Joe’s Blog

Archive for April, 2011

Remakes Rant Redux Re-Envisioned and Remade

April 1, 2011 7:48 am

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A couple of years ago I wrote a barely read piece on here about how Hollywood’s relentless remaking of 70s and 80s horror movies was reaching terminal velocity, with seemingly no original ideas left, and the remakes themselves offering nothing of any worth.

Two years on, nothing has changed, and if anything, things are about to get much, much worse.

A few weeks back the internet nearly exploded with the news that after years of legal wrangling, Warner Bros had finally acquired the remake/sequel/prequel/whatever rights to Blade Runner. “Oh, you nawty Hollywood!” the internet cried “Now, you’re just going to go and ruin it”. Well done, internet, you’ve finally realised that Hollywood doesn’t give a monkey’s what you think.

These days, all Hollywood cares about is opening weekend. What was three days, more generally stretches to five days (with ‘special advance previews’). here is where a film will make about 60-70% of it’s total box office. Yep… one weekend.

Hollywood long ago gave up worrying about whether a film was worth making. These the only question is “Will it make it’s money back in three days?”. If the answer is yes, you get a green light.

Of course there are exceptions to this (Inception being the obvious one, but the Chris Nolan/Batman factor managed to get bums on seats that wouldn’t normally go to see an existential thriller…whatever that is) but 99% of Hollywood product is simply thereto fill gaps in the schedule and make a quick buck, as quickly as possible.

This, I assume, is how films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and (god help us) Last House on the Left got the remake green light.  (Incidentally, I found the remake of Last House on the Left to be even sleazier, probably due to its higher budget and the fact it was Hollywood product rather than a low budget indie film.) They would be modestly budgeted and would earn their keep in the first weekend before poor word of mouth could creep out and ruin it for everyone.

Hollywood isn’t entirely to blame, of course. Modern (young) audiences seem to be averse to anything old. Your average teenager seems to see the name Last House on the Left and thinks “I’ve heard of that, it’s supposed to be gross. But rather than rent the original for a couple of quid, I’ll spend a tenner and go and see a new version which is bound to be grosser”. I don’t understand this logic.

Which brings me to the disturbing events of this week. There were three remake announcements this week. THREE! First the truly shocking news that Miss Marple is to be ‘re-imagined’ as a hot 30-something played by Jennifer Garner (negating the point of Miss Marple is that she’s supposed to be old, and therefore people assume she’s a doddery old gran who will never foil their plan).

Once we’d got over that low blow, Hollywood followed up with it’s swift left hook: Suspiria. Yep, Dario Argento’s timeless classic is to be remade by the guy who made Pineapple Express! (I’m not going to hold that pretty dreadful film against him, as most critics on its release expressed surprise at him taking the job as his earlier work had him down as a talented director. I haven’t seen them so can’t comment. Pineapple Express is a ridiculous stoner action-comedy.)

Suspiria, isn’t my favourite Argento film, but it is a wonderful piece of art. And I think that’s important to note: it’s not a horror film in the usual sense. Yes,  there’s blood, there’s  murder, there’s a group of teenage girls. It doesn’t really have a plot, and the ‘horror’ element of it comes directly from the director and his talent. It’s undoubtedly the work of someone who understands horror. What it’s NOT is the sort of film a group of kids will go and watch for a laugh on a saturday night.

The same goes for Driller Killer. Despite its title, it’s not a slasher film. It’s a film about an artist having a mental breakdown. And it’s being remade by Michael Bay’s mob, Platinum Dunes, who have already destroyed TCM, Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.

So, what are these going to end up like? I’m going to stick my neck out here and suggest that Suspiria is going to be sold to the Twilight crowd. It is, after all, a story about teenage girls at a ballet school which is a front for a coven. Those Twilight fans are going to be a bit older by the time it sees the light of day, and with those books exhausted, they are going to be looking for something else that ‘speaks to them’. No doubt, they will introduce some hunky hero into the mix, and the witches will be played by those slightly older  actresses (think Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore) rather than the awful looking hags from Argento’s film. It might also be a PG-13/12/15 rating.

Driller Killer, no doubt, will go the grubby torture porn route. The original focuses entirely on the title character, Reno. There’s no way the remake will do this. It will introduce a group of annoying teenagers to be menaced. In the original we know hardly anything about most of the victims. The first, a tramp, is only introduced seconds before he’s killed. It doesn’t matter who these people are because the film is about the killer. This will not happen in today’s marketplace. The film will be budgeted too highly for that happen.

If I’m wrong, then fine, I’ll hold my hands up. As I said in my original rant, taking a general swipe at ALL remakes will trip you up when people mention The Thing, The Fly or The Maltese Falcon. And when they are released I will assess them as objectively as possible.

But I will state now, I will not be paying to see them (I’ll wait for LoveFilm or SKY), because I don’t want to contribute to the box office/DVD sales, and thus justify their existence. And this is the only way this will stop.