6 Times Movie Directors Read The Book And Said 'NOPE!'
Hollywood adapts ideas from so many non-movie sources, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the drunk text you sent to your friend asking them to pick up some Taco Bell is being optioned for a three-movie deal.
The best places to farm content is books. Dark books. But in order to make literary content more "approachable" to general audiences, Hollywood will often have to leave some things out. Things that might be a little hard to stomach. Things that might be a tad -- okay, screw it; things that are pants-shittingly horrifying. Like ...
In The Hunger Games, The "Mutts" Are Actually Dead Kids
When Harry Potter proved that people will pay all the money in the world to ignore real-life teenagers and watch them on the big screen, the world was hit with a storm of Young Adult fiction. One of the sturdier life rafts in that flood was The Hunger Games and the films more or less follow the plots of the books: Cool but poor kid uses a bow-and-arrow and her sense of style to overthrow a brutal dictatorship. You know, as one does.
The books are much more violent than the movies, though. They're both generally about the same thing: copious child murder. But a gruesome death in the books, where one of the tributes gets their head smashed in repeatedly, might be replaced in the movie with, say, a bloodless arrow-to-the-heart. That's a bit more cuddly, right?
In the first movie, Katniss Everdeen, her boy toy Peeta, and some dick tenth-grader are doing some serious Hunger Gaming when they're attacked by creepy dog-like creatures called "muttations." The mean kid slips off the high ground and it's looking like he'll soon be dog food, until Katniss mercifully sends an arrow into his head. But in the book, he is chewed alive for hours by these rabid animals, overnight, until Katniss just can't take the screaming.
Oh and those dog things? In the universe, it's explained that the makers of the Hunger Games can spawn enemies and change the weather at will to mess with the tributes, basically making it Survivor: Playing God Edition. In the film, it's implied that these "mutts" are just some weird-ass hybrid animals. But in the book, it's explicitly stated that these are actually the dead tributes who have been turned into these creatures, their DNA spliced with that of dogs. (Katniss recognizes one when she looks into its eyes. Plus they have collars with the tribute's District numbers on them, if the symbolism wasn't clear enough.)
So if you were watching this wondering "Wait, what do they do with all the dead kids? Is there, like, a pile?" Oh, it's just that they perform brutal, Nazi-like mad science experiments on them and then send them out to the arena to eat all of their former friends. Christ, author Suzanne Collins. I can see why the films cut it. Hard to get 12-year-olds emotionally involved in a story about re-animated dog-child cannibalism in any way that doesn't involve one long shriek.
Slumdog Millionaire Was More "Premeditated Murder" Than "Inspirational"
Slumdog Millionaire was an indie darling of a movie about an Indian boy named Jamal who goes on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? to try and find his old girlfriend and win a nice chunk of change. The key conflict in the movie is that the producers accuse him of cheating, but for each question we are treated to a flashback in which it's revealed how he knew the correct answer. Anyway, at the end of the movie, Jamal wins the big bucks, his childhood crush is alive and well, and the characters have a Bollywood-style dance-off. As they should.
Except the book that it's based on, Q&A, was much less light-hearted. In fact, the main character's motivation is completely different. The show's host plays a minor role in the film -- during a bathroom break he subtly tries to feed Jamal the wrong answer to the final question because he's embarrassed that he's being outwitted. So, he's only sort of a shitty guy. However, in the book, he is way more than "sort of." In fact, the main character goes on the show specifically to get revenge on him. And not, like, a moral victory. The shoot-ey kind of revenge.
Jamal's character recognizes the host from a billboard as the man who abused his prostitute girlfriend when they were younger. During that bathroom scene, it's actually the protagonist confronting the host with a goddamn gun, threatening to kill him, as that was his whole plan in the first place. This isn't in the film, because premeditated murder tends to overshadow inspirational endings.
Ultimately, he can't go through with it and spares the host in exchange for the correct answer to the final question. So he actually does cheat, wins, and later marries Nita, his girlfriend ... which seems like the complete opposite lesson that was taught by the movie. The host? He ends up killing himself or maybe is murdered by the gangsters rigging the game show. It's left ambiguous but we know it ain't a fall down the stairs. Cue extended Bollywood dancing scene, because it's time for the feel-good movie of the year!
The Island In Jurassic Park Is Bombed Back To The Stone Age
Jurassic Park is a Spielbergian classic, and if we ever invent time travel, it will do for dinosaurs what Jaws did for sharks. It is renowned for both its thrilling sequences, its unforgettable pacing and sense of terror, and for the weird puberty it sends everyone spiraling into when they gaze upon a bare-chested Jeff Goldblum.
The Jurassic Park novel is much more graphic than its film counterpart when it comes to the dino-eatin'. In fact, Dr. Malcolm and Hammond die pretty shittily. Hammond gets eaten alive by a pack of procompsognathus, little foot-high dinosaurs that munch on him for what feels like an entire chapter while he struggles to get away. Meanwhile, Dr. Malcolm is critically injured and presumed dead by the time the island is fire-bombed (though he "miraculously survives" to return in the sequel, because, like Godzilla, a Goldblum can't be killed with any conventional weaponry).
Wait, did we say "fire-bomb"? Yeah, the Costa Rican government deals with the threat of dinosaurs stuck on a water-locked island by napalming the entire thing while Grant and the other surviving characters watch from a departing chopper. We can assume, based on how the protagonists escaped by the hair on their chins, that low-level employees who stuck around didn't have that luxury and perished. Perished to death.
In case it wasn't clear, the epilogue goes way out of its way to tell you that, yup, every janitor went up like kindling.
Children Of Men: The Hero Becomes An Evil Dictator
This might be an unpopular opinion on the internet, but Children Of Men is one of the best movies ever made. The film follows a guy named Theo as he navigates a war between English totalitarians and violent rebels fighting for power. The entire world (other than England, conveniently) has completely collapsed due to an apocalyptic mutation that has killed off humanity's ability to breed. You can probably still get to second base, though.
At the end of the film, Theo sacrifices himself for Kee, the first woman to give birth in years, in order to protect her from both sides of the battle. The ending is left ambiguous, but is generally understood as hopeful, as the rumored humanitarian boat they were searching for appears offshore right before the credits roll. But for all we know, it could be filled with zombies. It's a shame we never got Children Of Men 2: Afterlife.
The book, though, ends a liiiiittle differently. There's another character named Xan who's not in the movie. He's Theo's cousin, and he also happens to be the dictator of England, a detail that would make Christmas dinners a tad awkward. Xan and Theo have a bit of a falling out, with Xan, King Of England And Poor Timing, showing up to fight Theo just as the first baby in the world is born. The baby startles Xan by crying about boobs or something, and Theo uses the opportunity to kill Xan by shooting his ass.
With Xan laying at his feet, Theo slips the coronation ring off his lifeless finger and puts it on his own. Theo bursts into a ball of pure energy, and Kee is forced to take him on in a climactic boss fight that is super difficult unless you've done some grinding. Man, I wish. In reality, this makes him the new dictator of England, because the politics of apocalyptic London are based on the principles of Captain Planet.
So it turns out that if you don't die a hero, you do live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Of course, this was later changed in the film to focus on a more optimistic ending. Or maybe test audiences couldn't deal with the idea of Clive Owen as Prime Minister For Life. Has to be the first one.
The Life Of Pi Is Extremely Graphic And Disgusting
The Life of Pi is the story of a boy who survives a shipwreck after his parents' zoo-boat sinks. His entire family drowns, and the only survivors other than Pi are a zebra with a broken leg, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger named Richard Parker. Through happenstance, they all end up on a lifeboat, and it becomes Pi's story of survival and also the basis of one of those logic puzzles where you have to get all the animals to one side of the ocean without them eating each other. This book proves that the voyage of Noah's ark was nothing but constant carnage.
It's a wonder that the book was filmable at all because all the animals die horrifically in it. In the movie, most of the death happens off-camera or is implied and bloodless, but the book is fucking disgusting (any card-carrying members of PETA out there might want to burn your computer after this). For example, the hyena is the first to get hungry, and decides to bite off the zebra's broken foot while it's alive.
No big deal? A couple pages later, he chews through the zebra's organs and eats it inside-out, again while it's still alive. This is described graphically, including the part where the hyena finds himself knee-deep inside the zebra's body. The reader, tragically, is also still alive while all of this happens.
Oh yeah and the zebra survives this, despite it spending the night snorting out its own blood. Here's how that scene played out in the movie. If you look closely, you can juuuuust see a small bloodstain on the zebra's hide.
The hyena then goes for the orangutan and eventually rips her head clean off. There are more details in the book that would make a vet puke, such as how Pi later eats the ape's poop to survive, so I'm baffled as to how some producer saw this text and decided, "We need to find a way to market this to families that have nothing to do with their Sunday afternoons."
Hannibal Lecter And Clarice Bang At The End Of Hannibal
Hannibal, the 2001 sequel to the classic family flick The Silence Of The Lambs, finds our hero Clarice Starling caught in the middle of a feud between kooky scamp Hannibal Lecter and one of his surviving victims, a rich sex offender named Mason Verger. It's revealed that Clarice is falsely held back at her job due to the actions of a vindictive FBI agent (played by Ray Liotta), who accepts a bribe from Mason to get her off his trail. By the end of the film, Clarice tag-teams with Hannibal to take down Mason, and he rewards her by very literally serving that asshole agent's brains up on a silver platter.
Thus begins the greatest film scene since Luke Skywalker found out who his deadbeat Dad was. Hannibal drugs Ray Liotta and starts feeding him his own brains. Clarice uses the opportunity to hold Lecter for the authorities by handcuffing herself to him, but he chops his own hand off and escapes. Cut to him on a flight eating the rest of his "meal." He also gives some to a random kid who apparently wasn't satisfied by the in-flight pretzels.
That scene is where the film and book differ in a major way. There's a weird subplot where Hannibal is trying to brainwash Clarice into thinking she is his sister, Mischa, but just try and focus here on the fact that Clarice takes a bite of some brains and just adores it! And as the FBI agent dies from his head-mushies not being there anymore, Clarice "gives herself" to Hannibal who "accepts her invitation" and they ... they bang, guys. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling get nasty. Remember those iconic, suspenseful scenes between Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in Silence? Those people eventually do it.
Suitable for a book that starts as a nice cigarette and descends into a knee-high pile of cocaine, the final chapter is a vacation diary of them living as escaped lovers in Buenos Aires, and the text explicitly says they have sex daily. And no, this didn't immediately cause every screenwriter attached to it to throw the novel out of their office windows, because this was all included in the original screenplay. Someone charged with preparing a movie read this novel, and for a period of time decided "They bone? Interesting ..."
Oh, one more eensie, weensie thing. The character of Margot Verger, Mason's sister/rape victim, is left out of the film as well. Mason is eaten by giant pigs in the movie, but Margot is the one that kills Mason in the book, suffocating him by stuffing his pet eel down his throat while shoving an electric cattle prod up his prostate so that she can forcibly collect a family sperm sample for her lesbian lover.
Did you know Jurassic Park comes in words-form? Weird but true! Come have a peek. ;)
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