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5 Horror Authors Who Hated the Movie Adaptations of Their Novels


Written by: Matt Molgaard

Authors see their novels transferred to film all the time. And authors find themselves pissed off with the flicks all the time. It happens, because it’s hard as hell to take an intricate, highly detailed story that may require up to 1,000 words to tell, and make turn that into a 90-120 minute movie. It’s not easy. Major, major cuts are going to be made. Adjustments will be implemented to accommodate technology. Incredibly faithful film adaptations are rare, and that’s not about to change. Neither is the fact that authors will continue to get mad as all hell when they see their story transformed into what they perceive as an abomination.

Here’s a couple of those authors who found themselves pretty ticked off after seeing their story tweaked in ways they just didn’t approve of.

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Stephen King – The Shining: We all know the story behind this one: Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick had two somewhat different visions of this story. They didn’t exactly hit off right away, and eventually, the two stood on opposite sides of the fence in regards to The Shining. King didn’t dig it, and felt the casting and cuts had done a fair job of chewing up his novel. It’s a good thing the movie still rocks, regardless of differentiating points.

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Anne Rice – Queen of the Damned: When an author takes to the social media world and pans the hell out of their very own work (well, kind of), you know something is misaligned in the universe. While Anne Rice didn’t initially care for the casting of Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire, she flat out despised the transfer of Queen of the Damned. Rice was so perturbed by this flick she claimed it, “hurt her to see her work mutilated.”

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Richard Matheson – I Am Legend: This amazing novel has made its way to the big screen on a few occasions. That’s good news for the pocket book, but it didn’t sit well on the shoulders of Richard Matheson, because – for some odd reason – no one can seem to get the transfer right. I don’t think any adaptation has proven a total and complete failure, but they’re all so distanced from the astounding quality of the novel that it’s ridiculous.

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Dean Koontz – Hideaway: It’s been reported that “Koontz hates the movie [Hideaway] so much he tried to force TriStar to remove his name from the credits.” That’s just despicable. And to be honest, I’m completely out of the thought process and discussion on this one because a, the film was decent at best, with Jeff Goldblum’s performance being the only true savior, and b, I can’t remember a fraction of the novel. I think Dean might have been walking the proper path on this one.

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Clive Barker – Rawhead Rex: It’s no secret that Clive Barker reviled the laughable film transference of Rawhead Rex. The movie was abnormally terrible, completely missing the chaos of the source material, and as Barker himself put it Rex looked like a “9 ft tall phallus with teeth”. That is most certainly not a compliment. But no matter how you slice it, Clive was spot on in that assessment, and this movie is hilarious in the worst way possible.

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About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

11 Comments on 5 Horror Authors Who Hated the Movie Adaptations of Their Novels

  1. Funny before I read this my mind went straight to Hideaway ! Great book so/so movie !

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  2. Mike Robinson // February 21, 2014 at 6:57 am // Reply

    Those glaring omissions that stick out to me in the “I Am Legend” film adaptation(s) include, firstly, the eerie “automaton” nature of the vampires, how they didn’t stagger dumbly around or race slobbering from one ragged mouthful to the next, but were instead outwardly human. I recall specifically the neighbor who would come over every night at the same time, without fail, and ask if Rob wanted to come out. And secondly, the novel’s meticulous scientific framework regarding the beasties’ physiology, the biochemical explanations (fabricated as they may be) of why garlic or crosses affect them. I can see why more action-oriented producers might steer clear of these features, but for me they were what made the novel so unique.

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    • I couldn’t agree more. The strange level of humanity in the vamps always struck me as REALLY unique, in particular. To be fair though – even though the Will Smith rendition in particular was pretty heavily flawed – I fell in love with Will’s work. That was what I would label an EXCELLENT performance.

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  3. I believe Kubrick also regretted the shining, but I agree its a great film. One of the few Stephen king related things I enjoy.

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  4. I still have yet to read I Am Legend.
    Because of that, I love that movie. Now I’m afraid to read the book.

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  5. The Shining is such a point of debate. People either love the book or the movie. I’m one of the few who loves both. That’s how damn good the idea was – it could be great in both mediums, even without one mirroring the other.

    I forgot about Rawhead Rex. Gotta find that one and watch it again.

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    • I’m with you. I loved the book and the movie – despite the differences. At the end of the day, they both crawled under my skin… that’s success any way you slice it, in my mind.

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  6. Wayne C. Rogers // February 22, 2014 at 12:59 am // Reply

    King wasn’t the only one who hated Kubrick’s version of The Shining when it came out in 1981. Most of the fans at that time hated it, too. I know I did. The book was still fairly fresh in my mind when I saw the film. I remember almost walking out of the theater because I thought the movie was so bad and Wendy was getting on my nervies. I wanted Jack to kill her. Of course, I’ve now seen the film a dozen times over the last three decades and have mellowed in my opinion of it. The movie does have its good points as does the TV mini-series (I’m thinking of Rebecca DeMorney here).

    With regards to I Am Legend, I read the novel forty years ago and thought it was good. I, however, really enjoyed the Will Smith movie version. I’ve watched it several times, and it still holds together pretty good in my opinion.

    I don’t think I’ve seen a single movie that’s based on a Dean Koontz novel that I’ve enjoyed, except for maybe Intensity, which was done for television. That’s why I’m looking forward to the Odd Thomas film.

    I haven’t seen Rawhide Rex and have no desire to, but I have seen Queen of the Damned once and thought it sucked. Interview with a Vampire was really good, but none of that was captured in the Queen.

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  7. The Shining for me is one of the rare ones, where I loved both the book and movie. As far as the casting went. totally brilliant! Makes me wonder what exactly was Stephen King’s vision.

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  8. Wayne C. Rogers // February 23, 2014 at 3:27 am // Reply

    Paula,
    Remember that this was three decades ago. Stephen King and his fans had high hopes for Kubrick’s version of The Shining. We went to see it with the hope of being scared out of our wits. From the very beginning Jack’s character was changed. There was no gradual shift from normalacy to being totally bonkers. Of course, Jack Nicholas was great once he went crazy in the film. Few other actors can touch that kind of craziness. In the novel, Wendy is a strong woman who isn’t afraid to fight back. Shelly Duvall’s character is wimpy and only fights back out of self-preservation. Though I like Shelly Duvall as an actress, I didn’t enjoy her in this particular role. Scatman Crother’s character, Dick Hallorann, dies at the end of the movie, but didn’t in the novel. Kubrick had no real understanding of horror and attempted to make a movie about a man simply going crazy after being snowbound for a few months and trying to kill his family. He took the gig of directing the movie because the money was good and other directors were having successes with their horror films. Everyone’s opinion has certainly mellowed over the years with regards to this movie. Even King has softened his opinion of the film. I like it a lot better now than I did when it was originally released.

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