Like other scary story mythologies, The Nightmare Room is a good example of the difference between how books and TV/film age over time. In other words, the literary trilogy engages the imagination in a way that seems to translate through exposure to modern media forms. Movies and TV series also have appeal, but for those who grew up with it, it’s more nostalgia than fear. Sure, there are exceptions. Psycho, The Exorcist, and The Shining have all withstood the test of time, but these seem like the exceptions that prove the rule. And even so, there’s some question how scary these iconic movies come off to today’s younger, effects-driven generation….
Part of the reason that books endure the test of time is the inherent way they seem to stick with you. Sure, if you go to the last showing of a scary movie or stay up late binge-watching and then try to sleep in your creepy basement, the horror in digital media can give you the hee-bee-gee-bees for a couple days at least. But the way that a scary book can linger and haunt you seems qualitatively different. Plus, too much of the fear in cinema comes from unexpected sounds and images, surprise more than haunting, for example. We could also make the point that, to our personal preference, too much of the horror genre in film and TV has become straight gore.
We’re not literary snobs at The Nightmare Room, or at least, we don’t try to be. Psycho is a better movie than book in our estimation. We might say the same thing about Stand by Me (Stephen King vs. Rob Reiner, how could you go wrong?). Still, we see lists of a dozen or more scary movies that are better than the books that just leave us baffled.
What about you? Do you have favorite examples or long-standing arguments with your friends about which is better: The book or the movie? Do you have an unconventional opinion about a scary book or movie that’s better than its counterpart? Write to us and let us know.