Friday, January 30, 2009

Imaginary Novelizations

These are hypothetical covers for imaginary movie novelizations. They're classier than actual covers, if you ask me. Compare this Back to the Future cover...

...with this actual cover for the novelization of Back to the Future III, which I just happen to have:

The hypothetical one has a distinct lack of Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox being plastered across the cover.

Also, now I'm wondering if there was a novelization of the original Highlander movie. It seems like it came out at just the right time for one, but it'll be hard to search for with all the Highlander TV Show tie-in novels that have come out.

(UPDATE: It turns out there is! Oh boy!)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Oh ho ho ho ho. That's right: this is a novelization of the movie starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees that wove Beatles music into what it laughingly called its "plot". It's Across the Universe, but much, much worse. See, it turns out that Mr. Frampton and the Brothers Gibb cannot, in fact, act. You'd think they'd have checked that before starting the movie, but apparently not. So once they were done shooting (this is true), they reedited the movie so id didn't have any dialogue. All the heavy lifting for the plot was handled by Mr. Kite, who was played by George Burns.

So now what you've got is a movie fronted by four heartthrobs and George Burns. They even put George on the cover of the novel:

There is still dialogue in the book. It's not good, but it's there. In the movie, the story is just there to get from song to song. So you've got a character named "Strawberry Fields" and a character named "Mr. Mustard" (who is, as you might expect, Mean), and so on. This is kind of pointless, though, because almost all the songs are either bland and terrible or awful and terrible. Some people kind of like the way Steve Martin performs "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", though. And to be fair, Earth Wind and Fair rock the hell out of "Got to Get You Into My Life" and Aerosmith do a great job on "Come Together". Most of the time, though, the songs are entirely forgettable. The book does not dance around the subject and just blats out the lyrics whenever a song shows up:

The cover claims that there are "16 pages of outrageous photos from the movie". Frankly, not all of these pictures are all that outrageous. It's hard to be outrageous in black and white. Well, I guess Robert Mappelthorpe managed. Look, my point is that this picture is not outrageous:

The caption reads "Mustard and the Brute steal the instruments. Heartland immediately goes punk." Sadly, that is an accurate description of what happens in the movie.

Let's see, what else... well, the whole book except for the first chapter is written in the first person. That's pretty annoying. Oh! And at the end, there's a moment when a whole lot of musicians appear in the movie. Like Donovan, Dr. John, Heart, Chita Rivera, Sha-Na-Na, and Keith Carradine. It doesn't make a lot of sense. But in the book, that list of musicians, since it is unfettered by appearance fees or the bonds of death, goes on for five pages!

The other unusual thing about this book (which is already nearly unique in its weirdness) is that the Acknowledgements page includes "And my dear friend, Dr. Timothy Leary, who touches every experience with magic." I'm told by people that met him that Leary did indeed do that, but it's still not something I expect to see in the novelization of a bubblegum pop movie like this.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Flowers in the Attic

Before we begin, I should admit that this is not technically a movie novelization, although it is a novel that's been made into a movie. So it nearly counts, even though I haven't actually seen the movie in question.

The reason I read this book is this:

I've been blogging here and there since 2001 or so, and I've never really participated in one of those multi-site ongoing challenge deals. I nearly did with Seven Days back in 2002, but that didn't actually take off. But the idea of reading and commenting on eleven V.C. Andrews books over a year strikes me as too hilarious to ignore. So I guess what I'm saying... is that it's on.

I was nine years old when Flowers in the Attic came out, and within two years, it seemed like it was everywhere, due to its allegedly graphic descriptions of incest sex. I never read it myself, since I jumped straight from Judy Blume to the somewhat more classy (but still properly sleazy) The Hotel New Hampshire. Reading Flowers in the Attic now, I imagine that the sex scene must have been fairly disappointing for the kids who had been looking forward to the graphic detail.

Naturally, I got this copy at a used bookstore, and I have to say I'm delighted with the copy I got. Here's why:

Yes! It's highlighted! Frankly, I think it's got too much highlighting to actually be useful:

About half of the book is highlighted. Here's a tip for you young would-be-highlighters out there: if you highlight so much of a book that you dry out three separate pens, you've probably gone overboard.

This is not one of those highlighting jobs that goes for the sex bits; I think this is for a book report or something, because every single reference to flowers, family, wholesomeness, and colors got the treatment. And there were some handwritten notes for foreshadowing, which doesn't seem that hard to spot. I think the cleverest part of Flowers in the Attic is that the narrator is a teenager, which can justify any amount of clumsy narration. I don't think it quite justifies the occasional "Golly-lolly", though. Also, since the narrator allegedly spends every waking minute reading Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and the Bible, I don't think it would have been out of the question for her to write a little better. But I guess it's plausible for her to sound like she does.

The book was about what I expected in terms of cartoonish villainy and doubtful plot developments. I do have my suspicions about the children's father, though. I realize that he's described in glowing terms (literally, in my copy, thanks to the highlighting), but here's what we know about him: 1) he insists on his children greeting him with lavish hugs and kisses, and 2) he's willing to commit incest. Also, these are probably the unluckiest children you're likely to find, so I think even if he'd lived, things would have gone badly for them anyway.

All right, there you go. Flowers in the Attic. Next month, I'll have another V.C. Andrews book. And next week, I'm going to take on one of the most mysterious novelizations ever: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a novelization of a movie with no dialogue.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hudson Hawk

Okay, look. First of all, I love the movie. Love it. I've seen it enough that it's basically comfort viewing for me. And I realize that it's got some flaws, but I think it gets a bad rap.

The important thing to realize is that when it came out, people were expecting it to be just like Bruce Willis's previous movie, which was Die Hard 2. So they showed up for an action movie and got a goofy comedy that's essentially a parody of James Bond-style movies. And I think that threw people. If you listen to the director's commentary on the DVD, he sounds really defensive the whole time, complaining that people just didn't "get" his movie. He even cast James Coburn, the star of the "Flint" movies!

Okay, having said that, I admit that there are things in that movie that, um, aren't for everyone. Not everyone digs Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard as absurdly over-the-top villains. I love 'em, myself. Even Grant hates that performance. Judging by With Nails, his movie diaries, he preferred his work in Spice World.

Now, the book. Back before VCRs, novelizations were the only way to relive a movie at home. And before DVDs, they were the only way to see deleted scenes. It turns out that Hudson Hawk has an entire subplot that got cut out of the final product. It's about a monkey. It's also more self-indulgent, silly, and pointless than the rest of the movie, which is really saying something. It's good that it's not in the movie anymore, but it's neat to read what was supposed to happen.

The real advantage of a novelization of a flawed movie is that you can find out what was supposed to be happening. Apparently, Danny Aiello's character was named "Tommy Five-Tone" because when he beats someone up, they grunt five times in ascending tones. That actually happens in the movie, when Tommy pummels Darwin Mayflower, but the joke doesn't come across at all. Luckily for me, the book appears to have been written by someone who was very concerned about getting the jokes across, so it's explained at excruciating detail. Hooray!