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Feature
The Best (And Worst) Schwarzenegger Movie Novelisations
Get to the chapter!

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Back in the days of yore, before VHS and in its infancy, your only opportunity to own a film was to buy the book. Novelisations still happen (The Dark Knight Rises got one this year), but in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘80s heyday, they were far more widespread. The big man himself was not exempt from getting the screen-to-page treatment. With his autobiography Total Recall just out, we've looked back at his unbelievable life in fiction. Get to da chapter!

WORDS OWEN WILLIAMS
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The Best (And Worst) Schwarzenegger Movie Novelisations | Conan The Barbarian
Conan The Barbarian

Screenplay: Oliver Stone and John Milius
Novelisation: L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter

Oliver Stone’s barking mad original screenplay had been reined in by director John Milius’ subsequent rewrite, but Conan The Barbarian still bore scant resemblance to the writings of Robert E. Howard. The novelisation does an interesting job of relating Milius’ story in a pastiche Howard style, however. The book’s landscape isn’t quite as weirdly empty as the film’s; we spend more time with Conan during his pit-fighting years; and Conan escapes his gladiatorial life thanks to a handy earthquake, rather than simply being freed. He also has a lot more to say in the book than he does when Arnold plays him.

L. Sprague de Camp was Conan’s custodian in print for years, publishing collections of Conan stories that mixed Howard’s writing with his own. He even rewrote Howard on several occasions, taking Howard’s non-Conan stories and putting Conan in them. The business in the film with Conan chased by wolves and stumbling upon a cavern where he finds a sword on the body of a dead Atlantean comes from Camp’s own story The Thing In The Crypt. Roy Thomas had already adapted it for Marvel comics, which is where Milius likely first read it. So for that sequence, Camp, in the novelisation, is adapting Milius, who adapted Thomas, who adapted Camp. If a story’s worth telling, it’s worth telling four times.

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Your Comments

1 True Lies
You didn't cover True Lies, which I still haev somewhere. The only major difference fro the film I remember is that his wife gets topless. I was so disappointed when I rewatched the film afterwards. More

Posted by KubrickSmith on Thursday October 18, 2012, 13:34

2
That's a really unusual, well-researched article, Empire, well done. I bought Paul Monette's version of Scarface at a junk sale. You find out a lot more about Tony Montana than you do in the film. You find out how he got his scar (I believe he screwed some general's wife and had his cheek opened up with a straight razor). You also read about his expulsion from Cuba with the great line: "Go suck the tit of the bitch whore America!" More

Posted by BenTramer on Wednesday October 17, 2012, 02:19

3 RE: Running Man Novel
L: Liverpoolfc This is one of my favourite books of all time. Class from start to finish, proper dark and violent. I would really love someone to make a film that is actually based the book. I wouldn't agree with the above that Ben ''is scrawny and unhealthy'', he is a man mountain that breaks grown men in half and refuses to die. Arnie would have been perfect in his pomp for the role. Amazing ending also. sp; Alas they would never ever film the ending... More

Posted by DanTDavies on Tuesday October 16, 2012, 17:48

4 Running Man Novel
This is one of my favourite books of all time. Class from start to finish, proper dark and violent. I would really love someone to make a film that is actually based the book. I wouldn't agree with the above that Ben ''is scrawny and unhealthy'', he is a man mountain that breaks grown men in half and refuses to die. Arnie would have been perfect in his pomp for the role. Amazing ending also. More

Posted by Liverpoolfc on Tuesday October 16, 2012, 13:33

5
A case of I'll be paperback? I'll get me coat. PS Came across running man in a charity shop and actually really rather enjoyed it :) Normally really hate Stephen "self indulgent git" King More

Posted by DanTDavies on Tuesday October 16, 2012, 13:10

6 Arnie Novelisations
I read the Predator and Running Man ones when I was a kid. The Predator one was pretty good, similar to the film in how the team get killed. On the plus side compared to the film as well you find out how Billy died in the book. More

Posted by Rob2175 on Tuesday October 16, 2012, 10:35

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