2016 05 22 Matthew Franks

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Top Five Psychological Horror Novels Adapted to Film

Written by Matthew Franks

Over the years, many horror stories have frightened, entertained, and inspired me. Narrowing a list down to five proved a difficult task. However, the following five stand out as ones that not only influence my work, but also serve as a testament to the wide range of incredible stories that fall under the umbrella of psychological horror. The fact they were all made into films only further illustrates their ability to stand the test of time. Since it's very difficult to rank them, they are listed in no particular order.


Psycho Robert Bloch Cover
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Psycho by Robert Bloch

I once read that Alfred Hitchcock tried to obtain all the copies of Robert Bloch's classic novel to prevent spoiling his film version. I don't know if it's true or to what extent he went to stop people from reading it, but, in my opinion, the book is equally as deserving of an audience. Bloch does an excellent job conveying the inner dialogues of his characters and crafting a tale that, were he still alive, would be on real-life serial killer Ed Gein's must-read list. As excellent as the film may be, I encourage readers to visit, or revisit, its incredible source material.


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The Silence of The Lambs by Thomas Harris

Although, as most fans already know, Thomas Harris first introduced Hannibal Lecter in his 1981 novel Red Dragon, it wasn't until The Silence of The Lambs that the character became a household name. Inspiring an extraordinary Oscar-winning film, the book remains one of the essential thrillers of our time. It's the ultimate dog-chases-cat-chases-mouse scenario. While Clarice Starling literally pursues Buffalo Bill, Lecter pursues her in a psychological battle of wills that proves to be as unsettling, if not more so, than the horrifying case that brings them together.


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Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

With Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane has crafted a fascinating and often shocking story that takes the day-old question of "what constitutes crazy?" to a whole other level. There are plenty of plot twists and an ending that will stay etched in your mind long after you've finished reading it. The Martin Scorsese film version is equally as good and expertly follows the ever-spiraling storyline to its unnerving and heartbreaking conclusion.


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The Shining by Stephen King

When I first heard that Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick didn't see eye to eye on the film adaptation of The Shining, I wasn't at all surprised. You basically have two masters of their mediums with different visions of the same story. They were destined to bump heads. However, even with a dramatically different depiction of the Jack Torrance character and ending, each in its own way permanently makes The Shining one of my all-time favorites.


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The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Speaking of Stanley Kubrick, he once called Jim Thompson's classic noir thriller, The Killer Inside Me, "probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered". I agree, and, in many ways, the book had more of an impact on me than the others listed here. Thompson brilliantly draws Lou Ford, a small town Texas sheriff with more going on in his head than he lets on to those around him. Although the film version stayed true to the storyline, it's the novel that deftly takes you deep inside a killer's mind.


HorrorTalk would like to thank Matthew Franks for sharing this post with us! You can pick up a copy of his latest novel, The Monster Underneath, by clicking on one of the links below!

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