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ANNIHILATION Author’s Thoughts on Film Adaptation

Don Kaye wrote up a great interview that he had with author Jeff Vandermeer about what it was like having his book, Annihilation, adapted to film by Alex Garland. Annihilation hits theaters today.


I always thought it could be adapted, in part because there are all these decisions the characters make along the way, and you just have to map those decisions. If you just bullet point those decisions, which are then embedded in an almost unreliable first person narrator, then you begin to see what the beats of a movie would be. My earlier books were much more surreal and fantastical. I feel they posed greater logistical issues, in terms of, “How many special effects are we going to need?” All kinds of things like that. I did feel like the Southern Reach books were more amenable to adaptation potentially, because of that.

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The Predator Prequel Cover

With the film recently delayed by Fox, I am not sure what that means for this prequel novel. It will be interesting to see how this book will set up the motion picture.


The official prequel leading directly into THE PREDATOR, available the film and introducing key concepts that then will explode onto the screen in the movie.

The official prequel novel leads into the summer blockbuster The Predator, Shane Black’s new movie set within the universe of the previous films. With a screenplay by Shane Black and Fred Dekker, the film stars Yvonne Strahovski, Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Alfie Allen, Thomas Jane, Sterling Brown, Keegan-Michael Key, Edward James Olmos, Jake Busey, and more. Author James A. Moore (Alien: Sea of Sorrows) will work closely with Christopher Golden, author for the official novelization. The prequel novel will introduce key concepts that then will explode onto the screen in the movie itself.

The Predator, Alien, and Aliens TM & © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Spielberg’s READY PLAYER ONE Hitting Theaters a Day Early

Initially, Ready Player One was set to hit theaters on Good Friday, March 30th. Now, Warner Bros. has movie its release up by one day to March 29th. That extra day could be a huge pay off for Warner Bros. The summer movie season seems to start earlier and earlier each year. This weekend is Easter weekend. It is also a time when many students are on or starting spring break.  I can’t think of a better movie to start the blockbuster season.

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VALENTINE by Tom Savage

Valentine Cover

Adapting Valentine to film took a traditional novel thriller and turned it into a slasher film. The movie shares little with its source material. I’m not sure if this is a case of the movie studio buying the rights to the novel just to use the name with a movie they were going to make anyway. It reminds me a lot of what happened to World War Z. Both versions of WWZ had zombies and the same title, but that was where the similarities stop.

Both stories feature a group of girls that had a part in rejecting and humiliating a boy who later comes back to exact his revenge. The novel has the incident take place during college, and in the movie, the boy is tormented during a 6th-grade dance. The killer starts enacting his vengeance over ten years later.  So, in the book, the victims are mostly in their mid-thirties, and the movie is filled with twenty-somethings which of course is more traditional prey for a slasher movie.

The boy leaves school in both versions and blames the girls. No one sees or hears from him again until mysterious valentines start getting delivered and the girls start turning up dead. None of the characters are the same in either version, and they all have different names. The book at times is a very creepy look at a stalker watching his victim’s every move and manipulating his prey to degrade them before he kills them. It is very unsettling how realistic it comes off. The movie handles the revenge plot differently with the killer dressing up as a cherub masked killer. Imagine Michael Myers from Halloween, but with a goofy expressionless babyfaced mask.

Marshall Virtue in Valentine (2001)
Marshall Virtue in Valentine (2001)

I saw Valentine in the theater when it was initially released, and I really was disappointed with it at that time. My biggest issue with it was that it’s so similar to the other post-Scream slasher movies that were flooding the market at the time. These movies tried to not be the trashy, but fun, slasher movies of the 80’s. When they were done right, the films were frightening self-aware whodunnits disguised as cheesy horror movies. Without the wit and charm, the movies would tend to be just bland and not even have the ridiculousness of less sophisticated horror films to entertain. This film definitely falls more in the latter category.

This time around I must admit that I enjoyed the picture much more because I wasn’t comparing it to all those other films. It still isn’t a masterpiece, but it does do a few smart things which I won’t spoil. The most prominent issue that I had with it this time around was that I just couldn’t get over that dumb baby mask. It looks so tiny on the man’s body that I just kept imagining it was really several babies stacked on top of each other under that coat trying to pose as an adult. Although, one of the things the movie does better than the book is the killer’s valentines are pretty creative and entertaining (i.e., Roses are red, Violets are Blue, They’ll need dental records to identify you).

The book takes its time to get under your skin by showing events through the eyes of the killer. Also, you really get to know the main character’s personality, and it makes her suffering harder to bear. I can’t say the same thing for the movie though. Bottom line, if you want an unnerving tale of a stalker then read the book. If you’re looking for something lighter, watch the slasher movie.


Novel by Tom Savage

ISBN: 0451409787

Publication Date: February 1996

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New READY PLAYER ONE Poster Confirms One of My Fears

The new Ready Player One poster is gorgeous, but it confirmed a worry that I had since the adaptation was first announced. Based on the poster, they weren’t able to get all the licenses referenced in the novel including some that relate directly to the climax of the book. With any adaptation of a story, there will be changes or omissions and licensing that many different properties would have been impossible for pretty much any studio. Don’t get me wrong, I still think this movie is going to kick ass, but I was really hoping to see Ultraman fight Mechagodzilla on the big screen and not that Skeletor lookalike and the Iron Giant. I must admit that the Iron Giant is a rad replacement though.

Ready Player One Final

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Fox Announces DEATH ON THE NILE for 2019

Recently, 20th Century Fox had announced they were delaying some of their movies that were set for 2018, but they also surprisingly announced that Death on the Nile will hit theaters on November 8th, 2019. Death on the Nile will be a sequel to 2017’s hit Murder on the Orient Express. Kenneth Branagh is set to direct and star as Hercule Poirot in another adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel.