Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Heresy of Remakes

Sorry folks, but I feel another rant coming on.
After enjoying another viewing of Dawn of the Dead ('04) last evening,

(Getting down with the sickness)

-it occurred to me how many horror remakes I have actually truly enjoyed. VERY FEW.
I mean, I can no doubt count them on one hand. Some are passable, such as The Hills Have Eyes ('06) and this year's My Bloody Valentine (though I detest 3D) - and some are absolutely reprehensible, like the shot-on-shot remake of Psycho. That just about makes me want to hurl thinking about it. And speaking of hurling, how about Nic Cage in The Wicker Man remake? It hurts my head to relive that again, so if you'll excuse me I'll move on.

In my humble opinion, the best remake ever was the 1982 re-do of The Thing.

(a very hairy Kurt assessing the damages)

That movie was poetry in motion. I live for the day movie makers get the stick out of their narrow-minded asses and give us something that worthy again. Could there be a better example of taking a relic of a film from the early 50's:

(The Thing From Another World, 1951)

-and turning it into an updated masterpiece of cinema? Okay, you get that I like it, right? [ The bad news? Another Thing remake. Help me.]

But on that same page, what were they thinking with that horrific remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still last year? Eeeek!
The original of that sci-fi flick was made in 1951.

(gotta love it)

Surely with all today's technology and CGI effects that film could have been far superior to the dreck they turned out. Of course, we may need to take into consideration that they cast Keanu Reeves. Never a good sign...

(Keanu looking all scary and stuff!)

Anyway, I got to checking around the web to see what other sickening treats are in store for us. Remakes galore are on the horizon and I can't say I'm too excited. Doesn't anyone have any orginal ideas anymore?
Alas...apparently not.

I'm sure you've all heard of the new Nightmare On Elm Street movie coming out next year. Well, I was a bit jazzed for it, cause the trailer (see it here) does seem fairly interesting. Yeah, but so did the trailers for the remakes of Halloween (sacrilege!), Friday the 13th (irreverence!), The Haunting (blasphemy!), The Omen (heresy!), House of Wax (profanity!), The Fog (mockery!)...need I say more? Now I'm rather skeptical because I haven't heard too many good things about the new Elm.

However, I am psyched about the new Wolfman movie (trailer here for those of you living under a rock) - and until I see it for myself and can pass judgment, no one will deter me from my high hopes. It really seems like a Bram Stoker's Dracula kind of remake (though again.....Keanu Reeves, really?).

Also on the remake horizon:

Poltergeist. (2011)
Say it ain't so. What could they possibly hope to add or delete from this one? Though to be honest I dislike both JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson. Guess it'd be too much to hope for Bruce Campbell in the lead. And they better make the clown equally as frightening or it just isn't gonna cut it, okay?

(I can't tell who's over-acting more...)

Besides, with all the bad luck the original film had, if I were an actor you'd be hard pressed to find me acting in that one, sorry.

Clash of the Titans. (3/26/10)
You can see this teaser trailer here on my site. Not exactly horror, but you can't stop my heart pounding with glee at the thought of seeing this one, so don't even try. I love the ancients. They just don't make enough movies about classical mythology, and there's so much to work with.
The original Harryhausen production is a fantasy classic, albeit using the (come on, admit it) silly-looking stop motion animation.

(The Kraken. Not exactly what I'd imagined...)

But the new one looks like happily like a Gladiator-type film, with Liam Neeson playing Zeus and Sam Worthington as Perseus.

I can get on board with that, but I hope the Kraken is a little more foreboding.

The Birds. (release date unknown)
Okay, the first one was fairly hokey, but effective nonetheless. The sight of all those damn birds on the monkey bars? Creepy. But it is a movie about animals gone wild, and honestly, those movies are so hard to make convincing. Rogue was entirely satisfying, but Night of the Lepus...not so much.

(is that little girl's eyes crossed or is it just me?)

Thankfully, I have heard George Clooney and Naomi Watts are attached to star and will be directed by Casino Royale's Martin Campbell. Sounds better than expected... so far.

Scanners 3D. (release date unknown)
The only way this one could actually be better is if, since it's in 3D, the exploding head would send pieces of skull and brains flying into the audience. I mean, the effects in the original were stellar for that day and age.

(Michael Ironside just isn't thinking clearly anymore.)

The Orphanage. (release date unknown)

Just because a movie is in a foreign language does not mean it needs to be remade for us 'English-folk' to understand it. If you can't read subtitles then you're just a dork. Do I make myself clear? Next thing you know they'll be remaking Pan's Labyrinth. (And no, I don't want to hear it if they are.)

Hellraiser. (release date unknown)
Now this one has had my panties in a wad since I heard they were re-doing it. Ugh, ugh, and ugh again. Is there something that the first one was lacking? Oh my. Supposedly Clive Barker is at the head of the project, but recent news has been scarce, so who knows. And please, nobody does Pinhead like Doug Bradley, 'kay?

Season of the Witch. (3/19/10)
There is some confusion regarding this one. Word has it that Rob Zombie is set to remake the third movie in the Halloween franchise (the one without Michael Myers) but that he is going to add Mikey in this one (!!!). But there is already a movie in production with the same title starring none other than the awkwardly prolific, tax-avoiding, debt-ensuing, one-trick pony Nicholas Cage. It is about knights and witches and the Black Plague. Seriously.
God help us.

(Looks like the dog can smell shit a mile away...)

Of course then there is the rumor that George Romero wants to redo his 1971 Season of the Witch because it is the only one of his films that he didn't care for. So that title has alot of possibilities but garners little enthusiam from me on any them.

Night of the Demons. (2/2010)
With the original hailing from the late 80's, I figure this one to simply be another hack 'em-up-teenagers-are-gonna-have-sex-then-die kind of remake.

(The only still from the film I could find without breasts.)

Not like we haven't seen enough of that already. Did you know there were two sequels made (in '94 & '97) to that pretty much deplorable flick? Neither did I till I googled it. I'll pass on all counts. The original was really really bad, with more boobs than a mammography department. Not that I'm adverse to some nudity, it's a prerequisite to horror I guess...but in this quantity it may as well been a plot-less porno. It was as bad, that's for sure.

Piranha 3D. (4/16/10)
With the resurgence of 3D movies, I suppose a movie about flesh eating fish would be a given. No? Yeah, I wasn't quite getting it either.

(inner tubes and rows of sharp teeth don't mix.)

But there may be a glimmer of hope in the fact that it is directed by Alexandre Aja, who in my opinion has had a couple good flicks (Haute Tension and The Hills Have Eyes) and a couple mediocre ones (Mirrors, and producing credit on P2)... so I guess we'll have to wait and see. I'd have been more impressed if say, Quentin Tarentino was directing.
Oh, and Richard Dreyfuss is one of the stars. It's back to man-eating fish for the meandering star.

Mother's Day. (5/9/10)
Let me guess? They'll release it on said holiday. {heavy sigh...}
I'm just not getting the draw to holiday movies. Wasn't Halloween the I-Ching? Do we really need to go there? Aren't most holidays scary enough without capitalizing on them? Darren Lynn Bousman is directing, and if it's anything like his previous efforts on three of the six Saw movies, I guess you can tell what direction this film is heading. You want a good scary movie with mothers in the central plot just watch Mommie Dearest. Now that shit's bloodcurdling.

(NO WIRE HANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!)

Straw Dogs. (2/25/11)
I'm hoping this one will be worthy of later praise.

(Dustin Hoffman in the original)

The original (1971) was quite controversial due to a nasty rape scene, but considering it was an excellent if perhaps slightly overlooked film, I am thinking the remake could truly work. And I may be utterly biased when I say I'm psyched to see Alexander Skarsgard (Eric on True Blood - swoon!) playing the bad guy. Yum.

Dorian Gray. (9/9/09, UK)
Already released in the UK, this adaptation stars Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian) in the title role:

The original novel (A Picture Of Dorian Gray, 1891) was written by Oliver Wilde and is a classic in the gothic horror genre and one of my favorites. The previous incantation of the movie was made in 1970 and I have never seen it and cannot pass judgment. I don't know the release date for here in the USA.

And finally, in the category of 'well we can't make the name exactly the same', comes:
Let Me In. (2010)
I'd truly hoped it was an indecent joke when I heard they were remaking the fantastic Let The Right One In (Sweden, 2008).

Alas...not so.
I suppose it should be expected that when a movie gets a lot of hype and praise within the industry that someone would immediately latch on to the prospect of those American dollars ka-chinging in their pockets. The director of Let The Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, quoted the following: "Remakes should be made of movies that aren't very good, that gives you the chance to fix whatever has gone wrong". However, the writer of the source novel (and screenwriter for the original film), John Ajvide Lindqvist, is apparently excited that "the director will be adapting the novel from scratch rather than copying the original film."
For now, all I can get behind is the casting of the sensational Richard Jenkins as Håkan.

But frankly, I could spew large quantities of vomit at the thoughts of American filmakers getting their greedy paws on this foreign gem. Truly the best film in the vampire genre in the last few decades, Let The Right One In is a study in subtle terror. At times brutal, but always exceptional, LTROI was an instant classic, wickedly satisfying and not to be fucked (PMF) around with.
It's like remaking The Exorcist.
And please tell me that's not happening, or I'll poke my eyes out with the first sharp object I can get my hands on.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


Pax Romano said...

Stay away from sharp objects...

Corey said...

i've never really understood the anger aimed at remakes... the more horror films the better, i say -- regardless of whether they're based on earlier films or not. remaking a film does not replace the original film; you simply get a different interpretation of source material that you're already fond of. macbeth is my favorite of shakespeare's work, and seeing different productions of it is always exciting. i feel the same way about let the right one in... the novel was fantastic, and the film was even better. as much as i loved the film, i'm still interested in seeing an american take on the same story... even if it ends up paling in comparison to its swedish counter-part.

the jaded viewer said...

Seriously some movies need remakes as they were slightly terrible. But others should be left alone.

I mean Piranha really needed to be remade? C'mon.

Halloween? Cmon Zombie...jeez.

I don't mind them remaking My Bloody Valentine because hell I never even saw the original meaning the original probably sucked.

So its all in the eye of the beholder i guess.

the jaded viewer

Marc said...

Haha Jaded - I knew there was someone out there who held some sort of fond affection for the original Piranha! Me? I'm happy to see it be remade. I didn't think the original was all that great, and this new one looks nasty, bloody, and very sexy all rolled into one. I don't care about the 3-D, but that's a different rant for a different thread.

Chris Hallock said...

I liked the remakes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Blob.

I can get on a soap box about why I can't stand most remakes, but it has more to do with less/no support for original material from studios with the money to cultivate a lot of talent. It also irks me that a lot of talented foreign filmmakers are being lured here just to do remakes for Hollywood.

Something that also upsets me is having to miss a lot of great foreign horror films. It made me pretty angry not being able to see [REC] until after Quarantine had been released.

Lisa Washington said...

I've heard there is a remake of The Exorcist already in the works :(

It's like doing a cover version of John Lennon's Imagine.

Seriously, leave it alone. No remake of The Exorcist can bring anything new.