I quite often make a point of saying that films mean almost nothing to me. It’s true. I watch movies. I enjoy some of them. Almost always I promptly forget them and can’t even remember their titles within a few days. I have no idea about the names of most actors. Lana often tells me the names when we’re watching movies, but within fifteen minutes I couldn’t give you that name. I think I’ve looked up something on the internet about movies or actors maybe a dozen times in my life. I’ve bought exactly six movie DVDs in my life, three of which I got in a package deal for about 3 bucks (and have never watched since I bought them). Lana has bought two others that I might well have bought myself under the right circumstances. Yet, I cannot say that movies haven’t affected me. And there have been some that have influenced my writing. So, instead of bashing movies too badly today, I’m going to actually talk about a few movies I really do like and which have been influences on my fiction. To avoid making these posts too long, I'll do it in two parts.
1. Once Upon a Time in the West. This is my favorite western, and perhaps my favorite movie. It stars Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, and Henry Fonda. Bronson plays a gunfighter known only as “Harmonica,” and Fonda is the primary villain. This is really the classic myth of the old west and I do own a copy of it. I didn’t actually buy the copy, though. It was a gift. There are lines of dialogue and certain descriptions in the Talera series and in Cold in the Light that evoke elements of this film.
2. The Outlaw Josey Wales. This is my second favorite western, starring Clint Eastwood, of course. I couldn’t tell you any of the other actors in it. It is actually based on a novel and is one of the very few cases in history where—for me—the movie is a whole lot better than the book. This also had an influence on the Talera series.
3. The 13th Warrior, starring Antonio Banderes and a bunch of other actors I don’t know. This is my favorite heroic fantasy movie. It’s based on Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead, which is a retelling of the Beowulf story. Both the book and the movie are very good. The movie has been more of an influence on my work than the book, primarily because of the very strong visuals. This movie’s influences can be seen in some of my heroic fantasy, such as “A Whisper in Ashes.”
4. The Thing, John Carpenter version. This is my favorite horror movie. I know the faces of many of the actors in it from other films but the only name I know is Kurt Russell. I thought the casting was excellent, though, and Carpenter got great performances from all the cast members. This has definitely influenced my horror fiction.
5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The one exception to my “I don’t care about TV/Movies” feelings is Star Trek: The Original Series. I will watch anything and everything about the original series and have seen every episode and film more than once. I’ve even watched the cartoon series, which featured the voices and likenesses of most of the original cast. I know almost all the actors names, which is unheard of for me with any other series ever. I even know the names of many of the guest stars and have several of their autographs. Wrath of Khan is by far the best of the movies made with the original cast and I’ve watched it so many times I largely have it memorized. Perhaps strangely, however, it has had little actual influence on my writing. I’m sure it’s influenced overall themes but not many details of the Star Trek Universe enter my fiction. Part of it is that I seldom write SF of this type, and part is that I know the stuff so well that I automatically reject it for specifics in my own fiction. The one exception is probably the Spock eyebrow arch, which I have had characters do in my stories. Lana bought a copy of this but I fully endorsed the purchase.