Welcome to a list of 10 books I love that I would like to see adapted to film, big (or small) screen (providing they stay true to the source material).
We all know that the mainstream movie makers pretty much ran out of fresh and original ideas years ago. Since then, a huge source of inspiration for both television series and feature films comes from books. It always amazes me when I speak to people who tell me their favourite films or series’ while simultaneously telling me they don’t enjoy reading. Often they don’t even realise their favourite big screen moments come from my favourite literary passages.
Some of modern day television and films most heralded moments all come from the imagination of an author. The Handmaid’s Tale? That is an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novels of the same name. Game of Thrones? While the show takes it’s own path eventually, that all comes from the mind of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Locke & Key? That comes from Joe Hill’s comics. Even The Walking Dead comes from the much lauded comics of Robert Kirkman.
Modern movies like Bird Box? That is adapted from Josh Malerman’s novel. The Hunger Games are by the Young Adult author Suzanne Collins. Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, Harry Potter, The Lord of The Rings and the list goes on and on and on. Even those famous classics? The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Dracula, Blade Runner, Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, Fight Club, Trainspotting – well, you get the idea. Authors rule!
So, it got me thinking, with so many books converted to film or television, what would I like to actually see adapted? Don’t get me wrong, adaptations can be very hit and miss (emphasis on miss) but there is still something nice about seeing the world imagined in your mind take shape on the screen in front of you. Even if the film writer suddenly thinks they can do better than the author (The Dark Tower, Under the Dome and The Mist spring to mind), it can still be fun for a while seeing those carefully crafted landscapes and characters come to form.
So, in no particular order, here are the 10 books I enjoyed that I would really like to see adapted to screen. 10 that I think could actually work too.
1 – Insomnia by Stephen King
Insomnia tells the storty of Ralph Roberts. An elderly gentleman who has struggled to sleep since losing his wife. His insomnia worsens and he starts seeing things at first considered hallucinations but later shown to be the auras of those moving in the world around him. He also sees a collection of otherwordly little bald doctors who appear invisible to everyone else. They seem to cut the auras off of people marking them for death. Then Ralph interferes and finds himself dragged into a chain of events with worlds altering consequences.
Insomnia isn’t one of King’s most mainstream popular books and I have never understood why. Perhaps influenced by the strong connections to The Dark Tower, I love this story. Always have. With King being so heavily adapted, I guess it is maybe a surprise Insomnia hasnt been covered off but then I do think it would be a nightmare to adapt. Especially getting the little doctors right.
Perhaps that is why nobody has tried? But then, it isn’t like people steer away from doing a shoddy job of King’s books. I would like to see it. Maybe as a TV mini series though as too much would have to be cut for it to be adapted to film.
2 – A Quiet Apocalypse by Dave Jeffery
A Quiet Apocalypse is a story about an apocalypse that is quiet. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Think post apocalyptic horror fiction where a large chunk of the population got wiped out and a large amount of the survivors lost their hearing. That leaves a handful of people alive who can still hear and that makes them a precious commodity. This book showers you in emotion with almost every paragraph in a story that is disturbing and depressing showcasing the true horrors of desperate humans.
Bering a shorter story, it would be the perfect fit for a movie. It would have to be treated gently though as Dave Jeffery masters setting the scene and embedding you in the atmosphere. I always felt the cinematography used in the post apocalyptic movie, The Road (also from a book), would suit this story. Barren, grey and depressing backgrounds to add a weighty atmosphere to the powerful tale. Exactly how I pictured a lot of the story when reading it. This could really work adapted to film.
3 – The Devil’s Inn by David Watkins
The Devil’s Inn by David Watkins tells the story of an old pub on Dartmoor where a fire has burned for over 150 years. It is said that if the fire goes out, the devil will appear and kill everyone within the pubs walls. Well, in this story a group of friends get lost and take refuge from a storm with some locals at the pub. The storm wont let up though, they are running out of firewood and patience. All hell is about to break loose.
I remember reading this book a while back and thinking, while reading, that this could be a cracking film. When I decided to write this list, it was the first book that jumped back in my mind. As a straight up horror movie this would be brilliant adapted to film. The setting of an old pub on the moors. A snowstorm rolling in followed by a well balanced mix of violence and psychological horror. The car full of friends who get lost and take refuge at the pub. It is such a fantastic story that could be transferred directly to screen. We will need one hell of an actor to play our Devil though.
4 – A Town Called Discovery by RR Haywood
The most recently released and most recently read book on my list is A Town Called Discovery by RR Haywood. A Town Called Discovery is a mix of science fiction, mainly in the form of time travel of sorts, with graphic and violent horror bordering on torture. An unnamed person falls from the sky to his death. He resets and is falling again. Painful death after painful death train him to minimise the fall impact until he survives and heads into the next violent challenge. Torturous death after torturous death follow in a increasingly sickening set of tasks. Tasks that only end when he reaches a town called Discovery. It is here he finds out his true purpose and why he needed to suffer everything that came before.
I really want to see a brave film maker have a crack at this though I fear they couldn’t possibly do it justice. It would have to be an 18+ movie. The first half of this story has to be as violent and visceral as the book to make the second half feel right. Yes, that includes dicks getting cut off and children getting obliterated. That is also probably why it couldn’t happen unless it was watered down a bit and I don’t want that. Man, if someone was brave enough to go all in, what a cracking sci-fi horror this could turn out to be.
5 – Exoskeleton by Shane Stadler
Shane Stadler‘s Exoskeleton tells the story of a convicted felon, Will. He is given a choice following his sentencing. Will can serve a twenty five year conventional prison sentence or spend 365 days in a new, experimental corrections program. He opts for the experimental program, only to realise he has made a horrible mistake. Cue insane torture through this experimental program as Will is put through some of the most graphic violence known to man. A program that continues the work started long ago and progressed by the Nazis. The aim? Put a body through enough pain and see if we can get their soul to separate.
Yet another fantastic story that will have you cringing through some of the torture sequences. Especially the dentistry bits. That could really work as a film too. A good, violent film but with a science fiction edge. I can already see the adverts showing American movie goers screaming in terror at the sight of some of the torture parts. All the other components are there too. Links to extreme science, souls, a creepy as fuck exoskeleton suit, government programmes, assassins. Oh, and there are three books in the series all ready to go. That’s your Halloween releases for the next 3 years sorted! Lets get it adapted to film.
6 – The Fireman by Joe Hill
The Fireman is set during an apocalyptic event of sorts but there are no zombies in sight. A strange infection marks the bodies of a large chunk of the population. For some reason, when this infection worsens, those people can spontaneously combust. With a world full of exploding humans, the remainder do what we would expect, setting up militia known as Cremation Crews. These gangs hunt those marked with the infection, planning to eradicate them before they cause any damage.
Men, women, children – all are in danger at their hands. But there are also those who have learned to live with and kind of control their infection, They hide in the woods, hunted by the Cremation Crews, but with their protector. John Rockwood is The Fireman. A loner, infected but also a rarity in that he doesn’t just control his infection, He has harnessed it and is able to utilise it as a weapon to protect those he cares about.
This is a fantastic story and was my first introduction to Joe Hill. Its such a great story with so many wonderful characters and ideals explored. From the worst of humanity to the best, so much is covered and it could be a really fantastic tv series, I think. It is too big a book for a film and there is no logical stop point for multiple films. A limited series though, 10 episodes or so would work brilliantly and would allow the whole book to be covered off thoroughly. The Fireman, and Harper’s, casting would have to be perfect though but if they got that right, this could be a smash hit if adapted to film or tv.
7 – Worship Me by Craig Stewart
Worship Me, by Craig Stewart, is a terrifying and gory story that showcases a church in a small town full of hypocrites and judgemental puritans. Their falsity wakens something else though. Not their god. Something older and malevolent hears their pleas and offers them a new form of salvation. Salvation that comes with blood, pain, loss and fear. He is the only God coming and they will worship him, one way or another.
Worship Me would be a brilliant old school horror film. Small town, religious townsfolk, a creepy church near the woods sets the scene. The awakening of an old and evil force in that woods with it’s eyes set on the church that borders it brings the chaos. There are some great characters in it too. We have the town rebels, the good girl that has to toughen up, the gossips, the harlots all hidden within the airs and graces of the people with their claims of purity in church but all about to be tested. Some old school filming, not too much CGI, and a feel of small town in the 80’s would work brilliant in a film that already has the plot ready to scare the pants off of audiences.
8 – Gone (series) by Michael Grant
Gone tells the story of a collection kids who have to grow up fast. They wake up one day and every adult over the age of 15 is gone. As well as that, a mysterious dome surrounds their town that burns to the touch. As time goes by, some of the children start developing supernatural powers as well. Led by Sam Temple, one collection of the town try to set up to survive. Try to grow up while they work out what is going on. As always though, there are others that live for chaos and the removal of all people of authority has given them the perfect playground.
Gone is the first in a series of (currently) 9 books by Michael Grant. It is Young Adult fiction but I do read quite a bit of that. I like their dystopian styled series and find some of them quite topical and most of them imaginative. The Hunger Games, Divergent, Planet Urth, Uglies, Maze Runner, Unwound – there is a lot of quality available in the YA marketplace.
A fair few of them have already received decent adaptations and I think the Gone series would be a brilliant tv series. Perhaps even correct the failings of Under the Dome as there are similarities. Mainly in that there is a dome. It has an exciting story, likeable characters both good and bad and is already a hugely popular book series. I can only imagine the length of the series puts producers off but as one of the best selling YA series’ ever, it is surely worth a punt.
9 – Duma Key by Stephen King
Duma Key is a fantastic Stephen King novel that tells the story of Edgar Freemantle. He gets badly injured in a work accident, loses an arm and spirals into depression and despair. He gets sent to a retreat in Florida to work on his mental health. While there he finds himself drawn to art and painting. As he gets sucked further and further into his new obsession, his paintings seem to call forth visions and unnatural powers. At first seeming like gifts but soon growing to more of a curse, Edgar’s retreat could well be his last resort.
Duma Key is another story that I think could do with the mini series treatment. Again, it is way too big to be a film. It is probably way too niche to be a collection of films but this is a story I would love to see visualised. I love how it would start off relatively normal before exploding into a horror/science fiction platter. The settings in Florida could be magical and the horrors that visit, demonic. What a mix of darkness and light that would give us. I do think this would be one of the toughest adaptations to do but man, what a treat if someone could pull it off and get this adapted to film.
10 – The Black Phone by Joe Hill
The Black Phone is a short story that featured in the anthology, 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. It tells the story of a person getting kidnapped, held hostage and their mind set while contemplating life, death and possible escape. The only thing in his room with him is an old phone. It is switched off. It doesn’t work but still they call. The ghosts of the other children taken and killed in this same room.
This a recent read for me but I loved it. The only thing is it is insanely short, even for a short story. It would make one hell of an anthology episode though. Something like a Creepshow episode. That is where I would love to see it. In fact, the whole of 20th Century Ghosts would make a great anthology but The Black Phone would be the star for me. Creepy, intense and to the point. It would be as much visual and monologue driven as anything but with enough blood and gore to satisfy cravings. Chuck in a creepy telephone and dead kids and you are on to a nice little 30 minute winner with this adapted to film.
So, there you have it. Ten absolutely cracking novels and short stories that I think would be fantastic on screen, if the film makers stayed true and trusted in the books. If you haven’t read any of these, well, what are you waiting for? Them to make a film? There are so many more great stories I can think of too. Let me know what you would like to see adapted to film.