The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made

Written by David Hughes
Published by Titan Books
Availability: UK at present, available in the U.S. in April 2002

Okay, let me tell you something. I used to work at a website where all we did was report on movies that had not been made yet. At the risk of sounding like Rutger Hauer in the last reel of Blade Runner, I tell you this: I have seen what Evolution was before they made it into Ghostbusters 3. I read the original ending to Unbreakable which broke my heart when it did not appear in the film. I read the best screenplay I've ever seen, Harrow Alley, and the damn thing's STILL waiting for somebody to produce it after decades of lounging around.

You see, I thought I was ready for this book. I thought I knew what heartbreak was. I thought I knew what Hollywood was capable of. But the information we had at my old job pales in comparison to what David Hughes has wrought in this book. I didn't know about wooden planetoid that was orignally going to be the setting of Alien 3. Yes, I said wooden. I didn't know that Salvador Dali was originally slated to play the Emperor in Dune--long before there was ever a David Lynch version conceived. I didn't know about the long, insane process it has taken to bring us going on ten Star Trek flicks. In short, I really knew nothing at all.

Now, let me tell you what Hughes has done. At least in my eyes. I don't want to put words into Mr. Hughes' head or anything, and indirectly piss off the huge amounts of people who he interviewed for this thing, but to me: this is a great testimonial as to why Hollywood doesn't work. Again, this is just an interpretation. But when you read how they've completely altered I Am Legend to the point where they could call it by any other name and never recognize it was Matheson--and yet have the audacity and the testicular circumference to say how they've really nailed the material...? It's enough to make every sci-fi fan bleed out of their eyes for a fortnight. Hughes doesn't have to point the finger of incrimination, all the evidence is there--he's just presenting it.

But regardless, the bad news is you'll be cringing a lot. The good news is that you'll be cringing from the content and not Hughes' writing. He delivers the information in a fairly straightforward, matter-of-fact way, adding just enough personality to keep the thing from being a completely dry delivery. In one instance, he refers to the new Enterprise series as though it had already happened in an effort to make the book timely. But when I remembered that the book must have been in the can long before the series had reached the boob tube, that took me out a little bit. It would have been much better in those instances to simply notate "At the time of this writing..." and then use that as an excuse to do the updated edition later on.

A must have for genre fans. But be forewarned. It's a mind-destroying look at the way Hollywood works. Those who don't wish to know what we've been denied (in some cases to our detriment, in most to our benefit) should stay away.

Grade: A-

Review submitted by Widgett

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