Its elementary ‘beating up on’ remakes; they are forced into enduring intensive scrutiny from all quarters and seldom make any noteworthy mark on our long term memoirs. The evidence is comparatively damning. To give an exemplar of the mediocrity of the inevitable rehash here are a small number of them, arbitrarily plucked from the past ten years or so, which failed mostly in reigniting our mania:
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. Only, it remakes a film which is somewhat above-par, making it pretty fucking reprehensible in my books. More gloss than a vat of emulsion and a roster of well groomed youths who are far too attractive to fit into the soiled hellhole Tobe Hooper crafted. Speaking of grunge, where is it? Marcus Nispel’s film has not nearly enough filth underneath its tidily-manicured nails. A standout moment when Leatherface slices up one hapless dupe amidst a swiftly spreading snowstorm of down feathers, then gradually rising to reveal a mask comprising of Eric Balfour’s elongated face blanket gives a twinge of dark delight but it’s forgotten an hour later.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) Judgement: 7/10
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Judgement: 10/10
The Toolbox Murders (2004)
Ironically, Tobe opted to remake Dennis Donnelly’s unglamorous 1978 exploitation flick which was only moderately proficient in the first place. Certain factors work well; an early cessation for the eye-catching Sheri Moon-Zombie via nail-gun starts things off agreeably enough, and the casting of the capable Angela Bettis (May, The Woman, The Woods, Scar, TV movie Carrie and on a lesser note Wicked Lake) is never a bad thing. The issue here is that it’s just so astonishingly unspectacular, lackadaisical you might say. A cool premise never really gives way to anything more than a ‘by-the-numbers’ slasher and, aside from a grand head dissection, there isn’t enough grue on exhibit to paper over the cracks.
The Toolbox Murders (2004) Judgement: 6/10
The Toolbox Murders (1978) Judgement: 6/10
Speaking of Sheri, her spouse decided to go ‘there’. Buoyant from the balmy reception given to both House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, he takes on the great white of Slasher, The Shape. He does a fine job of fleshing out Myers’ back-story but of course it yields no real clarification of his superlative evil. It’s a solid film, of that there can be no qualms and he rolls out the regulars to lend their hand but therein lays the dilemma. It never ceases being a Rob Zombie flick we’re watching and whilst stellar, the original was made by John Motherfucking Carpenter! This dude couldn’t shit a turkey during the 70s and 80s and was a pioneer with his trademark style and widescreen panning photography courtesy of his collaborations with gifted cinematographer Dean Cundey. Strip that away and Zombie’s treatment, whilst chivalrous, begins to lose some of its glow.
Halloween (2007) Judgement: 7/10
Halloween (1978) Judgement: 10/10
My Bloody Valentine (2009)
I’ve got a soft fleshy spot for this one, it’s not high science and the plot never grabs you in the same way as the timeless original but there is gratuitous full frontal nudity for a whole five minutes and literally barrows of well realized grue wherever you look, numbing you to the contrived events that transpire before you. Notably, it did 3D better than most; not because it was especially ingenious with it (obligatory spinning pick-ax present and correct), more that it got in early before every filmmaker this side of Tibet pummeled us with lazy cash-ins. It performed sturdily at the box office and has a reputable mean on erroneous aggregate sites, but various ‘critics’ failed to see this affectionate homage for what it is, and admittedly it didn’t do anything George Mihalka’s original hadn’t done just as effectively thirty-odd years previous.
My Bloody Valentine (2009) Judgement: 7/10
My Bloody Valentine (1981) Judgement: 8/10
Friday the 13th (2009)
This one ruffles my bloody feathers, and it’s predictable that the frittered fortunes of the Friday franchise still failed to ferment into anything flavorsome. Perilously close to becoming banal, it squanders chance upon chance and infrequently hints at the originals tension or invention. Ho-hum dispatches for the most part, hateful teens that have no place in a Post Millennia Slasher and largely devoid of thrills, it doesn’t get any more predictable than Marcus Nispel’s re-imagining. As for Camp Crystal Lake, the shabby shacks are replaced with…a fucking condo!!! Oh and a snaking network of secretive passageways. All this and not a Crazy Ralph in sight! Betsy Palmer was invited back to resume her role as Pamela Voorhees but I assume she’d spent the past twenty years waiting for something worthy like the rest of us. I will remain everlastingly riled by this lethargic sloth of a remake.
Friday the 13th (2009) Judgement: 6/10
Friday the 13th (1980) Judgement: 9/10
Prom Night (2008), When a Stranger Calls (2006), The Fog (2005)
None of these have warranted a view thus far but I shall endeavor to take one for the team at some point. By all accounts these are the bottom feeders, woeful re-enactments which fail to bring anything to the table. Fucking algae!
The original Prom Night was never exactly memorable although it did well in box-office receipts, despite that attractive box art. This is pure PG-13 silage, shamelessly using the mantle to give what is essentially a feature-length installment of Dawson’s Creek. Nelson McCormick’s prom queen is all make-up and no fucking slacks.
When a Stranger Calls has one simple duty; its forebear provided one of the tautest opening thirty of any seventies flick, but once more it’s just too squeaky clean. It carries around the same laundry list of problems as Prom Night and appears as though far too over-encumbered, suffocating under a duvet of unsullied linen.
The Fog commits Nazi war crimes merely by its existence. I need not view this to know there will be a huddle of feathers spat and eyes redder than Hellboy’s cock coils when this festering mound of llama excretion finally gets the obligatory chin-stroke. If Rupert Wainwright’s film were a stallion you’d get it shot, it’s uncomplicated. And if wrong I shall don a Carpenter-esque ‘tache as a municipal request for forgiveness. Needless to say, I envisage I will stay put clean-shaven.
The Thing (2011)
Didn’t Matthijs van Heijningen Jr learn from preceding stabs at recreating the Master’s Mona Lisa’s? It’s futile undertaking such a momentous operation, although to his credit he does a sterling job of filling in the blanks, most impressively in the dying shots. No Macready, no Childs, no Garry, no Palmer, no Doc, no fucking Windows man!!! Just a bloated bouquet of underused Norwegian skittles who soaked up the grue like an ovulating sperm whale’s tampon. This just made one too many boobs to elevate it above middling ground and that will forever be deemed as imprudent by Keeper. Female lead? Critical clanger! No felony intentional and I’m sure none taken ladies, but this sub-zero outpost is no place for Mary Elizabeth Winstead, no matter how reputable her turn. Just for the record, The Descent was no place for males either so it’s not a girl thing.
The Thing (2011) Judgement: 7/10
The Thing (1982) Judgement: 10/10
This list may seem conspicuous by the absence of Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac retread but this is with good reason as it will feature in the Dozen Deadly Delights in due course. For the time being though, the limelight is firmly on Fede Alvarez’ marvelous take on The Evil Dead. When I first caught wind that this due an update I was mildly fretful, and not without good reason. Sam Raimi’s original was and is one of my top twenty all-time horror films so recreating that could prove somewhat problematic.
Gone is the budget strapped in a holster across Raimi’s chest and in its place a wealth of raw materials capable of pulling off something modestly spectacular. But that’s my point; Raimi did that on a hobo’s beer money already so how could this feasibly hold up a candle? Let me explain why it does. If you asked me now whether we should watch the original or Alvarez’ remake I would struggle to give a reply. That alone is the loftiest accolade I can possibly throw his way. Key positives? The grue, that marvelous grue, it gushes like a teen who has just had her hymen shattered. Every possible means of bloody dismantlement is utilized, and utilized some more.
The feel, first-rate cinematography and a portentous mood serve it extremely well from top to tail. It’s less campy than its forebear, playing it straighter than an android’s erection. The Scottie of the piece, Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric is a suitable suffering playmate, well written and adeptly played. His presence calls to mind Richard DeManincor’s loyal mutt, whilst giving his character his own amiable distinctiveness. Its identity, Alvarez sidesteps convention in the same manner as Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake and walks his own trail, to the bloody beat of only his drum. The Producers, original team involvement is an affirmative indication, none more so than when you’re talking Sam Raimi and Bruce the Chin Campbell. It becomes a no-brainer. The final shot, after the credits have rolled there’s a nice little teaser which hints at the future plans of Raimi and Campbell, giving instant mental wood in the process.
The Evil Dead (2013) Judgement: 9/10
The Evil Dead (1981) Judgement: 9/10
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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