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Top 4 Worst TV/Film Adaptions of Books

Updated on October 11, 2015
Bernadette Harris profile image

Bernadette is a proofreader, online blogger, and freelance writer. She graduated from Franciscan University with a B.A. in Literature.

I recognize that many people enjoy these films. However, that doesn't change the fact that they rub me the wrong way. Actually, they burrow under my skin and fester like some kind of third-world rash.

With that being said, enjoy and feel free to leave a comment.

Oh my, what's that on the horizon? A terrible heroine!
Oh my, what's that on the horizon? A terrible heroine!
Daddy, you don't mind if I sell myself for love, right? Hookers do it all the time.
Daddy, you don't mind if I sell myself for love, right? Hookers do it all the time.
Curse you, Hans Christian Anderson, and your moral consequences
Curse you, Hans Christian Anderson, and your moral consequences

4) The Little Mermaid

With its lovely animation, classic musical score, and quirky characters, Disney’s The Little Mermaid has given us some memorable moments. Unfortunately, that can’t save it.

I'm aware that the problems I have with this film are issues that probably go unnoticed by the majority of children. You may call it nitpicking, or snobbery, or whatever else--but there are just some things that make me want to stick my fingers in my sockets and yank out my eyeballs. This movie's "moral" is one of them.

The main problem is that it doesn’t seem to have much of one, which is a pretty serious problem for a children’s fable. In the original the moral was that actions have consequences, disobedience can bite you in the ass, and that if you dance with the Devil you’ll get burned.

In this version we see the little mermaid rewarded for her childish incompetence and puerile disobedience. Think I'm exaggerating? Let's break down her actions throughout the story: she gets the hots for a cute sailor she's just met, goes to her father’s arch-nemesis for assistance, rejects the counsel of her wiser friends, sells herself in exchange for a pair of scrawny legs, puts the entire kingdom in jeopardy, is solely responsible for turning her father into a piece of seaweed, and in the end gets the guy and is crowned freaking princess.

I get that Disney was updating a classically horrific fairy-tale that obviously had to be tamed for its younger audience. But then what is this movie meant to convey? Is this supposed to be a coming of age story, or a distorted portrayal of gaining independence? All it seems to do is enforce the idea that if you flaunt rules you'll come out on top, and that it doesn't matter who you screw over in the process. After all, if the fish girl with the big goo-goo eyes did it, why can't you?

I also come in chocolate and twist!
I also come in chocolate and twist!

Soon afterwards, Reeves fled the country

3) Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Say, remember that book written centuries ago? The one that relied on a dark atmosphere, creepy pacing, and literary subtly? Forget about it. We got Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where the characters are an afterthought and the atmosphere is cheesier than ball game nachos.

In the book Dracula was more of a foreboding presence than a well-defined character, which worked for the supernatural and subtle atmosphere that Stoker was trying to establish. In this cinematic turd, he’s been given a fabulously homosexual hairstyle that resembles a a vanilla ice cream cone and velvet robes that make him look like a cheap Halloween costume. Gary Oldman is way cooler than that, movie. Making him a whiny and/or horny dairy treat is just embarrassing.

And Neo as Jonathan? It’d actually be an improvement if he suddenly looked at the camera and said, “ I know you’re scared” and then went rocketing off into the sky. Here we get a blinking boy-man being dragged down into bed by a bunch of topless harpies. Um…edgy? Actually, it’s just stupid.

And perhaps you're thinking that Hopkins as Van Helsing is surely capable of saving this pile of horse dung? Sorry, but this pairing only sounds cool. They have him acting like a five year old's idea of a vampire hunter, complete with a phony accent and even phonier acting. It's time like this that I wish time travel was for real. Hannibal Lector and Odin could come back and kick Hopkin's in the mouth for accepting this role in the first place.

I can't hear your complaints over the sound of all my MONEY
I can't hear your complaints over the sound of all my MONEY
Shortly after he realized his career was over, Ben paid Steve a visit....
Shortly after he realized his career was over, Ben paid Steve a visit....

2) Sherlock: “The Empty Hearse”

Ever heard of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss? They're a nerdy writing duo that's known for breathing new life into British classics like Doctor Who. A couple years ago, they began a modern re-launch of Sir Conan Doyle’s beloved sleuth, and the world almost couldn’t take as much awesome as seasons 1 and 2 delivered.

Unfortunately, the first episode of season 3 has made it onto this list. It is loosely based after “The Adventure of the Empty House,” where Holmes reveals to Watson how he survived his battle with Moriarty. In the original story, Holmes survives his plummet from the waterfall and goes into hiding. In this half-assed “explanation,” Holmes jumps onto an inflatable mattress from a rooftop. Or doesn’t. We actually don’t know, because that’s the mystery, see? I bet you thought you were going to get an explanation for what you believed was a carefully thought out solution to the previous season’s dilemma.

This is one of the biggest baskets of lamesauce that I’ve seen in a while. I've heard some people defend this episode by stating that the explanation for how Sherlock survived is just part of the mystery; you’re not supposed to know because that’s part of the fun. Um, unless you're a writer and it's, oh, gee, I dunno, YOU'RE JOB TO WRITE.

I mean, jumping onto a mattress? Really? I could’ve written that. And then there’s the whole possibility that it might not have actually happened, and that Sherlock was just giving Anderson a story. Ok, so how did he do it?

Oh, we’re just moving onto Watson’s wedding now? Um…so what about the death?

Nothing? Still going with the mattress thing? Well, that's fantastic. Not only have you wasted my time, but you have succeeded in turning the super sleuth into nothing but an inflatable bungie-jumper. Ace job.

I pooped a little...
I pooped a little...
My childhood, you BASTARDS
My childhood, you BASTARDS

1) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is when Rowling started to transition her audience into a more adult world. Demonic creatures sneak within the school walls, criminal conspiracies come to a heated boil, betrayal resounds—all the good stuff. So when we heard that this little gem was going to be translated onto the big screen, we all probably thought the same thing: “Dementers! Werewolves! Time travel! Oh boy!”

And what did we get? We got Harry Pooper and the Prisoner of Ass-kaban, a theatrical fart that came rocketing out of the butt of Hollywood production and blasted hellish stink into our unsuspecting faces. What can I say about this film? Well, picture coming out of the womb again and being conscious enough to remember it.

The first problem is the acting. How can you sympathize with troubled Harry when the actor portraying him has about as much acting ability as a mentally challenged soda can? Radcliffe was always terrible, but at least he was a cute little kid in the first two films. In this movie he’s finally hit puberty, and the result is just as awkward as it is embarrassing. He seems to think that the epitome of acting includes clenching his teeth at us, but in the end it just makes him look constipated.

His coworkers aren’t much of an improvement. Grint has only two facial expressions: scared and dumbass, and even those become so similar on his face that after a while you wonder if he’s just sleepwalking on the set. Watson is probably the best, which isn’t saying much. She’s oddly dedicated to acting with her eyebrows, and after watching those things move up and down for ten minutes straight, you just want to seize her head and shave them off.

The movie doesn’t even give us any decent special effects. The werewolf looks like a giant balding badger with leukemia (seriously, what the flying hell?) and the guy playing Pettigrew is made-up to look exactly like a human rat. Um, clever?

This movie is the worst one in the franchise. If you ever consider watching it (though I don’t know why the hell you would) just make sure you have a barf bag handy. Or at least a loaded pistol that can give you sweet relief.


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