There are countless amazingly dark and twisted science fiction and fantasy novels out there, but that doesn’t mean they’ll make a good fit to be made into a movie. You know what we mean; when a movie or TV series doesn’t even remotely match what you pictured in your head? A lot of the time it’s simply because today’s technology can’t recreate the unseen elements the same way the written word and our own imaginations can.
And then, of course, there are some books that just shouldn’t be adapted because they’re too creepy. If they were a film they’d get an R rating, as well as a lot of criticism for going to the dark places they do. Here are some frightening examples.
10 The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks is a classic, and there’s a good chance that no adaptation will ever do justice to this novel. And if it did…well, we wouldn’t be sleeping ever again after seeing it. It’s the details and tone of this novel that would be impossible to capture in film.
The novel fits in well with the horror genre, but it’s also a fascinating study into a very unusual mind. Where morals and ethics have altered so completely as to be alien. Frank is a disturbing main perspective for The Wasp Factory, a protagonist always finding new and disturbing ways to vent his frustrations on the world.
9 Miserere by Teresa Frohock
Miserere is another novel that would never be suited for an adaptation. In this case, it seems likely that the Hollywood treatment would sensationalize and focus on the wrong elements on this dark and eerie tale.
Miserere is full or exorcists, covenants, fallen angels, and so much more. This is the tale of love and betrayal, promises and deception. It all revolves around Lucian, his betrayed lover, and his doomed sister.
8 Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey is terrifying in ways unlike the rest of the novels on this list. It’s set in the far future, and many of the elements are especially twisted because of the human elements in play. Here we see humanity at a point where off-world colonies are possible. Unfortunately, this isn’t a tale of a utopian paradise. Instead, when a forgotten mining ship is found, the characters are plunged into chaos. And worst of all – they know full well that hundreds of people will die if they don’t handle things properly.
It’s chilling to think of humanity having gone so far, and yet have changed so little. Combine that with some heavier science fiction element, and a general tone of horror, and you’ve got a tale that will leave readers thrilled. Corey’s exposition carries this plot into a whole new realm – and that will never translate into film.
7 I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is actually a collection of stories written by Harlan Ellison, and all of them are about as disturbing as the title makes them sound. This collection is a classic, and has been published twice already, which should tell fans something. The book contains seven stories in total; I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Big Sam Was My Friend, Eyes of Dust, World of the Myth, Loneyache, Delusion for Dragonslayer, and Pretty Magpie Moneyeyes.
Ellison’s work defies categorization – something he himself was very proud of. It also defies adaptations. It’s hard to picture any one of his stories being turned into a film or series and having justice done to them in the process.
6 The Cipher by Kathe Koja
The Cipher is a stunningly written novel by Kathe Koja. The novel follows Nicholas and his growing obsession with a mysterious black hole in the storage room of his video store.
Nicholas’ obsession spurs him forward in this dark and intricately written tale. His journey is one that doesn’t have or need answers, and instead focuses on the way the story unfolds. It’s not the sort of storytelling that adapts well, which is for the best, given how much this one would creep viewers out.
5 Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Cherie Priest is well-known for her ability to write twisted tales that dig into her reader’s souls. Boneshaker is no exception. Boneshaker is set during the time of the Civil War, when the gold craze was gripping the Pacific Northwest. As a result, Dr. Blue tried to create something to help with the mining…but it only left utter devastation in its wake.
Now it’s just Dr. Blue’s widow and son left to tell the tale. His son is driven to retell what happened…and his journey to learn and do so is a dark and disturbing one indeed. Full of science fiction elements with a healthy dose of the undead, Boneshaker is not a novel easily adapted.
4 Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Wilder Girls is the debut novel of Rory Power, but she’s already proven to have a voice for twisted fiction. The Raxter School for Girls had been just an ordinary boarding school – before it became exposed to some strange contagion. Now the school is in forced isolation, with the students facing hideous mutations… and worse.
Wilder Girls is a dark and deeply disturbing novel, with sub-plots about friendship, love, loyalty, and betrayal. It’s unlikely that we’d ever see justice done to such a complex plot in film. The more graphic elements in this novel were described perfectly on paper – but would be exceedingly twisted and disturbing if portrayed on screen in detail.
3 Infected by Scott Sigler
Infected is pure nightmare fuel – using Cronenberg horror to bring the plot to all new heights. It’s natural for humanity to fear disease, and even parasites to an extent. But what about something that would alter the personality traits of each human it infects?
Infected hits close to home for many, and is such a delicate and intricate horror. If adapted correctly, it would terrorize fans. If done poorly, it would make fans cry for entirely different reasons.
2 Here There Are Monsters by Amelina Berube
Here There Are Monsters is a blend between The Blair Witch Project and Imaginary Girls. It tells the tales of sisterhood and everything that comes with it. The good and the bad. Unfortunately for these sisters, it’s also the tale of something much more sinister lurking in the woods nearby.
This novel hasn’t hit the shelves yet – but is already proving to be as dark and unnerving as the cover itself indicates. Advanced reviews are promising a twisted tale. While this novel could probably be adapted, the tone will never carry over and we might all lose a little bit more sleep for it.
1 Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich
Teeth in the Mist is a dark retelling of Faust, and has been consistently described as dark and disturbing. There are many graphic moments that occur in the course of this telling – many that would probably not be best suited for television or theaters, to put it mildly.
This novel carries through several points in time, connecting three women and the one man who may be watching them all. The tone alone will make you shudder; the content will make you scream.
NEXT: 10 Classic Science Fiction Novels That Need A Film Adaptation