Monday, 28 January 2008


A re-make is never as good as the original movie (well, hardly ever; I suppose there are exceptions to the general rule, though none spring to mind as I type.) What about sequels? Do they ever surpass the first work?

The question is prompted by recent comments on this blog about sequels to Rebecca, and also by a couple of other things. Over the week-end, I watched Children of the Damned, the sequel to Village of the Damned, which I posted about recently. The second film owes nothing to its predecessor apart from John Wyndham’s original idea of spooky children with uncanny and terrifying powers of mind control. It’s very much a film of its time, with a heavy Cold War influence. The cast is excellent, and includes not only Alan Badel, but also Ian Hendry (who was originally the main star of ‘The Avengers’, believe it or not, Patrick Macnee being his sidekick), and Alfred Burke, later to star in perhaps the best of all British p.i. television series, ‘Public Eye’.

The first half-hour is brilliantly creepy, but the rest of the movie doesn’t quite live up to that initial promise. One of many differences from the first film is that there’s no personal connection between the main characters and the children, and lack of such immediate involvement is a real weakness in the closing scenes. I think the sequel was worth doing, because it contains some thought-provoking ideas, but overall it doesn’t adequately resolve them, and isn’t as good as the earlier film.

‘The Sunday Times’ carried a story yesterday about the ‘mystery of the missing Da Vinci sequel’ – the fact that Dan Brown has not yet produced the promised follow-up to his mega-seller. The story says that The Da Vinci Code has earned him ‘an estimated £125 million.’ Perhaps there is no mystery, and Mr Brown is simply enjoying his enormous wealth. Meanwhile, I'm striving to resist the temptation to call my next Lake District Mystery The De Quincey Code!

The really amazing aspect of the story is nothing to do with sequels, but rather a suggestion that authors never have to endure Deadline Hell. Dan Brown’s British publisher is quoted as saying ‘there is never any clause from a publisher to a novelist that they have to deliver at a certain time. We would not impose such a thing on a contract.’ This observation will, I think, startle a number of authors, as it did me.


Juliet said...

This must be a clause which mysteriously goes missing from publishers' contracts with £125m-earning authors. Specification re delivery dates for the less fortunate (ie vast) majority is still surely the norm - even though in practice such stipulations are possibly not draconianly enforced.

(PS Can't find comments re Rebecca sequels! This must have been a post I missed. Please advise.)

Martin Edwards said...

Juliet, it was Maxine, aka Petrona, who commented in relation to 'Thrones, Dominations' about sequels.

Juliet said...

Thanks (though you're going to regret pointing me and my galloping hobbyhorse in that direction . . .!)

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that TDVC earned him so much money, it was one of the most cliched books I have ever read in my life!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was me!
Love the De Quincy Code, but in relation to another one of those silly but fun blog activities going the round, why not go for a Ludlum title, eg The Grasmere Connection or The Derwent Disjunction?

Martin Edwards said...

Yes, Petrona, I could definitely do with Mr Ludlum's sales, though I would prefer to remain alive to enjoy them! How about The Burneside Identity/Ultimatum?