Now Scream This: The Best Streaming Horror Movies Based On Books

(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: As an uncivilized swine who barely has enough time to keep up with weekly cinema releases, let other mediums of storytelling, Chris has informed me that some of my favorite horror films are actually based on written literature. I didn't believe him at first, but some quick researching proves he's actually right! Who knew books could be good for something besides kindling for campfires? In any case, in honor of some little movie called Drowsy Physician or something, here are a few rad horror movies based on authored horror you can stream right now! 

Chris: Happy Doctor Sleep month! Yes, it's time for yet another Stephen King adaptation – this time adapted from his sequel to The Shining. In honor of this particular literary horror adaptation, Matt and I are turning to the wild world of horror books for this week's Now Scream This! Too lazy to read a book? Don't worry! There are movies! 

John Dies At The End

Now Streaming on Vudu

Matt: David Wong's John Dies At The End was adapted by Don Coscarelli of Phantasm fame, and quite well if you ask my opinion. Not everyone can wrangle alternate-reality invasions laced with stoner humor, doped-up by a fake street drug dubbed "Soy Sauce." This title actually landed in my "100 Best Horror Movies Of The Decade" series posted right here on /Film, as lead actors Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes sell their psychotropic freakout as an evil-fighting buddy tandem. Meat monsters, doomsday cults, Paul Giamatti - John Dies At The End has it all!

Chris: I've never read the John Dies at the End book, but I have seen the film, and it sure is wacky! 

Candyman

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Clive Barker's works have long disturbed horror movie audiences, with Bernard Rose's Candyman adaptation ranking high in terms of quality. In a time when representation wasn't the greatest for  slasher cinema, Tony Todd carved his face on the Mount Rushmore of horror icons as the Chicago hook-hand slayer. Personally, it took until this Halloween season to check Candyman off my blind spot list. Why, dear readers, did it take twenty-seven years to right such a wrong (besides obvious reasons first about my age upon release and then being BUSY BUSY BUSY). Doesn't matter – enlightenment prevails. A magnificent cultural horror swing that's gory, mesmeric, and makes Bloody Mary look like a punk.

Chris: The Candyman short story is vastly different than the film, and I'd go so far as to say the film is better. Sorry, Clive Barker! 

The Midnight Meat Train

Now Streaming on Hulu/Amazon Prime

Matt: No, not *that* The Midnight Meat Train I mistakenly flipped to on Cinemax one night past 2AM. The other one. Adapted by Ryuhei Kitamura, based on a Clive Barker story, starring Bradley Cooper and Vinnie Jones. A grimy look at a city's underbelly where a murderer slaughters subway train passengers, only to reveal an even more insidious motivation. It's brutal, drenched in vile butcher's remnants, and a slick piece of conspiracy horror from the perspective of a paranoid photographer. Definitely still for the after 2AM crowd, based on stomach-churning reasons and super mature content.

Chris: Wow, two Clive Barker adaptations in one list? Crazy! Once again, I'm going to say I think this movie adaptation is better than the story it's based on. It's just fun. Bradley Cooper! In a movie called Midnight Meat Train! How can you resist? 

Gerald’s Game

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Mike Flanagan did what some thought would be impossible: adapt the Stephen King story Gerald's Game. Kinky bedroom rape-fantasy "enjoyment" gone horribly awry. Carla Gugino's work as a woman bound to her bedpost shines while the vision of her now-deceased lover, played by Bruce Greenwood, pays continual visits (in addition to other unwanted guests). Shades of single-setting tension and unsightly torments plague Gugino's performance, then Flanagan pays off with his "sliding of the glove" effect. It's all fun and games until your lover dies of a heart attack and leaves you handcuffed, stranded with no key. Someone *has* to have said that, right?

Chris: Directors avoided adapting Stephen King's Gerald's Game for years, simply because the book is so un-cinematic. But Mike Flanagan actually found a way to make it work. 

Audition

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Everyone's lives can use a little more Takashi Miike, especially horror fans who've yet to behold his adaptation of Ryu Murakami's Audition. Eihi Shiina stars as a romantic who desires to be loved by only one man, and Ryo Ishibashi plays the poor widowed bastard who becomes her latest fixation. A movie that zigs, zags, and pulls morbid tricks out of an unassuming sack. Cinematic historians have read the film as both feminist and misogynistic, the former stemming from a particularly gruesome torture scene. In any case, it's an exquisite, divisive gaze into violent obsessions, as the apple of one's eye rots from the inside outward.

Chris: The perfect date movie. 

Rosemary’s Baby

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: When it came time to adapt Rosemary's Baby, Roman Polanski actually stuck very close to the source material. This is almost a page-for-page adaptation of Ira Levin's novel. It's also one fo the best horror movies ever made – a chilling, hypnotic portrait of a young woman (Mia Farrow) who fears for her unborn child. Of course, as we all know, she needn't worry about the child's fate, since he's the antichrist and all. What makes Rosemary's Baby work so well is how grounded all the horror poor Rosemary's experiences. Yes, there's supernatural stuff at work here, but it all seems so, well, believable. And that's scary. 

Matt: In the pantheon of maternal madness cinema, psychological pre-parental horrors rarely reach the heights of Rosemary's Baby.

Carrie

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: Here it is: the first Stephen King film adaptation, based on the first Stephen King novel. Brian De Palma takes King's tale of a troubled telepathic teen and works magic with it, employing all sorts of visual trickery – split-screens, quick zooms, and more. Sissy Spacek is marvelous as Carrie White, a complete loser who also happens to have deadly psychic powers. When she gets asked to the prom as part of an elaborate prank to humiliate her, she thinks things are finally going her way. They aren't. And on top of all that, her crazy religious mother (Piper Laurie) terrorizes her. It all culminates in a fiery massacre that remains powerful and terrifying after all these years. 

Matt: I truly didn't mind the Carrie remake, but it's hard to hold a candle to De Palma.

Annihilation

Now Streaming on Hulu

Chris: Alex Garland's brilliant, vastly underappreciated Annihilation is an adaptation of the book of the same name from Jeff VanderMeer. While it uses the same basic set-up – a team of women heads into a mysterious are that's been drastically changed by an unexplained phenomenon – it's a vastly different story than the book. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny play the team members, and all of them bring their own unique talents to the film. As the women head into Area X they encounter strange, nightmarish things that defy explanation, and leave the viewer haunted. 

Matt: I'd argue the spiraling story of Annihilation tangles itself after too many twirls around Garland's sci-fi maypole, but holy shit that hellbeast grizzly bear scene.

The Woman in Black

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Chris: Loaded with jump-scares but still a heck of a lot of fun, The Woman in Black is an old fashioned haunted house story based on Susan Hill's chiller of a novel. Daniel Radcliffe is a lawyer in the early 1900s sent to a spooky old house to put a dead person's affairs to rest. What he finds is a curse, a ghost, and all sorts of things that go bump in the night. The Woman in Black isn't the most nuanced haunted house movie, but damn it, it has style. It embraces its gothic trappings and unleashes several genuinely creepy moments. 

Matt: You know, I skipped this one when it came out. Never bothered to go back. Maybe I will. Someday. *Gazes far into the distance, looking for free time that does not exist*

Wounds

Now Streaming on Hulu

Chris: Lots of people don't seem to care for Wounds (including Matt, I see), but I dunno – it worked for me. I read the short story it was based on – The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud – and while it had its moments, the movie is much better. Armie Hammer is a underachieving bartender who takes his girlfriend (Dakota Johnson) for granted while lusting after his best friend (Zazie Beetz). One night, Hammer's character finds a lost cell phone in his bar. The phone contains several disturbing photos and videos that kick off a strange, nightmarish journey full of body horror and lots of bugs. It's an icky, squirmy movie – and I dug that. 

Matt: Wow, I *really* thought Wounds was a waste of talents that left an actual third act *and* finale somewhere on a studio's cutting room floor.