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.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shiver: Once again, foreign horror kicks ass.

Shiver (Eskalofrío) is a Spanish horror film that has the benefit of terrific art direction provided by Pilar Revuelta - Oscar winner for Pan's Labyrinth. The fact that the storyline, acting, and cinematography don't suck is a plus as well.
Once again, foreign horror is kicking American ass.

Santi (Junio Valverdi of The Devil's Backbone fame) stars as a teen who has moved with his mother to a remote town in the mountains of Spain to try and get a new start.

You see, Santi has an unusual medical affliction. He is violently allergic to sunlight. The seclusion and darkness of living in the shadows of the mountains gives Santi the shortened daylight hours he is more able to function in. Yeah, I know what you're thinking...another damn vampire film.
Not so fast.

Around the same time Santi arrives, strange disappearances start to occur in the village. They quickly turn out to be murders, and eventually townsfolk - especially a group of bullies at Santi's school - start thinking it's Santi who is responsible. It's not completely a ridiculous notion, as for reasons unknown, Santi does appear to have rather enlongated canine teeth. This does not bode well for proclaiming his innocence.

When one of said bullies takes Santi and another friend into the woods to investigate something strange he has seen, one of the boys ends up dead and Santi the accused. Santi places a call to his friend from where he used to live, and the two of them take off into the woods to find out just what is going on.

They find out that there is, indeed something in the woods. Something dark and sinister. And it's hungry.

Creeping with atmosphere and well-acted all around, Shiver is a unique entry in the "there's something in the dark woods" category of horror.

Poor Santi goes through alot to try to clear his name, and there are truly some tense moments - in particular one when he is attempting to get some sleep on his couch. His fear comes through loud and clear, and you are nearly as terrified as he is.

I can't say I was flabbergasted by the ending, as I had some ideas about what was going on that tended to be correct. But it was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise relatively half-baked year of horror.
Oh, and one more thing. Don't let the fact that this film is Spanish dissuade you from taking a look. It has English subtitles which you will promptly forget about. If you shelter yourself from foreign horror due to subtitling or voiceovers, you'll miss alot of what the world has to offer. Case in point, France's Ils, High Tension, Inside.....Norway's Cold Prey....and Spain's The Orphanage, [.Rec], The Devil's Backbone, and the aforementioned and exquisite Pan's Labyrinth.
And anyone worth their salt in the horror world has no doubt seen and appreciated the stellar Swedish masterpiece that is Let The Right One In.
So give it a try.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Memorable Moments in Horror - Part 10

Impaled on a hook in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

*The first time we see Sam in Trick 'r Treat

*The missing boy in The Orphanage

*David getting ripped apart by zombies in Shaun of the Dead

*The alien walking into the camera shot in Signs

*Cat in the oven in Apt Pupil

*Achilles tendon cut in Pet Sematary

*Candyman's hook to the gut

*"What if I don't invite you in?" (Let The Right One In)

*The last death in From Hell

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

I need your vote for Ms. Horror Blogosphere!!!

Okay, here's the deal.

Along with 20 other extremely talented female horror bloggers, I am up for "Ms. Horror Blogosphere 2009"... a competition for the finest of the horror bloggers out there of the female persuasion. Like everyone always says, it's an honor to be nominated.

Now, though I have to admit I am fairly sure I won't win, and I have a pretty good idea of who will (nope, not sayin'!)..... I would still like to get a few votes.

So hop on over to the premier horror blog: The Vault of Horror - and give yours truly a vote. It'd be much appreciated. Voting ends on DECEMBER 4th - so hurry, hurry, hurry! And tell your friends!

You can also check out the plethera of fantastic horror blogs by all my creepy consorts. There's a lot of talent out there! I'm entry # 7, so you'll have to scroll down a bit to get to my entry.

Peace out.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Memorable Moments in Horror - Part 9

*The old lady dead in the dryer in My Bloody Valentine (1981).

*The unsettling quiet of Dead Birds.

*The dead Mrs. Ganush vomiting into Christine's mouth in Drag Me To Hell.

*Cut in half by wire in Ghost Ship.

*Stuck in a box of body parts in The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

*Ripping Frank apart in Hellraiser.

*Down the pipe in Jeepers Creepers.

*Christian Bale's weight in The Machinist.

*Joey Lawrence getting shot in the head in Rest Stop.

*The pit full of 'mistakes' in The Resurrected.

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