÷ ÷ ÷
|Let the Right One In
by John Ajvide Lindqvist
This book is not only creepy but also much more violent than the film. The film plays up the romance between the two little kids, which is downplayed in the book. What makes the book so disturbing is the fact that this little girl is a bloodsucking fiend whose childlike innocence is being taken advantage of by her elder male companion. To say their relationship is inappropriate would be an understatement.
|The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
The 1963 movie of this book, with its perfect casting of the late Julie Harris as the fragile, doomed Eleanor, is one of my all-time favorite spook flicks, but it still does not capture the incredible malevolence and inexplicability of a place gone very, very bad. That was the genius of the novel.
|On the Beach
by Nevil Shute
Forget bumps in the night — is anything really scarier than certain death and the apocalypse? Written in 1947 and filmed in 1949, and again in 2000, On the Beach is a psychological novel about the human response to impending doom. Atomic war has come, and a group of survivors in southern Australia watch as city by city, nation by nation goes dark as the fallout makes its way down toward them. As the situation grows darker, some go crazy and some take refuge in routine — and others in unbridled hedonism. The dread and hopelessness intensify with every turn of the page, cranking up the anxiety even though we know how this ends — there will be no survivors. It's the only book I've ever had a nightmare about after finishing.
by Stephen King
Of course, Misery the movie is fabulous; Kathy Bates can do no wrong. But in the book, every brutal aspect of Annie Wilkes's psychopathy and horror are just a little more, to quote the book, "oogy." You'll be surprised by what this gosh-darn sweet lady can do to all the "dirty birds" she meets. Two words: farm equipment.
|The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill
Atmospheric, dreary, hallucinatory. This is a story told with an English sensibility of calmness set against a backdrop of impending horror. You can see it coming, but logic tells you it can't be real. No blood, no gore, just terrifying imagery and psychological shivers. However, the 2012 movie starring Daniel Radcliffe... not remotely scary or entertaining.
|John Dies at the End
by David Wong
If you're a fan of the movie, this book has everything you loved about it: the gut-wrenchingly funny juxtaposition of lowbrow humor and surrealism, the gore, the impending sense of doom that soaks the narrative until you're coated in a sticky quagmire of horror and humor. All of that is here only amped up by a factor of at least 10. What the movie misses the mark on is the sense of existential dread that permeates the book, making this a novel that is haunting and genuinely scary instead of just being mostly weird and funny like the film.
by Stephen King
Far more intense than the movie, Stephen King's It is structured to create great suspense. The book emphasizes the hopelessness of the situation — in which unarmed children are up against an unknown, demonic force — along with the relationships developed by the children.
|Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories
by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Akutagawa specialized in acutely observed tales of classical Japan that often skirted the edges of the fantastic. Akiro Kurosawa's 1950 film Rashomon was adapted from a story included herein, though someone familiar with Kurosawa's work may be surprised to find the spooky, dry-ice ambiance of the source material closer in tone to the director's 1957 film Throne of Blood. Fans of Roberto Bolaño are especially encouraged to try Ryūnosuke Akutagawa.
|The Men Who Stare at Goats
by Jon Ronson
Ever since Tina Fey adapted a nonfiction book into the successful Mean Girls, a desperate Hollywood has been hard at play turning serious works of nonfiction into the next goofy romp. While the collision of military black ops and new-age thought, as offered up by Ronson, does have definite moments of hilarity, it should also strike terror into every reader. At first you can't help but laugh, but as the exploration continues, you begin to recognize that the people in charge have lost their minds and are turning to gurus for insight in how to kill people better. The movie goes in for another laugh before you can really get thinking about it.
by Cormac McCarthy
Partial spoiler: the part with the cannibals comes out of nowhere and is utterly terrifying. I had planned to get out of bed and brush my teeth before going to sleep that night, but once I had read that part of the book, I was just too scared (to my husband's great annoyance) to do anything so potentially risky.
by Stephen King
This book will make your skin crawl! Ever wonder what's lurking in the basement of that creepy house in your town? How about the scariest vampire since Dracula! Not only is he living there but he's also changing everyone in town into his bloodsucking minions.
|I Am Legend
by Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson is a master of suspenseful storytelling, and I read I Am Legend after seeing the movie and being reminded of the title. The main character and his actions are different in the book, and the overall feel of the book is much more psychologically tense. Parts of the book had me curled up tight in fear, as if I were the one hearing people I once knew chasing me through the encroaching darkness.
by Mary Shelley
After reading Frankenstein, I found it sad how Hollywood destroyed this character. The original novel is nothing near what we have seen on the big screen. It's dark and a macabre reflection of mankind with scenes that made my skin crawl.
by Stephen King
While the movie is very good, the book has so much in it the movie does not that really tells a much more complete, spine-tingling story. Stay out of the boiler room and away from topiary animals!
Books mentioned in this post