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The Most Terrifying Horror Movies That Are Based on Books

Updated August 9, 2019 3.5k votes 249 voters 4.3k views27 items

List RulesOnly horror movies based on or inspired by literature.

Some of the best horror movies based on books are those where the director that can take the words off the page from the author and turn them into some of the most memorable and visually horrifying scenes in film history. Scary movies based on horror fiction have been around since the days of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and have been making moviegoers scream in terror and delight ever since! The reason for the success of horror movies adapted from books is due to the reader’s yearning to see if the film matches up or surpasses their own imagination while they were reading the book. New movies based on horror novels have been huge hits at the box office as of late and thus we are likely to see even more of them terrorizing us in theaters in the coming years.

Share this list with your friends and rank the best horror movies based on books any way you want! Cue the jump scare! Don't see a horror movie adaptation that you love? Feel free to add it to the list and check back to find out how others rank your selections.


  • Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after taking money from her employer, and the motel's owner-manager, Norman Bates, and its aftermath.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam
    • Released: 1960
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
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  • 6


    It is a 2017 horror film directed by Andy Muschietti and based on the Stephen King novel. In 1989, a group known as the Losers Club take on a monster known to them as Pennywise that is terrorizing the town of Derry. 

    • Actors: Bill Skarsgård, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jaeden Martell
    • Released: September 8th, 2017
    • Directed by: Andy Muschietti
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  • Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Terrifying Horror Movies That Are Based on Books
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    Pet Sematary is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King. Andrew Hubatsek was cast for Zelda's role. Author King has a cameo as a minister. A sequel, Pet Sematary Two, was released which was met with less financial and critical success.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Stephen King, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby, Susan Blommaert, Miko Hughes
    • Released: 1989
    • Directed by: Mary Lambert
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  • The Birds is a 1963 suspense/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the 1952 story "The Birds" by Daphne du Maurier. It depicts Bodega Bay, California, which is, suddenly and for unexplained reasons, the subject of a series of widespread and violent bird attacks over the course of a few days. The film features the screen debut of Tippi Hedren. It also starred Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, and Veronica Cartwright. The film was written by Evan Hunter. Hitchcock told him to develop new characters and a more elaborate plot, keeping du Maurier's title and concept of unexplained bird attacks.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette, Jessica Tandy, Rod Taylor
    • Released: 1963
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
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