As The Walking Dead and 30 Days of Night have shown, horror comics are a genre that’s oozing with potential for TV and movie adaptations. Sure, there have been a lot more misses than hits (1982’s Swamp Thing and the recent Ghost Rider flicks, for instance), but that’s only because there wasn’t as much respect for the source material as the successes. It’s all a matter of picking the right material and sticking to it, much like Tales from the Crypt did in its heyday. Here are four titles we think would make for brilliant adaptations, on both big and small screens:
Penned by Batman scribe Scott Snyder, Severed is a classic tale of a boy in search of his father. He meets a traveling salesman along the way, and discovers that there’s a lot more to his new companion than he expected – sharp teeth, homicidal tendencies, and a penchant for eating children.
While there’s plenty potential for blood and gore in the series, a movie or TV adaptation would work best if it stuck to the nuances of the comic itself. It’s the psychological horror of the book, hinging on a sense of demonic dread, that keeps its readers up at night.
More eerie and subdued than straight-out horrifying, Black Hole by Charles Burns is an allegory for the fear caused by the AIDS outbreak in the 1980s. Instead of a withering immune system, however, victims of the book’s STD suffered from grotesque, sometimes animalistic mutations. While the disease might not have made people easy to look at, the actual fear comes from the victims’ point of view, living in a world where one night of pleasure can lead to a lifetime of ostracism.
There’s no doubt that Black Hole would make for a fascinating movie, and it has enough substance to be taken seriously by critics. In the end, the story proves that there’s nothing scarier than how we can treat other human beings.
Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash is a violently satisfying romp that expands on the well-known “Final Girl” horror trope. The book’s protagonist, Cassie Hack, suffers a high school-age trauma at the hands of her own mother, a serial killer known as the Lunch Lady, who would kill children and serve their meat in the cafeteria. Instead of succumbing to the terror, she trains herself to kill serials killers, or “slashers”.
It’s a little like Dexter in this regard, but it also plays with slasher film tropes like The Cabin in the Woods did. Cassie’s origin story alone would make for an intriguing pilot, and there have been enough story arcs in its run to warrant an ongoing series. There were plans to make a movie, but as of this interview from back in April 2013, the project’s sadly in development hell.
Locke & Key
Speaking of projects in development hell, few have had fans on the edges of their seats as much as Joe Hill’s Locke & Key. The story revolves around a family that moves back into their old ancestral home after the murder of their father. The Locke kids soon discover that the house contains keys with strange powers, such as bringing shadows to life and altering memories. A sinister being seeks the key to the Black Door, behind which lies unspeakable horror.
With talent like Hill’s, it was only inevitable that Locke & Key would be considered for an adaptation. A pilot was actually shot and screened at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, where it was met with excellent reception. Unfortunately, not much happened after that screening. Universal eventually picked up the film rights in 2013, so there’s still a chance of the show being made.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are a lot of other titles worthy of being brought to life. Some of them are on their way, such as Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark adaptation, while others just need more attention, like the superb Echoes by Joshua Fialkov. If we missed any of your favorite horror comics, let us know in the comments!