MIND MELD: The Best & Worst Genre Movie Adaptations

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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
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.

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MIND MELD: The Scary Stories That Made Us Lose Sleep

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

It’s Halloween time and what better way to celebrate than with a terrifying tale? So we asked our panelists the following question:

Q: What was the last horror novel that kept you awake at night?

Here’s what they said…
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THE CRAFT: Mercedes M. Yardley on Writing Horror

The Craft is a column that explores the writing process, each month focusing on a different aspect of the craft. This month I asked Mercedes M. Yardley, the author of Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love and Beautiful Sorrows, about writing horror. Here’s what she had to say…

James Aquilone: What is the surest way of scaring the bejesus out of a reader?

Mercedes M. Yardley: I think the surest way to scare the reader is to write something that scares yourself. If you’re writing with that sense of terror, the reader will pick up on it. I’m scared of losing my children. I’m scared of being cut with knives. These are themes that show up in my work, and even if you aren’t afraid of being sliced and diced like I am, hopefully you’ll feel that sense of foreboding because I do.

We’re all afraid. We’re all human animals, and fear is hardwired into our genes. As an author, exploit that.
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