As a lover of both novels and movies, there's nothing that has more promise or can lead to more disappointment than seeing a novel adapted to the big screen. There have been failures and successes when it comes to adaptations, and here's a short list of some of my favorite. Enjoy!

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June 14, 2013

5. American Psycho

Take a novel. Now, add in as many lists as you can: name brands, daily routines, clothing items, etc. Then, add in a main character smitten with himself and torturing hookers. Sprinkle that main character with muscles, emotional detachment, and an unbelievably cruel contempt for those around him and you've got a stomach churning novel. That's what Bret Easton Ellis did, and director Mary Harron turned it into an almost equally shocking movie. Christian Bale plays the perfect Patrick Bateman in this adaptation, showing him as an egotistical and merciless Wall Street yuppie with a twisted personal life. Bateman chops up a co-worker and murders a homeless man (and stomps his dog to death), all to the tunes of upbeat band, Huey Lewis and the News. The ending will have you questioning your own sanity. And come on, he drops a chainsaw on a hooker from like, 5 floors up on a stairwell. Bad ass.  

4. Trainspotting

Scottish accents are one of the most bad ass things around. The film Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle, was adapted from the 1993 novel of the same name written by Irvine Welsh. It's the story of a hardocre heroin addict and the drug scene in Edinburgh. The addict, Renton (played by Ewan McGregor), decides to get clean and that's where things take an even more twisted turn. Hallucinations, the pain of withdrawal, and even consuming drugs out of the worst toilet in Scotland, Renton soon realizes that getting clean is harder than he expected. The movie is full of absolutely hilarious scenes, drunken debauchery, and finding oneself even when you can't find an exit. AND ALL THE CHARACTERS ARE SCOTTISH. Great movie.

3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Hunter S. Thompson's famous autobiographical novel spawned an even more famous cult film of the same name. With Johnny Depp playing Thompson himself, the film is a drug-induced ride, staying true to the quickness of the novel. The movie's utilization of weird camera angles and quick jump cuts is a perfect, visual depiction of the rush Thompson must have felt most of his adult life. Full of swarms of killer bats, man-sized lizards in a hotel lobby, and a really sweaty Johnny Depp, this film adaptation takes the pure rush and confusion of the novel and puts it on the big screen. 

2. Fight Club

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is now a classic novel. However, the movie, directed by David Fincher, famously engrained the lines "First rule: you do not talk about fight club; Second rule: You DO NOT talk about fight club" into American society forever. With great lead actors Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, Fight Club is on this list becuase it made the novel a success once the movie got a cult following. Establishing an underground fight club and bareknuckle fighting as radical psychotherapy, Fight Club makes an impact on anyone. It's probably just shirtless Brad Pitt, but hey, it's an impact.

1. A Clockwork Orange

One of my favorite novels of all time, Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange gets my numero uno spot. Couple this amazing novel with the directorial genius of Stanley Kubrick and what do you get? Gold. FREAKIN' GOLD. Set in a not so distant, dystopian future Britain, this novel shows just what happens when youth revolts and instead of staying up all night, they find joy in raping and murdering the innocent. Alex DeLarge is the anti-hero in this story. Alex and his gang rape, murder, steal, and even drink drugged milk whenever they feel like it. Alex gets caught and volunteered to be brainwashed into feeling sickly whenever he partakes in any naughty behavior. Both the film and the novel ask us question our own morality. Though there are some scenes left out of the movie, like Alex drugging and raping two 10 year old girls (yeah, I know) and the entire final chapter (That part of the book being banned in the states until 1986) the film is my favorite adaptation. The weird third person narration, the eerily familiar feeling, and the made up slang (YES, many words were masterfully crafted BY BURGESS HIMSELF) make the novel and the film both fun and disturbing- a must see.