When a new film adaption of a book comes out there is always that one person (or ourselves because we all do it) who says “The book was better”, but is it always true? I am going to say no and if you think hard, no matter how big of a bookworm you are, I am sure you can think of at least one example of a film that was better than the book. You might hate to admit it, but it is true.
Here are 3 films that I thought were better than the book they were originally based on, and in true Spine Cracker fashion, they are all horror films.
Disclaimer: I am not saying that these books are bad and that you should not read them. The films just improved them in someway.
Now, time to get the popcorn out.
The Woman in Black
Synopsis: “Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her. From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again; he also hears the terrifying sounds on the marsh.
Despite Kipps’s experiences he resolves to spend the night at the house and fulfil his professional duty. It is this night at Eel Marsh House that contains the greatest horror for Kipps. Kipps later discovers the reasons behind the hauntings at Eel Marsh House.”
Dark, set in the Victorian era AND has creepy children? Sign me right up!
I devoured both the film and the book of The Woman in Black, so much so that I saw the film twice in the cinema. It was Daniel Radcliffe’s first main appearance on the big screen since Harry Potter, and it was full of scary moments and twists. I loved the film, but the book I simply liked. The novelisation was no where near as detailed or frightening as the film. The book itself was rather short so alot of the character development, backstories and good frightening moments only appeared in the film. This made it feel like a quick summary of what I wanted.
I would say though, if you want a nice and short ghost story to read I would suggest picking the book up. It has its merits. It is written in the style of a 19th century gothic ghost story when it was originally published in the 1980s. If gothic literature is your cup of tea you definitely need to marathon this book and film together.
Synopsis: “Mike Enslin is a successful author who enjoys worldwide acclaim debunking supernatural phenomena — before he checks into the Dolphin Hotel, that is. Ignoring the warnings of the hotel manager, he learns the meaning of real terror when he spends the night in a reputedly haunted room.”
I have a love/hate relationship with Stephen King, so much so that I will be doing an entire blog series on his books soon. (I will explain more later)
This is another film that I adored. The story was interesting, the concept wasnt new but it was done in a way that made it unique and the actors made every character likeable. This is probably one of my favourite horror films to watch just for fun. Naturally when I found out that it is not only based on a short story but I also unknowingly owned a copy of it I HAD to give it a read. I was disappointed.
It was FAR too short. All of the character development and most of the best scenes were not in the book, and even characters were entirely missing or just demoted to an unnamed background role. One of my issues with King’s writing is that he usually adds scenes and details that contribute nothing to the plot of the overall story. I actually wanted this in 1408 because I loved it so much. I wanted to know more about the hotel, its history and the other people who died in the room. I got bare bones instead.
Synopsis: “A divorced mother moves into a rundown apartment with her daughter, and experiences supernatural occurrences including a mysterious water leak from the floor above.”
I will be basing this on the Japanese version of the film, not the American one.
If you read my review of the Dark Water collection of short stories you will know that I loved it, and that Dark Water was one of my favourite shorts in the collection, so this is no way a negative view on the story at all. It just fell into the same trap as the other two stories mentioned above.
In the book you do not see many ghostly events and a lot of it is implied rather than shown. It is a creepy story, and brilliantly written. I think this it just what happens when you translate a short story into film, you have to find a way to make it fill two hours of screen time. I would recommend watching this film and reading the book together, it would make for a terrifying night in.
Do you agree with this list? Are there any films that you think are better than the book? Or do you know any brilliant adaptations? Tell me. Lets talk movies!