Scary pairings: Check out these Halloween book/film adaptations |

Scary pairings: Check out these Halloween book/film adaptations

Mary Pickels
Getty Images
Jack Nicholson walks through snowy maze in the 1980 film “The Shining.”
Getty Images
Wendy Torrance, played by Shelley Duvall, recoils in shock as her husband chops through the bathroom door with a fire axe in a scene from “The Shining,” directed by Stanley Kubrick.

From spine-tingling pages to images that seem to jump off the screen (and make us jump), the Halloween season offers plenty of frightful moments for both book lovers and movie buffs alike.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh public and readers services librarian Shayna Ross has curated a list of some of the best Halloween movie and book pairings.

Those making the list include books and movies that have been received well in both forms.

She’s hoping the list will spur more people to recall seeing or reading certain titles and explore the genre’s classics more thoroughly. “I just recently re-read ‘The Shining.’ There were scenes in the book where I thought, ‘Oh, this wasn’t in the movie,’ ” Ross says, inspiring her to wonder how that scene might have translated to film.

The chronological pairings offer thrill-seeking recommendations from various time periods.

Golden classics

Ross pairs Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” published in 1818 (and again in 1831 with textual changes) with “Bride of Frankenstein,” released in 1935. Don’t miss Boris Karloff’s portrayal of a monster in search of a Mrs.

The quintessential horror flick of the ’60s is “Psycho,” which inspires nightmares in some about staying alone while traveling, or the shrill screech of a shower curtain being flung open.

Robert Bloch’s book, published in 1959, translates into a frightening 1960 film full of suspense starring Janet Leigh (mother of future scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis) and Anthony Perkins.

In “Rosemary’s Baby,” authored by Ira Levin in 1967 and scaring film audiences beginning in 1968, a pixie-cut Mia Farrow (Rosemary) is looking forward to starting a family with her new husband in New York City.

Their elderly neighbors seem eccentric and overly interested in them, and their coming baby. That’s not creepy, right? And is Rosemary’s husband really the baby’s father?

Into the ’70s

The frights starting in the 1970s are led off with William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist,” published in 1971, paired with, obviously, “The Exorcist,” released in 1973.

Reputedly inspired by a case of demonic possession that Blatty heard about as a college student, the film stars a young Linda Blair as Regan, a sweet child suddenly possessed.

“The Exorcist” inspired an insatiable appetite for possession-themed stories, Ross notes. “You will forget that this is just a story.”

And you likely won’t forget the levitation scene and … well, just read the book or watch the movie, but maybe not alone. More than 40 years later, the tale remains terrifying.

Ross pairs Daphne du Maurier’s 1970 short story “Don’t Look Now” with the 1973 film of the same name.

The story, Ross says, dives into psychological realism. While on holiday, attempting to recover from their young daughter’s death, a couple encounter two suspicious elderly women.

“A seemingly simple plot that is so much more,” is Ross’ description of the story.

”Heeeere’s Johnny” never sounds more terrifying than when Jack Nicholson’s character in the film “The Shining,” which came out in 1980, bellows it with a maniacal grin.

Author Stephen King is the master of the horror genre for a reason, Ross says.

Combining an alcoholic father, an increasingly unhinged mother and a young son who sees, hears and knows things, Ross says, gives us all the great elements to make a scary ghost story. Ross notes that the film adaptation of “Doctor Sleep,” with little boy Danny all grown up, is set for a Nov. 8 release.

Japanese horror

If you find yourself tiring of American horror, Ross suggests giving Japanese horror a try with the film/book pairing of “Audition,” authored by Ryu Murakami in 1997 and released in theaters in 1999.

Widower Aoyama agrees to attend film auditions through a friend in hopes of meeting a new wife, but the one that catches his eye is not who she claims to be, Ross says.

She adds it’s been reported that actor/musician Rob Zombie, who likely finds little disturbing, found this film deeply unsettling.

Present day fright nights

In the terrifying and controversial “Battle Royale,” author Koushun Takami dumps 50 randomly selected middle-school students on an isolated island, where they are forced to kill each other until only one remains, Ross says.

”Make sure to read the book, watch the movie and if you still want more, check out the manga series,” she says.

“There is a sequel to the movie, ‘Battle Royale II: Requiem,’ if you want more blood,” Ross adds.

Ross pairs John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 book “Let the Right One In” with the 2008 Swedish film of the same name.

If you enjoy vampire films, Ross says, “Interview with a Vampire,” “Twilight” and “Dracula,” all films based on novels, are fine.

“But ‘Let the Right One In’ is a standout. A young bullied boy in Sweden meets a young girl and sparks a friendship without knowing that she is a vampire,” Ross says.

In the 2018 Netflix film “Bird Box,” based on Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel, actress Sandra Bullock must do battle with what she cannot see.

Traveling with two young children, all of them blindfolded, she tries to keep them safe from whatever is attacking the human race — those who open their eyes — in a post-apocalyptic world.

If you loved the movie, Ross says, look for a sequel based on one of the characters, “Malorie,” in May 2020.

And if you haven’t yet read the film’s inspiration, this fan recommends it.

Bonus recommendation

Ross makes a bonus recommendation for “The Haunting of Hill House,” a 2018 Netflix series adapted from Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel.

“While there have been movie adaptations in 1963 and 1999, both entitled ‘The Haunting,’ the TV series takes the plot on a whole new twist with incredible results,” she says.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: AandE | Books | More A and E | Movies TV
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