MIND MELD: The Best & Worst Genre Movie Adaptations

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

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
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.

Read the rest of this entry

Gillian Philip was born in Glasgow, lived for twelve years in Barbados, and now lives in the north of Scotland with her husband, twin children, three dogs, two sociopathic cats, a slayer hamster, three chickens, and a lot of nervous fish. Her latest novel is Bloodstone. Visit Gillian at her website GillianPhilip.com, on Twitter as @Gillian_Philip, and on Facebook.

The Geek Strikes Back, and also Forward

by Gillian Philip

I remember the first time I saw Star Wars. Well, I sort of do. In my memory, it was a midnight showing at the Odeon, Aberdeen, and I was AWOL against my parents’ orders. In my memory, we did not ‘go to the movies’ that night; we stalked there in a single-minded horde, heads down against the Scottish rain, stubborn and indefatigable as a mob of zombies out of Shaun of the Dead.

It probably wasn’t a bit like that. It was probably the 7pm showing and we probably nipped over from the chip shop, but that’s my myth and I’m hanging on to it.
Read the rest of this entry