10 strange film adaptations of famous books

Since the invention of the film, adapting books to film has been a frequent practice. There are dozens of adaptations of famous books and literary works floating around, for better or worse. While some productions have won big awards, some are actually just weird.

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Some adaptations of major literary works try to stay as close to the source material as possible, but a few throw caution and accuracy completely out the window while trying to put their own spin on classic stories. While they can be incredibly bizarre, that does not mean they can not be entertaining.

10 Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) – Who Censored Roger Rabbit

Stream on Disney +

As surprising as it may sound, this Disney classic actually comes from a very peculiar novel involving tones, comics and murder. Based on the book Who censored Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf both versions are particularly strange, but it is debatable which would qualify as the stranger adaptation.

Both versions have a murder plot involving a mysterious missing will, but only the film has the appearance of characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny sharing the same screen. In this case, the strangeness may be subjective. Yet it is a literary adaptation that should not be without mention.

9 Murder On The Orient Express (2001) – Murder On The Orient Express

Not available to stream


The 2001 TV version of Agatha Christie’s most famous Poirot mystery certainly gets points for casting Alfred Molina as the famous detective, but its use of a “modern” setting will certainly throw some purists into a loop. This is not to say that the adaptation is not interesting, but it will definitely make some people scratch their heads.

On the one hand, it’s fascinating to see how a character like Hercule Poirot would function in a modern setting. On the other hand, it loses a little bit of its classic appeal by putting the 1930s period aside. That said, it keeps several of the novel’s elements surprisingly intact.

8 Malice In Wonderland (2010) – Alice In Wonderland

Stream on Amazon Prime, Hoopla, Tubi and Vudu

Alice, as she appeared in Malice in Wonderland

Where the modernization of Murder of the Orient Express try to be at least a decent adjustment, Evil in Wonderland feels like a disorganized fever dream. This modernized Alice looks and feels like someone spent a little too much time smoking with the caterpillar, and this was the end result of that collaboration.

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Instead of a little girl lost in an enchanted magical world, Alice is an American law student who is taken on a wild ride in London’s dingy underground. Like the original novel, however, it is the peculiarity that makes it memorable.

7 Depraved (2019) – Frankenstein

Stream on Hulu and AMC +

Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s experiments are not something anyone should try at home, but this adaptation gives Mary Shelley’s classic horror story a more modernized and somewhat realistic take. There is a great deal of focus on the medical side of things, as well as the implications of bringing a dead man back to life for both the subject and the scientists involved.

While Frankenstein has received modern adaptations before, this gives up the stereotypical horror images and gives it a more grounded and grainy remake. Shelley herself would definitely be impressed.

6 The Nutty Professor (1996) – The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Stream on Peacock

At the other end of the spectrum of the mad scientist, this Eddie Murphy pill offers a different take on the traditional Jekyll and Hyde tale. Although it’s actually a remake of the Jerry Lewis movie of the same name, The cute professor has the same backbone in Jekyll and Hyde’s relationship as in the original story.

Hyde is not just the evil version of Jekyll, just as Buddy Love is not the evil version of Sherman Klump. In reality, the two are just the uninhibited and uncensored sides of the other. With so many versions of the same story, it’s great to see that detail in a comic adaptation like this.

5 O ‘brother, where are you? (2000) – The Odyssey

Stream on Roku Channel & YouTube

When someone thinks of Odyssey, they probably do not imagine chain gangs, bluegrass music and the Ku Klux Klan. That is, of course, if they do not consider this Cohen Brothers adaptation. This version of Homer’s epic, which traded in ancient Greece for the American south in the 1930s, manages to retain all the highlights of the original story with a surprisingly working twist.

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On paper, O ‘brother, where are you? should not work, but it’s easily one of the most beloved book-to-movie adaptations out there. Although viewers find no Greek warriors, no gold cattle and no sea monsters, they have at least one cyclops.

4 Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past (2009) – A Christmas Carol

Stream on Netflix

There is no doubt about that A Christmas song is easily one of the most adapted pieces of literature available, and the variations of the tale of Ebenezer Joakim are as colorful as it can be. Although this version has no Christmas puddings, no haunted doorbells and no “bah-humbugs”, it has a heinous protagonist and visitation of three spirits.

Dickens had probably never imagined that his work was the backbone of a romantic comedy about Matthew McConaughey’s extensive love life, but it works for this twisted narrative. Not exactly the most accurate version, but it is easily one of the funniest.

3 Titus (1999) – Titus Andronicus

Not available to stream

Action figures, Roman soldiers and motorcycles may not have the slightest bit in common, but they all come together in a magnificent and glorious eccentric way in Julie Taylor’s acclaimed version of Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare’s writings have been adapted in more ways than many can count, but this is actually one of the tamer adaptations.

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Taylor’s style is more about visuals than about actually making sense. It’s not the version the bard probably had in mind when he wrote his tale of war, blood and cannibalism, but it’s probably the most memorable.

2 Romeo + Juliet (1996) – Romeo and Juliet

Rent at Vudu

Director Baz Luhrmann already has a reputation for the avant-garde, but his film adaptation of Shakespeare’s most famous love story is what undoubtedly put him on the map. Although the film hardly does anything about the original script and dialogue, the creative choice was made to keep everything else in 90s California.

On a normal day, it would give any viewer a break to speak Elizabethan English and refer to handguns as swords and blades, but Luhrman’s vision is without a doubt one of the most conspicuous adaptations of history since the Oscar-nominated adaptation in the 60s.

1 Throne Of Blood (1957) – Macbeth

Stream on Criterion Channel & HBO Max

Toshiro Mifune unleashes his sword in Throne of Blood.

If other than Akira Kurosawa instructed an adaptation of Macbeth with samurai, ancient spirits and tons of blood they would not be near as successful. While it sounds like the acclaimed director completely missed the action in Shakespeare’s most gruesome film, the Eastern taste really lends itself wonderfully to the story of the ambitious king.

By swapping the castles for imperial palaces, the witches with a mysterious spirit, and the kilt with Karuta, it is easily one of the most famous adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. Come after the samurai, stay for the gruesome drama.

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