Five Robert McCammon Novels Hollywood Should Be Adapting


Untapped novelist returns with The Five

Two authors sapped plenty of time out of my youth: Stephen King and Robert McCammon. One moreso than the other because not only was I devouring King’s books, but I was watching the films adapted from his works as well. I couldn’t say that completely concerning McCammon. The size of his literary oeuvre doesn’t quite match King’s and, to date, no one has ever made a feature film based on his works (The Twilight Zone and Darkroom adapted two short stories). And that’s a goddamn shame, really. Especially in this idea-bereft, let’s-just-remake-it Hollywood climate.

McCammon, an Alabama native, has his first novel published in 1978. His career carried him on through to 1992 until he took a ten year break due to sundry frustrations with the world of publishing. Although his output hasn’t been as steady as it was in the ’80s, McCammon hasn’t completely disappeared off the map. With 2002’s “Speaks the Nightbird,” he kicked off a series of period fiction novels connected by a character named Michael Corbett. This year, however, saw the release of a non-Corbett tome called “The Five,” which King just cited as a must-read in Entertainment Weekly.

When my father – also a McCammon fan and a former book collector – called to tell me about “The Five,” it was the first I had heard of it, but the synopsis got me excited: A rock band on their final tour do something in their music video to piss off a war vet. Said vet goes after the band and it apparently gets nuts from there.

The release of “The Five,” and my anticipation to read it now, got me thinking over the long Memorial Day weekend: Which books from McCammon’s library were worth adapting? The great thing about this author is that he has covered all facets of the genre, from aliens to werewolves to vampires and zombies. So, here are five film-ready novels that are ripe with potential.

â?¢ “Stinger” (1988)

Told over a 24-hour period, this is pure creature feature material set against the backdrop of a town in Texas called Inferno.

When an alien that goes by the name Daufin lands on earth, specifically Inferno, it’s followed by another alien – an bounty hunter called Stinger. The latter creates a force field around town, so Daufin – inhabiting the body of a little girl now – or the residents of Inferno can escape. Stinger proves to have a lot of tricks up his sleeve and some of the townsfolk experience a transformation. A film adaptation would required an ensemble cast and top-notch creature designers.

Although I recall reading the film rights to “Stinger” were acquired back in the â??90s, actor Jonathan Stark of the original Fright Night revealed in 2008 he bought the rights and was writing a script on spec with his brother.

â?¢ “The Night Boat” (1980)

Nazi and zombies. Two things horror cinema is already very familiar with. Here, the crew of a German U-boat becomes cursed. They’re turned into flesh-eating zombies and terrorize a Caribbean Island. That’s about the gist of it.

Not the best McCammon novel. In fact, he’s not a fan of it himself. The publisher delayed its release because it feared it was too similar to Shock Waves which was coming out around the same time. But you know what? I can easily see this being shot on a small budget. Besides, when was the last time we got a real good Nazi zombie movie?

â?¢ “They Thirst” (1981)

With fearsome and sensitive vampires battling one another in the market, surely there’s some room for this Los Angeles-set bloodsucker tale that, once again, presents a divergent group of characters, including a 500-year-old vamp. Known as Conrad Vulkan, he takes residence in a murdered horror actor’s Hollywood hills castle and uses an albino biker to enact his foul deeds. My memory is super hazy on this one, but I recall it being very violent and there was a massive sand storm that hits Los Angeles. And it was huge in scale. If I remember right, it was the book’s scope that scared filmmakers away (I could totally be wrong).

These days, that shouldn’t be a problem.

â?¢ “Boy’s Life” (1991)

I absolutely love this book and why no one immediately snatched it up for adaptation is beyond me. Talk about something that could become the next Stand By Me or any number of coming-of-age films. It’s not a horror novel, but it has frightening elements about it. There’s a murder mystery. A touch of the supernatural. Some fantasy. Just read it. And I’ll confess, it’s the only book that ever made me tear up.

The bad news is this: Universal purchased the rights to the novel and they remain tied up there. John McTiernan expressed interest in directing a film, but that never panned out.

â?¢ “The Wolf’s Hour” (1989)

No full moon or insatiable hunger. McCammon has put his own spin on lycanthropy here, and it’s pretty damn cool.

The main protagonist, Michael Gallatin, would make a terrific role for a seasoned actor willing to tap into his hirsute side and play a retired spy. Set during World War II, Gallatin is recruited by the Allies and dropped into Nazi-occupied Europe to gather more intelligence about a German plan. Like “They Thirst,” this puppy’s as ready for the movies (and video games and comics) as it will ever be.

Apparently, McCammon wasn’t finished with the Gellatin character. He’s gathered a collection of short stories featuring the lycanthrope and they’ll be published in “The Hunter in the Woods” later this year.

These are just my own personal selections I’d like to see brought to the screen. Frank Darabont has been trying to get an adaptation of “Mine” off the ground for years. “Swan Song” and “Baal” might be a fan faves, but I don’t know if a filmmaker can properly pull these off.

Are you familiar with McCammon’s works? If so, which books and/or short stories would you want to see filmed?

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor