I’ll admit, some of these will never get made, but it’s fun to dream, right?
Handling the Undead – John Ajvide Lindqvist
Swedish TV series, Handling the Undead has been in production for a while so it could be the first book on this list to be released on the screen. But, its last update regarding production (IMDb) was in 2017, so it’s not that promising.
John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In was a huge success. He had further success with Border – a short story from his Let the Old Dreams Die anthology which made it onto the big screen. Border received good reviews and was the official Swedish entry for Best Foreign Film at the 2019 Oscars.
2005’s Handling the Undead is set in Stockholm, where the dead are returning back life, giving the bereaved their relatives back. However, the ‘life’ they experience isn’t really living. While it sounds like a zombie story, it’s really a horrific examination of loss and how we cling to hope even in the face of death. Much like Let the Right One In, the story deconstructs the classic horror monster, breathing welcomed, refreshing humanity into the story.
War, Baby – Kevin Mitchell
There are lots of boxing films. Some are very good, but none, however,are as powerful and deeply incisive as Guardian journalist, Kevin Mitchell’s book War, Baby. Mitchell doesn’t flinch in examining everything about paid pugilism. Analysing the bravery of the boxers, the occasionally cynical motivations and machinations behind the sport as well as the psychology of enjoying the beautiful brutality itself. It’s a compelling read.
What makes War, Baby more even more gripping is that it’s a true story. The focus is the fight between Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan in 1995, which left McClellan almost dead. He’s now disabled for life. Mitchell delves much deeper than ten rounds of bloody excitement and horror and his book could be a powerful screen examination of boxing’s uncomfortable relationship with itself.
’48 – James Herbert
A few of James Herbert’s novels have been made into films already, although none have achieved much success. Like arguably many others on this list, action-horror ’48 could be poorly handled and made into a terrible film. But who doesn’t want to see a post-war Britain where the population is either dead or dying of a dastardly German plague? Oh and those still moving are hunted by semi-zombie Nazis. Of course you want to. They have to at least try.
Hiroshima – John Hersey
Perhaps a controversial choice due to the subject matter is John Hersey’s 1946 report Hiroshima. It was originally an essay in The New Yorker on the effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and how it was a terrible lamentation of what man does to man.
Simmering with the humanity of the civilians living in the city, Hiroshima would be a hard watch but would give valuable insight into the direct consequences of atomic warfare. The book is a valuable read, even if a film would be tremendously tricky to make.
Bloodtide – Melvin Burgess
A contemporary reworking of Norwegian mythology, The Volsunga Saga is set in a post-apocalyptic London. Bloodtide is rather ‘adult’ for a teenage fiction novel. Burgess has a talent for creating a world which represents the myriad gods, demi-gods and predestined humans the saga contains while mixing it all into a wonderfully constructed London.
Ruined by war and governed by gangs, the novel features double crosses, battles and unexpected deaths. Bloodtide is like Game of Thrones young adults. It’s fantastic fantasy, certainly cinematic and the book reads well even if you’re a ‘grown-up’. It would cost a fortune to make, but so did The Hunger Games.
Cold – Ranulph Fiennes
The first man to reach both poles by surface travel, Sir Ranulph Fiennes is of course also related to cinema royalty (Ralph and Joseph). Cold is Ranulph’s book telling his own true story and delving into other wonderful adventures in the freezing extremes of the earth. For a film, one assumes the history lessons would be cut, though last year’s The Terror gave a terrifying (fictionalised) TV account – an intriguing aside in Cold. A film of his travels and travails at the ends of the earth would very much appeal to many, surely.
Brother in the Land – Robert Swindells
It’s going to look like I’m obsessed with nuclear war and the apocalypse, but the truth is that really I’m obsessed with death. As are all humans, however much they know it.
Anyway, this is my list not yours and Swindells’ Brother in the Land is another teen novel which deals with incredibly adult themes and situations. Following young Danny, who survives a nuclear attack on the United Kingdom, he has to look after his little brother as the radioactive sickness sets into the survivors. Then the government turns up and the story gets darker.
Think When the Wind Blows with a bigger, younger cast and machine guns. That piqued your interest, didn’t it?
Lady Don’t Fall Backwards – Joan Le Mesurier
I must confess this is something of a cheat. Ok, a complete cheat, as 2008 TV movie Hancock & Joan was based on the book, but was frankly, not very good.
While Lady Don’t Fall Backwards is ostensibly Joan Le Mesurier’s autobiography, its main draw is her romantic relationship to two of British comedy’s enduring legends: John Le Mesurier (Dad’s Army) and Tony Hancock (Hancock’s Half Hour). Essentially an expose, there is a salacious element to her story, but it’s nonetheless a fascinating insight into the comedy scene of the 1950s and 60s.
Made with more presence and a stronger emphasis on the whole era of British comedy, it could be a brilliant film.