Recommendations for Creepy Movies Based on Literature


Dracula (1931)

This version is the black and white classic film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  There is nothing like the original and Bela Lugosi is the only Dracula for me, and Dracula is, I dare say, the only vampire I care anything about.

Frankenstein (1931)

Again, a black and white classic film adaptation.  This time of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  This version stars Boris Karloff, who is definitely right up there with Bela Lugosi for me.  I recommend just about anything he was in, though he did do some very campy movies.  Both of them did.  Still, they are kings of classic horror and a true horror fan or classic film fan just has to see them.

The Fall of the House of Usher (1960)

This movie is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story by the same name.  The plot revolves around a devastating family curse.  This very dramatic adaptation stars Vincent Price, whose prolific body of work in horror spans the decades and ranges from extremely campy to the point of being humorous to the stuff of nightmares.

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Another film adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe short story starring Vincent Price.  He did several of these in the 1960’s and I heartily recommend any of them.  This one centers around an evil prince whose village is being destroyed by the plague.

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

Vincent Price must have had a passion for the works of Poe and this is no different.  This well known work of Poe concerns a suspicious death during the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

The Raven (1963)

This is one of those Vincent Price movies many people find humorous due to its campy quality.  However, it is an adaptation of one of Poe’s most well known and truly creepy works.  So laugh or cry and hide behind the sofa, but you have to watch it, if only to see the object of a decades long cult horror following.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Nobody does creepy and bizarre quite like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp in an on screen adaptation of Washington Irving’s tale of a headless horseman.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

The 1931 film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella.  A story rich with philosophical implications that will also give you glorious black and white nightmares.

The Crucible (1996)

This is a film adaptation of a play written in the 1950’s by Arthur Miller.  The plot depicts the Salem Witch Trials and will have you questioning which characters to trust.  It was actually written to parallel historical events of the time as people were being accused left and right of being communists, blacklisted, their lives ruined, based on little to nothing.  Paranoia ruled and fear was everywhere.  Anyone could be named and friends were asked to name friends and support accusations they may or may not have believed.  Don’t let the heavy historical background stop you from enjoying a real nail biter, but it can certainly add richness and depth to your yearly creepy witchy movie.  Hocus Pocus is great, but this is where it’s at.

Premature Burial (1962)

Another amazing actor you’ll see also next on my list, Ray Milland, stars in this 1962 movie directed by another name loyal horror fans will recognize.  Roger Coreman.  This is also based on a short story by Poe.  I suppose the title is self explanatory.  I am being as serious as I can possibly be when I say that watching this film made me reconsider the idea of having a wake despite knowing that with today’s modern customs of burial there is little to no way I’d be buried alive.

The Uninvited (1944)

Ray Milland!  I love him.  In this movie, based on the Dorothy Marcardle novel Uneasy Freehold, Ray Milland plays a music critic and composer who buys an unoccupied house with his sister on impulse.  The house is beautiful and seems perfect for them, but is a bit of a local legend, and as the film unfolds we all see why that is.  If you like ghosts, seances, and the kind of subtleties that will have you feeling chills and smelling the scent of mimosa for days afterward, this is the movie to keep you awake at night.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

This film adaptation is based on a philosophical novel and banned book by Oscar Wilde.  The real creepiness in this movie is the idea of man’s struggle with evil and temptation.  It centers on the idea that sometimes you only have to look to your own reflection to find monsters.

Rebecca (1940)

This movie is a psychological thriller and mystery based on a novel by Daphne du Maurier.  There is no physical ghost of Rebecca in this movie, but she is ever present in the memory of Laurence Olivier’s character Maximillian de Winter as well as all else her knew her.    You spend most of the movie just like Joan Fontaine’s character on edge and wondering why her memory is so pervasive, like a hanging shadow, and wondering whether anyone is to be trusted, or if the female lead is simply mentally unstable.

Sherlock Holmes (Any of the classic films.  Mainly made in the 1930’s & 1940’s.)

The Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are full of mystery and murder and deal a fair bit with the occult.  My mom’s favorite is the 1939 adaptation of the Hound of the Baskervilles.

Also, as a point of interest, PBS Masterpiece Theatre has a series called Sherlock, which just isn’t my thing I don’t think.  I believe I’d rather watch the classic Sherlock films, but they recently had a series called Arthur & George.  This is about a murder case the creator of Sherlock Holmes became involved in.  It is no longer available to watch for free on their site, but it is available on ITunes and to buy through their site on DVD.  I  imagine it’s possible it may be available at some libraries.


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