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From Page To Screen: Five Movie Adaptation Source Texts I’ve Pledged To Read In 2024


a close up of a wide eye peeking through black hair
Ringu (1998)

Throughout the three years of the What A Scream podcast, recurring guest author Elaine Pascale and I have been exploring movie adaptations of works by famous horror authors such as Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson and Stephen King amongst others. It’s embarrassing to say that there’s been more than a few episodes where I’ve had to heavily rely on Elaine for the literary perspective when discussing the films and so I’ve decided that 2024 is the year I read the books behind the films. 


1. The Mist by Stephen King

A scene from the film The Mist. Five people standing in a misty setting, mouths agape.

 

Originally published in 1980 as part of the Dark Forces anthology, The Mist is a short novella that chronicles the events surrounding the descent of a mysterious mist that descends upon Bridgton, a small town in Maine. David Drayton, a local artist, is trapped in a supermarket along with his five year old son Billy as well as a group of townsfolk whilst creatures from another dimension haunt the streets outside. The movie adaptation directed by Frank Darabont was released in 2007, and whilst the film depicted the same commentary on fear creating and enforcing mob mentality, it deviated from the source text’s ending, instead opting for a more nihilistic and devastating conclusion. 


2. Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice

A scene from the film Interview With The Vampire. Two vampire men are dressed in 19th century upper class clothes and a young blonde female child is standing beside them


The debut novel by gothic vampire queen Anne Rice was published in 1976, and was adapted from a short story she had written in 1968. Interview With The Vampire follows the morose vampire Louis as he recounts his 200 year old life to an interviewer, including his encounter with fellow vampires Lestat and the eternal child Claudia. The novel was the catalyst for Rice’s supernatural universe The Vampire Chronicles, with its expansion into witch families and the lore of the Taltos. Interview With The Vampire was adapted in 1994 and starred Brad Pitt as Louis, Tom Cruise as the vampire Lestat and an early role for Kirsten Dunst as Claudia and again as a television series in 2022 starring Jacob Anderson .


3. Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu

An illustration from the original publication of Carmilla. It depicts a woman sleeping in bed while another woman reaches over her. There is a man standing in the doorway


Pre-dating Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years, fellow Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu’s lesbian vampire gothic novella was first published in 1872 as part of the serial The Dark Blue. The story details the arrival of the mysterious young woman Carmilla into the life of 18 year old Laura and the eventual realisation that Carmilla is in fact the vampiric Countess Karnstein. Carmilla was a work ahead of its time, reverting the stereotypes of Victorian women, and empowering them compared to their male counterparts. Directed by Emily Harris, Carmilla (2019) is the most recent cinematic adaptation of Le Fanu’s novella and stars Devrim Lingnau in the titular role. 


4. We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

A scene from the film We Have Always Lived in The Castle. Two young women are looking off to the right hand side


Written by Shirley Jackson in 1962, We Have Always Lived In The Castle centres around the Blackwood sisters Merricat and Constance, the latter of which is agoraphobic following accusations of her murdering her immediate family with blackberries laced with arsenic. The sisters and their sick uncle live on the periphery of society, shunned by the inhabitants of the local town, and live in complete isolation until one day their estranged cousin Charles arrives. The gothic tale, tinged with witchy-ness, carries themes of otherness and the persecution of those perceived as being outsiders. The novel was adapted into a film in 2018 starring Taissa Farmiga, Alexandria Daddario and Sebastian Stan. 


5. Ringu by Koji Suzuki

A scene from the film Ringu. A woma dressed in white stands with her long black hair covering her face


First published in Japan in 1991, Ringu is the first novel in a trilogy in which reporter Kazuyuki Asakawa discovers the existence of a cursed video tape that, when viewed, damns the viewer to a death which will occur in exactly one week. Seeking to uncover the tape’s origins, the investigation leads him to Sadako, a psychic woman who disappeared thirty years previous. Several adaptations have been developed from the book, including Ringu from 1998, in which the main character Kazuyuki is gender swapped to become Reiko Asakawa, a journalist who is attempting to break the curse after both her and her son view the tape. Popularising the cinematic movement of J-Horror, Ringu would also be adapted into an American language film called The Ring (2002) starring Naomi Watts. 


By Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana


 

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