Thursday, 27 November 2008

News: The Stepfather has the offical synopsis for Sony Screen Gems remake of The Stepfather, which will be directed by Nelson McCormick, the guy who directed the Prom Night remake. I've not seen any of the above films (but desperately want to see The Stepfather, thanks to the appeal of the fantastic Terry O'Quinn), but I do know that Screen Gems tends to water things down to PG-13 to make a quick teenaged buck. The trailer for Prom Night was awful enough (did they really have to use the same scream sound effect 27650 times?); I would not be at all surprised to see The Stepfather go down the same road.

As a side note, The Stepfather sees a return to horror for Amber Heard (after All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, which I missed at Abertoir '07!), who seems to be very much an up-and-coming star in the making. Is she any good?

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Remake or Readaptation?

A matter of contention when it comes to the topic of remakes is that of re-adaptations. What's a remake, and what isn't? I think the answer to that question is different depending on who's being asked, but here are my thoughts.

I don't think that a re-adaptation is a remake. I don't think that Terence Fisher's Dracula is a remake of Tod Browning's film about the count. Similarly so, I don't think Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (phew) is a remake of James Whale's classic film. I do, however, think that previous film incarnations can massively impact upon future adaptations of a source material. Perhaps most obvious is Jack Pierce's make up work on Frankenstein, having more influence over most designs of the monster since 1931 than Shelley's original words do.

The differences between Universal and Hammer adaptations aside, the line between remake and readaptation can be very thin indeed. Take Ringu/The Ring, for example. Both films credit the original source novel by Kôji Suzuki, however, The Ring also credits the screenplay for Ringu. I've not read the novel, so can't comment on which it draws from most, but the use of the original film as a starting point is quite apparent. Gus Van Sant's Psycho credits Robert Bloch's original novel, but that film is quite clearly a shot-by-shot remake of Hitchcock's adaptation.

A recently announced film project is Steven Spielberg and Will Smith's Oldboy (not strictly horror, but often lumped in nonetheless). Fans were outraged at the thought of Park Chan-wook's 2003 film being watered down to a PG-13 star-vehicle by one of the most Hollywood of Hollywood's filmmakers. Either by pure coincidence or by clever PR, Will Smith has since pointed out that they're not remaking the film at all, but that they're adapting the original manga series. Time will tell quite how much truth there is to this statement, and I'm sure many will retain their cynicism in the meantime, but Spielberg's Oldboy will surely cement the greyness of this area - Park Chan-wook's film being very faithful to the manga.

Personally, instances like Dracula or Frankenstein are not remakes. There are, in the case of a film like The Ring, instances when the distinction between remake and readaptation becomes muddied. This is only part of what makes 'remake' so difficult to define in the first place.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Let me introduce myself.

My name's Nia and I'm a horror fan.

There. Easy bit out of the way.

I'm no horror expert. I'm fairly new to my love for the genre. There are a hell of a lot of essential horror films that I've still not seen. I can talk like I know exactly what I'm on about, when really, I'm not always so sure.

One thing I do know I'm certain of. Horror remakes really, really, really, really piss me off. Let me be clear: John Carpenter's The Thing is a great film. Hell, I'd even dare say I'm looking forward to Joe Johnston's The Wolf Man (so shoot me). Not all horror remakes are terrible.

Since 1998, when Gus Van Sant remade Psycho, the floodgates have opened. Along came The Haunting (Jan de Bont) and House on Haunted Hill (William Malone) in 1999, and then two biggies: The Ring (Gore Verbinski) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Marcus Nispel) in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Neither's an awful film, by any stretch of the imagination, but there's something terribly unnecessary about both. Their worst crime is opening the floodgates for the remake upon remake upon remake that followed. Poor, brilliant Asian cinema watered down into The Ring Two, The Grudge, The Grudge 2, Dark Water, The Eye, One Missed Call, Shutter...and American classics losing their point entirely: The Hills Have Eyes, The Amityville Horror, The Stepford Wives, Dawn of the Dead (okay fine, there was an exception), Halloween, The Omen, The Hitcher, Prom Night, Black Christmas...*breathe* And the less said about The Wicker Man, the better.

Like I say, these films aren't always necessarily bad, in their own right. Some are pretty good, or at least, entertaining pap. But in some cases, even the good ones are just all a bit pointless. And, as we all know, evil never dies. Rumoured, in production or soon to be released remakes include Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Child's Play, Suspiria, The Birds, The Last House on the Left, Poltergeist...! We might as well be saying that Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur are being remade.

Will it ever stop? Will Hollywood not only run out of original ideas and rip-offs, but of material to remake too? Will original horror writers and filmmakers ever get a foot in the door again? Only time will tell the answer to that, but meanwhile, I'm going to be sitting here getting more and more pissed off by every new remake that's announced, and I hope you'll join me too.