Film and games love each other, but they’re still in the awkward necking phase of their relationship. Right now games do most of the work adopting the tools and language of celluloid, whiling lacking restraint and a diversity of ideas. On the flip side, with few exceptions (Scott Pilgrim vs The World, particularly, and that’s based on a comic), Hollywood still doesn’t quite get what it is that makes videogames special. We’re still in sort of an uncomfortable place for full-on adaptations. The good news is that shitty cash in titles are scarce. The bad news is we’re not getting a whole lot else. And yet, there should be. And no, we’re not talking about obvious white whales like the Halo movie that Microsoft’s been trying to squeeze out the last 10 years. There’s far more fertile narrative ground filmmakers could be tilling here, flavor-of-the-month-ness be damned. In case anyone’s listening, here’s 10.—Justin Clark
1. To The Moon
Kan Gao’s tale of two doctors trying to fulfill a dying man’s last wish in his dreams is one of those surefire ways to reduce grown people to tears, and while the wonderful use of 16 bit RPG mechanics works, long stretches of the game want so badly to bloom, to show emotions on the face, to give this dying man’s past and his fantasy all the room in the world to be explored. A current gen redux would lose something. But on film, with a sure hand behind the emotions and the effects? We could have something beautiful for the ages.
Who Should Make It?: Not even a contest. This is a Spielberg joint, through and through.—JC
2. No Brakes Valet
Man vs. automobile is a pretty distinct subgenre of horror film, one that’s never quite seen the type of manic silliness that No Brakes Valet would bring to the parking lot. 90 minutes of some sad sack in a vest repeatedly getting launched into a cramped lot behind the wheels of several automobiles might not be the best basis for a story, but it would be an interesting take on torture porn. And anyway, do you really need to know why these twenty or so cars are being rammed into each other over and over? Can’t you just sit back and enjoy the destruction?
Who Should Make It?: Sam Raimi’s patented visual language would work perfectly with this material.—Garrett Martin
3. Hotline Miami
It’d be a beautifully perverse turn of events that’d lead to a Hotline Miami movie. The crazed bastard spawn of a thousand great and terrible action films coming back to theaters, grimy, half-insane, and draped in gore would be the ultimate horrifying love letter back to the medium that gave it life. Copious gore would be the easy part. Getting the game’s delicate balance of cathartic criminal chaos and abstract, Lynchian weirdness is the trick, and watching it unfold could be necessary viewing.
Who Should Make It?: The more batshit, the better on this one. Though how hilariously perfect would it be to watch Nicolas Winding Refn control a monster he, indirectly, helped create?—JC
Don’t tell me it can’t be done. This is an industry that somehow made two Tron movies. If they can squeeze that much material out of Jeff Bridges squatting in a dark room, they can make a movie out of Shawn McGrath’s brilliant Tempest tribute. It might be less of a narrative film than a rapid-fire series of mind-splitting psychedelic images, but there’s nothing wrong with targeting the college theater circuit. Watching Dyad is the best thing about Dyad, so there’s no reason it couldn’t make an amazing movie.
Who Should Make It?: Baz Luhrmann only cares about color and music already, so maybe if he made a movie without any people in it at all he wouldn’t embarrass himself for once.—GM
5. Parasite Eve
Yes, we know Parasite Eve was a novel first. Yes, we know there’s a film in Japan. Neither get as down and dirty as the game, which substitutes a lot of rambling about symbiotic theory and pyromania with a healthy dollop of terrifying Carpenter-style body horror in the middle of Manhattan. The game’s also got two plum female roles, one of which is a floating, opera-singing abomination that sets people on fire. I’ll eat my heat if there’s another movie with that going on.
Who Should Make It?: Vincenzo Natali. Splice is pretty much an audition tape, and his work on Hannibal has been keeping his eye sharp.—JC
6. The Saboteur
The Saboteur is one of those ideas you mourn for. It was trapped in a game drowning in technical issues and mediocre mechanics, and yet the core of the thing—the simple tale of a hard-drinking, hooded Irishman ruining the Nazis’ plans right under their noses on the noir-tinted streets of Paris, whose color is gradually restored as the Nazis’ lose power—is ripe. Though the game went the safe route a lot of the time, the elements are here to do something far less so, while keeping the game’s inherent sense of cool.
Who Should Make It?: Matthew Vaughn. The guy’s clearly having a blast playing around in alternate history, and taking his style to something a little more boots on the ground than the secret service or the CIA and their new mutant buddies should result in something awesome.—JC
7. Devil’s Crush
Pinball’s pretty hot at the moment. The cool kids love it. The cool kids also love satanic imagery and ornate rituals, so it’s the perfect time to turn NAXAT Soft’s notorious classic into a film. This game hits every corner of the pentagram—it has a circle of monks chanting ominously, demons running amok, a reptilian she-beast, and three entire screens of classic video pinball action, with multiple bonus screens that are easily unlocked for huge scoring potential. It’s about time we got the movie based on a videogame based on pinball based on heavy metal album covers that we deserve.
Who Should Make It?: Kenneth Anger is still alive and nobody is better at making vaguely satanic rituals look sensuous and alluring than the guy who made Lucifer Rising and Invocation of My Demon Brother. Plus maybe he could get Page or Jagger to do the music.—GM
8. Five Nights at Freddy’s
This might very well be a foregone conclusion, considering how popular the games have gotten in an insanely short period. That’s a negative for the games, which have already worn out their welcome. That’s a major plus for Hollywood, since the idea of trapping one hapless dude in a disheveled Chuck E. Cheese knock off while animatronic animals terrorize him for 5 nights in a row is a horror goldmine for the non-gamer population, and it probably works better since freeing the game from its still photo/flash animation shackles can only help.
Who Should Make It?: Pick any of the folks who’ve done a segment for the V/H/S flicks. Though anything keeping Gareth Evans from a third Raid should be regarded as the enemy.—JC
What ever happened to skateboard movies? I mean, you don’t really have to answer that—I’m sure they still exist, and I can guarantee you that what happened to skateboard movies is that I outgrew that target demographic like 20 years ago and just remain blissfully unaware of the dozens of skateboard movies released every year. I wouldn’t remain unaware of this skateboard movie, though, because OlliOlli is an amazing game, and it’s my job to be aware of amazing games. An OlliOlli movie could transcend the typical youth-pandering constraints of the disreputable skateboard genre, finding something stoic, something philosophical, something deep and epic between one person’s struggle with gravity and the board. Think less Thrashin’ or Gleaming the Cube and more Two Lane Blacktop, only without a Beach Boy. The constant solitary search for the ultimate line could send our lonely young skater on a restless journey through the death of the American dream, but all bright and fun, like the game.
Who Should Make It?: Stacy Peralta knows a thing or two about skating and moviemaking.—GM
10. Missile Command
The Cold War might have ended decades ago but we still live in a frightening world where everything we love could go away in an instant. A good Missile Command movie wouldn’t focus on action or destruction but instead on the overwhelming dread and paranoia that inspired the classic arcade game. A retrofuturistic period piece that was visually inspired by stuff like 2001 and Tarkovsky’s Solaris and set in a distant future where alien annihilation was a constant threat would be a smart take on the material. And for the score make up some Tangerine Dream sounding synth remakes of every Minutemen and postpunk song that’s worried about nuclear war.
Who Should Make It?: Steven Soderbergh has history with Tarkovsky hat tips, but more importantly he’s masterfully handled abstract emotional concepts like dread and paranoia in the past. Plus he could probably get Cliff Martinez to handle that synth version of “Paranoid Chant” that we need.—GM
Justin Clark is a freelance games writer living and freezing in Rochester, New York. Formerly at CHUD.com, his work can currently be found at Slant Magazine, Gamespot, and Joystiq. He can be found on Twitter at @justinofclark.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections. Follow him on Twitter @grmartin.