That’s No “Raven”: 4 Films & 1 TV Series That Weren’t Actually Adaptations Of Anything

Jun 11 2012

Adam Clarke is loosely based on “Convoy” by C.W. McCall.

1) The Spy Who Loved Me

Easily the patron saint of adaptations that don’t really adapt anything, Spy (the film) is the way it is at author Ian Fleming’s request. The novel was an experiment; a means of telling a James Bond story without James Bond, it centres instead on a young woman named Viv who encounters Bond while running from two thugs named Sluggsy and Horror.

No, I did not make that up. Their names are Sluggsy and Horror.

Unsurprisingly, the novel wasn’t terribly well-received, and Fleming allowed Bond film producer Harry Saltzman to use nothing from the novel save its title. As a result, Spy‘s film adaptation became a greatest hits compilation for James Bond and, by playing it safe, is the total opposite of its source material. The plot is the usual waffle about a madman who may or may not be the human equivalent of popular cartoon mouse, The Brain. Like its 90′s equivalent, Goldeneye, the film version of Spy balances over-the-top sensibilities with genuine spectacle, ticking off the expected James Bond cliches all the while. Both of these films are undeniably silly (Spy has Richard Kiel’s metal-mouthed henchman, Goldeneye has Famke Janssen’s assassin with killer thighs) and undeniably satisfying.

 

2) The Lawnmower Man

I could populate this list with failed Stephen King adaptations alone, but Lawnmower Man is a special case. King’s original story (that was in no way fuelled by overdosing on Fiddle Faddle and completed on a mad sugar high) is a quirky little goof about a man who unexpectedly orders a satyr to mow his lawn. Then the man dies horribly. I can only imagine the rights to that story were obtained by Beastly from Care Bears, who’d been sent out to snatch up a hot King property for a film executive. I can only imagine the bellow of “BEEEEAASSTLYYYYYYYYYYYY!” that emitted from said exec’s office the next morning.

As tempting as it must’ve been to adapt that original story as a buddy movie (my dream version would star Phoebe Cates as a lonely housewife and Crispin Glover as the satyr that turns her life upside-down), the studio went in another direction (no thanks to BEEEEAASSTLYYYYYYYYYYYY). By making a few slight adjustments to a pre-existing script about virtual reality, King’s bizarre story became a tale of a mentally handicapped handyman (Jeff Fahey) who becomes super-intelligent by entering a VR simulation via scientist Pierce Brosnan. This Flowers For Algernon by way of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy is twisted into a tale of world domination once Fahey turns into a megalomaniac after he literally f**ks his new girlfriend stupid.

Yes, the minute he gets his super-smarts, Fahey gets a girlfriend and they have sex. Virtual reality sex. Virtual reality sex that consists of Fahey transforming into a bi-pedal spunk-frog and giving his missus a cyber money shot that destroys her pretty mind. Then Fahey takes over the world when he gets swallowed up by the VR machines and makes every phone in the world ring (thus providing an answer to the age-old question…

Yeah, that’s way better than satyr Crispin Glover.

On “three”, everybody. One. Two. Three.

BEEEEAASSTLYYYYYYYYYYYY!!

 

3) Cthulhu

You’d think a film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos would be unnecessary in light of the brilliant silent film that was 2005′s The Call Of Cthulhu, but here we are. Unfortunately, this is actually an adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, which offers precious little of the cephalopod god action you’d expect from a movie called Cthulhu. That the film stars Tori Spelling and looks like it cost about fifty cents didn’t help matters much.

 

4) The Raven

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: as Edgar Allan Poe, John Cusack “delivers a performance so heinous even Nicolas Cage would find it embarrassing.” It’s not that you can’t fictionalize Poe, but any attempt to do so is going to pale in comparison to Stuart Gordon’s entry for season 2 of Masters of Horror, “The Black Cat”. Most episodes of Masters Of Horror had scripts that Tales From The Crypt would consider too low-brow. “Cat” weaved Poe as a character into an adaptation of one of his tales to great effect. It was a cleverly written piece of gothic tragedy and there will never be a greater take on Poe than Jeffrey Combs in “Cat”. To this day, the most accurate screen adaptation of Poe’s story is arguably the one featured in the very first “Treehouse Of Terror” episode of The Simpsons.

The Raven‘s big problem isn’t that it fails to adapt Poe’s poem; it’s that it’s a movie about perma-soused Edgar Allan Poe solving murders with his raccoon sidekick (yes, really) and it’s still totally boring.

 

5) Friday The 13th: The Series

Oh, man! Is this a TV show where Jason Vorhees visits 22 summer camps each season, slaughtering all but a few designated final girls in a syndicated series of bloody mayhem?

Nope.

Is this a TV show where Jason Vorhees is reunited with his zombified momma and the two of them just chill out with Crazy Ralph (remember him, he’s the hobo who told the camp counselors they were doomed?) during the off-season?

Nope!

Please tell me this has something to do with Friday The 13th: The Orphan.

Not a chance. Instead, this Canadian series is about a group of folks who run a cursed antique shop and try to track down haunted knick-knacs each and every week. What that has to do with any film entitled Friday The 13th remains to be seen.

2 responses so far

  1. I actually rather liked “Cthulhu”; it was an attempt to try something at least a little bit different with a horror movie. I can’t remember any other horror flicks with an explicitly gay protagonist, and that meshed pretty nicely with HPL’s often horrific takes on reproduction. Its problems were mostly due to having too many ideas, and how many horror films can say THAT?