For some reason, today I awoke to the sound of Cory Haim running away from a werewolf on a motorized wheelchair, thanks to a Stephen King film festival on one of the strange cable movie channels that I inexplicably pay for.  It got me thinking about my love of King’s short stories, and my general disdain for the movies they make out of them.  King has a tendency to end his books on an ominous and unresolved note (recall that only Wil Wheaton’s character actually survived in the book of “Stand By Me,” aka ‘The Body’), which leads helpful producers to work in their own expectations.  Shawshank Redemption notwithstanding, we find things like the horrible bleak movie ending of “The Mist” that completely inverts everything that I enjoyed about the original short story, in the name of a shocking ending.

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) truly believed Sir Ian McKellen as a German 30 years his senior, asking:  What is the worst case of “adaptation decay” (whichever media are involved) in your mind?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Ooh, great question!

    While the source material was never great (it could be good but has now settled into really boring slice-of-life stuff), the animated adaptation of W.I.T.C.H. took potenttially good material for a cartoon show and wasted it. On the plus side, Caleb actually had a personality & a role besides designated love interest. On the minus, Will lost her unique powers, we were saddled with the unfunny Blunk, Elyon apparently had a lobotomy, the villains usually succeeded because the writers needed them to more than any logical reason, & Cornelia went from being the girl who’s popular because she’s genuinely nice to an off-the-peg blonde bitch. The 2nd season, done by Greg Weisman, tried to introduce some of the stuff left from the comics & add some interesting new stuff, but he still had to work with the baggage from before & was hampered by the whole “make it more boy-centric” thing that saw Will’s boyfriend (a mellow kind-to-animals sort) becoming a sword-wielding masked hero. Such a waste of potential, in a much worse way than the source material itself eventually became.

  2. Starship Troopers.

    The movie made, while apparently a cult-classic, is as far from Robert Heinlein’s novel as humanly possible. What started as a cerebral commentary on patriotism and the military somehow got turned into an over the top action movie with no depth whatsoever. (Can you tell I’m a bit jaded?)

    • Agreed sir. Let’s take names and that’s it and make a mlomlow budget move that has nothing to do with anything the book. Sad times

      • Yes, I understand what they went for in the movie, and I liked it, but it felt like the screenplay either didn’t understand Heinlein. Or, was written by people who hadn’t read the book, but instead were given a two minute overview of the plot.

        Not no depth though. It presented a potentially clever look at a fascist state with total media control.

    • Yep, I immediately thought of this one when I read the question. Horrible movie that completely lost the point of the book.

    • And the left out the combat suits, which you’d think would come in handy fighting giant bugs who impale humans on their claws

  3. That would be the theatrical release of “Blade Runner”. When I finally got a hold of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” and read the thing, I realized the film makers and probably the screen writers couldn’t have actually read the book. Don’t get me wrong – love the movie, but the book and the movie are two entirely separate beasts.
    Second worst adaptations: 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Book is a thrill a minute joy ride, unlike the original snorefest of 2001: A Space Idiocy. Main plot points – Russia and the USA are allies once again and cooperate in an attempt to reach Discovery before it crashes into one of the moons of Jupiter. After lanching, they take pictures of a new Chinese space station. By the time they get halfway the Jupiter, the Chinese strap huge fuel tanks to the space station – which was actually a disguised spaceship – and race past the Russian ship burning fuel the whole way – the Chinese get there first but land on Europa to melt ice for propellant and fuel. The Chinese ship is attacked by a Europan lifeform attracted to the ship’s lights and destroyed. The movie makers axed the entire heart of the story and made the US and Russia enemies again, and then made up a vague “central American” conflict that wasn’t in the original book to artificially replace the source of tension that they’d excized from the script. I truly wish they’d remake that movie, but this time follow the story in the book!!!

  4. Starship Troopers and Eragon are two movies that I felt really strayed from the source material. The basic elements are there, but they took them in a completely different direction. Starship Troopers is a fun movie, sure, but it isn’t really an adaptation of the original works to me, just a movie with similar ideas.

    The original Fullmetal Alchemist anime took a much different turn than the manga after a point, but I’m a little more forgiving with that, particularly since they eventually gave us FMA: Brotherhood.

    I’ll probably think of more later once I’m a bit more awake.

  5. Still going with Abrams’ STAR TREK. Wipe out all the detailed backgrounds of all the characters and replace them with one dimensional new versions because parroting the catch phrases should be enough. Change the premise from a drama series with some philosophy behind it to an action flick with big explosions.

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