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Sure the books are almost always better than the movie, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from adapting genre fiction. So with that in mind, we asked our esteemed panel…
Q: What is the best movie adapted from SF/F/H fiction? The worst? Why did they succeed or fail?
This is what they said…
Lisa Morton is an award-winning screenwriter, novelist, and Halloween expert whose most recent books are the novels Malediction
and Netherworld: Book One of the Chronicles of Diana Furnaval
; forthcoming is a tie-in novel to the Stephen Jones-edited anthology series Zombie Apocalypse: Washington Deceased
, and a non-fiction history of ghosts. Lisa lives in North Hollywood, California, and online at www.lisamorton.com
The best for me is The Exorcist. Because the screenplay adaptation is by the original novelist, it hews closely to the book and it never gives into either backing down from the book’s most controversial scenes nor inflating them. I’d also suggest that director William Friedkin chose the perfect style to compliment William Peter Blatty’s story — he eschewed the Gothic trappings that had been common in horror films up to that point, and instead took a documentary approach to the material, treating it in a dramatic and very realistic fashion.
For my worst, I’m going to choose the film version of Alan Moore’s brilliant Watchmen, because I’ve never seen another adaptation that so completely inverted the intent of its source material. Moore’s original graphic novel is a deconstruction of superheroes, but the film is a ludicrous celebration. My favorite example is a scene in which the very disturbed character of Rorschach crashes through an upper-floor window and falls into a ring of police. In the graphic novel, it takes three small panels to show Rorschach crashing through the window and landing, where he’s stunned and easily beaten down; in the movie, he falls forever in slow-motion and then fights off the cops successfully for some time before being overwhelmed. The entire movie mythologizes these characters where Moore’s intention was to show them as psychologically damaged. I was so furious after seeing that movie that I wanted to punch the projectionist.