Obviously I’m a big ol’ horror movie nerd. But I’m also both a big ol’ movie nerd in general and a big ol’ horror nerd as well. So when I’m not watching horror movies, I can often be found sitting under a dim, back-alley street light on some mist-shrouded evening reading Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ramsay Campbell, H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, etc. etc. etc.
It also came to my attention that yesterday was World Book Day, so it seems only fair at this point for a little book talk. I love book movies for the most part. Sometimes I have a little trouble separating the movie from its source material and experiencing said movie as a standalone thing (I’m lookin’ at you Kubrick). But I try. There’s also difficulty in bringing Lovecraftian creatures to the screen. It’s not possible to commit something to film when that something is supposed to be so far outside one’s sensory/intellectual realm that the mere sight of it drives one into complete madness.
Overall though, I find most movie adaptations of most books pretty groovy. So, here’s a handfulla books that are dying to be put on the big screen.
The Sundial (Shirley Jackson)
Man I love Shirley Jackson, especially the short stories. Most people have read, know, or have at least heard of “The Lottery.” If you haven’t, shame on you, stop here, and go read it (and if you enjoy it, check out “The Summer People”). But I enjoy the novels as well, several of which hit the screen. The Haunting Of Hill House was made into two movies and a Netflix series. We Have Always Lived In The Castle was a respectably eerie adaptation. Shirley was a creepy little biopic. The Sundial is one of the less frequently mentioned novels, but it’s well worth filming. There’s an estate to be inherited. There are murders. There’s paranormal crap, not the least of which is marble that feels like warm flesh. Imagine a bunch of vicious film noir characters in a supernatural gothic setting.
My director pick: James Wan
Floating Dragon (Peter Straub)
I saw Ghost Story when it first came out in 1981 and loved it. I loved it so much I saw it again the same day, then went out and got the book which I also loved. From there I moved directly to Floating Dragon which I’m currently rereading. I can’t believe nobody has made a movie out of this, especially now. It’s not actually a contamination/infection story, but it plays out like one at first, and that’s what the characters initially think is going on. The story takes a hard left after the first 150 pages or so and becomes a completely different animal. It’s not a page-turner, but it’s a fine read that could make for some great slow burn horror.
My director pick: Ridley Scott
The Castle Of Otranto (Horace Walpole)
Okay, there is an animated short by Jan Švankmajer. But I’m talking about a full blown feature. With the exception of maybe M.G. Lewis’s The Monk, Castle Of Otranto is about as gothic as gothic gets. I mean come on. On his wedding day the groom-to-be, Conrad, gets crushed by a giant knight’s helmet that falls from the sky. On fucking page two! Moody, atmospheric, and weird as hell, this book is screaming to become a whacked out trip of a movie.
My director pick: Guillermo Del Toro
Haunted (Chuck Palahniuk)
I’m not sure how the hell this could be done, but apparently people said the same thing about Fight Club. Wowzers this book is weeeeeeiiiiiirrrrrrrr-DUH, and I still don’t understand the ending. A bunch of people sign up for a writer’s retreat. They have three months to create a signature work, during which time they are locked up together in an old theater. There’s an ongoing narrative that acts as a framing device for the severely twisted individual stories told by the participants. Now that I think about it, this could work as a super-bizarro kind of anthology flick. Something along the lines of the V/H/S series, The ABC’s Of Death, or XX.
My director picks (cuz anthology): Anna Billers, The Soska Sisters, Nacho Vigolando, Jovanka Vuckovic, Ti West
The Troop (Nick Cutter)
Wow is this one parasite body horror extravaganza. Think Lord Of The Flies meets The Thing. The grand master himself, Stephen King, said, “The Troop scared the hell out of me.” Indeed, this book was unnerving, starting out (like Floating Dragon) as a seemingly standard contamination/infection plot. But christ on a bike does it veer off that trail and into some dark, visceral body horror. A scout troop heads out to a local island for an annual camping event, and I’m gonna stop right the hell there because I don’t want to give away a single detail about this book. I finished it in like 5 or 6 hours.
My director pick: David Cronenberg, Stuart Gordon, The Soska Sisters, or Brian Yuzna
Update: Okay I didn’t look this one up ahead of time. Apparently The Troop is already slated for production thanks in part to James Wan. I stand corrected. But I still wouldn’t have been mad if the Soska Sisters had gotten their hands on it. Nice to know my instincts are sound.
So what do y’all think? What other horror novels have yet to make to the big screen? Let me know in the Comments. And while we’re at it, support your local libraries and independent booksellers (mine is Prince Books).