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10 Horror Novels That Deserve a Big Screen Adaptation

Editor’s note: Click the book cover images for direct purchase links!

Written by: Tim Meyer

  1. FLOATING STAIRCASE by Ronald Malfi – A successful novelist. A beautiful lake house. Strange noises. Ghost sightings. A peculiar staircase. Ronald Malfi’s Floating Staircase is fast-paced, well-written, and atmospheric. Plus, it’s extremely frightening. Like, raise-your-hackles kind of scary. Malfi’s short novel has all the ingredients of a classic horror movie. Hollywood needs to snatch up the rights to this, if it hasn’t already been optioned.

  1. DARKNESS, TELL US by Richard Laymon – Many of Laymon’s novels could be great big screen adaptations. Personally, I think books like Funland and The Cellar could easily make this list. However, this 1991 novel about a group of kids experimenting with an Ouija board and a trickster spirit that sends them down a very dark path of murder and mayhem screams adaptation. It’s an extremely satisfying read and would make for a great horror/thriller flick for a large moviegoing audience.

  1. SINISTER ENTITY by Hunter Shea – With movies like Insidious and The Conjuring becoming mega hits, Hunter Shea’s 2013 novel about a family being haunted by the ghost of their daughter (who is still alive, living and breathing, mind you) would be a perfect addition to that supernatural bunch. Shea’s smooth writing and Hollywood-structured story is already perfectly suited for the silver screen. Between easy-to-root-for protagonists and the last fifty pages being utterly terrifying, Sinister Entity has all the makings of a popular poltergeist flick.

  1. SLADE HOUSE by David Mitchell – You were probably expecting to see the ever-popular novel House of Leaves on this list, but I opted to go with Slade House as my twist-on-the-haunted-house-sub-genre book. David Mitchell, of Cloud Atlas fame, released this spooky novel last year, and it hasn’t received nearly enough praise as it deserves. Like most of Mitchell’s work, Slade House is a series of connected novellas—in this case, a haunted house populated by two of the most intriguing, sadistic spirits to ever grace the pages of contemporary fiction. The story and style are perfectly suited for art-house cinema.

  1. THE NIGHTMARE GIRL by Jonathan Janz – One of the best horror writers to burst onto the scene in the past few years is Jonathan Janz. The Nightmare Girl was one of my favorite novels to come out in 2015. What starts off as a slow-burn with great characterization and an intriguing plot, quickly escalates into a balls-to-the-wall, bat-shit crazy roller-coaster ride with plenty of gore and guts to satisfy the average horror fan. The Nightmare Girl is a shake of horror and a splash of crime/thriller, dashed with a smudge of the supernatural, all of which culminates into a satisfying reading experience. This, along with Janz’s other works, would transition well to the big screen.

  1. THE CON SEASON by Adam Cesare – Released earlier this year, Adam Cesare’s The Con Season is a short novel written for horror fans, and not the occasional moviegoer whose favorite films include the Paranormal Activity flicks and the Poltergeist remake, but true horror fans. The ones who attend horror cons regularly and wear Freddy sweaters outside of Halloween and Christmas-time. The Con Season follows several characters as they attend an interactive horror convention where fans and famous actors play out scenes from a phony movie…only it isn’t phony. In the right hands, The Con Season could be such a good horror film, tailored for genre junkies.

  1. THE WOLF’S HOUR by Robert McCammon – I read this McCammon classic when I was fifteen or so, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Besides Swan Song, The Wolf’s Hour is my favorite Robert McCammon book. I’m surprised it hasn’t earned a cinematic adaptation yet, and according to the Internet, it’s currently “In Development”, which we all know doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. Regardless, McCammon’s WWII mashup of werewolves and Nazis deserves a mainstream movie with a Michael Bay budget. Done right, The Wolf’s Hour has the potential to reignite the werewolf spark that’s burnt out in Hollywoodland.

  1. A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay – Few novels leave me breathless. This one did. Clearly the best novel of last year, Tremblay’s psychological thriller centers around a family whose parents agree to be filmed for a reality television program while dealing with their daughter’s mental illness/demonic possession. This mind-bending tale packs a heavy punch, and it’s imitable writing style and structure makes for a unique reading experience. Focus Features currently owns the rights. If made, I’m hoping the filmmakers can capture the essence of this one-of-a-kind novel.

Head Full of Ghosts

  1. EVERTHING BENTLEY LITTLE HAS EVER WRITTEN, EVER – The Store. The House. The Walking. The Town. The Collection. Bentley Little’s bibliography seems to go on forever, and hey—that’s not such a bad thing. Little is one of the best in the biz. Personally, I love The Store and several stories from The Collection, but any adaptation would do. Research shows he only has one television credit—a Masters of Horror episode. How can that be? Hollywood needs to rectify this egregious oversight. Now. ::waves angry finger at Hollywood::

  1. THE RISING by Brian Keene – With the zombie craze due to crawl back into the grave from whence it came, we need the zombie movie to end all zombie movies. Brian Keene’s 2003 novel, The Rising, is the most innovative of its sub-genre. Many award it with the zombie boom of the mid-2000s and I wouldn’t disagree with that claim. The book follows a father who travels up the East Coast in hopes to rescue his son from endless droves of flesh-eating corpses possessed by demons from another dimension. Doesn’t that sound great? That’s because it is. So, you know, Hollywood… GET ON THAT.

Tim Meyer dwells in a dark cave near the Jersey Shore. He’s an author, husband, father, podcast host, blogger, coffee connoisseur, beer enthusiast, and explorer of worlds. He writes horror, mysteries, science fiction, and thrillers, although he prefers to blur genres and let the stories fall where they may.

You can follow Tim at

About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

6 Comments on 10 Horror Novels That Deserve a Big Screen Adaptation

  1. Excellent list.
    I ‘d love to see The Wolf’s Hour as a movie but Swan Song would make a great TV miniseries, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just ordered my rising hardcover the other day. Super excited to see it be number one!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great selection here,,,Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One more needed to this list –

    Demon Blood: Enlightenment

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It really pisses me off that Hollywood is going through endless reboots, remakes and sequels when there’s dozens of great horror stories that should be made into films!

    Liked by 1 person

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