Sommerleigh Pollonais – Horror Head Writer
If you’re as big a fan of Family Guy as I am, you might remember a skit where Brian accidentally runs over a man with his truck. Shocked, he runs up to the guy and yells “oh my God! Are you Stephen King?!” The guy responds “No I’m Dean Koontz” to which Brian says “oh” and jumps back in his truck and drives over the poor man again.
That joke might not land with everyone, but for horror fans who love to read as much as they watch movies, they’ll understand that Dean Koontz has been considered the poor man’s Stephen King for years. Which is a shame because if you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading his work, you’ll see he’s an excellent novelist in his own right. And just like the King of Horror himself, his work has been brought to the silver screen many, many times. Hell, you’ve probably seen a few of them and didn’t even realise it. They tend to be a mixed bag in terms of quality, but the same can be said for Stephen King’s adaptations too. I mean, have you SEEN The Tommyknockers?!!
Time to give the man his due. Here are my TOP 5 FAVOURITE MOVIES BASED ON DEAN KOONTZ BOOKS.
This is one of those old 80’s movies you remember fondly, but it hasn’t held up that well with time (I loved The Last Starfighter as a kid, only to realise, as an adult, the hero was a douche AND the bag it came in).
Watchers stars 80s heartthrob Corey Haim as a young man who takes in a stray dog, later discovering it’s a super intelligent lab creation that’s connected to a dangerous creature who is stalking it and killing anyone it comes into contact with.
Both Stephen King and Dean Koontz have affinities for super smart animals (and heroic kids) and these staples pop up time and time again in their stories. And Watchers was one of those movies that made you wish your dog could do more than just lay around the house, scratching his fleas.
Sit Ubu Sit. Good dog! (That’s a little throwback for the 80s fans out there).
Starring none other than a young Ben (Batman) Affleck himself, Phantoms tells the story of a small town where one 150 people die and three hundred people go missing overnight. Affleck plays the sheriff and along with Rose McGowan (Scream, Charmed) and Leiv Schreiber (also from the Scream franchise and one of the only good things to remember in X-Men: Origins: Wolverine) they have to figure out what’s happening before it’s too late for them.
I remember watching this movie and having no idea what was going on. I’ve read a ton of Dean Koontz novels but Phantoms wasn’t one of them so I was lost, but very intrigued by the mystery unfolding in this movie. Sadly, the strong first act meanders into an okay middle and a so-so ending. But as thrillers go, it ain’t half bad.
Now we’re on our way to the meatier stuff! Intensity is my second favourite of Dean Koontz’s novels and this movie, or to be specific, mini-series, did a solid job of delivering it to me on screen.
A psych major is visiting her parents home when a serial killer named Vess (played with delightful malice by John C. McGinley aka Dr Cox on Scrubs) takes her hostage and kills her parents. She manages to survive and follows him. In doing so, she learns he has another young woman captive at his home and she decides to keep following him (while he’s on a murder rampage no less) to try and save this girl.
Think Haute Tension, but less gross and with an ending that makes sense.
Real talk guys, if I had to recommend any Dean Koontz novel as a starter for new readers, it would be Intensity.
Most people watch movies and never think of the novels they’re based on, but Hideaway was a movie I enjoyed so much, I had to find the source material. It’s the movie that introduced me to Dean Koontz and sent me on a gleeful spree of searching for more of his work, books and movies alike.
We have some real talent popping up in this one as well. Jeff Goldblum, Christine Lahti, Alicia Silverstone, Jeremy Sisto and Alfred Molina all star in this tale of a man named Hatch (Goldblum) who receives a special resuscitating medicine after “dying” in a car accident. He then starts having strange nightmares where he see himself killing young women. Is it a dream? Or something else?
It’s been a while since I’ve rewatched Hideaway, but I remember it fondly and I highly recommend checking it out. It’s definitely one of the best adaptations of Koontz’s work out there and you have the added bonus of enjoying the delectable double dose of sexiness that is Jeff Goldblum and Jeremy Sisto. Yummy!
#1 Odd Thomas
Rest in Peace Anton Yelchin. You were an amazing young actor and I can only imagine how much further you would’ve gone after your short but stellar career. Odd Thomas is without a doubt the best adaptation of Dean Koontz’s work to date. It’s weird, it’s wonderful and it manages to feel like an ode to similar films like Fright Night (the original not the remake, which coincidentally also starred Yelchin) while still coming off as fabulously fresh and new.
Odd is a young man with a strange gift – he can see and interact with dead people. When a creepy stranger rolls into town with his entourage of bodachs (ghostly predators who can feed off pain and destruction) Odd, with the help of his girlfriend Stormy, are the only ones standing between us and the apocalypse.
The books (yes, it’s a series) are best sellers for a reason and I think fans everywhere have to applaud the wonderful work done by Stephen Sommers. Yes, the same Stephen Sommers who gave us the only Mummy movies worth watching and uh…Van Helsing…but he also gave us Deep Rising so yay Stephen!
The movie has great pacing, witty dialogue, likeable actors and none of it ever feels boring or bogged down by unnecessary information. Even when the tone takes a U-turn on to darker streets, it still manages to keep you invested and on board all the way to the end.
Odd Thomas is a must see, Dean Koontz fan or not.
Sadly while he has a lot of reading material out there, the movies based on them are few and far between. Writing this list was actually a lot easier than any of my others as there wasn’t that much content to go through. That said, Dean Koontz deserves as much respect as Stephen King in my humble opinion. And as a fan of the horror novelist who somehow always manages to only take second place, here’s hoping his work gets a lot more love and a lot more adaptations in the future.
For those who might be interested in such things as *gasp* reading, here are some of my favs (not mentioned above) you might wanna take a gander at:
Seize the Night
For my look at some Lesser Known Stephen King Film Adaptations you can click here.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!