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13 Horror Movies That Could Be Great TV Shows

We have some ideas for small-screen adaptations

Liam Mathews

Horror adaptations have taken off on TV in the past few years. Every few months sees the release of a horror series based on a movie. There have been a bunch of classic movies turned into TV shows, like Scream and The Exorcist, and some which are not quite as classic, like From Dusk Till Dawn and Wolf Creek. There's no real rhyme or reason to what horror movie gets an adaptation beyond having a big enough world and/or strong enough characters to sustain several more hours of storyline than a movie. And now that The Haunting of Hill House has set a new gold standard for serialized horror drama on TV, the possibilities for creativity and ambition in adaptation seem even more open.

We've rounded up 13 movies that we think would translate well to TV. There are old classics and modern hits. There are even some bad movies that could be done better! The only criterion is that the films haven't been TV series before, which is why Rosemary's Baby isn't on the list.

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1. 28 Days Later
It's kinda surprising that the fast zombies movie hasn't already been adapted into a TV show. With The Walking Dead shambling off into irrelevance, some enterprising streaming service could steal its lunch (of braaaains) and reinvigorate the TV zombie genre like Danny Boyle and Alex Garland did for zombie movies in 2003. There are even a couple of 28 Days Later comics to use as source material to help build out the world.

David Naughton, An American Werewolf in London

David Naughton, An American Werewolf in London

Sunset Boulevard, Corbis via Getty Images

2. An American Werewolf in London
This classic horror flick has a simple plot that could easily be expanded to fit a TV series format: A werewolf tries to keep his murderous transformations secret from his girlfriend and the police. It's like The Americans with a werewolf. There's a movie remake in the works from director John Landis' son Max, but executive producer Robert Kirkman should toss that and do it as a show as part of his Amazon deal. Maybe they could bring the BBC in as a partner and really British it up.

3. Final Destination
The most 2000s horror franchise could be rebooted as an anthology series where each season covers the survivors of a different catastrophe as Death catches up with them. It would basically just be a Final Destination movie blown up over ten hours. Cheap dumb fun.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Archive Photos, Getty Images

People love Gizmo the mogwai! That's enough of a reason to reboot this horror comedy for a new audience. I mean, by not doing a Gremlins movie since 1990, Warner Bros. and Amblin are leaving merchandising money on the table. This adaptation would have to be an entirely new story to build a sustainable Gremlins world, but as long as it obeys the great Gremlins rules -- don't expose a mogwai to bright light, don't let it get wet and don't feed it after midnight -- it should work out just fine.

5. Halloween
Now that horror producer extraordinaire Blumhouse has the rights and the new revival is a monster hit, we might be in for a reinvigorated Halloween franchise. One way to keep the Halloween party going is by making the anthology series that John Carpenter envisioned but that never came to fruition. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was a standalone movie that didn't have Michael Myers and was meant to turn the franchise into an anthology series telling different stories that occurred on Halloween. Hulu and Blumhouse have a holiday-themed horror anthology called Into the Dark that isn't very good, so this could (and maybe should) replace that.

6.Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Hollywood could keep retelling this story every 15-20 years until America ends. There have been four versions of Body Snatchers already, including the 1956 original, and there's currently a fifth in the works, but there's never been a TV series. It would be simple enough to adapt, though. Make the protagonists teenagers and add a social media satire twist (the Pod People are controlled by their phones!) and you've got a pretty solid young adult spooker.

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7. Martin
George Romero's 1978 classic about a man who may or may not be a vampire (but certainly acts like one) has such an open-ended, character-driven premise that it could function almost like a Dexter knockoff as Martin feeds on victims, argues with his family and explores his own twisted psyche. A network could squeeze seven seasons out of Martin as easily as Martin squeezes the blood out of peoples' necks. They may have to change the title, though. There was already a show called Martin, and this one would be very different.

8. Maximum Overdrive
The demand for Stephen King adaptations has never been higher, and this comedy-horror movie is a distressed asset in the King portfolio just waiting for the right investor to see its potential. It's the only movie King ever directed, and it's pretty bad, but the premise -- a comet passing by Earth turns mechanical objects murderous -- is enough for a fun miniseries. This could be a good one for someone like Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to produce.

9. Needful Things
Though Needful Things' thunder has been kind of stolen by Castle Rock, which incorporates some elements of the 1991 novel, it remains one of King's most prominent novels but has only resulted in one sucky movie adaptation. The book's massive size makes it more suited to a miniseries than a movie, and future seasons could follow demonic knick-knack salesman Leland Gaunt as he sets up shop in different locations.

​Max Schrek, Nosferatu

Max Schrek, Nosferatu

ullstein bild Dtl., ullstein bild via Getty Images

10. Nosferatu
The other, scarier Dracula could be a great fit for an ambitious TV director with a strong visual sensibility looking to make an old story their own. Nosferatu, the pestilential take on Bram Stoker's vampire devised by F.W. Murnau in 1922, has not been as done to death as Dracula and is scarier to boot. If Netflix is going to do a Dracula miniseries, a rival streaming service should counter with a Nosferatu miniseries.

11. Paranormal Activity
These movies were so profitable that it seems unlikely that Blumhouse will let the franchise lay dormant for too long. It might be sustainable to reboot it as a show about ghost hunters who deal with a new demon every season or episode. The series would be like another other successful horror franchise, The Conjuring, but with Paranormal Activity's signature found footage conceit.

12. The Thing
John Carpenter's 1982 survival horror classic is another one that wouldn't have to changed much, just expanded. We'd get to know the scientists in the Antarctic base better before the alien starts ripping them up. The sense of dread could be extraordinary. It would be like The Terror, but bloodier.

13. Thirst
Park Chan-wook's 2009 movie about a priest who slowly transforms into a vampire and the woman who loves him is as much a character drama about ethics and temptation as it is a sexy, bloody vampire movie, and with a few tweaks it could be sustainable as an ongoing series. If An American Werewolf in London would be The Americans with a werewolf, this would be Breaking Badwith vampires and HBO-style sex.



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