Book Club Nominees

The Book is Better Than the Movie? 6 Horror Movie Novelizations

by Peter Ong Cook, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for August’s “Horror Flick Novelizations” category

Movies are adapted from books all the time, so here’s the reverse-Uno. Books adapted from movies! AKA novelizations. Some are dumb money grabs, some have scenes and backstory cut from the final film, and some delve deeper into what happens inside of characters’ heads. Some become cult classics in their own right. I’ve chosen novelizations that enhance the films, and may be considered independently from whence they came. Let’s see what’s on the discount shelf today.

Alien by Alan Dean Foster

Based on the screenplay by Dan O’Bannon. The crew of the spaceship Nostromo wake from cryogenic sleep to distress signals from an unknown planet. One is attacked when they investigate a derelict alien craft. Safely on their way back to Sol, none foresee the real horror about to begin. (StoryGraph)


We all know horror cannot take place in outer space. But that didn’t stop them from making a horror movie set in space, with the creative title “Alien.” And it wouldn’t stop them from making a horror-in-space novelization based on the space horror film, penned by the science fiction stalwart Alan Dean Foster, who has never written a horror novel–so checkmate space-horror fools!

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer

First published in 1978, five years after the release of the classic horror film from which it is adapted, The Wicker Man is a gripping horror classic.

It is the tale of Highlands policeman, Police Sergeant Neil Howie, on the trail of a missing girl being lured to the remote Scottish island of Summerisle. As May Day approaches, strange, shamanistic and erotic events erupt around him. Initially he is convinced that the girl has been abducted for human sacrifice – only to find that he may be the revellers’ quarry…


Classic folk horror film The Wicker Man has spawned a cult following, a Nic Cage remake, and everlasting memedom. It also spawned this book, which has a charm and fanbase of its own!

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

Re-Animator by Jeff Rovin

The novelization of the cult horror filme Re-Animator, H.P. Lovecraft’s wildly outrageous tale of grisly horror that has become a modern cult-classic overnight, comes to ebook to haunt, thrill and delight the mad scientist in us all. Re-animation, the science of bringing dead creatures back to life, is Herbert West’s dream. West tests his secret life-rejuvenating potion on some cooperative corpses at a local morgue. It’s a success But only a temporary one – as the dead spring to life, reacting violently to their re-animation.

Zombies are loose and now West cannot control the very beasts he has re-created. The born-again dead are unstoppable, even severed body parts take on life like so many split worms Herbert West has a serious problem – will he become the first in a new breed of headhunters or all of his woes coming to a head?

Re-Animator – an intense book of macabre humor. Based on the screenplay by Dennis Paoli, William J. Norris and Stuart Gordon (StoryGraph)


Horror-comedy is my jam. This is a book based on a movie based on a book. I guess it’s fitting that literary Dr Herbert West would be reanimated in such a roundabout way. This is another novelization that has earned some cult cred, which is why it’s still in print.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella

In 1978, Laurie Strode survived an encounter with Michael Myers, a masked figure who killed her friends and terrorized the town of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night. Myers was later gunned down, apprehended and committed to Smith’s Grove State Hospital.

For forty years, memories of that nightmarish ordeal have haunted Laurie and now Myers is back once again on Halloween, having escaped a routine transfer, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. This time, Laurie is prepared with years of survival training to protect herself, her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson, a teenager separated from her family and enjoying Halloween festivities.


This is a book based on the little known movie Halloween, about Michael Myers, the unkillable serial killing machine! No, not the one by John Carpenter. This is a different Michael Myers from a different movie called Halloween by Rob Zombie. What can be gained when we see how young master Myers got so kill-y? This is technically a direct sequel to the 1978 Halloween. As reviews go, the novelization may be better than the film?

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

Fright Night: Origins by Tom Holland and A. Jack Ulrich

You think you know the whole story, don’t you?

High school isn’t going well for teenage horror fan Charley Brewster. Still dealing with the loss of his father, he finds himself in his first serious relationship with the vibrant and beautiful Amy Peterson. If new love wasn’t complicated enough, Charley is also failing Trigonometry. Late one night while cramming for a test Charley spies something suspicious in the yard next door, two men carrying what appears to be a coffin. What’s going on in the old Victorian House and who are Charley’s new neighbors?

Tom Holland returns to the world of Fright Night along with A. Jack Ulrich to lay the groundwork for a brand new trilogy!(StoryGraph)


Gotta love a written reboot of a pop-culture 80’s phenomenon that never quite made the sequels circuit, like its horror movie brethren–due to tragic events. It was eventually rebooted. Recently, the original writer and director wrote this new novelization based on the screenplay, intending to turn it into a trilogy (how original).

StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Movie Novelization by Tim Lebbon

Read the official novelization to get the full story of this terrifying movie!

From Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Drew Goddard, writer of the monster movie phenomenon Cloverfield, comes the horror film to end all horror films.

The details of the plot are a closely guarded secret, though Joss himself has described it as “a straight-up, balls-out, really terrifying horror movie,” adding, it is not just a slasher in the woods. It’s a little more complicated than that… (StoryGraph)


If you’re a Cabin in the Woods fan, you love the tropes, you love the detail. And this book may just deliver. What was in the elevator? Is there backstory behind the men in the room? What the hell was actually happening in Japan? Perhaps this one will scratch that itch!

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read The Cabin in the Woods: The Official Movie Novelization by Tim Lebbon. Discussion starts on August 28, and you can read along by joining the Discord!

*The HOWLS affiliate storefront pays a 10% commission to HOWL Society and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores

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