Most people know that Gustav Hasford’s short, powerful novel, The Short-Timers, was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, yet I’m sure not that many people had a chance to read the novel.

The book first came out in the late 1970s. Hasford’s prose is short, sweet yet powerful. In a 1987 Rolling Stone interview with Tim Cahill, Kubrick explained his attraction to Hasford’s novel:

“It’s a very short, very beautifully and economically written book, which, like the film, leaves out all the mandatory scenes of character development: the scene where the guy talks about his father, who’s an alcoholic, his girlfriend — all that stuff that bogs down and seems so arbitrarily inserted into every war story.”[1]

And Kubrick is correct, The Short-Timers is a masterpiece of economic prose.

The novel’s structure is slightly different than Kubrick’s film, which ends with the main character, Pvt. Joker, and his platoon, marching off into the darkness of the bombed out city of Hue.The Short-Timers Gustav Hasford Kubrick Full Metal Jacket Vietnam Paperback

Hasford’s novel has an extra section after Hue, a fire fight in the jungle, which is very emotional, and, in some ways, perhaps, would not jell with Kubrick’s vision.

The novel opens on Parris Island and the main characters, Joker, Cowboy, and poor, dim-witted Gomer Pyle (Lawrence), are introduced, as in the movie.

The drill instructor in the novel is called Gerheim, and, although he is as condescending, brutal, and vicious, as the film’s Sgt. Hartman, Gerheim’s dialog is different. That’s because real life drill instructor, Lee Ermey, who portrayed Hartman, improved his beautiful, poetic, verbal abuse.

But that is neither here nor there, because Gerheim and Hartman serve the same function, turning young boys into killing machines.

References

[1] Cahill, Tim (1987). “The Rolling Stone Interview” at http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0077.html

Advertisements

Heaven Help Us All When The Devil’s Rain!

Yep, that was the film’s tagline. Apparently in Hell making sense is not a requirement.

I love this movie. I cannot stress this point enough. I love The Devil’s Rain.

The Devil’s Rain is one of the grooviest, out-there, horror films ever excreted from the bowels of that wonderfully insane, coke-fuelled decade called the 1970s.

The Devils Rain Paperback based upon the far-out horror film with William Shatner and Ernest Borgnine.

Click for larger image if you dare! That’s Ida Lupino on the cover, trapped within The Devils Rain.

Brief summary (I don’t want to give it all away. You must see this movie!)

The Devil’s Rain stars the great Ernest Borgnine as Corbis, aka “The Goat Demon”, aka a demonic goat-headed figure in a bright red skin-tight bodysuit.

The movie takes place in a deserted Western town called Stanville.

Yes, Stanville. Get it, Stanville…

The movie takes place during the 1970s, but there is a flashback to puritanical times setting up the conflict with Corbis and his followers over a book called The Witches’ Hammer.

Corbis has apparently spent hundreds of years searching for The Witches’ Hammer. Turns out the decent all-American Preston family has been guarding the book. The Prestons are a savvy lot, they hid the book in a hollowed-out chunk of floor beneath an end table!

William “Bill” Shatner plays Mark Preston, a ranch hand who avenges his family against Corbis and the merry gang of Devil worshippers that reside in Stanville.

Yes, Stanville.

A super hairy, ultra-Seventies Tom Skerritt plays Tom Preston, Mark’s scientist brother. TV’s Eddie Albert, star of Green Acres, is a scientist studying ESP and telepathy and whatever the hell else scientists studied back in the 1970s.

John Travolta has a pre-Kotter, pre-Saturday Night Fever appearance as Danny. Who’s Danny? Never mind. You blink and you’ll miss him. So, keep your eye out for the young Devil worshipper with the butt chin.

The legendary Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, was a consultant on the film and has a brief cameo as the masked man who plays the large church organ.

The movie’s great visual effect occurs when various townspeople melt away into what appears to be gooey pools of multi-coloured candle wax. Awesome!

This is the rare novelization of a cheesy film where the book adds of a lot  important  information and backstory that was left out of the film.

But the book lacks great visuals such as:

  • People dissolving into candle wax
  • Ernest Borgnine with the head of a demonic goat whilst attired in a skin-tight red suit.
  • And the coup de grace, Bill Shatner’s post-Star Trek TOS and pre-T.J. Hooker toupee, er, I mean acting.

This groovy horror film and its super groovy novelization are both highly recommended! A+++

Dig this! Here are two non-Ian Fleming books based upon movies based upon Ian Fleming books, Moonraker and Spy Who Loves Me.

Moonraker Novelization 1970s paperback

Moonraker Paperback

Spy Who Loved Me 1970s Vintage Paperback

Spy Who Loved Me

There is something trippy…circular…cosmic…surreal… when a movie is based upon a published work but the movie is so different from the original source material that a new book based upon the film, which was based upon a book to begin with, is published.

It’s like a Möbius strip made of words.

Please note that the obvious choices, such as Jar Jar, young Anakin, and Jabba the Hutt, are excluded from the list of choices.