Adaptations That Actually Toned Down Their Source Material

‘American Psycho’ was so much worse on the page
Adaptations That Actually Toned Down Their Source Material

No matter what those tote bags from Barnes & Noble claim, books aren’t sexy. They’ve got way too much room for nerd shit like character development and thematic exploration, so when they get plucked from the bestseller list for the big screen, it all gets cut in the interest of making the story more exciting. The action needs to be bigger, the blood bloodier and everyone has a six-pack now. 

But some books are actually so gruesome that Hollywood had to tone them down before they could show you. Such as…

House of the Dragon

It doesn’t seem like an incident known as “Blood and Cheese” should be anything more serious than a papercut at brunch, but in George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, it was the names of the two assassins hired by Daemon Targaryen to kill one of his… great-nephews? We don’t have time to get into that family tree. In the book, the duo forces Helaena Targaryen to choose which of her sons to sacrifice, then kills the other one in a move so emotionally sadistic, it makes you wonder about ol’ Georgie.

In the Season Two premiere of House of the Dragon, however, she only has a son and a daughter, and they only ask her to point out the boy. Rather than swiftly decapitated right in front of her, he’s silently killed while she escapes with her daughter. She barely even cries. We have no choice but to side with the outraged internet insisting that, dammit, the child murder should have been more traumatic.

American Psycho

It might seem impossible to get more violent than Christian Bale’s depiction of Patrick Bateman, but when you think about it, most of the death in 2000’s American Psycho occurs out of view — from a distance, out of frame, beneath a sheet, etc. By contrast, Bret Easton Ellis’ novel describes each act in altogether too loving detail, sometimes over the course of multiple pages, as Bateman violates his victims in just about every way imaginable. Even the acts that did make it on screen, such as the murder of the homeless man, are way less graphic. Let’s just say it’s not his gut that Bateman stabs.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The Harry Potter series had to leave a lot out from the books (RIP Peeves the Poltergeist), but it gets real dark toward the end, and one scene in particular was apparently deemed too disturbing. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort minion Peter Pettigrew happens upon Harry and Ron and, after considering not killing them even momentarily, his magical prosthetic hand (the real one having been cut off as a sacrifice to the Dark Lord) strangles him to death, our teenage heroes helplessly watching as “his eyes rolled upward in his purple face; he gave a last twitch, and was still.” In the movie, he’s simply stunned by Dobby. We don’t see him again, though, so maybe he was killed? Dobby was one cold motherfucker in the end.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park wasn’t exactly Sesame Street, but it could have been The freaking Departed. In Michael Crichton’s novel, just about everybody who isn’t a child or protagonist dies, including Dr. Ian Malcolm, Dr. Henry Wu (so he can’t keep running around for 30 more years fucking shit up) and even John Hammond himself. What’s more, some deaths are relayed from the victim’s perspective, which makes for a fairly squicky read. Even the T. rex is implicitly drowned. She wasn’t exactly a hero in the book, but she still deserves better.

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