Oftentimes, some of our favorite Hollywood works come from a format that already exists: novels. From Bird Box to 1992’s Candyman, which has a 2020 Jordan Peele adaptation on the way, some classic works of horror originally started as a novel before their film adaptations. Check out 10 horror novels that were turned into fantastic movies below.

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman wrote 14 manuscripts before he released his breakthrough debut novel Bird Box in 2014. Malerman’s novel inspired the 2018 Netflix original film of the same name that took the world by storm. The sequel to Bird Box, Malorie, is currently set to release July 21, and Netflix already has a film follow-up in the works.

The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting Of Hill House has made its way around Hollywood a time or two. The 1959 novel has been credited as one of the scariest works of fiction of all time, and the horror king himself Stephen King detailed in his book Danse Macabre that The Haunting Of Hill House is one of the best genre novels of the late 20th century. Shirley Jackson’s novel inspired both the 1963 and 1999 film adaptations of The Haunting, as well as the critically acclaimed Netflix series The Haunting Of Hill House, which is a must-watch, thanks to its chilling tale originated by Jackson. 

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Bret Easton Ellis is quite familiar with the big screen. His famous works American Psycho and The Rules Of Attraction both became film adaptations, while a collection of his short stories became the 2008 film The Informers. Ellis’ great American Psycho introduced us to the household name Patrick Bateman, portrayed by Christian Bale, that we haven't been able to escape since. The novel has been referenced by bands such as Fall Out Boy and the Front Bottoms, just to name a couple. This timeless tale pulled us in, forever reminding us and Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto that it’s “hip to be square.” 

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“The Forbidden” by Clive Barker

Books Of Blood was a series of horror fiction collections from Clive Barker, who became known for creating the famous Hellraiser throughout his works. The six volumes that made up Books Of Blood were published over a year timeframe between 1984 and 1985, and were referred to by Stephen King as the “future of horror.” The beginning of Volume Five contains “The Forbidden,” which tells the story of a university student who’s writing her thesis on graffiti when she notices disturbing work in an abandoned building, referencing the legend known as the Candyman. “The Forbidden” was later turned into the 1992 film Candyman, and Jordan Peele’s new adaptation will be hitting theaters Oct. 16.

The Silence Of The Lambs by Thomas Harris

The Silence Of The Lambs is the second novel in Thomas Harris’ series that spawned the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The 1981 novel Red Dragon first introduced us to Lecter before the sequel, The Silence Of The Lambs, continued his story in 1988. The 1991 film adaptation saw Anthony Hopkins take on the role of Dr. Lecter, with Jodie Foster as FBI trainee Clarice Starling. The Silence Of The Lambs gave a new twist to horror with the famed cannibal buried in Lecter and the murderous Buffalo Bill, marking one of the best horror films of all time. 

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Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a collection of short horror stories for kids written by Alvin Schwartz and released between a 10-year span from 1981 to 1991. Accompanying the short scary stories was charcoal and ink artwork by Stephen Gammell that brought as much nail biting as the words that lay on the opposite page. Schwartz’s stories were turned into a film in 2019 by Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, who helped produce the project. The old but timeless stories from our childhood brought to life on the big screen gave a whole new meaning to the nostalgia that we just can’t get enough of.  

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

The classic horror film The Exorcist was based on a 1971 novel of the same name. William Peter Blatty brought the story to life both on the page and for the film that was released two years after his incredible novel. The Exorcist follows 12-year-old Regan MacNeil and the demonic possession she experiences while two priests attempt to exorcise the demon within her. This famed horror story did paranormal scares right and was matched perfectly with the iconic film, which rarely happens in any genre. It remains an important piece of horror film history as it was the first of its genre to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. 

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The Shining by Stephen King

From the original IT to the remakes to Carrie and Misery, no one has tackled the horror genre quite like Mr. King. The 1977 novel The Shining sees aspiring writer Jack Torrance working as an off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado, accompanied by his wife and son. A Clockwork Orange-famed director Stanley Kubrick captured the unsettling King tale perfectly through his directorial style, separating this famed film from countless others. 

Jaws by Peter Benchley

The classic tale of a larger-than-life shark that gave a new spin to horror was originally introduced in novel form in 1974. Peter Benchley sold the film rights to his book Jaws before it was even published, giving Steven Spielberg the nod for directorial creative control for the blockbuster hit. Benchley’s version tells a more in-depth story, while the film adaptation focuses more on the three protagonists, so if you’re a fan of the movie but would like a little more detail, Benchley’s novel is the perfect fit. 

Psycho by Robert Bloch


Before the Alfred Hitchcock film and the Bates Motel television series, there was the 1959 novel Psycho by Robert Bloch that changed the way most of us feel about taking showers while home alone. Bloch’s novel introduced us to the infamous Norman Bates and his unusual relationship with his mother. The two run a small motel together, which introduces Bates to several of his victims. Although Bloch wrote Psycho as a trilogy, the storylines from the second and third books aren’t visited in the film adaptation sequels that spewed from Hollywood. Regardless, the shower scene and final plot twist of the original remain two of the greatest and memorable horror scenes, labeling Psycho as an uncontested classic in horror film history. 

What’s your favorite horror novel turned movie? Let us know in the comments below!