Do You Prefer the Book or the Film?

I’ll never forget the time that my mum took us to the video store and let us hire a movie of our choice. I think I was about ten or eleven, and I chose American Psycho.

For the first time in her life my mum didn’t check to see what I’d picked, she just glanced down and absent-mindedly said ‘sure’. I guess she’d forgotten the whole Ace Ventura fiasco with that weird sex scene with all the animals that I wasn’t meant to see, last time she’d let me pick my own.

This scene is gonna be just like Little Red Riding Hood with the woodsmen, don’t worry.

Luckily, by some miracle the lady behind the desk accidentally put American Psycho 2 in the cover, starring Mila Kunis. It was um, not a very successful film which you can measure by the way you’re now awkwardly pausing to ask “There was an American Psycho 2?” Since we’d paid our $2 rental fee however, we decided we’d watch it before taking it back in order to get our moneys worth.

Now, normally when the video store gives you the wrong movie it’s a reason to be pissed off, call the lady behind the counter a whole lot of names which essentially mean ‘idiot’, and to vow to never, ever return to that evil video store ever again! But this time I have to say, that movie store lady (who either wasn’t a very thorough reader, or was just having a bad day) saved me from some hardcore nightmares and future issues when she accidentally grabbed that awful sequel.

And so this post is for you, video store girl. You spared those juvenile eyes from therapy sessions and horror.

No, wait.
Wait a second.

All this time I thought it was a lucky save that those fateful videos were swapped. Now however I think I had it all wrong. See, because I was never traumatised by the film as a child, I stupidly decided to read the novel as an adult.

If you’ve read the book and seen the film then you’ll understand just how much more damaging reading those ten times more graphic / downright disgusting scenes are, how much more confusing the story becomes which in turn makes it stick with you longer, wondering, and you’ll know exactly how it feels after you’ve read it all; a sort of numbness broken only by the flashes of memories of acid and cheese burning through your mind’s eye.

I think I could have forgotten the film, in fact my mum probably would have asked “What the hell are you watching?” and turned it off then cursed the video store for a new reason as if it were their fault for allowing us to hire it. The novel though? Unforgettable. Some things just stick with you, don’t they? Some things once you know, you’ll never, er, un-know them. Great book for those reasons, let’s not debate the writing of Easton Ellis, but let’s pause and acknowledge that well, there are some things you don’t really have to know.

So I take back my thank you, video store lady. And I hope that you read a disturbing piece of literature once in your own life and that you miraculously read this post one day and so understand how that seemingly pointless job you had once affected the life of a stranger in the most abstract way.

Funny how life turns out, huh.

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13 thoughts on “Do You Prefer the Book or the Film?

  1. I was always more of a movie person than book person; in fact I didn’t really begin reading for fun until 7-ish years ago.

    I’ve had a 50/50 split so far when it comes to what I found better, the book or the movie. I’m currently reading ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and I saw the movie last weekend. As of right now I’m digging the movie much more than the book.

    But along the horror end, I still need to read ‘Pet Cemetery’. The movie is messed up enough as it is, but hear the book is FAR worse (as in disturbing).

  2. I saw the second one and did not like it. I do own the first one. Though i do think American Psycho is a good movie, I feel the movie is so much better. Why? because it is more detailed, more graphic, you get a better picture of things. It’s the same with Pet Semetary. I love the movie but the book was so much better.

  3. No doubt about it…. the book is nearly always better……… Harry Potter (for one or six or seven) I loved Douglas Adams Hitch hiker series, the movie is insipid and lacking in the essential word play .

  4. Whenever I see a post even remotely mentioning a film as good as American Psycho I feel it is my duty to check it out! Love the film, love the book! Nice post & site, glad to have found it 🙂

  5. As unintentionally haughty as it may sound, I’m try not to watch movies where I’ve already read the book. I usually find myself disappointed. On the other hand, many times I’ve seen a movie that’s prompted me to source out the book, and I’ve definitely encountered what you describe. The first one that comes to mind is Stephen King’s Misery. Saw the movie first, then read the book. Still shudder when I think about the hobbling scene.

    Great post, by the way. Thanks.

    1. Oooh I couldn’t watch the hobbling scene. I had to block my ears and turn away. Shudder. I can never really like a film if it’s based off a book I loved, though I remind myself that they have to change things to make a film work I never enjoy it as much. There are some exceptions though, as always.
      Thank you for stopping by and reading.

  6. Haha, I love this. I’m not a huge fan of horror movies or books, so I can’t really relate to the risk of being traumatized, but I know what you mean.

    I watched both film adaptations of Lolita and was really disappointed until I thought about it. The most intriguing aspect of the book wasn’t the plot, but Humbert’s rhetoric – it’s near impossible to translate that visually.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I’ll be reading more of your posts!

    1. I didn’t mind the film when I saw it, I liked it and would have seen it again, but after reading the book I can see why a lot of people who had been a fan of the book first didn’t like it, and I think that’s where its bad rep comes from. But as a stand alone film yeah it’s fine!

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