Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

7 horror novels that are scarier than the movies

- Mary Cadden

Instead of watching horror movies this Halloween, why not curl up with the real masters of terror? The original books.

Who doesn’t love to ride a horrorfilled roller-coaster film for an hour or two? But for those who want to chase longer and bigger scares, we recommend picking up the source material for your favorite horror movie.

Here are seven books that overshadow their film adaptation­s:


We all know the famous takeaways from the film: the shower scene and finally meeting Norman Bates’ mother. But there is more to Norman than meets the cinematic eye, and that is where the book — by Milwaukeea­n Robert Bloch, who loosely based the character on Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein — stands out.


There have been several adaptation­s of the novel (and its series) to “The Ring” movies since its publicatio­n in 1991. The videotape, a staple in the 2002 movie, is not as omnipresen­t in the books by Koji Suzuki. The novels offer curses in other frightenin­g formats and more opportunit­ies for your imaginatio­n to get the best of you.

‘The Haunting of Hill House’

The novel by Shirley Jackson has been adapted into feature films twice (and later a Netflix series). Really, all adaptation­s pale in comparison with Jackson’s exquisite storytelli­ng.


When discussing what book-tofilm entry for Stephen King is far more frightenin­g as a novel, this title popped up more than any other.

‘Rosemary’s Baby’

The 1967 book by Ira Levin was immediatel­y followed in 1968 by the film. The buildup to the gaslightin­g of Rosemary by her husband and neighbors is far more drawn out in the novel, and all the more chilling.

‘Hell House’

The 1971 novel by Richard Matheson was made into the 1973 film “The Legend of Hell House.” The novel does a better job of getting into the heads of the characters and, as a result, the heads of readers.

‘Let the Right One In’

This Swedish vampire thriller was made into two film adaptation­s, first the Swedish version of the same name one and later an English language version called “Let Me In.” This 2004 Nordic thriller by John Ajvide Lindqvist overshadow­s them both.

‘The Exorcist’

The screenplay for the film was written by the novel’s author, William Peter Blatty. But the book will leave readers with more psychologi­cal scars.

 ?? PARAMOUNT PICTURES ?? Janet Leigh screams in the shower in the famous scene from the film “Psycho.”
PARAMOUNT PICTURES Janet Leigh screams in the shower in the famous scene from the film “Psycho.”

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