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The first is John Carter, Warlord of Mars. This is a prime example of a great story that would not translate well to film. Why? Well, because it is extremely sexist, deals with complex racial issues, and because most of the characters spend the better part of the story almost completely naked.
But for all of this, it has been tried. Most recently, The Asylum made their take on it as a direct-to-video film starring Traci Lords. The story only vaguely resembled the original, and the visuals were nothing like what Burroughs had described. The green martians, for example: In the novel, they are green-skinned, have four arms, stand ten to twelve feet high, and have eyes on the sides of their heads. The green martians depicted in Princess of Mars stood barely taller than the male lead, had two arms, were a ruddy brown color, and looked for all the world like a refugee from the 60's series of Star Trek. But perhaps the worst travesty was the fact that the film featured Traci Lords, ex-porn princess, and not once does she show off her assets! A role that seems tailor-made for her, and she spends the entire film clothed!
Back on the big screen, Pixar has acquired the rights to adapt A Princess of Mars to film (though they have changed the name to John Carter of Mars) and set a release date of 2012. I have hopes that at least the martians will look like they should in this one, even if Lynn Collins doesn't show her ta-tas (which I seriously expect that she will not).
This is not the first attempt for this film, though. The first effort was made in 1931 when director Bob Clampett of Looney Tunes fame attempted an animated feature length adaptation of the story. A test film was produced and shown to audiences, who largely panned the story as being implauisble, and the project was ultimately scrapped.
Ray Harryhausen expressed an interest in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the 1980s that Disney set their sights on the franchise. Tom Cruise was slated to star, but it was decided that filmmaking techniques had not yet advanced far enough to make the film true to the original vision.
Paramount was the next to consider tossing their hat in the ring. With the release of The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001, Paramount outbid Columbia Pictures for the rights and slated Robert Rodriquez to direct. Troubles with creative visions and a stream of director changes eventually killed the film, with Paramount preferring to focus on Star Trek.
The other film that should not be attempted, but has been, is Phillip J. Farmer's Riverworld series. Like John Crater, Riverworld simply would not adapt well to film. It is racist, sexist, violent, contains drug references, slavery, challenges the notions of the afterlife, and every single character spends the first month or so completely hairless and naked. Frankly, I would love to see a proper adaptation of Riverworld. Unfortunately, I have seen both efforts made by the Sci-Fi channel and neither has been worth the time I spent watching them.
I don't know of any studio bold enough to risk money on a film that has full-frontal male and female nudity with no body hair, a drug-fueled orgy involving hundreds of participants, and a man who uses suicide as a means of travel. But these are elements of the story that need to be included, and to remove them is to lose much of what the story is about.
Several Native American tribes were said to practice cannibalism, and evidence has been found for a few instances. The Māori of New Zealand were known man-eaters, having killed and devoured 66 passengers and crew of the ship the Boyd in 1809. Many Pacific islands were home to cannibals, with one particular tribal chieftain of Fiji claiming to have consumed no fewer than 872 individuals.
And not all instances of cannibalism are mired in the murky past, either. At least two instances during World War II, cannibalism was reported among starving troops in Leningrad and Stalingrad. Cannibalism was also know at Russian prison camps, where prisoners were underfed and starving. There are many credible accounts of cannibalism by Japanese troops on their own dead, fallen enemies, and American prisoners. I has been proved to have occurred in many areas hit hard by drought and famine through the years.
Who can forget the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, in which the survivors reluctantly consumed the deceased in order to stay alive? The crew of the sunken vessel Essex in 1820 resorted to cannibalism when supplies ran out. Several survivors of the Donner-Reed Party, stranded in the Sierra Nevada in 1846 claim to have practiced cannibalism.
Serial killers (including Albert Fish and Jeffrey Dahmer) have admitted to cannibalism, and in recent years, a rash of reports indicate that the practice is alive and well around the world. It may not be common, but it certainly isn't unknown.