Island of Lost Souls (2007)

If you’re wondering who director Nicolaj Arcel is, you’re not alone. He’s better known as the writer of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He’s also written and directed several acclaimed Danish films, and while The Dark Tower will be his first American feature, it won’t be his first fantasy. That honor belongs to The Island of Lost Souls (not to be confused with the Charles Laughton/Bela Lugosi riff on Dr. Moreau).

Written and directed by Arcel, the YA fantasy focuses on Lulu (Sara Langebæk Gaarmann), a teen girl in a new town whose brother is possessed by the spirit of a man who draws them into a mystery that involves a secret society, a bizarre island, and the threat of evil taking over their entire city.

Deadpool (2016)

Weird pick, right? It’s only on here because it was stuck in the same development hell as The Dark Tower. Ryan Reynolds had been working since 2004 to actively develop an adaptation of the red-suited bullet counter. The character (as you probably know) was set up for sequels and betrayed wholesale by X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009. They killed him, they brought him back after the credits, there were amnesia bullets. It was a whole thing.

Fox was uneasy about giving the character his own outing for years and years, until the response to the leaked proof-of-concept footage all but forced their hand. It’s an amazing story of resurrection thanks to creators who refused to give up on a great character, and fans who helped play midwife to the studio’s confidence.

It’s not a fit tonally, but if adaptations of Blood Meridian or Hyperion ever escaped development hell, they’d be on this list with The Dark Tower in a heartbeat.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

A Gothic adventure with supernatural beings and fatal stakes, this anime is the sequel to a film that isn’t on this list because, well, it’s pretty boring. Vampire Hunter D is a half-human, half-vampire (or “Dhampir”) whose title gives you a solid sense of what he does for fun and profit. This story sees him and a motley gang of powered beings (one has a wolf face come out of his chest, another uses astral projection to kill huge groups without getting hurt by them) who have to chase through a desert waste for an insanely powerful vampire who’s kidnapped a young woman named Charlotte.

It’s a beautifully animated, often dreamlike, chase sequence though inhospitable territory where mismatched personalities have to learn to work together to hunt and to learn the greater truth.

The Dark Tower Trailer Breakdown 19

The Mix

There aren’t that many older movies here. The obvious choice would be classic westerns that are easy to pair, “Man with No Name” flicks with a lot of dust and blood feuds and vendettas. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is one great taste that would go with part of The Dark Tower. World-hopping fantasies are another great choice (and I almost picked The Lego Movie because it offers different universe in one film, including cowboys and knights).

This particular mix is a litter of mutts. Dark fantasies and shoot-em-ups with impossible physics and desolate worlds with magic stakes. There is something about The Dark Tower that makes me want to pick the weirdos.

What would you pick?

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