26 February 2010

REMAKES AND REBOOTS I HAVE LIKED AND DISLIKED

In a further attempt to ‘reboot’ Necrotic Cinema I going to take a stab at a sort of list thing. It is my first ever and I was inspired by a post over at Chuck Conry’s Zombies Don’t Run blog. I usually visit a series of blogs from my blogroll each morning with some stout coffee and see what other people are recommending or bashing. Unfortunately I do not always have time to leave a good comment but I am working on that  weak point of mine recently as well. But if I left even a short comment on every site I check out after I wake up it would simply be over whelming. And while I tend to shy away from lists myself I do enjoy reading other people’s lists. Chuck did a list (not a top ten style) of remakes/reboots he either likes or dislikes to some degree or another. I thought about it and realized how I have some similar feelings as his about some of the films he listed and I will share my feelings. I will stick to films, the remakes, I have seen from Chuck’s list. First I will say I am not against remakes and I am in particular not against horror/sci-fi film remakes. I am skeptical of course when I hear news that Jack Hill’s Spider baby will be remade but not adamantly opposed to the idea. Redoing an old horror film or reviving a story or character (rebooting) opens the film up to modern special effects and production and new generations of actors and audiences. I am in no way saying that this is always a good thing but it is not always a bad thing either.

I LIKED:

First off let me start with a film that has garnered almost more  disdain online, almost,  than Twilight. That is the remake of Friday the 13th. It is not too hard for me to like this film since truth be told I never really liked any of the previous Jason films.  I have seen them all except the one where he battles Freddy (I welcome the upcoming reboot to the Nightmare on Elm Street  franchise after it all went to hell after the 1st film) and never saw any reason to see that since I really do not like wise-cracking and unscary Freddy Kruger as a character. My favorite of the Jason franchise was Jason X where he hacks up men, beautiful women, cyborgs and horny teenagers on a space ship. I like that film for some reason. So for me I did not expect too much at all from the remake and I was not disappointed. In fact I was surprised. It would have had to have been really, really bad to be worse than any of the original films. I felt the new Friday the 13th was the best rendition of Jason as evil incarnate so far. The tone of the film was darky and moody but still filled with clueless teenagers making out on the dreaded shores of Crystal Lake and being brutally offed one at time by a soulless Jason Vorhess. Why this film is so despised is beyond me. It is okay. Are horror viewers jsut totally jaded and burned out anymore?  Jason was never so evil. I look forward to more done in this style.


I also like the Rob Zombie Halloween films for about the same reason. Other than the original Halloween and the first sequel I never really cared too much for the Michael Myers character. I am not really a huge fan of masked hackers and slashers who have some gimmick they are identified with (Freddy’s claws, Jason’s hockey mask etc.) who usually stalk half dressed and stoned teenagers. Mind you I have seen so many of these types of films I cannot even estimate the number. Most wind up being attempts at trying to be an instantly campy or cheesy film or are parodies of the more successful masked killer type films. For that reason I cannot take the genre too seriously but enjoy many of these films as mindless entertainment. I felt Zombie tried to make a solemn and serious Halloween film and succeeded overall. I am not going to say that the Zombie films were not without problems, especially H2, but I enjoyed both of them for the most part. The murders were unsettling and Michael Myers was absolutely chilling and lethal. I like Zombie’s style of direction and his soundtracks. Not terrible films despite the venom you read online. What do people expect from horror films I begin to wonder? 

I did like the Dawn of the Dead film though it is a loose remake at best. But they did wind up in a shopping mall fending off zombies so there is that connection. IOne issue I had is that I am not a fan of fast zombies. I think the idea can work in a way. For example right after a recently living person has been bitten and dies and comes back it seems reasonable that they would be as fast, but not faster than, they were when alive a few moments earlier. But eventually rigor mortis is going to set in as well as brain damage and tissue decay and they will have to slow down. But they would not eb stronger and faster than they would have been inthere actual living life. Many of the zombies here seemed to be recently revived and so I could accept their pumped up dispositions for the most part. But the film is also simply a good film even if it is not a real remake of the original. The original DOFD is perhaps untouchable in some respects. This movie has good acting and editing and some pretty good looking zombies. I am a little burned out on zombies really. Sorry. I loved zombies at one time. I loved zombies before zombies were cool. But a zombie movie now has to be the type I like and that is, essentially,  the George A. Romero type. No surprise maybe that my favorite recent zombie flick are his Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead. While not perfect films they still are better than all the other zombies films for the last five years combined and I am looking forward to Survival of the Dead. I am sure it will be hqcked to death online by all the 'experts' but I know I will enjoy it already, without even having seen a trailer.



And while we are on remakes of George Romero zombie films Chuck appears to favor, as I do, the unfairly bashed 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead. This is a fine and clever remake that Romero scripted and backed. The film was made so Romero could actually make some money off his NOTLD concept since he didn’t make any to speak of off his original film. Savini’s direction is good and Tony Todd is great as the film’s hero. The character of Barbara is toughened up and there are story twists that anyone familiar with the original story will appreciate. Again I have to wonder what horror fans want if they think that this is a crappy film. Is a good horror story revived with some modern touches. It sticks true to the original film except for, as I said, some deliberate twists to keep fans of the 1st film amused.


I DID NOT LIKE:



I did not like the original My Bloody Valentine all that much. In fact I didn’t like it all.  I hated it come to think of it. I saw it on VHS God only knows how long ago and it really epitomized the whole 80’s masked killer with a gimmick thing I could never take too seriously. The original failed for me even as a camp feature whereas Prom Night (I did not see the remake) did make it as a nice piece of cheesy fun. The remake tried to darken up the film’s atmosphere and make it all a bit more serious and menacing but it just did not make it. It also became one of those goofy ‘who is the real killer’ type films and I prefer simply knowing who the psycho is, or never knowing, from the start in these sorts of films since they always try to make the killer the person you would least suspect, so automatically I begin suspecting the person I least suspect from the start and 95% of the time I am right. Unless it is one of those ‘who is the real killer films’ where it is the actually the person you would most suspect who winds up being the actual killer at the end. Whoa! Didn’t see that coming.

I did not hate the remake of The Hills Have Eyes but I did not like it enough to put it in the top 'I liked' category. I think I almost liked it. It is not a film I would want to see again really but do not recall hating the movie. One problem with this film is the connection with the name of Wes Craven, a person whose horror films I simply cannot watch. While I did like the original Nightmare on Elm Street I cannot watch anything else this guy has ever made. I still see sites praising Last House on the Left (I did not bother with the remake on this one but probably will see it eventually) which is a goofy film at best. I would review it at Then Uranium Café under the camp and cheese category but I tend to only review films at that site I like. And I hate Last House. Bad acting. Bad photography. Stupid dialog and a chanisaw scene! So The Hills Have Eyes is tainted. The well has been poisioned. I will say that I felt the remake was better than the original. But I never liked the original really so it is not much of a recommendation. I would definitely recommend the remake here.

The original When a Stranger Calls is a great and much imitated suspense film. A great cast of 70's stars with Tony Beckley as a truly creepy psychopath in the  old school Norman Bates tradition only worse, since this guy kills kids. In the remake the film is nothing but the killer stalking the scared girl in the house routine from the near start to finish. Almost the entire film takes place inside one single house one basiclaly one single 'actor' carrying the show. We never know anything abut the stalker/killer. The only real connections to the original film is that the guy (voice of Lance Henrikson) calls the girl and terrorizes her over the phone and, well, the title of the film. I actually have a completed review of this film somewhere in a draft folder. I have had it for over a year in there and for some reason never even think about it anymore. The review was negative and I saw no reason to even post a  completed negative review about this mess. The ‘girl in the house with the killer’ routine is usually fbest saved or the last ten or fifteen minutes of a suspense film, not for the entire ninety minutes. Can it work sometimes? Yes. Panic Room succeeded. But you have more than one girl (basically one character on the screen) who can’t act her way out of a paper bag running around in hysterics. Panic Room had the talents of people like Davis Fincher, Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker and everyone's favorite actress Kirsten Steward involved. Stick to the original here. It is not 100% perfect, of course,  but it is much better than this shabby remake in name only.

I saved the worst for last. While I liked the above Romero remakes the 2008 remake of Day of the Dead, perhaps my favorite zombie film,  is the worst movie on this list. It is a sickening and deceitful rip off and I can’t go on enough about how lame and ridiculous this mess is. It seems marketed as a sequel to the 2004 Dawn of the Dead and even stars Vinge Rhames, who was in the 2004 film and was great in that. Here he is totally wasted and must have showed up to get a check only.  He even looks weak and sick. The film has no connection to the original Romero classic but his name is blatantly exploited on the poster.  The original sentient zombie ‘Bub’ becomes ‘Bud’ the vegetarian soldier here, trying somehow to explain the Bub character I guess in the original film. Oh I see, maybe this is a 'prequel'. Yea yea. The zombies here are just plain idiotic. They grimace and snarl at the camera in displays of the worst kind bad acting and not only can jump through the windshields of Humvees with ease but they are able to scramble on ceiling tiles and across concrete walls like spiders. Often people are divided on films. I know from the comments left on Chuck’s sites not all people are on the same side of the fence as I am regarding, lets say, the Friday the 13th remake. And that is cool. We can all have different opinions on films and in no way is my opinion the final word on any of this. My God I liked Twilight so my credentials are shot all to hell according to 90% of the horror bloggers I read. I am no authority. Except in my opinion on this peice of crap. I cannot be disproved or challenged. this movie is dreck. I do not think I have ever read one positive review about this so called film and wonder why the director , Steve Miner, is still allowed behind a camera, even when the position has been relegated, it seems, to doing TV shows. Is there one person out there who liked this? Please come forward.

Well those are simply my opinions and there is much flexibility (except with 2008’s Day of the Dead) as to what remakes/reboots are worth your time to watch. As stated earlier I am not against remakes of horror films. It seems to be a genre where remakes work and have a long standing tradition. I stuck to Chuck’s list  for this experiment in a new form but I may explore some other remakes on my own soon. I am genuinely looking forward to the Freddy reboot. I am going in that one with an open mind.

1 comment:

  1. jervaise brooke hamsterMay 20, 2010 at 6:36 PM

    The 2008 remake of "Day Of The Dead" must be perhaps the most ludicrously under-rated horror movie of all-time, i genuinely thought it was quite magnificent entertainment and thats coming from someone who has always been a big fan of Romeros original.

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