s aunt, is a reporter who begins looking into the tape. The Ring is a timeless 2000s horror movie and the original version is incredibly well-done. Both films have a terrifying figure who comes out of the TV and kills people. While she is called Samara in the U.S. version, she is called Sadako Yamamura in Ringu.

Stir Of Echoes (1999)

Stir Of Echoes suffered from bad timing as it was released soon after The Sixth Sense and the movies have similar ghost stories. The film was based on the book A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson, which was published several years before in 1958.

Kevin Bacon’s main character, Tom Witzky, is a relatable protagonist, just trying to live his life to the best of his ability, working hard and taking care of his wife and son. But when he begins having visions, he starts looking into the disappearance of a girl from his neighborhood, and he starts thinking that he has psychic powers. The movie feels literary as it is powerful, meaningful, and full of well-drawn characters who feel real.

Candyman (1992)

Candyman is based on the short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker and according to Bloody Disgusting, the movie kept its story and characters. The publication notes that the Candyman makes their appearance on page 31 and since the whole story is 37 pages, the focus is on Helen, a student who learns about the Candyman myth and legend.

Related: Breaking Down The Lore Of The Candyman

Candyman is a “woke horror” movie that treats the man at the center of the legend in a respectful and sympathetic manner. Daniel Robitaille was a slave who was killed for falling in love with a white woman. It is a horrifying story and as Virginia Madsen’s character Helen Lyle learns more, she becomes part of something she never expected to. Candyman has a sequel which was released in 2021, starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Anthony McCoy.

Let Me In (2010)

The 2010 horror movie Let Me In is based on the 2008 Swedish movie Let The Right One In, which is adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s book. Let Me In is a great remake and vampire movie, following Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who becomes friends with Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz), soon learning that she’s actually a vampire. The book was published in 2004, a few years before each film adaptation.

Both movies do an incredible job with the source material, telling the story of a young child who is struggling with feelings of pain and loneliness and wondering if they will ever fit in. Both films are dark and bleak, but there is some hope, as Owen feels glad that he has connected with someone, even if they are undead.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022)

The Prime Video horror film My Best Friend’s Exorcism sees friendship become a nightmare and is also an adaptation of a Grady Hendrix book. The novel was published in 2016 and dives into the friendship that Abby Rivers and Gretchen Lang share.

The novel and movie have a lot in common as the film follows the same story of Abby being freaked out by Gretchen’s possession by a demon. There is also a lot of talk of religion as the teenagers go to a Catholic high school, Gretchen’s family are strict, and a group called The Lemon Brothers tour various schools to talk about believing and having faith.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby is about the paranoia that the main character Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) feels as she is certain that her new neighbors are up to something sinister. While the movie is seen as a 1960s horror classic and has gotten a lot of attention, fans might not know that it’s based on the book by Ira Levin, which was published in 1967.

Related: Rosemary’s Baby And Suspiria Actually Have A Lot In Common

While the filmmaking of the 1960s might be dated in some respects, there is a lot about Rosemary’s Baby that suggests the film could have been made in 2022 and it would still have the same powerful fear-inducing scenes. Rosemary is a young woman who is unsure who she should trust and the fact that she’s pregnant ups the stakes.

The Woman In Black (2012)

Daniel Radcliffe’s film characters have allowed him to branch out from the beloved Harry Potter films, and in 2012, his horror movie The Woman In Black was released. The movie is based on the book by Susan Hill, which was published in 1983.

In both the film and novel, Arthur Kipps is the main character who tells the tale of an English town suddenly overrun by a spirit who seems to want to harm them. Both versions of the story are terrifying as there are enough descriptions of the ghost in the book to freak readers out.

Audition (1999)

Directed by Takashi Miike, the 1999 horror movie Audition is adapted from the book written by Ryū Murakami, which was published two years earlier in 1997. The main character, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) becomes interested in Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) romantically and has several women audition to be his wife.

Audition has one of the best movie plot twists as Asami turns out to be someone different than Shigeharu realized. The movie is one of the most underrappreciated ’90s horror movies and should be on everyone’s watch list if they want good characters and surprises.

Bird Box (2018)

The monster in the Netflix horror movie Bird Box is incredibly creepy, and when this movie was released on the streaming service in 2018, fans were shocked and fascinated and unable to stop talking about it. While Sandra Bullock’s performance was praised and fans couldn’t believe how fast-paced the story was, fans might not know that it was based on a book.

Josh Malerman wrote the novel Bird Box which was published several years earlier in 2014. The protagonist, Malorie, is trying to keep herself and her kids safe while dealing with danger that she isn’t able to see.

More: Best Horror Movie Remakes

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