6 genre authors who HATED Hollywood's adaptations of their work

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

Fans aren't the only ones who complain about crappy adaptations of their favorite genre works. The authors themselves are often unafraid to get in on the action. Here are six sci-fi, fantasy and horror writers who spoke up when their work got butchered.

Richard Matheson: I Am Legend

Matheson is definitely no stranger to Hollywood. He's had to endure not one, not two, but three adaptations of his classic post-apocalyptic novel. Here's his review of the first, 1964's The Last Man on Earth:

"I was disappointed in The Last Man on Earth, even though they more or less followed my story. I think Vincent Price, whom I love in every one of his pictures that I wrote, was miscast. I also felt the direction was kind of poor."

And here's his take on 1971's The Omega Man:

"The Omega Man was so removed from my book that it didn't even bother me."

And as for 2007's I Am Legend, Matheson didn't even understand why the film was being made:

"I don't know why Hollywood is fascinated by my book when they never care to film it as I wrote it."

Stephen King: The Shining

King is one of the most adapted authors of all time, which means some of the flicks based on his spooky tales were bound to end up crappy. The one he's been most vocal about, though, is regarded by many film buffs as a classic. Though he was a fan of director Stanley Kubrick's earlier work, King always felt the 1980 adaptation of his haunted-hotel tale suffered from a lack of supernatural commitment on Kubrick's part.

"I'd admired Kubrick for a long time and had great expectations for the project, but I was deeply disappointed in the end result. ... Kubrick just couldn't grasp the sheer inhuman evil of The Overlook Hotel. So he looked, instead, for evil in the characters and made the film into a domestic tragedy with only vaguely supernatural overtones. That was the basic flaw: because he couldn't believe, he couldn't make the film believable to others."

King eventually went on to script his own adaptation of The Shining, which became a TV miniseries in 1997.

Anne Rice: The Queen of the Damned

Rice was famously furious when director Neil Jordan cast Tom Cruise as her hero the vampire Lestat in his adaptation of her first novel, Interview With the Vampire. But after she saw the film, she showered Cruise with praise. Queen of the Damned, the second film based on Rice's Vampire Chronicles, wasn't so lucky. Rice told fans via her Facebook page to steer away from the flick, as it "mutilated" her book.

Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange

Stephen King wasn't the only author Stanley Kubrick angered in his time as a director. Anthony Burgess was so upset by the adaptation of his violent futuristic novel that he regretted ever having written it.

"The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago, a jeu d'esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence. The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me till I die. I should not have written the book because of this danger of misinterpretation."

P.L. Travers: Mary Poppins

Though Travers had close involvement with the Disney adaptation of her beloved magic nanny novel, the studio largely ignored her suggestions. She made script edits that the studio simply discarded, fought against the animated sequence and bemoaned the loss of much of Mary Poppins' strictness. She only barely got invited to the premiere, cried through the whole movie, and refused to let Disney touch any of the other Poppins novels.

Roald Dahl: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Dahl's one word review of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: "crummy." He was particularly rough on star Gene Wilder, labeling him "pretentious" and "bouncy," and said director Mel Stuart had "no talent or flair." In the end, Dahl vowed that the producers wouldn't get their hands on the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, during his lifetime. You have to wonder what he would have thought of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version.

For more tales of authors who hated Hollywood's take on their tales, head over to Mental Floss.

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