Archive for category Remakes
If there’s one Horror movie Saga I wish had stopped at one installment. (besides SAW that is) it would have to be Tobe Hooper’s Classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Now, I know we all love Bill Mosley at his best as “Chop Top Sawyer” and how can you lose with Dennis Hopper as a deranged… Well really just Dennis Hopper being himself. However, I would trade all of those ‘classic’ performances just to keep the original a stand alone bit of grainy brilliance, the perfect blend of absurdist theater and gore.
Even watching the original today, Hooper’s choice of low tech equipment still makes Leather Face untimely terrifying when his hulking figure bursts into the frame and horrifying when his face eclipses the flashlight beam in the wheelchair scene. It shouldn’t be lost that Texas Chainsaw 74 came on the scene one year after the Exorcist and had big shoes to fill to up the terror bar, and somehow it succeeded in earning that place in horror history. Maybe, its the fact that it was semi-inspired by Ed Gein real life affinity for mutilating women into accessories so it toted that ‘based on ‘a true story realism’ before that type of thing became a sickeningly over played fad.
Whatever the reality was, viewers of Chainsaw 74‘, when they were first “dragged to dinner,” bound and gagged, they felt like the journey that led them to face the 40 whacks from grandpa was somehow believable in the way we all believe nightmares when we sleep, no matter how absurd they are, because Chainsaw 74′s horror was real enough and to convince us we weren’t dreaming. Unfortunately, the first three sequels that followed decided to FOCUS on the absurd, and forgot about the horror that wears down our willingness to challenge the absurdity of the unfolding nightmare.
On the other hand, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) made Samuel Beckett look like a realist as it redefined the parameters of ridiculousness at every turn with Dennis Hopper’s tap dancing chainsaw duels. Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) tried to hang its hat on the same ol’ meathook by attempting to re-hash a climax with painfully similar bound girl at the dinner table routine –But at least we got Ken Foree basically reprising his Dawn of the Dead (1978) role. As for ‘Leatherface’s’ successor, that piece of crap with Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey known as Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994), well I couldn’t cover in a book let alone a blog how far removed that thing was from the 74′ classic.
Ten years later, the first rounds of remakes rolled in with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) and while I thought maybe R. Lee Ermey could save the Jessica Biel train-wreck with his dead pan drill sergeant delivery the sad reality was that his role was understated by the film’s unoriginal modernization which was as mundane as any other American horror film to be released that year. While the capture of Biel’s ‘Last Girl’ characters by Ermey, Leatherface, and Co. wisely skirted the usual bondage at the dinner table with a mere ‘wink’ comment by Ermey about her staying for dinner or something of the like, the film was only horrific in its inability to add anything but more overused conventions to a no longer scary character. If it succeeded at anything it at very least toned down the Looney Toons nature left behind by McConaughey scrambling to find the proper remote to control his robot leg. (Boy I wish I was kidding)
While I can’t comment on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), as I checked out before that, the fact remains that its been ten years and OF COURSE since we haven’t had a 3D entry we definitely need another Texas Chainsaw Reboot, but I ask what’s the point? There’s no way to return to that grainy footage, that massacre in the wheel chair, the girl dragged off the porch to be hung like meat on a hook, or that first appearance… that red background adorned with cattle skulls, this hulking figure stepping in front of it without any sound spike beyond a distant pig squeal and then the clunk of the hammer and the blood choking seizure that followed. Perfect grainy brutality.
If Leatherface took his final bow as that blood soaked girl, alive, but half out of her mind, cruised away in the rusty flat bed of a pickup truck while he danced away the night with his chainsaw. We would all remember Texas Chainsaw more fondly than we do now or more importantly then we will, most likely, next week.
Dread Central (via Variety) had an interesting post a few days ago about a potential Hellraiser TV series currently in development. Apparently RHI Entertainment, who were formerly Hallmark Entertainment if you can believe it, have rebranded to become Sonar Entertainment and are now interested in producing TV shows with Hellraiser being an initial idea. Typically when I hear movie remake news, I get indignant and complain (please reference any number of posts on this blog) but with this one I’m somewhat positive. In the past few years television has quickly become my favorite medium for onscreen adaptations of novels with Game of Thrones being the most obvious example and the potential for a Dark Tower adaptation has me salivating. The long-form medium of a series really opens up the potential for complex storytelling that just isn’t possible in feature films. Imagine Game of Thrones as a 2-hour movie – ugh. I think it goes without saying that I’m talking about non-network TV here. HBO or Showtime would be the most desirable locations for a Hellraiser show, but both FX and AMC have shown they are capable of putting out edgy series as well.
And let’s face it – the only good entries in the Hellraiser series are the first two. The other seven are hokey, low budget affairs that were mostly straight to DVD. So, it’s not like a TV series would be desecrating a great body of work. Also positive is that Larry Kupin, who produced the first two films is apparently attached to this project. It’s doubtful that Clive Barker will return to direct, but hopefully the series can match some of the gruesome design and effects from the first film – the bar has been set pretty high there:
I’ve come to the conclusion that except for myself, my co-writer Matt, and a handful of our readers that the majority of horror fans embrace repetitive swill as cinema. For the past thirties years, the only ingredients one needed to invent a horror frachise was to create a character that people might want to watch kill other people, over and over again. While I’d like to blame the slasher franchises of the eighties I recognize that Universal and Hammer would recycle their classic characters: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman into dozens of scenarios and even cross-overs, long before anyone conceived a predator aiming three red dots at an alien, and while Freddy verse Jason was probably just the description of two yokel idiots duking it out behind a bowling alley. While the same could be said for Godzilla fans, or Rocky fans for that matter, (maybe those two should fight) I still find it the invasion of formulaic sequels, remakes, crossover, and sequels of remakes and sequel cross over most offensive since horror is dripping wet, saturated with them as of late.
To prove my point, let’s see what’s on the docket for the near future of the genre. Hmmm.. Let’s start with Scream 4, I really don’t think I need to type any more than that, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that any horror movie featuring a cast member from Friends (Leprechaun included!) should not be watched. While I respect, in retrospect, the original Scream for its tongue and cheek commentary on the genre I think it should have stopped there. Who out there was just dying for the next Scream movie, anyway?
Next up Final Destination 5. I never thought this franchise would release enough movies to screw up their numbering method, but here where are. While the franchise’s latest entry not only returns to standard numbering practices it also convinces genre Rockstar Tony-”Have you got any shotguns in there” -Todd to return to playing…what the hell was the point of his character, again? Anyhow, part of me kinda liked this series for removing “the middle man” from the slasher movie “Victim-Killer-Death” dynamic, but the other part of me finds this franchise plays out like the angry ghosts of Rube Goldberg and Wile Coyote teamed up to reek overly complex havoc on stupid teens. Does it always have to be a nineteen step process to lock two stupid blonds in the tanning booths can’t we just drop some anvils on their heads?
Children of the Corn: The Dweller is in the works, which, horrifically, is the seventh or eighth “COTC” movie depending on if you count the TV remake of the original. I find the fact that this yellow undigestable grain looks identical in your toilet to how it begins on your plate more terrifying than any moment of this unnecessarily inflated franchise. If King knew what his story would have become I think he would have eaten the paper he typed it on and let it fall into his toilet with the yellow vegetable impersonator in question. Another one of these movies? Really?
Hellraiser: Revelations. I know people love this franchise, and Pinhead is awesome in that dry-wit, dark humor Freddy-esque way, but I never really understood this franchise. You have torture horror headed up by an angry pin cushion from hell who gets owned in every film when somebody solves a puzzle box. Why don’t they just do a YouTube search for the Rubik Cube Champion. I easily found a guy that could solve one with one hand in seventeen seconds. Fly him over, and Pinhead will be back in hell before the opening credits finish. Love it or hate it, the ninth entry in this franchise is on its way.
LeatherFace 3D. I hate 3D. It has finally come to that. Once a novelty, now a cheap selling point, 3D is just another excuse for crappy writing and lazy cinematography, not to mention, it’s the last thing a franchise that’s been a mess since its legendary original, needed. The three sequels in the original chain of movies, Dennis Hopper and Bill Mosley antics aside, have been mostly unwatchable even with a cameo from Ken Foree. Now, they’re pushing the remade chain of movies up to the third link and put the 3D stamp on it? Count me out.
Next up, my co-author Matt will be ecstatic to learn that one of his all time favorites, Shrooms, will soon have a sequel that is also allegedly in 3D…more details to follow.
Also in remake-sequel news, Friday the 13th Part 2 (take II 2011?) is still in development talks, which makes you wonder what happens in 2041? Will the next generation of Jason watchers remake the franchise for a third time and shouldn’t they, soon or later, update the mask to one of those new-fangled modern goalie masks that looks like a football helmet and a motorcycle helmet cross bred? That might be the fresh start this franchise needs.
I could go on… There’s talks of Candyman 5, a Child’s Play remake, A Pet Semetary Remake, another Cloverfield, a fourth Underworld etc…
The very existence of these many remakes, rehashes, redos, re-imaginings, reboots, and sequels that won’t die illustrates the truth that people are paying for anything with their franchises tag on it. If we have indeed become that simple of fans of than what aspect of these movies keep filling the seats? Perhaps, it is the ancient Greek tradition of the anti-hero, also often adopted by Shakespeare, which allows the viewer to identify with a flawed creature who we simultaneous love and hate as we take pride and pity in their ruination. Yeah, probably not. However, we do form a dysfunctional “buddy” relationship with our slashers, be they silent or wisecracking, enjoying in their homicidal success and the finesse they do it with, but secretly rooting for them to fail, be defeated. Bizarre, but totally, true.
While I’d like to believe that the whole depreciation of the American horror genre’s intelligence could be as simple as identifying with comic-book like super-villians, constantly waiting for the next issues no matter how bad they are, the truth is that the formula itself has its own attraction. For example, for some ungodly reason, Matt and I sat down and watched the original April Fools Day, which actually boasts a body count of ZERO, but plays out the slasher formula in the same manner. Of course, there’s the previously mentioned Final Destination which has no killer proving further it isn’t about the post-mortem punchlines or the looming silence of a hulking man. Maybe, we just liked to watched people get offed.
That concept is pretty easy to believe in a society that worships pathetic reality talent shows that are set up in the same format: a group of people that are going to be eliminated one by one in the next twelve weeks…scary isn’t it? Maybe, if they come up with a show where they actually kill these idiotic participants then I’ll actually have something to watch in lieu of the crappy horror industry. In the meantime, one of the only original horror flicks on the horizon in the American horror genre is Kevin Smith’s Red State, and waiting for him to breathe some life into the genre is just sad.
Some old news, some new news…just really whatever came across my plate that I felt like talking about this minute, and first up is The Thompsons (2011) has been announced as the follow up to the first’s HorrorFest’s The Hamiliton’s (2006). Anyone who caught the original mess of bondage, incest, suburban vampires, and plot holes, but a somewhat captivating narrative knows that “the family” had moved to a new town and changed their name. What new adventures will those nutty neighborly vamps have? Well I’m going to tell you.
Apparently, the reluctant teenage son from the original, Francis, finds a new girl since things didn’t work out with the red head that was tied up in his basement in the last movie after he ate her – in a bad way. Ironically, oh snap, his new love interest turns out to be a vampire too. How convenient. Unfortunately, her vampire parents are rich and they don’t want their daughter associating with a common vampire. I mean what would Dr. Frankenstein and Count Dracula think when she brings him to the Monster Country Club? Just Scandalous. Sadly, I’m only kidding about the last sentence; this is actually the plot, but I think it has more to do that they don’t want the newly named Thompson hunting on their turf.
My take: the first movie was Looney Toons and some of the actors were terrible, but somehow I found it to be one of the better horror films I’ve seen in a while. Can they make ridiculous enjoyable again? Perhaps or perhaps like most B vampires films, it will just suck.
Bad pun…moving on… transition… and in Somewhat related news, It looks like After Dark Films is hanging up the Horror Fest strategy and moving on to “After Dark Originals.” The After Dark website released the following statement, “After Dark has taken the horror festival concept to a higher level. After Dark Originals showcases eight new cutting edge horror films spanning the genre. The mission is to create high quality horror films that provide After Dark full control from script concept through final editing,” which is apparently better marketing than coming out and saying “yeah the crap we’ve been parading across the country for the past four year has been mostly terrible and we really can’t get any theaters to sign on anymore. Either way, they do have 8 more movies advertised on their site, so please check them out at www.horrorfestonline.com. However, it does not appear the weekend of films hitting the country somewhere between November and January will happen this year.
Next up, in the “God-am-I-sick-o’-remakes-category” comes Deep Red (2011). Arguably, one of Argento’s lesser films, Deep Red (1975) was another one of his Hitchcock-esque thrillers that relied on a bizarre and ghastly punchline, but paled in comparison to his more widely known work. Perhaps, the idea is that he can do it better this time? With that in mind, here comes the kicker.
He won’t be directing his own remake, but early reports is that he wants his old buddy George to take the helm. He and Romero have, of course, rubbed elbows in the past on projects: Dawn 78 received a cut job or butcher job from Argento, their dual takes on Poe in Two Evil Eyes, and of course most fans noticed Asia, Argento’s daughter, in Romero’s final installment of his original Dead series, but can these two horror veterans really remake a mediocre film into something substantial? Personally, I rather they both give us something new and original. Imagine that, boys.
Finally, in breaking news today, Pope Benedict XVI says its okay to slaughter millions of helpless…..sperm by using condoms. While the statement was filled with a million backdoor loop holes: something about male prostitutes, lesser of two evils, moral responsibility and HIV its still nice to see the church moving away from their medieval sperm slaughter position. I urge all our readers to get their hands on some Trojan stock as sales should go through the roof this week now that we got the pope on board. And if that’s not horrifying… I don’t know what is.
A new clip from Let Me In (Matt Reeves’ remake of Let The Right One In) surfaced today and I remain unconvinced. What we see here is Hakan attempting to drug and presumably drain a teenager by hiding in the back seat of his car. A bit of a cliche, no? This is all set to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Burning For You” which certainly gives the scene a distinctly American feel and I like the fact that the kidnapping is set to some benign rock song. Overall, the scene is nothing spectacular and it leaves me wondering why the producers chose this one to release as a teaser. It doesn’t do much to capture my interest. [Insert further whiny "I hate remakes of awesome films" talk here]. Check it out for yourself:
Sometimes I try to limit the amount of cynical content I write on this blog to avoid sounding like I’m just being bitter for the sake of it. But when news like this comes along, I’ve got nothing else to work with. That’s right, if it wasn’t bad enough that the Twilight producers are aiming to remake Martyrs, producer, Wyck Godfrey, is now saying that he wants Kristen Stewart to play one of the leads (presumably Anna). Why don’t we just go ahead and cast Pattinson as the brutal torture guy? Back when I bitched about this remake a few weeks ago, my esteemed co-author, Chris, joked about possibly having the pleasure of seeing Stewart punched in the face repeatedly. He was joking but it looks like we may get to see that after all.
In his interview with Fearnet, Godfrey also noted that they “are doing it for an American audience with an American cast” which I can’t help but read as “doing it for a stupid audience with a stupid cast.” Citing that the original movie is “not remake-able in its form for an American audience,” Godfrey seems to reveal that either the sheer brutality or intellect of the original is too much for American audiences to consume. How sad and insulting is that? So, as I had initially hypothesized, it seems like we’re looking at yet another unnecessary dumbed-down remake.
Yeah, I know. File this one under the “pointless bitching about remakes” category.
The other day in News That Makes Me Want To Vomit, it was revealed that a remake of Martyrs is being produced by the same team behind the Twilight series. I’ll avoid making an obvious “torture” pun here but seriously? They’re taking one of the most brutal, unique, and interesting films the horror genre has seen in years and maybe turning into something that a teenage audience might see?
Of course, the fact that Martyrs is being remade isn’t surprising given the fact that anything sacred is bound to be snatched up and repackaged for financial gain. But this has the potential for epic-level bastardization. Anyone want to take bets that rather than leaving a thought-provoking ending, this one will tie up everything nicely? Then moviegoers will say things like, “Wow, that was unique” or “Wait, there’s an original? Oh it’s in French? Nevermind.” And yes, this is one of those cynical “I hate remakes” posts because I’m in a bad mood today. At least now I have something that irritates me as much as the Let The Right One In remake.
I don’t know what else to say. More details at Cinematical.
Over the past 7 months, I’ve been on a Platinum Dunes patented ride to a movie release. The process goes like this:
- Initial teaser trailer released for legendary horror franchise being rebooted. Said trailer is dark, ominous, and throws in just enough franchise nods appearing to have been updated for the current year.
- I think, “Hey, that looks like it could be all right!”
- Stills are gradually released, usually capturing iconic scenes being remade or title character looking horrifying.
- The horror community is likely divided on the new film – some excitement, some skepticism.
- Full length trailer is released. Said trailer includes teaser trailer footage, attractive 20-somethings, bits of over-dramatic dialogue, and periods of silence broken with loud “bang” noises.
- I think, “Shit! Looks like they might have fooled me again. I’ll still give it a shot though.”
- I see said film, knowing it will be terrible. And it is.
- I think, “I’ll never see one of those shitty Platinum Dunes remakes again.”
- [INSERT REBOOT TITLE HERE] is announced.
- Process begins anew.
So you may have guessed it already – I think the A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot was utter crap. I’m not going to dance around this one, trying to find and highlight the bright moments in an effort to be fair. This movie failed on nearly every level. Where do I start? How about the fact that Platinum Dunes took this iconic film, stripped it of all atmosphere, dumbed-down its best moments, and transformed it into another run-of-the-mill horror release? There are next to no scary scenes here, save for one or two where director Samuel Bayer actually allows suspense to build for more than 2 seconds. Everything else rapidly builds toward inevitable jump scares (punctuated by those great “bang” noises again) that you can see coming way before they happen. Nothing is surprising and somehow, they’ve managed to discard that eerie “is this a dream or reality” atmosphere of the original film.
On top of this, the best scenes aren’t executed well and they come off as having been thrown in out of obligation. They even had the balls to modify the scene where Tina is dragged across the ceiling by Freddy’s claw. Here, she gets thrown around the room a few times, hovers over the bed, gets slashed and falls down dead. We don’t actually ever see what’s happening on the dream side, like in the original. You would think they could have executed this one better than the original given the enhancements in technology, but honestly I think old-school effects will always prevail over CGI. Check out this comparison and tell me if you agree:
The plot is a slightly modified rehash of the original, so I don’t have too many complaints there. Though, I do have some beef with the nonsense idea (as explained by a character in the film reading out of a textbook) that after 70 hours of sleeplessness, the human body falls into a coma. It has been well documented that people have stayed awake for as many as 264 hours – 11 days – with no ill effects. I don’t know why that annoyed me so much, but it did. Probably because half of the audience will believe it is true.
What about Freddy? The writers do call into question his guilt and also turn him from a child murderer into a supposed child molester. I didn’t mind that change as, in a way, there’s something more perverse and disgusting about molestation. If anything, this angle provided a way for Jackie Earle Haley to explore a decidedly different character than Robert Englund’s. Unfortunately, that aspect of Krueger’s personality goes undeveloped. I think there was real potential for him to be creepy and downright gross here but the writers wimped out, probably wanting to keep things just “safe” enough for mainstream America to buy tickets. I can think of only one scene toward the end where Krueger’s true motivations and perversions are apparent. Otherwise, they’re just something that happened in the past, off screen and uninteresting. Instead, the writers have Haley’s gravelly voice uttering lines like, “Why are you screaming? I haven’t even cut you yet.” But don’t blame Haley. Blame the writers. All that he and the other actors had to work with was a below average pop-horror script. They did fine for the most part, save for a few extraordinarily corny moments.
Visually, A Nightmare on Elm Street had some strong moments – a snowy bedroom and blood soaked hallway come to mind – but I didn’t leave the theater pondering its cinematography. It adequately executed dozens of cliche images, if that’s what you’re going for. I’m not. I want something that’s going to stick with me for days. While watching a scene involving a “creepy” little girl, I couldn’t help but think of The Shining and how Kubrick excelled with his twins. That image still freaks me out to this day. The ones in A Nightmare on Elm Street will be forgotten before I fall asleep tonight.
This was more of what we’ve come to expect from Platinum Dunes and I’m done watching their crappy bastardizations of genre legends. I just heard they’re planning on remaking The Monster Squad. Hey, that looks like it could be all right!
Tony Todd will be reprising his role as Ben for Zebediah’s Desoto’s “Epic, living Monet,” CGI thingy (probably a mess) take on the much redone Night of the Living Dead, Night of the Living Dead Origins. Todd, who played Ben almost twenty years ago, will step behind a computer generated likeness of himself and give a voice to what looks like, at first glance, a bad survival horror video game character. However, after rumors of Mos Def taking on the role, Todd taking up the reins of horror’s greatest tragic hero is probably the best decision Desoto has made since he decided to make this thing. Todd, most famous for his role as the Candyman, is at least genre tested, and fan approved. No matter how hokey his roles get he’s just always freaking cool.
The film, on the other hand, may not meet such approval. Desoto’s latest comment seems to imply it’s going to be a vessel for relating his views on modern violence in some strange artistic manner. In a recent interview Desoto rambled on, “I wanted to make this look like a living Monet; it’s expressionism,” and in an interview before that he rambled some more, “It’s going to be the first zombie movie played on a epic scale. This is the Empire of the Sun of zombie films…I lived through the L.A. riots and saw the city on fire; I remember seeing people running, people getting pulled out of cars. And with 9/11, these images have been ingrained on people of my generation. I just thought that is the way it would really be, a lot of chaos.” Since he’s a newcomer, I will withhold judgment until it premiers, but with NOTLD 68′ we have reached the point where Romero’s masterpiece has become a canvas for everyone else to smear their own art all over, and almost guarantee a build-in audience to gawk at it. Start with a blank sheet, people. And imagine something fresh, your own!
Still, I digress, Tony Todd will be a welcome addition to this project and perhaps his willingness to sign on to it says something about the quality of the script. However, Bill Moseley – of Rob Zombie movies fame – will also be reprising his role of Johnny, whose judgment of scripts doesn’t do much for me. Actors and their previous work aside, Origins’ success will just depend on Desoto’s vision and his execution of it. I’m anxious to see what he comes up with. Can’t be worse than Night 3D! Can it?
The basic rundown is a simple recipe for a horror movie, drop a biological weapon that is designed to “disable a population” by infecting them with a disease that causes general confusion and homicidal tendencies into a small town’s water supply and wait. Potential for creepiness is definitely there as fans of the original will remember the granny in the rocking chair with the knitting needles, but for this run they decided to go action flick. Well mostly…
Some remnants of a horror film remain. We get zombie faces on the infected, a high body count, some false alarm scares, and few grizzly kills. One of the more notable scenes involves a mortician that sews his security guard’s eyes and mouth shut despite the fact that he’s still alive, but the dust never settles long enough for the movie to ever really become that creepy. Every scene features something blowing up or bursting into a fireball while faceless government agents fumble around like the Keystone Cops during their bad attempts at quarantine.
In a strange way, the film took on a feel synonymous with the Golden Age of TV – the Western. Why not? After all the main characters are a sheriff, David Dutton, and his loyal deputy, Russel Clank; and, in the tradition of Bonanza or Gun Smoke, Dutton and Clank keep showing up in the nick of time when every anyone is in trouble. The convention gets uncanny. Dutton is about to be castrated by a runaway bonesaw and Clank shows up to step on the cord with just inches to spare. A girl is tied to table with a Crazy ready to stab a pitch fork into her as the duo rides in to the rescue. The SAME girl is later tied to chair while a Crazy has a gun on Dutton, but Clank’s does a nifty hard shot through the window with the Winchester to take him down. I’m surprised the Crazy didn’t toss himself out the window and fall to the grounding screaming and doing the flying chicken as a tumble weed rolls by. If a Crazy in a black hat with a long handlebar mustacheo tied the girl to railroad tracks then I was going to leave.
Sarcasm and old action sequence conventions aside, the remake succeeds in cutting down Romero’s lengthy commentary on incompetent military intelligence to managable chunks and mantains an acceptable portion of the original’s creepy feel. At the end of the day, The Crazies 2010 was an enjoyable up-tempo re-imagine of its 70′s counter part, but don’t go into this one expecting a pure zombie film, as the trailer attempts to market it, because the movie never settles into that genre either. However, it’s a decent watch or at very least doesn’t leave you with a blinding rage over the fact that they remade it.