Worst butchery in turning book into movie?

I’d have to nominate “First Blood” (Rambo I), in the book a psychotic drifter who’s killed at the end.

Also, an outstanding Golden Age SF short story “The Cold Equations”, which morally justified the killing of an innocent young girl to save thousands (because of the inarguable laws of physics and fuel consumption), was turned into a wacky governemtal conspiracy movie so the girl could live. The whole point of the story was destroyed.


I don’t think I can stomach another discussion of Starship Troopers

Dune. Period. End of Statement.

Joyce Carol Oates’ entertaining Foxfire was turned into an dreadful pseudo-uber grrrl teen-flick, updated to the 90s (the book took place in the 50s) with the requisite crappy all-female rock band soundtrack (where was Le Tigre when you needed them?). The only asset of this crapfest was seeing a (comparitively) curvy Angelina Jolie peel off her t-shirt.

In Rising Sun, they changed the person who actually committed the murder.

Grok and astro picked the two I’d’ve chosen first.

I’d also like throw in a TV nominee, with the animated adaptation of the children’s book Bunnicula, which among other things made (now I’m going to spoil things here)

…the title character, a little cute bunny rabbit, into a true vampire rabbit that was capable of telekinesis. Picked up a couple of marauding wolves and put them into vegetable juicing vats for safekeeping. Not a bit of it happened in the book, where the little bunny was just a hungry little thing that could only suck the juice out of veggies because it couldn’t quite handle solid food.

made my little pre-teen mind unhappy, let me tell you.

I was going to mention Starship Troopers but I don’t want to make Grok hurl. So I’ll add two other science fiction stories, Robert Silverberg’s Amanda and the Alien and George R.R. Martin’s Sandkings, that were totally deformed on film because neither original had a likable lead character. And how could Hollywood producers make a movie without a hero to root for?

The 1930 version of Moby Dick, starring John Barrymore. Ahab kills Moby Dick and sails back home to his fiance. It goes without saying that the movie guts the entire premise of the book.

If I didn’t know that the movie the Running Man was based on the Richard Bachman (Steven King) book, I never would have guessed. In all fairness, I think the movie was better than the book. Maybe it’s good butchery?

hey, yojimboguy, where might one find a link to this interesting story “the cold equations”, or what book to find it in? i’d like to know more about it…

I admire your choice of words in describing a fish story… yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s not a fish.

It was written by John W. Campbell(sp?), the guy the SF award is named for. It’s about a rescue mission with a stowaway. It was written in the 30’s, I think, and I’ve seen it in more than one collection of short stories. It’s pretty brief, I’m sure less than 50 pages, though I haven’t read it since college. But it made a HUGE impression on me at the time.

i just found a copy online; shoulda googled BEFORE posting.
but i must say…


Oh, er… No pun intended. How about “It goes without saying that the movie removes all the spermaceti from the head of the entire premise of the book.”?

i just googled, and am I embarassed. Right story, wrong author and date. Tom Godwin, 1954, Campbell Award winner.

Oh, well, if I remembered the 70’s, I wouldn’t really have been a part of it.

The Prince of Tides. I absolutely loved the book, so I figured that the movie might be good too. I was very, very wrong. Watching Barbra Streisand’s butchering of a truly great story was almost unbearable.

Simon Birch yet? Y’know, the abomination based on A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.

It has the neat feature of being one of the worst films of the 90s based on one of the best novels of the 90s.

Any discussion of books turned into cinematic travesties should begin with “Bonfire of the Vanities”.

Where to begin?

Nice-guy Tom Hanks cast as the arrogant Wall Street WASP Sherman McCoy?

Bruce Willis as the British tabloid journalist? (At least they dropped his nationality in the movie.)

Brian De Palma as the director of a satiric social comedy?

The film adaptation of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues made the Baby Jesus cry.

Well it made me pretty sad. I spent two whole bucks renting that one. I guess Tom Robbins doesn’t translate well to the big screen.

Well, I was going to mention the profoundly disappointing Simon Birch, but I see that I’ve been beaten to it. BTW, Montfort, A Prayer for Owen Meany was published in 1989, so it isn’t one of the best books of the 90s. I do believe however that it will come to be regarded as one of the best American books of the 20th century.

To throw in a book title that hasn’t been mentioned yet, I’ll nominate Memoirs of an Invisible Man, based on the novel of the same name by H.F. Saint.

The book is wonderful, detailed, and complex. The movie is a Chevy Chase/Daryl Hannah vehicle. In addition to utterly changing the ending, they changed the character of Jenkins (the “villain” of the story) radically.

I wanted to set fire to the movie screen when the ending played out. The only time I can think of being more angry at the last act of a movie was when I saw Pay It Forward, which was also based on a book. I haven’t read the book for that one, though, so I have no idea if the ending was changed from that one. I’m guessing “yes.”