Worst Fiction To Film Adaptations: A Top Ten List

Occasionally, films are better than the fiction they are based on. More commonly, the books are better. This top ten list, the opposite of last week’s, is where the novels are significantly better than the movies they were made into. The list is, of course, limited to the books that I’ve read. And certainly there are more than just ten that could make this list, so feel free to suggest a few extra.

Is Neil Gaiman right about drive in movie theaters?

10. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. It’s not that it’s a bad movie exactly (it does a nice job depicting the ’80’s), it just missed the point of the book. I also don’t like when things are moralized beyond recognition.

9. The Shining by Stephen King. It just goes to show you that even a good movie can be a bad adaptation.

8. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (the 2007 adaptation). Were vampires passé by 2007? No…True Blood didn’t start until 2008, so what was wrong with the source material? And the ending? Naturally there will be a sequel, aptly titled I am Legend 2, at least there will be no novel to butcher.

7. Beowulf. Robert Zemeckis claimed “nothing about the original poem appealed to me”. Clearly.

6. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. I’m not a huge Henry Miller fan, but I thought Tropic of Cancer was notable. The film didn’t have anything worth noting. Henry Miller reportedly liked it, which might explain my opinion of Henry Miller.

5. Dreamcatcher by Stephen King. The problem lies in the fact that Dreamcatcher isn’t a good book to begin with. Stephen King and aliens don’t mix. So bad book = worse movie. You’d never guess I am a mathematical genius based on the previous sentence. True statement.

4. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I’ve made fun of this one before. Nic Cage with a southern accent is bad, but Nic Cage with an Italian accent is just not acceptable on any level. However, I did appreciate it’s dual purpose: advertisement for Greek tourism.

3. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson. Apparently not being Hunter S. Thompson precludes you from making a film that Hunter S. Thompson would appreciate, just ask Bruce Robinson. Did you know HST had his ashes scattered, in Aspen, Colorado (where I currently am), to a Bob Dylan song?

2. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. This one’s personal. I watched this with a guy who, after the film ended, turns to me and says ‘If you could look like someone else, I’d want you to look like Sienna Miller’. Um, thanks? Disregarding the unpleasant association, the film did not resemble the fantastic novel by Michael Chabon and that is a shame.

1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Please let me know if you found this to be any good. Plus, Demi Moore’s accent was something else.Though I think you could make an entire top ten list of movies that were ruined by awkward accents…

Honorable mention: Bag of Bones by Stephen King (miniseries). Instead of a kind, blond, 40-ish man they cast a crotchety, old Pierce Brosnan with an attitude problem. I was properly horrified.

Image found on Just B’s Blog.

19 thoughts on “Worst Fiction To Film Adaptations: A Top Ten List

  1. Oh YES. The Rum Diary (movie) was appalling. Did you know that HST didn’t just have his ashes scattered but shot out of a canon?
    Also, I completely agree with you on The Shining. The book was fantastic but the movie was so very dull and left out so many good parts. Especially the hedge creatures. I wanted some hedge creatures, dammit.


    1. I did know that, it was orchestrated by Johnny Depp (which is kind of excellent). There was one song other than Tambourine Man played, but I’m drawing a blank at the moment.

      I didn’t like the changed end of The Shining either…


      1. That is kind of excellent. 🙂
        I didn’t like the ending change either. It’s kind of funny to hear people talk about Doctor Sleep and how they hope that Dan(ny) returns to The Overlook. Which basically means to me that they’ve only watched the movie. Since it’s not exactly possible per the book ending.


  2. Haven’t read any of these – except The Shining and I have yet to see the flick. I have attempted the reading of The Tropic of Cancer. But you are telling me not to attempt the movie, right? ok.


    1. Oh, yea. I forgot I read The Scarlet Letter. And must have seen the movie but it must also have been forgettable because I don’t remember it at all.


  3. Totally agreed about The Shining. I saw the movie years before I read the book…then I read the book and said, “WTF was that movie all about?”


  4. The only one of these I have seen is the Scarlet Letter and it did stink..I think Demi Moore even said that it didn’t matter that they changed the book because ‘no one reads the book anyway’ or something gross along those lines!


  5. Did you know that Hunter S Thompson swallowed his shotgun while his boys were in the house? Helluva final memory of your dad.

    Can you provide a mathematical proof that you’re a mathematical genius? Will it involve cutting your hair like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting?

    Capt Corelli’s Mandolin is hilarious. LOVE Nic Cage.


    1. I did not know the circumstances surrounding HST’s death (aside from cause), only the ceremony.

      No I cannot provide a proof of my mathematical genius, would you accept standardized test results as a sine? I could provide a real analysis of my ability. As to the hair, it’s possible, but the probability is low. However, my resemblance to Sienna Miller might increase (think Factory Girl), so something to consider.

      Happy Pi day. Though I believe you can’t celebrate it until July 22 (or 22 July).


      1. True but on the plus side, Pi day for us lasts for 3.142 days.

        I would like to formally apologise, without reservation, for that last comment.


      2. Albert Einstein, born March 14. So 3.14 wins, yes?

        Suggesting that anyone replicate Matt Damon’s haircut is reason for an apology. For anything else, one is not necessary.

        A proof for you: (-a)(-b)=(-1*a)(-1*b). Two negatives equal a positive.

        (I’d greatly appreciate it if you did not hold me to the accuracy of that, though I believe it proves (-a)(-b)=ab.)


  6. 3.14

    Well played, madam, well played.

    I can see you as the corrupting aunt figure ‘Auntie Rory, mum says 2 wrongs don’t make a right.’
    ‘Well actually, (-a)(-b)=(-1*a)(-1*b).’


    1. That is something I might actually be good at, it’s a shame it’ll take so long to happen (hopefully – my brother is 18). Currently he thinks I’m boring and strict, obviously he doesn’t know what I’m capable of, yet.


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