The problem with remakes

Not all horror remakes are bad, and some can bring a lot to an old concept, ultimately improving upon it … yet last night I sat down and watched on television the remake of Japanese cult horror The Ring.  Ok, it starred Naomi Watts, had a decent director (Gore Verbinski) and was fairly well put together on a technical basis.  Much like the original too, the use of a creepy videotape and hallucinations helped build an unnerving atmosphere.  Yet then the movie does the unthinkable, and humanizes the character of the evil girl, this time named Samara, by showing footage of her time in a psychiatric hospital, and instead of the horrible vision of a small figure with hair over their face, we see it’s actually just a very troubled child.  Naomi Watts over-acts somewhat from the very beginning and frankly her young son is creepier than Samara, which just baffles me.  Now looking back at the original ‘Ring’, I recall only glimpses of the girl, Sadako, a flash of a hand with no fingernails, the same creepy atmosphere, but very little humanization – and you never saw her face.  This then makes the ending something of horror legend, copied in the remake, much more terrifying as what crawls out of that TV and stands up to scare its victim to death, is not human, but pure evil – and just a close up of a blood-shot eyeball is all the viewer gets.  In the remake we see the girl, albiet zombiefied, but still a girl, with a stern pissed off look, and guess what – it’s not scary.  Well done remake.  You just killed the money shot! Continue reading

Halloween 2

Viewed – 13 October 2009  Cinema

Halloween, the 1978 version is a masterpiece.  It’s tense, dripping with atmosphere, genuinely scary and expertly put together.  John Carpenter knew how to get under a viewer’s skin.  Now fast-forward to the remake, an admittedly brutally violent but somewhat interesting re-tread of the original, shedding new light on the masked killer’s childhood and family background, before sadly stumbling in the final act by copying and pasting the events of the old movie, but presenting them as if directed by an idiot.

Now don’t get me wrong, Rob Zombie is not an idiot.  He understands what is needed to create that 80’s video nasty vibe.  He showcased this wonderfully in the down right bizarre House of 1000 Corpses and the brilliantly inventive The Devil’s Rejects.  Yet there he was dealing with the off spring of his own warped imagination.  Here though, he’s bastardizing someone elses characters, and spreading them liberally with more gore and violence than was ever strictly necessary.  Laurie Strode is a bit messed up after surviving her ordeal on Halloween night one year previous, and is haunted by nightmares of the masked killer Michael Myers, who everyone believes is dead, but guess what?  No body was ever recovered.  Wait, I know, you’ve heard this one before … but stick with me.  Well as expected said deranged nutcase returns, this time haunted himself by the ghostly apparition of his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) and his younger self, which I admit is an interesting spin, yet what isn’t at all interesting is the shockingly predictable slayings, which are overly nasty, and the frantic, head-ache inducing editing, where the camera is more often than not so close and epileptic you CAN’T TELL WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT.  Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie is (once again) no Jamie Lee Curtis, says ‘f***’ a lot, and warbles in hysterics so you CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT SHE IS SAYING.  What ideas this sequel has it never fully develops, the reveal of Laurie Strode being Michael Myer’s sister is both pointless and completely unexplored, and even genre stalwarts such as Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif  lend nothing to proceedings making their presence insulting when you consider what gems they have been in previously. 

A terrible horror movie, and contender for worst movie of the year.

Verdict:  1 /5


Viewed – 04 October 2007  Cinema

The original 1978 stalk and slash horror is probably one of the most influential films in the genre after Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and equally as iconic. John Carpenter’s take on the man in a mask psychopath created many of the clichés that have now been done to death – the horny teens getting killed, the virginal baby sitter who becomes the reluctant hero, the nerve-shredding music, and oodles of suspense.

New-wave rocker-turned director Rob Zombie has stepped up to the sizeable task of remaking a classic, and it has to be said I was very dubious about one of my favourite films being ‘murdered’ by a wannabe. Yet really it seems we were in safe hands this time thanks to a director who really knows how to get the feel of the genre’s more nastier entries, and deliver a true ‘video nasty’ experience. Here he gives us more of an ‘origins’ take on the story of nut job Michael Myers, showing him as a child and what leads up to his eventual incarceration. I wasn’t entirely convinced that enough was shown to really explain why he was the way he was – yes his mother is a stripper, his step dad is a loud mouth oaf, and his big sister shags around…oooh, what a terrible influence!! Even the school bullies don’t seem bad enough – maybe young Michael was just born ‘tapped’.

Yet after this interesting introduction, we’re soon back to Haddonfield and it’s a straight remake, with a surprisingly poor Malcolm McDowell as Dr Loomis (originally played brilliantly by Donald Pleasance), and some pretty teen as Laurie Strode, delivering nothing to diminish the performance of Jamie Lee Curtis way back when. So the casting fails…but Rob Zombie does deliver in plenty of violence, gore and a much more ferocious Michael Myers…and a bit scarier he is too.

So to close this still works as a remake and gives us more of an insight, but answers nothing and even ruins some classic moments. A good ‘tribute’ then but it can’t touch the original.

Verdict: 3 /5

Can Halloween reclaim its crown?

While I await eagerly the release of Rob Zombie’s re-imagining of the classic 1970s stalk & slash original, I can’t help but look to the countless sequels that just never did the first film justice.  Can a former rock musician turned freaky director (and responsible for House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects) really triumph where so many have failed? 

Either way this trailer looks promising – and thankfully that iconic muisc is intact.