Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Exception to the Rule

So, Cheesy Readers, I've given you time to absorb the full implications of the crime Dwayne Johnson is masterminding. So far, I've found no news to console you, but trust me when I say I'm digging. I've also been trolling the internet for a Chinese witch doctor who charges reasonable rates for casting curses. While I'm busy doing that though, I thought I'd give you more to think (and talk) about.

Last time, I boldly stated that remakes of cult classics nearly always fail, but I also said there were exceptions. Coincidentally enough, both exceptions I had in mind involve John Carpenter. The first is 1982's The Thing, which was actually inspired by the novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell. But upon it's release and for a while afterwards, people believed it was a remake of The Thing From Another World (1951), a movie about an isolated military base that uncovers a frozen ship from space and unintentionally unleashes its alien pilot which they then have to kill. The box office and media treated Carpenter's The Thing as if it was a remake of that black&white B-movie, as evidenced by poor ticket sales and a complete pan by the critics, but it was the video market where it earned its biggest financial reward and earned the status of a late night, pizza-eating, soda-drinking, cult classic. Coincidentally enough, the movie's protagonist R.J. MacReady was portrayed by none other than Kurt Russell. 

The second example I can recall again involves John Carpenter, and I initially approached this remake with the same attitude and complete disregard as I currently do for The Rock's upcoming mistake. When I first heard news of Rob Zombie's desire to remake Carpenter's slasher classic Halloween, I thought it was a mistake on two levels. First, it was a trail blazer that gave birth to the slasher films of the late 1970s and 80s, and second, because it was a slasher film, there was really no point in retelling the story, since it was pretty straight forward and had already inspired more sequels than I could recall.

Reluctantly I watched --- and quite simply, Cheesy Readers, it absolutely blew me away. In many ways, it surpassed the original, and earned its way into my list of Top Five Horror Movies of All Time. I was so excited by this remake, that I was able to talk The Boss (who hates horror films) into giving this one a shot since she had not seen me this excited about a movie in a long time. She loved it, and at the same time cursed me because the images, story, and overall creepiness of the film burned themselves into her psyche.

Zombie delved deeply into the mind and story of Michael Myers and how he grew to become the killing machine adult obsessed with violently murdering all his relatives. The acting was superb, especially by the child actor, Daeg Faerch, and Zombie did a wonderful job refilming the killing spree of the 10-year old Michael, giving it much more depth than the original. Zombie explored Michael's early life prior to the acts that led to him slaughtering his sister, as well as the years of his confinement in a mental institution and how his mother's personal demons, and subsequent suicide, haunted him as well. Basically, Zombie's remake of the slasher classic became an insightful psychological study of a mass murderer. If for some reason you've held off watching this film, then by god, make the time. It will move you in ways no horror film ever has. And don't forget, ever faithful Cheesy Readers, Zombie's version is a remake!

So there you have it, two exceptions to my "no remakes" rule. Both these films are well worth watching and adding to your personal film library.

Until Next Time...
Remakefully Yours,

p.s. Bit of trivia  -- scream queen Danielle Harris appears in both series of Halloween films. In the John Carpenter series, she portrays 10 year-old Jamie Lloyd, the daughter of Laurie Strode, in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5. In the Rob Zombie remake series she plays Annie Brackett, friend of Laurie Strode. For those who haven't seen either Halloween series, you may know her as Molly Tilden, Darlene's best friend/nemesis from the TV show Rosanne.

p.p.s. More trivia --- in the original film, Michael Myers's mask was nothing more than a mask of William Shatner (Captain Kirk) spray painted completely white.

p.p.p.s. Even more amazing trivia -- the budget for the original Halloween was so miniscule, that Jamie Lee Curtis was required to supply her own wardrobe for the film.

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