Friday, January 1, 2016

"Sliver" by Ira Levin - and the movie too!

Kay Norris moves into a high-rise apartment building known as a "sliver". She eventually starts a relationship with Pete Henderson, who is over a decade younger than her. First she discovers that he is actually the owner of the building. Then she discovers he has an elaborate video camera system installed in the building that lets him watch all the tenants' every move.

Several deaths have already occurred in the building, and Kay slowly suspects there is more to them than meets the eye, especially when she learns from tenant Sam Yale about Pete's mother Thea Marshall, who died years earlier under mysterious circumstances.

I'd already seen the Sharon Stone thriller "Sliver" long before I ever read this book. I actually went and re-watched the movie after reading the book to look at the similarities and differences. It was really interesting. You could tell that they initially wanted to follow the general direction of the book, only to go in a completely different direction about half-way through. Apparently the film shoot went through endless script changes and re-shoots. I imagine they were also sidetracked by including a lot of sex, as this was Stone's first big vehicle after "Basic Instinct" sent her star soaring. Although the book does contain sexual content, it's nowhere near the level found in the movie itself.

I liked the book better. I've read "The Stepford Wives" by Levin before this, and I enjoyed it. The novel "Sliver" is much more your standard woman-in-peril mystery thriller. It builds slowly but surely to a pretty nifty climax. You could probably make it into a movie again, and wind up with something completely different to what the 1993 film version turned out to be.

I admit to a fondness for the trashy 1993 movie, though. A confident, interesting first half (where it most strongly resembles the book) gives way to a confused, meandering second half. The killer's identity is ludicrously obvious, but the film seems to want us to think it's supposed to be a mystery. However, when you have Tom Berenger kneeling over the body of a dead woman and audibly saying "Are you happy now, Vida?" it kind of takes the mystery out of it. Apparently there were so many script changes and re-shoots that the identity of the killer actually changed, so that could possibly account for the lapses in logic! Also, I'm not sure why you'd pick Ira Levin's source material when you're wanting to make the next big Sharon Stone sex-thriller after "Basic Instinct". The book seems much more suited to a made-for-TV movie.

Still, I enjoyed the book, and I always find it really interesting to compare books and movies, especially when there are significant changes made to the source material, such as the case with this one.

1 comment:

  1. "Sliver" was a decent little book except for a ridiculous scene near the end, when the villain was attacked by a cat.

    I usually like Ira Levin though, especially the book A Kiss Before Dying and the plays Veronica's Room and Deathtrap.