Posts Tagged ‘Remake’

My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Directed By: Patrick Lussier

Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jamie King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Tom Atkins, Edi Gathegi, Todd Farmer

Subgenre: Slasher

My Bloody Valentine 3D

Synopsis: Has Harry Warden, the sole survivor of a mining accident, returned to the town of Valentine’s Bluff on the eve of a Valentine’s Dance to commit grisly murders?

Thoughts: Remakes, especially those with a gimmick like 3D, seemed destined to fail.  Despite that, two of my favorite remakes of recent years have employed this exact gimmick. I thoroughly enjoyed both Piranha 3D and My Bloody Valentine 3D. 

This remake doesn’t rock the boat too much when it comes to the original, but does a great job updating it, while including the obligatory nods to the original.  It also has some of the best use if 3D I have witnessed to date. The pick-axe in the windshield made me jump in the theatre. 

While the acting isn’t bad, it’s not great either. I’ve never gotten into Supernatural, but apparently Jensen Ackles is a big deal to fans of the show.  Personally, I thought the MBV3D cast was prototypical of most slasher movies, just aimed at a slightly older crowd. I have to point out one of my favorite screenwriters makes an appearance here as the Semi Driver.  If you aren’t following Todd Farmer on Twitter, I suggest you do.  At the very least, you get to see some crazy adventures with him, Derrick Mears and Tyler Mane. MBV3D also features Tom Atkins as the sheriff.  This guy is a staple in the horror genre and kicks ass in each of his roles.

I already mentioned the 3D, but it needs to be mentioned again. The use of 3D in some of the death scenes is fantastic, and there always seems to be a pickaxe or various body parts flying towards you.  I would rather see a horror flick that takes advantage of 3D than most action movies. 

My Bloody Valentine works for me and I find it a great time to watch, even at home minus the 3D.  If you haven’t given this one a shot, go for it. 

Fright Night (2011)

Directed By: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Toni Collette

Subgenre: Vampires

Fright Night 2011

Synopsis: Charlie Brewster is your average teenager living in suburban Las Vegas, dealing with the pressures of growing up; school, girls, and the vampire next door.

Thoughts: Not that it ever stops Hollywood, but it is always difficult to successfully remake a horror classic.  It’s been done a few times (see Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes) and Fright Night comes close.

I think that the remakes that do the best are the ones that take the general idea and storyline and develop their own ideas.  Fright Night does just that.  It is updated and changed, for the better, in many places.   

I also thought the cast was great.  Two of my bigger worries with the cast prior to seeing this in the theatre were with Farrell and Mintz-Plasse.  Colin Farrell put my fears to rest in short order and gives one hell of a show as Jerry.  He’s not suave and smooth like Chris Sarandon in the original, but plays more of a predator, both in the human sense and the vampire sense. Evil Ed is toned down a bit in the remake as well, something that I appreciated.  One of the biggest surprises was David Tennant.  Now, I’m not a Dr Who fan, so I had no idea who Tennant was, so when he stole every scene he was in, I was pleasantly surprised.  Overall, the casting was a homerun for Fright Night.

I thought Craig Gillespie was a bit of an odd choice to direct a horror movie, with his previous effort Lars and the Real Girl, but he did a really good job.  There were some pretty tense chase scenes that were shot with great effect, especially the one at the beginning of the movie.  I look forward to seeing what else Gillespie can do.

Fright Night was shown in 3D in theatres, so a lot of the FX were done in CGI.  When watched at home, the CGI blood looks pretty awful, but such are the times with CGI.  There were also a few other dodgy spots, mostly around some of the transformations, but that’s about the only downside to Fright Night, at least in my eyes.

Thirteen Ghosts (2001)
Thir13een Ghosts

Directed By: Steve Beck

Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Embeth Davidtz, F. Murray Abraham

Subgenre: Ghosts, Supernatural

Synopsis: Down on his luck and recently widowed Arthur finds that he has just inherited a mansion from his uncle Cyrus.  Little does he know that Cyrus was a Ghost Hunter and had stored his trophies in the house.

Thoughts: This one is another remake of a William Castle film brought to us by Dark Castle.  Their first remake, House on Haunted Hill was at least somewhat successful, so they went ahead with Thirteen Ghosts, and eventually House of Wax. 

I don’t think that this remake is quite as good as the first, but it still has a few things going for it.  The absolute best thing about this movie is the design of the ghosts.  There is a rich backstory for each ghost, even though they are barely explained in the movie.  It was a great touch and made the Ghosts the most interesting aspect of the movie.  The house was also very well designed with glass walls and floors covered in Latin etchings, constantly moving and changing like an insane labyrinth.

In theory, the cast should have been great, but I didn’t find them to be that great.  F. Murray was ok as the villain, but he has the chops to be one of the best villains ever.  It’s too bad he missed the opportunity.  As for the rest of the cast, I have never been a huge fan of Shalhoub or Lillard.  Shalhoub always seems to be channeling his character from Monk, perhaps because that matches his persona so well.  Lillard does a decent job in his role, but much like Shalhoub, he always seems to be playing the same sort of character.  There are quite a few “names” in the cast, which is an oddity in this era, but they didn’t really impress all that much. 

The producers did give a great nod to William Castle with the special glasses to see the Ghosts.  When Castle released the original 13 Ghosts, 3D glasses were distributed and you had to wear them in the theatre to see the ghosts on the screen.  The producers missed the 3D craze by about a decade, otherwise you can be sure this would have been in 3D, and who knows, maybe it will get remade again.  I wouldn’t put anything past Hollywood anymore.

The story, at its base should have been good, but it got a little disjointed in the end.  The best part of the movie is when the ghosts were involved, making Thirteen Ghosts the equivalent of a summer popcorn movie, good visuals, light on everything else.  I think it is worth checking out just for the ghosts and one particular death scene that is very cool.

House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Directed By: William Malone

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan, Jeffrey Combs

Subgenre: Ghosts and Supernatural

House on Haunted Hill

Synopsis: A group of strangers attempts to spend the night in a haunted asylum for a million dollars.

Thoughts: Early on in the current deluge of horror remakes, Dark Castle Entertainment would produce three remakes of classic horror movies.  House on Haunted Hill would be the first, with Thirteen Ghosts and House of Wax to follow.

While not a great movie, I thought that House on Haunted Hill was a pretty fun movie.  I thought that the cast was strong, especially Geoffrey Rush stepping into Vincent Price’s role from the original.  I have a lot of respect for Rush as an actor and thought his role was great.  Famke Jannsen played the perfect trophy wife to Rush’s character as well.  I have to admit I have always had a thing for Jannsen.  I think she is gorgeous and usually love her in movies.  Chris Kattan does what he does best and gives comedic relief when needed.  Throw in Jeffrey Combs as the murderous spirit Dr. Vannacutt and you have an all-around solid cast.  About the only role I had a problem with was Taye Diggs.  For someone with so much screen time, I just didn’t care for him.

The atmosphere of the House was also really well done.  The asylum was just plain spooky and the shots of Vannacut shuffling around were creepy as hell.  The script is muddled as Malone peppered the haunted house with a twist amongst the guests all while trying to figure out why they were all invited.  It led to just too much going on with not enough time for scares.  Malone went for tension here, whereas I think that a few jump scares and a simpler story would have made this a blast.

There are some pretty gory scenes and the FX are more than solid up until the end when The Darkness manifests itself as a black cloud filled with souls.  The ending really soured the movie for me.  Had the ending been better, I think this would have been a successful movie, but even so, I thought it was a fun movie.

Prom Night (2008)

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Movie Review
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Prom Night (2008)

Directed By: Nelson McCormick

Starring: Brittany Snow, Johnathon Schaech, Scott Porter, Dana Davis, Jessica Stroup, Collins Pennie, Kelly Blatz, Idris Elba

Subgenre: Slasher

Synopsis: Years after an obsessed teacher slaughters her family, Donna is getting ready for her senior prom.  Little does she know, the teacher has escaped from prison and is ready to crash the party.

Thoughts: Everyone knows there has been a glut of remakes the last ten years or so, and most of us have grown more than a little tired of it.  Now I am not inherently against remakes; the horror genre has been built on them.  Just look how many times Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde and the Phantom of the Opera have been on-screen.  In the 80s, we were treated to The Thing and The Fly, two amazing films that happened to be remakes, and recently Dawn of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre have been remade to some success as well.

Well, they say to make an omelet; you gotta break a few eggs.  Consider the Prom Night remake a shattered egg.  I have long thought that Prom Night could be remade with great success, sadly the Producers elected to generate a piece of shit that showed no love to the original and pandered to teenagers in an attempt to balloon box office numbers.  I get that studios are in a business to make money, but there is a fine line to be drawn here.  The habit of putting out slightly amped up episodes of the OC as horror movies has to stop. 

The Prom Night remake feels a lot like a television episode, with maybe a little more blood thrown around, and that is part of the failure.  On top of that, the acting stinks.  I didn’t like any of the main characters, even worse; I didn’t really have any feelings towards them at all.

I think if I were going to start putting together a list of the worst remakes out there, this would be in the top 5.  This might be something I have to think about and come up with…

I rolled through the entire Prom Night franchise in a short period of time, and there were some really bad moments in the first four, but I can’t come up with a single reason to watch this remake. Do yourself a favor and pass.

The Fly (1986)

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel

Subgenre: Science Fiction-Horror

The Fly

Synopsis: Seth Brundle is a brilliant scientist who has invented working teleportation.  He reaches out to a reporter to show her the device, but something goes ary when a pesky fly sneaks into one of the teleportation pods.  Brundle’s DNA becomes entwined with the fly, prompting massive changes in physical appearance and psyche to Brundle.

Thoughts: The Fly is a shining example of how a remake can work.  The original Vincent Price vehicle is a decent flick in its own right, but it really doesn’t hold a candle to Cronenberg’s vision.  This is a very tragic and moving story, but it is also filled to the brim with horrible visions and stomach churning effects. 

Where to begin?  First off, the acting is brilliant.  Jeff Goldblum is nothing short of brilliant.  The fact that he didn’t even receive an Oscar nomination just goes to show you that when it comes to genre films, Oscar has his head up his ass.  The emotion that Goldblum was able to convey at the end of the movie, even with all that makeup and latex on, was a site to behold.  John Getz was great as well.  I am generally not much of a Geena Davis fan, but even her role here was great.  There just isn’t a bad performance here.

David Cronenberg has made some truly bizarre movies, and several of his films have earned the badge as “body horror.”  After watching shows like The Fly and Videodrome, it is easy to see why.  This isn’t to say that Cronenberg doesn’t have a pretty wide range of films under his belt though.  His recent films with Viggo Mortensen were brilliant in their own right.  Cronenberg is obviously a very talented director, but there are times that his films are hard to access for the average viewer.  The Fly is not one of those films, and is a great place for a Cronenberg rookie to start.

So we have great acting and great directions so far.  Well the story is great too.  There are not a lot of genre entries out there that really invoke any emotion, but The Fly can be a gut wrencher.  It is really sad at times, as you see what Brundle is going through and what it does to Geena Davis.  I don’t want to give any plot points away, but it is a pretty emotional flick.

Now, this isn’t just some sob story.  The effects are insane as well. This is one area where Hollywood got it right and The Fly won a little gold statue for Best Makeup.  As the movie progresses, Brundle’s transformation gets more grotesque by the frame.  Just when you think it can’t get any more disgusting, the dial is turned up another notch. 

I also have to note that I had the pleasure of seeing this on the big screen recently, which really amplifies just about every aspect of the movie.  One area that I don’t often pay much attention to is the score, but seeing this in the theatre really showed just how powerful music can be in a movie.  It was no surprise to see Howard Shore’s name behind the music.  The guy is a legend.

I honestly can’t come up with something negative to say about The Fly.  It is a must see flick, and not just for genre fans.  Often times, horror fans label a move as must see because it spawned a subgenre or endless sequels, but The Fly stands on its own as a truly great movie.

Friday the 13th (2009)

Directed By: Marcus Nispel

Starring: Jared Padelecki, Danielle Panabaker, Travis Van Winkle, Amanda RIghetti, Aaron Yoo, America Olivo, Derrick Mears

Subgenre: Slasher

Synopsis: One of the most popular horror franchises gets the reboot treatment in this reintroduction to Jason Voorhees.  The basic storyline is a very familiar one for Camp Crystal Lake. Teens go camping. Teens drink, do drugs, and have sex. Teens die. There is a brief introduction with the first group of teens meeting a very cranky Jason while in search of a mythical marijuana field. We are soon introduced to a second group heading to a lake cabin for a weekend of debauchery and the requisite loner on a motorcycle looking for his sister that recently disappeared.

Thoughts: I admittedly have a soft spot for the F13 series. I know most of them are garbage, but I have a helluva good time watching them just about every time. I am generally leery of remakes, and the new version of Jason was no different. I failed to check it out in theatres, as the trailers never really did much for me, so I wasn’t expecting a lot going into the movie.

While I was not blown away, I did like some of the things they did. Jason was quicker and more cunning than in previous movies. He set traps and often outsmarted his victims instead of chasing them at a methodical pace waiting for them to fall down. His “look” was great as well and I thought that Derrick Mears did a fantastic job bringing Jason to life.  I would rank him as my 2nd favorite Jason, behind the work of Kane Hodder.

I also thought that the carnage was perfect.  The kills were well choreographed and were reminiscent of the earlier movies in their use of cutaways and execution.

I did think the pacing of the film was off a bit and it was too long. I did watch the extended version and need to check out the theatrical version to compare them, so maybe that will help a lot. In the extended version, the finale took way too long as they were running back and forth trying to get away from Jason.

Friday the 13th should satiate slasher fans, but in the end, it didn’t really bring anything new to the genre. It fits into the Friday the 13th pantheon well, and did an amicable job of rebooting the franchise, but the biggest question I have is when will we see Jason back in space?

Night of the Demons (2009)

Directed By: Adam Gierasch

Starring: Shannon Elizabeth, Monica Keena, Edward Furlong, Diora Baird, Bobbi Sue Luther, Michael Copon, Linnea Quigley

Subgenre: Demons & Possession, Haunted House

I found myself sitting in my recliner a couple nights ago wanting to watch a horror flick, but too lazy to go upstairs to pick one out.  I brought up Netflix on the old PS3 to see what caught my eye.  Bam! Night of the Demons remake.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner.  I was in the mood for some mindless filler and this looked to foot the bill.

I have to admit to not seeing and of the original flicks in this franchise; it’s probably close to the top of movies I should see, as that list is always getting smaller.  There really are not that many classic, cult, or iconic horror movies that managed to escape me the last twenty years or so.

The flick starts with a little flashback, filmed in a sepia tone, letting us know that this house has some serious infestation issues.  We are not talking termites here, but demons!  We cut to present day where a somewhat haggard looking Shannon Elizabeth is setting up the mother of all Halloween bashes at the same house.  While still plenty hot, she sure has aged since American Pie.

Anyways, we get to see the party goers getting ready to go, including a totally burnt out looking Edward Furlong who plays a drug dealer (surprise!).  There is also a group of girls that seem to frequent the plastic surgeon.  There is no way these girls are gonna drown with those flotation devices.  As you can see, things are lining up nicely for a good little horror flick.  We have B-list actors, girls with obnoxiously fake tits, a pretty cool setting, and a decent premise. 

Just as the party is getting going, the police bust up the bash, telling everyone to go home.  A few stragglers stay behind for various reasons and get locked in the house.  They soon discover a hidden room in the basement with six skeletons.  Angela (Shannon Elizabeth) tries to pry a gold tooth out of the mouth of one of them but the skeleton clamps down on the would be gold-digger, triggering the demon transformation (naturally).  Angela proceeds to make-out with anyone that slows down, infecting them with demonitis.  Apparently, the demons need to possess enough live bodies in one night to come back and rule the world (or something to that effect).

There is a good old fashioned showdown between the party stragglers and demons, including some pretty nasty scenes, particularly the disappearing lipstick trick.  I once saw something close to that in Mexico, but that is another story.

I think Night of the Demons accomplished what it set out to do.  It was a fun, gory good time that didn’t take itself too seriously.  Some of the FX could have been better.  It was supposed to be a theatrical release, but eventually debuted direct to video.  I think it would have done decently at the box office, and is better than some of the other Hollywood crap that oozes into the theatres.  Of course, I can’t compare it to the original, not yet at least.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Directed By: Samuel Bayer

Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz

Subgenre: Slasher

Well, I have been dreading this write-up since starting the Elm Street series.  I actually watched this prior to going through the original series, mostly to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.  I am not against remakes, not at all.  I think they are as much a part of the horror genre as vampires and zombies.  We have been getting remakes since the dawn of film.  The Nightmare remake just didn’t work for me, on several levels.

This remake does some things different than the original, which is usually a plus.  We got more back story for Freddy, which I actually thought was one of the positives of the flick.  We got to see how he interacted with the Elm Street children.  Jackie Earle Haley pulled off the pre-Freddy role very well.  I honestly couldn’t see Robert Englund portraying the groundskeeper without coming off as overtly evil.  Sadly, that is the end of my positive thoughts on the movie.

I felt that the remake took the iconic scenes from the original and bastardized them with CGI.  They weren’t scary, innovative or the least bit interesting.  There was no nostalgic feeling watching the redux scenes.  Speaking of CGI, I know Freddy was supposed to resemble a true burn victim, but I thought he looked like some freaky turtle-hamster amalgam.  It was more comical than scary. 

Nightmare ranks as one of my least favorite horror remakes, partly because it was remaking such an iconic film. There have been some really shitty remakes in the past couple of years, but most of them have not featured a horror icon.  Remakes like Dawn of the Dead and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre were well done, at least in my opinion.  I even enjoyed the Friday the 13th remake, at least much more than Nightmare.  What the sequel did do is make a boatload of cash at the box office, so it is inevitable that we will be seeing another installment of the series.  Hopefully, they will tweak the look of Freddy and come up with a better script as well.  Maybe they should actually consult Wes Craven this time around as well.  The best Freddy stories have had him involved in some fashion (the original, Dream Warriors and New Nightmare.)

Black Christmas (2006)

Posted: December 27, 2010 in Movie Review
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Black Christmas (2006)

Directed By: Glen Morgan

Starring: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Andrea Martin, Kristen Cloke, Crystal Lowe,  Robert Mann

Sub-Genre: Slasher

I am not against remakes as a whole in the horror genre.  The history of the genre is built on remakes, sequels and different takes on the same stories and legends.  There are well over 250 films that feature Count Dracula in a major role, so it isn’t as if horror fans aren’t used to it by now.  What I am against are shitty remakes, and there have been a slew of them the last couple of years.  Case in point, Black Christmas, or Black X-Mas, released in 2006 on Christmas Day.  This remake featured a knock out cast, at least in the looks department, and a pretty slick ad campaign.  It went on to make a little over 16 million at the box office, more than enough to ensure Hollywood’s continued exploitation of genre classics.

I had heard so many bad things about Black Christmas that I had avoided it until this weekend.  The Playstation Network offered it as a free Holiday movie over Christmas weekend, so I figured I would give it a shot.  I suggest that Sony sends someone out to my house to take a shit in my stocking next year; it would probably get about the same reaction.

I guess my biggest beef with this new take is that they gave Billy so much background, much like Rob Zombie did with his remake of Halloween.  In the original, Billy was a psycho.  No explanation needed.  He was just out to kill.  Well, in the remake, we know that Billy was hated by his murderous mother, and that Billy’s mother raped him one night and then bore his child, which was also his sister, Agnes.  Guess that is what it takes to make a psychopathic killer.

There are some decent aspects of the movie, but not enough to outweigh the poor ones.  The acting is above average for a genre entry, and all those pretty faces do a pretty decent job, although I found it difficult to be sympathetic to any of the girls.  I guess they played the stereotypical sorority girls just a little too well. 

The actual kills were pretty well done, with a good mix of on screen gore and cutaways.  There was a bit of an inside joke with the death of Melissa, played by Michelle Trachtenberg.  As she was attempting to escape, she was scalped by a pair of ice skates.  Trachtenberg was the star of Disney’s Ice Princess, so kudos for that little jab at the House of Mouse, although it may have gone unnoticed by most horror fans.  I had no idea until I read about it, but I guess Ice Princess is a little further down my Netflix queue than some.

Black X-Mas definitely belongs on the naughty list, but not in a good way.  Do yourself a favor and stick with the original.