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Remakes rebooted

Friday the 13th

remakesfriday_the_13th_2009_movie_poster003There so much that’s right about the Friday the 13th remake that almost seems a shame to have to reboot it.  But the really big thing that bugs me about this one is the massive amounts of sex and nudity. I realize these are staples of the franchise, and probably concept behind reboot is to take things up a notch. Really you can take the balance up a notch here but explicit drug use kind of bothers me A bit and the sex and nudity really crosses the line into Softcore porn. Actually they don’t even bother with the borderline they want straight over the border and camp into that territory. Really the only way that I’m comfortable watching this again is on an edited for TV versio.

One thing that really seemed to bother fans here was the way Jason moved. Dereck Meres is a fine stuntman and a good actor in its own right but here I imagine that he was just following direction. This is of course, a new Jason, platinum dunes version, but it’s a distinction I don’t think the casual fans notice. It’s just one of the things that will serve to piss off the faithful.

How do we fix this> First and foremost, bring back Kane Hodder – this is something the fans have been clammering for since Freddy Vs. Jason.  I think the origin bit with the mother straight beginning was well done Jason much like superman and Batman doesn’t need his word story retold again and again,  but tone down the sex to a point where I would be comfortable watching with this son or daughter and to push Jason  more towards body language that the fans (that you’re making this film for by the way) would appreciate more would go along way towards building up goodwill here.

Sadly I think we’re headed in the other direction as the studio seems adamant on releasing a found footage JasonNevertheless we still have the originals and I think I’ll go Pop in Jason x right now .


13 ghosts

remakesThir13en_Ghosts_posterWould you believe I was actually surprised to discover that 13 ghosts is not a remake that’s held in high esteem? Seriously I have enjoyed a lot of the early Dark Castle releases and 13 ghosts worked really well for me. I can see some things that might have grated on peoples nerves so so let’s look at a couple things that I would’ve done to make this better. As much as I enjoy Tony Schlub I’m almost tempted to say recast him. He’s good and he works but he’s so identified with Monk and with Wings. An unknown face probably would’ve worked better. I also would really like to have driven a stake through the heart of that stupid governess nanny whatever she was. The sassy black lady really irritates me as a stereotype and this one was more grating than most. The only other thing I could say that could’ve made this film better was if they had gone with the original gimmick. We still see their special glasses allow you to see the ghosts with in the film, imagine if something like this and been given out at the box office. Something that allowed you to see ghost at a certain time…perhaps the technology wasn’t quite there yet but 3-D was right around the corner and how this film really could’ve benefited from a good 3-D.

I would definitely go back and work in a lot of that with the ghosts and even show periods where you could put glasses on our just like in the old William Castle gimmick. The stuff worked for a reason and Castle is fondly remembered for it. With these kind of cosmetic changes I think this film could’ve been so much better period but you know what, I still like this film and I think I’ll go pop it in right now!


Coppala’s Dracula

remakesdraculaThe biggest problem with Coppala’sDracula is he promised one thing and give us another. He said he wanted to do the book, that it’s never been done before. He is kind of right about that, although the Jess Franco version is actually quite quite close to the book. Coppala went into great depth and detail to recreate this world but still fails to capture the novel itself. What are minor things like the fact that Dracula was not dressed on black or that he had curly hair  or the ability to walk in sunlight (both specific to the book!) or elements like casting terrible actors such as Keanu Reeves and Wynona Rider in key roles, these are not the major sins of the film. Coppola BRSDRAC-CTIT-CT-7992transforms Dracula into a love story . Not just a love story, but a love story between Mina and Dracula! If you have known me for any length of time you’ll know how this infuriates me. There is no trace of the relationship between Mina and Dracula in the book, indeed the way Mina was forced to take Draculas blood in the novel was nothing less than rape. Here, it’s treated as a love scene…we’ve transformed a hateful assult into a passionate scene of infidelity, apparently justified by reincarnation. I hate Coppola for this…so very much. The single saving grace here is Anthony Hopkins who’s version of Van Helsing is brilliant. But if I were to remake this film, I’d realy do the book. Straight, no reimagining. I’d jettison Keanuand Wynona and replace them with the blandest of soap opera actors it would still be an improvement. Most importantly though I’d make that love story one between Harker and Mina, because that is the real point here. Mina is devoted to husband to the point of the tracking Dracula through thier shared bond and then I think is a far more uplifting story, a far more compelling story, a far better story. It is in fact, the real story of the book.


Enterprise

remakesstar_trek_enterprise-showEnterprise almost seems like one of the series that should be in the the case against category. It’s well-known that I’m not a fan. But it does have its admirers and rightly so. Enterprise came at a time when Star Trek was on it’s last legs. The horse was almost dead by the time Enterprise arrived and there was no way it was going to breathe life back into it. But it might have stopped the bleeding if it had been handled differently. I was there the beginning, for the Premier. We made a party out of it, and when everything was said and done it was an adequate. What it really was however, was a good two hour television movie. This is something that might have worked fine, but this is where it was hamstrung by the television model of the day, and the formula that the producers of Star Trek refused to deviate from. Everything interesting about Star Trek enterprise was pretty much wrapped up in the first month or two, leaving them with at least 10-16 episodes to pad out the rest of the season. Today it would be done a bit differently perhaps the way agent Carter was, in a eight episode miniseries. But back in 2001 it was demanded that it be a full 26 episode season period and quite frankly even watching that pilot I knew it couldn’t sustain that much time. By the time we had finished the first month or two, all the interesting part of the premises had been hammered out period the crew was getting along we mastered the tech and we had settled into the groove and exploring new world every week. It had evolved into just another Star Trek series that sounded the same as every other Star Trek series because the same writers were involved. It looked like every other Star Trek series because the same production people were involved and it felt like every other Star Trek series because the same producers were still at the helm. Back in 2001 my opinion was still the same as it is today; Enterprise could’ve worked, but it should’ve been done as a series of two hour television movies. Two, maybe three year. It could have keep Star Trek going while not being on every week, makeing it an event. In this way we could still hit key events, important stories and keep the fire burning. Just as importantly, it was time for a change. Doctor Who seems to understand this, that you need to change the producers once in awhile every several years to keep things fresh, to keep things going. Rick Berman had been at the helm of Star Trek for over a decade at this point and his style and sensibilities permeated every version of Star Trek at this juncture . Enterprise desperately needed an infusion of fresh eyes and didn’t get it. If I were doing this again I would have radically change production team and tried to hit some truly important stories that would set up the events we would see in the original series without being a slave to them. Indeed it might have saved us from the lens flare heavy reboot that we would get in 2009.


The wolf man

remakesthe_wolfman_poster_by_galipaksularIt really breaks my heart to say it, but we all know what the biggest problem of the Wolfman remake was don’t we? I don’t understand how after giving such an incredible performance as Van Helsing in Coppola’s god-awful Dracula that Anthony Hopkins just sleepwalks his way through this film. His presence was one of the big selling points for me and yet every line delivery is flat and uninspired. It’s said that he does three takes of every scene at least, I can help but wonder was this is the director just picking the most dreadful versions of this line readings or was Hopkins just there for the check?I just don’t know.

Benicio Deltoro is great in this role and the design is more than Wolfman-final-smalladequate, although I’ve always preferred my wolf man to be more Man-like and this still tips a little more in that direction. However the biggest thing I could do to help this film if I were remaking it would be replacing Anthony Hopkins with somebody who genuinely want to be in this role and could deliver the sinister with the zeal and grim delight.

I’ve got nothing else on this one. This is a surprisingly good movie and it’s a shame that Hopkins lacklustre performance drug it down so much. I do hope that we see another try at this with some more traditional feeling, although it seems like the wayuniversal is doing things were likely to go down another false rabbit hole again.


The amityville horror

remakes51Y2NZ2RHGLI seem to have some unusual opinions of the Amityville Horror. The original is hailed as the classic in the remake is of course reviled as a pariah. I’m not sure why. The original I don’t find that scary, perhaps it’s the lackluster effects or the lack of commitment in some of the scares but I see nothing in this film that really should cemented in history as a classic. The remake on the other hand is much slicker much scarier with far more horrific effects and bizarre situations. I think it’s a scary movie, indeed a better movie and yet neither of these films really manage to succeed for me. It all comes down to one thing, I have to wonder did any of these producers ever actually The_Amityville_Horror_posterread the book? I’ve read this book twice now and it is one of the most terrifying reads I have ever experienced. I don’t think I can ever pick it up again to be honest. There is more to this situation and more going on here unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the screen, because nobody has ever bothered to do the BOOK. There is nothing to compare to the absolute horror in that novel and I for one would just like to see one person try and faithfully adapte it. I think you would get a film that was scarier than anything else that it ever bore the name Amityville.


Body snatchers

remakesMV5BMTIwNDIyMDYyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjE4MDU5._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_AL_Bodysnatchers is such an obvious cash grab on recognizable name that it makes it almost offensive. Return of the body snatchers from the 70s version with Leonard Nimoy is a perfect example of a remake  really done right where as this is just a mess about no name actors in an attempt to kind of do a sidequal. A shift on location with actors in characters that we just don’t care about who are engaged in the same situations  and done without any care or any respect.  That’s really why it feels like. I wanna like this, because I enjoy both the original and the remake but this version is just so poorly put together – even it’s claim to fame that it will show you what happens when somebody is changed into a pod person looks dreadful, like a baloon with flour on it deflating.  So how can we rebuild this? With an infusion of cash based on a recognizable name, and one to grade B actress, television people and recognizable locations that don’t cost a lot.I guess what I’m really saying is we make this with some care. Remake this was some excitement. This is one of the original paranoia films (which sadly this remake is completely devoid of) and in today’s market something like that could really fly well but it needs some star power anda production team that loves the material and really cares about making a great film.


My bloody Valentine 3-D

remakes220px-Bloodyvalentine3dfinalThe first time that I saw my bloody Valentine I really didn’t enjoy it. But the big problem was I was watching it on television with no 3-D effects. That sounds silly doesn’t it? But for this film you really have to get into the 3-D version. The theatrical experience helps as well but the big selling point here was 3-D. This film was designed written and shot to showcase all of the 3-D effects that they could do. The problem here is that this is not really an original film. It still claims to be a remake of my bloody Valentine which for years has been one of those cherished Griundhouse films that a small rabid fan base hold sacred. That means it comes with baggage, but even if it were freed of that stigma, it can’t really stand on it’s own. it’s just not a very good film and it’s a very poor remake but that comes back to this being a vehicle strictly for 3-D effects. if you’re were going to redo this and try to make it better, I think Id like to see a plot that was closer to the original and perhaps a little more attention paid to character development and even some more twists. The 3-D effects are nice but if that’s what your film is based on, then it’s never going to survive in the secondary market and that’s a shame because this film really deserves to survive.


Annie 2014

remakesannieWell, it bombed as expected, but did it HAVE  to bomb? We can point out that the general public wasn’t thrilled about the race change, but I think things go far deeper than that.

Annie just doesn’t work for me unless it’s a period piece. In the 40’s a millionaire adopting an orphan for a week is idiosyncratic. In 2014 it’s creepy. In the 40’s a horrible orphanage is a result of the war. In 2014 it’s an indictment of Social Services. The magic of going to the movies is lost, it’s too common now, but in the 40’s movies were new and there was no TV. It was truly something special. Today, we can watch TV on our phones -somethign I  noticed the ophans had….

I don’t mind portraying Annie as more hyper, a cute ADHD case. Bushier hair works – it takes the character and stretches the caricature. But..it’s not red. Red is such an important theme in this play/flim, from the wardrobe to the logo itself. Red does not work with this actresses complexion.

The source material is a Newspaper comic strip. I WANT my broad generalizations! I want Punjab and the Asp! I also want the negative stereotype of the white male included! Mr. Warbucks works much better than “Stacks”.

At the end of the day, I have to ask; will people be talking about this film in ten years? Will it be as iconic as the ’82 version with Aileen Quinn (also not a redhead, but they had the sense to stick a wig on her), Albert Finney, Carol Burnett and Tim Curry?

Could this  have been done better? Certainly. Indeed, I prefer the small screen adaptions  to this, and think that certain aspects could have worked. In 2014 you could ramp up the fish out of water aspect, the misfit feelings and the hyperactive cutie angle, but without it being a little redheaded girl in the 40’s the context just doesn’t click. Those aspects are essential,  and  untill Hollywood understandsthat race-swapping tends to water down rather than uplift we’ll keep seeing these kind of missteps, and more’s the pity


The shining 1997

remakesThe_Shining_(miniseries)The biggest problem with the shining is that there are two distinct entities. The film and the book, and they are connected only by the same title the same setting and a few character names. That’s really where the similarity ends. If I were Stephen King I could see how I could be upset about Kubrick’s handling of the film as well. The Shining film never intended to be the book, and in many ways it lacks the depth and character of the book while being a brilliant film standing on its own. What was Kings solution? It was a six hour miniseries. The television Shining was inevitably going to be compared to the Kubrick Shining, indeed the Kubrick film has reached just as many people if not more than the original novel did. So the TV Shining indexneed to really… shine… to overcome this. The casting of Steve Webber may be a misstep, his face was just too recognizable from Wings. He acquitted himself well however and managed to really showcase that gradual transition between a person who is normal at the begining of the story, into someone completely crazy.

In the TV miniseries we are really MV5BMTg5MjQyNDgxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjE1MDc2MQ@@._V1_treated full on to the villain of the piece. That is to say Horace Durwent. And the problem here is we are really just trading one ghost for another. The absence of Lloyd and Grady(not a complete absence but a reduction in the roles that is) is very keenly felt. Such ghosts were very eerily realized in the film version.  Durwent on the other hand is poorly realized. When he looks normal he’s fine but the story calls for him to become more ghost-like as the series goes on and while it’s an effect of make up rather than CG, it’s poorly made. This should not be in full light and I’m never convinced that he is a ghost but rather he always feels like a guy in a rubber mask which completely undermines his menace. Lighting in general is a problem. This is definitely a studio job, without enough time to really light this set correctly so we miss a lot of the gloom, a lot of the atmosphere thatcourtlandmead the Overlook really needs to be a frightening place to exist.

By far however the greatest detriment to this film is Courtland Mead, who plays Danny Torrance. This bland derelicts runt cannot deliver a convincing line read to save his life and this is a big problem because the film revolves around him. He is the single greatest drag on this film and I don’t have any idea how this kid get cast.

The other real drag on this is the use of pre-matrix CGI. There are references in the book to the topiaries that come to life and sneak up shining-1997-miniseries-jack-torrance-hedge-animals-topiary-steven-webberon you. The concept is  terrifying in the book but they act similarly to the weeping angels, in that they only move when you do not see them. You can hear them but as long as you watdch them you’re okay. In the TV series we see them, and it’s awful. Seriously, this could’ve been far more easily done by creating some hollow topiaries and moving them between camera shots, or if you are in that insisted on using CGI, use still shots overlayed on the frame. No movement – ever. Just sound, it would have been ten times more terrifying.
That goes for the scene with the firehoses well. I realize the fire hose  turning into a snake is one of the images that originally prompted King to write the story but the CGI just looks so poor and ages so badly that it’s laughable. A practical face on the hose on invisible thread filmed in reverse probably would’ve looked equally bad but it would have aged better and would be better accepted today.

Ultimately the problem with Kings shining is one of scope; trying to do too much too fast with two little. If you go back and revisit this reboot it if you still stretch this prehaps even as much as 10 hours but I’d prefer to see one hour per episode instead of two and take more time during production for proper setups and proper lighting and perhaps even better Danny Torrance. It might not bring it up to the same standard as the Kubrick film but it would at least make it worth defending and isn’t that the entire point of these reboots?


Night of the living dead

remakesposterbsNight of the living dead’s real crime is being a fairly average movie. Tom Savini was tasked with remaking and thereby reclaiming the rights to one of the most beloved zombie films of all time. Standing on its own, Night of the Living Dead is very professional, quite adequate. But that’s not what the fans wanted, they were hoping for something that was spectacular. Something that took the original and pushed it to the next level. Part of the problem here is the period in which it was made. The MPAA was really cracking down on violence and gore, a cycle we wouldn’t really see broken until Ronny Yeu  directed Freddy versus Jason and took the blood and gore up to cartoonish levels so that it wouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s a tactic that didn’t quite work for Evil Dead, but changing times, changing attitudes.

nightofthelivingdeadtonytodd

Savini did attempt to update the story however, by making Barbara a stronger character at the end. I consider this to be a mistake. It’s so jarring to see her transformation. We’re so used to her being the victim, the freaked out almost catatonic young woman of the black and white film. She almost lessens the impact of the brilliant Tony Todd in this film. It’s such a small change though, I don’t know that it went far enough. What we saw from the remake of Dawn of the Dead was a great updating of the classic Romero zombie film. They took the premise, a bit of the concept, and they ran with it, literally. They ramped up the blood they made zombies far more interesting looking and much more direct. I can get into fast zombies versus slow zombies here, but it is undeniable that Dawn of the Dead was a very successful remake, in one of the models that we should be looking towards. If we hold that up against the Night of the Living Dead remake, what we see is sometimes you can go too far   in respecting the original material.  I think to reboot this remake we need to do is go more extreme, taking the original premise a group of people in an abandoned farmhouse, strife, internal struggles, and an relenting force outside. But really, I don’t know there is a great way to update this classic period something is perhaps, should just be left alone.


Nightmare on Elm Street

remakesA_Nightmare_on_Elm_Street_2010_poster

I went into this with a positive attitude. Robert Englund put it in perspective for me when he told me “I come from the stage, and every new production is a remake of something that’s gone before”. Yeah this makes sense.

Also, let me be clear, I don’t hate Jackie Earl Haily in the role. I think he’s a brilliant actor and really came to love him during his brief stint on TV’s Human Target. I knew I’d have a hard time accepting anyone in this role other than Robert and Jackie was a good a choice as any, better than most.

So why did this film turn out so terrible?

imagesAs much as I like Haily, I do have to say, I just can’t get behind that makeup job. I do understand what they were going for, a more realistic burn victem and it might have worked if this were an original concept, but this is a remake and you have to convince me. Freddy’s face has far more character than this, I’m sorry.

It’s really the least of my worries here though. It’s the rest of the cast we really need to worry about.

nightmare_on_elm_street32Perhaps it’s unintentional, perhaps it was written into the script, but honestly, I don’t LIKE any of these kids. I can’t build any sympathy up for them. I don’t know if the producers were thinking they were just trying to appeal to the goth/emo crowd, but whatever they were trying to do, they failed. The thing is, it’s a stark contrast to Nancy from the original film, who was a very ordinary person that had to reach down and find her inner strength, ultimately becoming a much stronger heroine. The Nancy of this film is depressed, lifeless, and never inspiring. We get an angry beatdown towards the end, but that’s not strength, it’s just rage. Nothing inspiring to see here folks.

And then there’s the CG…

wall copyI think Freddy vs. Jason made great use of the CG with the blood drops and the Freddy shadow. Here’s they especially like to use it during homages – the most egregious offender is when Freddy comes out of Nancy’s wall. in the original a pane of spandex looked eerie, it filled us with dark wonder. here, CG Freddy looks like a balloon animal. Not threatening at all.

We get mildly better homage to the stairs scene and an almost shot by shot remake of the bathtub scene, but it’s all just so uninspired. Maybe if I cared about these people but I just don’t and that makes the clever stuff – the misdirection (did Freddy do it or not?), the micro nap theory, the scheme (trap Nancy in dreams) and the great moments like in  and out of dreams in the pharmacy, it’s all irrelevant if I just don’t care about these people.

So definitely, if I were to do this again, I’d make my heroes stronger, and probably lose the homages altogether, remembering that it’s not the scenes that make the original great, it’s the concept, the story and the people.