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Four More Christopher Pike Books Ripe For TV Adaptations

The king of gruesome teen horror is finally getting his due with Mike Flanagan's The Midnight Club. Here's what should come next.
  • When Netflix premieres Mike Flanagan's new horror series The Midnight Club this October, it won't just be delivering scares. It'll be righting a terrible injustice.

    This show is the first major screen adaptation of a novel by Christopher Pike, and for anyone who read his books under the covers when they were in seventh grade, it's long overdue. Because while R.L. Stine has historically been Hollywood's YA horror writer of choice, there are many Gen X and Millenial readers (this writer included) who will always be Team Pike.

    For one thing, Christopher Pike's books are much more grown up than Stine's. They have gore, cursing, and (most importantly to a 12 year-old) lots of sex.

    Pike has an inherent understanding of how terrifying it is to be an adolescent, and his books translate the various indignities of the teen years into sensationalistic tales of murder, cult violence, supernatural possession, and more. The writing may not be as elegant as, say, Stephen King's, but the plots move at lightning speed and the page counts are never too high. Speaking from experience, a committed teen can burn through a Christopher Pike mystery in a single night without ever letting his parents know he's reading something they would abosolutely forbid.

    All these factors make Pike's oeuvre an obvious treasure trove for TV.

    Take The Midnight Club, which is based on Pike's 1994 novel: It's about a group of terminally ill high schoolers who gather every night at their hospital to tell scary stories. Naturally, that leads to real-life supernatural consequences. It's a story that's made for binge watching.

    But that's just the beginning. Now that The Midnight Club is getting the ball rolling, here are four more Christopher Pike novels that need to be adapted for TV:

    1. Chain Letter

    Written in 1986, this book starts with a group of teens receiving letters from someone called "The Caretaker," who knows about a terrible crime they were part of the year before. The letters keep coming, demanding that each of the kids do increasingly horrible things. Those who refuse to comply will be killed. Will they find out who's stalking them before it's too late?

    This story has obvious shades of I Know What You Did Last Summer, which was originally published by Lois Duncan in the 70s, but that's good. It's a proven formula! A modern miniseries could take the story in one of two directions: Either make it an 80s period piece, when chain letters were still a thing, or make it a contemporary story that uses text messages instead of physical pieces of mail.

    2. Monster

    Angela is the new girl in her small lakeside town, so she's grateful to be invited to a house party full of popular older kids from her school. But the evening goes haywire when her friend Mary kills some of the juniors and seniors, claiming they're monsters. Everyone thinks Mary is crazy, but when Angela starts dating the quarterback of the football team, she suspects something sinister is going on.

    Monster is considered one of Pike's best books, largely because it captures the adolescent struggle of trying to fit in while also doing what you know is right. Plus, the plot is just bonkers, with a final act that's so bloody it makes the Saw movies seem tame. Because of that, a TV adaptation might work better among college kids, but this story would certainly translate to a tiny liberal arts school.

    3. Die Softly

    A riff on movies like Rear Window and Blow-Up, this one follows a teenage boy named Herb Trasker, who agrees to take incriminating photos of the girls in his high school who bullied his friend Sammie. Soon enough, one of the mean girls dies, and when Herb develops the pictures he took of her in the gym shower, he sees a menacing figure staring at her in the background. But who is it, and whom will they terrorize next?

    It may have been written 1991, but with themes that touch on bullying and revenge porn, this story may be more relevent today than ever. And updating it to use modern technology could make it even more tense. (i.e., instant photographs mean immediate awareness that someone's in danger.) This is also one of the rare Christopher Pike books with a male protagonist. An adaptation would stand out in a horror landscape that typically features female leads.

    4. Remember Me

    After she's murdered, high schooler Shari Cooper's ghost realizes she needs to figure out who killed her before someone else gets hurt.

    Remember Me is the crown jewel of Christopher Pike's output. On one hand, the murder mystery is intriciate and satisfying, and on the other, Shari's growth as she's forced to consider her life on earth is substantial and sometimes even moving. (The novel The Lovely Bones, which was released years later, seems to owe this book a debt.)

    As a TV show, this one would probably work best as a lyrical drama like Station Eleven or The Leftovers, fusing the mystery plot with more lyrical meditations on the afterlife. Considering that he did something similar with Midnight Mass, Mike Flanagan himself may be the perfect person to make this happen. Here's hoping he stays in the Christopher Pike universe.

    The Midnight Club premieres October 7 on Netflix.

    Mark Blankenship is Primetimer's Reviews Editor. Tweet him at @IAmBlankenship.

    TOPICS: The Midnight Club, Netflix, Christopher Pike, Mike Flanagan, R.L. Stine