As 2010 winds its way down, I can’t help but notice all the great new movie titles I’ve added to my collection this past year. The future remains bright as horror films never go out of style and movie makers, both foreign and domestic, continue to present new genre films with no signs of letting up. This is not to suggest, however, that “new” necessarily means “original.”
Remakes of older titles continue to flourish with little sign of stopping. 2011 promises newer versions of DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, STRAW DOGS, MOTHER’S DAY, and FRIGHT NIGHT. For genre fans this tends to be a mixed blessing. Remakes do generate sufficient “buzz” and may also inspire a revisit to an oldie but goodie we’ve allowed to collect dust on our video shelves. On the other hand, this also invariably leads to an outcry for Hollywood to leave well enough alone!
For those keeping score, let’s take a look at this past years entries and judge 2010’s horror remakes, the hits and misses.
THE CRAZIES – Romero’s original story of a town driven insane from a military pathogen never reached the same cult status as his iconic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD but still had its share of followers. In truth “Zombies” and “Crazies” aren’t too terribly different, though these villains were completely overshadowed by their undead cousins. I enjoyed the movie but, have to admit, liked the new one even better. In fairness to Romero, this one carried a much larger budget and, it can also be argued, was more relevant in today’s world than that of the original’s 1973. I also found that the characters in the newer version much more tolerable. The original film’s lead female, “Judy,” kept pleading with her boyfriend, “David,” so much she actually succeeded in making me sick of my own name! Aside from that, the newer version was also more suspenseful and I thought the infected townspeople were much scarier. HIT!
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET – Well this was a nightmare all right, but for all the wrong reasons! The essence of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was its unique villain, Freddy Krueger. The new one is scarier looking and, if you’ve ever seen images of people who have been severely burned, more realistic in terms of his torching at the hands of angry parents. Unfortunately, when you burn off someone’s face, there’s not a lot that can be accomplished in terms of facial expressions. As a result, you have an expressionless Krueger devoid of the personality that made him so endearing to genre fans. The lead characters were equally bland and the movie presented a subplot (whether or not the living Freddy was actually guilty of abusing the children) that ended up being completely irrelevant. Aside from that, this is a “paint by numbers” remake that lacks all the charm of its predecessor. Modern SPFX did make some of the “reality to dream” sequences look cool but it was hardly enough to keep my interest and barely enough to keep me awake. MISS!
PIRANHA – Anyone who read my summer review of this film already knows I’m a fan. The original never took itself too seriously and that’s the only similarity between the two. Much more a “re-imagining” as opposed to a remake, this showed that Hollywood can draw from past films while still keeping things fresh. Gratuitous nudity and gore make this an instant classic and even the 3D effects were a joy. As I said before, anyone who finds those MTV “Spring Break” specials as annoying as I do will enjoy seeing its participants served up as fish food! The original was an unapologetic send up of JAWS which leads to an interesting equation…Remake of Rip-off = success? HIT!
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS – Okay, I know this film actually debuted in 2009 but, since it didn’t see worldwide distribution until 2010 I’m adding it to the list. The original wasn’t as famous as other 80’s horror films but built a lot of steam as the years went on. Also more a re-tooling than a remake, this one pays homage to the original (particularly a cameo from Linnea Quigley that mimics her role in 1988) while still highlighting lots of new ideas. Whether you’re a demon or not, you’d love to be invited to “Angela’s” modern Halloween party even if it means you wind up as one of the favors. This film received mixed to negative reviews but I did enjoy it. HIT!
LET ME IN – is not so much a remake as a re-imagining of the 2008 Scandinavian film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, based on the Swedish novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Though they are both vampire films, the real story is the coming of age tale between Oskar and Eli (or Owen and Abby as they are called in LET ME IN). I have read the book and have seen both film versions and I highly recommend all of them. In my opinion both film versions are faithful to the book, though personally I prefer LET ME IN over LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. For me, the child actors were just too creepy looking in the original and I had a harder time feeling sympathy for them then I did in LET ME IN. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz were more relatable to me. I think Chloë is an actress to keep your eyes on as she has been in two hit movies (LET ME IN and KICK ASS as Hit Girl) and in both she played characters much more mature than her actual age…and she did it very well. This is one movie that I am glad they remade and even if you don’t see the original, or have read the book, you will still enjoy it and go away feeling satisfied. HIT!
Dave Fuentes & David Albaugh~