We’ve all had the conversation at some point in our lives. “The movie was okay but the the book was so much better”…or vice versa. James F. Broderick’s Now A Terrifying Motion Picture!: Twenty-Five Classic Works of Horror Adapted from Book to Film takes us behind the scenes of both medium giving horror fans a double dose of insight into the creation of 25 horror classics ranging alphabetically from Altered States to Village of the Damned. Intrigued yet?
When I agreed to review the book, I was simply expecting a comparison between book and film. Yeah, I know, I need to raise my expectations. Broderick’s compendium of fright immediately exceeded any preconceived notions.
The book, which devotes individual chapters to each title, does provide a comparison between the original horror literature and its film progeny. What delighted this reader, however, was the historical background provided for both prose and cinema. Each chapter starts with the book. Broderick’s extensive research provides insight into the author’s background, touches on their other works and reveals the reaction to their prose by reviewers of the day. He then explores the making of the film, or in some cases films, gives his eloquent thoughts on which he prefers, and compares and contrasts the two.
Each chapter contains interesting gems that you may or may not know about the books and movies depending on how avid of a fan you are. For example, the inspiration for the book Psycho came from the Ed Gein murders. Gein, a psychopath from a small town in Wisconsin, went over the edge when his domineering mother passed away. What police found at his home when they made his arrest is by far more disturbing than anything you’ve seen in a slasher movie. Decapitated heads sat on bookshelves
. Jars of body parts served as paperweights. A headless woman hung upside down by meat hooks in the garage. Gein, obsessed with showing his disdain for his deceased mother, often committed these atrocities while dressed in her clothes. Little tidbits like these help to keep this a quick and interesting read.
Broderick examines the full scope of classic horror. He touches on the monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), the supernatural (Amityville Horror, Ghost Story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), aliens (Village of The Damned, The Thing From Another World), animals (The Birds, Jaws), sci-fi ( The Fly, Re-Animator, Altered States) and the devil himself (The Exorcist, The Ninth Gate). For me though, the scariest group is The Human Element. Broderick features a number of selections that fit into that creepy category of “Holy crap, how can one human do that to another human?” Selections in this group include the Jack the Ripper based, From Hell; the previously mentioned Ed Gein inspired, Psycho; a Doctor’s foray into the world of voodoo and zombies, Serpent and the Rainbow; and Stephen King’s chilling, no pun intended, tale of madness in a desolate, snow bound hotel, The Shining.
This is a great book for the true horror fan or someone who is looking for a good starting point to find out more about the genre. Each chapter includes a synopsis of the book/film being discussed. There are a few selections that I had never experienced and the description of the story lines has enticed me to seek them out. Broderick’s writing style is almost conversational making this an easy, entertaining read. You will also appreciate his dry sense of humor as you flip quickly from page to page. Although vampires do appear from time to time, the writing never sucks!