Posts Tagged ‘remake’

  Contains spoilers.

A father at a low point in his life is forced to move to a new neighbourhood but their new house is riddled with angry unrested spirits.

A remake of the 1982 film its difficult not to draw comparisons, it is generally entertaining yet fundamentally unnecessary. While the remake revisits and reincorporates ‘Poltergeist’s’ themes, hitting the beats as if plotted on a graph throughout, an ominous tree, the supernatural stacking of objects, an eerie clown and investigator’s visions it’s hard to pin down a single moment where it does it better.

Thanks to Sam Rockwell’s Eric Bowen an everyday dad and Jared Harris in a celebrity medium role it does provide a fast paced ride, retaining the family humour of the 1982 version, however, it lacks that idealistic, innocence in contrast to the sinister side that the original Spielberg/Hooper combo provided.

Writer David Lindsey’s script is fine and the contemporary monitoring equipment, including GPS locators that the investigators use and the roles shuffled highlights that with all its updates, it becomes clinical losing the organic feeling of the original. Yes some effects out do some of the optical effects of its predecessor but not many. Even with a solid supporting cast and Sam Rami on board as producer with the likes of Sinister, Insidious, Conjuring to name a few doing the rounds it’s odd why anyone would want to remake Poltergeist in the first place. Following the template of the first, with slight of hand, the ending dispiritingly borrows elements of the 1986 sequel for the 2015 closing.

Gil Kenan’s offering is by no means a travesty and it has some great acting talent on board but it’s not enough to cause a remake celebration and maybe a re-imagining would have been a more fitting semi-original route to take.

Wild_Card_MoviePosterA Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal skills gets in trouble with the mob when he helps a young female friend who was left for dead.

Based on the 1985 novel Heat (Edged Weapons in the UK) by William Goldman and the remake of Burt Reynolds’ Heat (1986) there’s a fast car, periodic fight scenes, a mild mannered moralist character, Jason Statham must check them off and sign on the dotted line. And that’s not a bad thing Statham in the most typecast of role, rarely, if ever fails to deliver.

Simon West’s Wild Card is finely shot, it plays as an anti Revolver (2005), it’s linear, his Vegas is musty, hazy and dusty. The setting feels real and written intentionally or not what it lacks in pacing structure and credible fleshed out supporting character relationships it makes up for with Statham’s charisma and hand to hand action setups.

Part revenge, part self realisation film, its reminiscent of The Gambler (1974), Payback (1998)/Point Blank (1967), Get Carter (1971 and 2000 remake) to name a few. West offers a series of exceptionally well choreographed hard hitting, bone breaking, wince enduring scenes, which Statham effortlessly pulls off with a smidgen of drama. The action is raw, not dissimilar to the stylish John Wick (2014), and Wild avoids using guns mirroring Denzel Washington’s McCall in The Equalizer (2014).

To Statham’s (who also produced) credit you do root for the gambling Nick Wild, and you can’t help feel he may windup like Carlito’s (1993) Brigante or London Boulevard’s (2010) Mitchel by the end. It’s a pity it chose the action, cutlery stabbing route and you can’t help feel that some of the more dramatic scenes were left on the cutting floor despite Statham showing some great range.

The action is more raw than the stylish John Wick (2014), and Wild doesn’t like to use guns like Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer (2014). Both Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Angarano while entertaining look a little uncomfortable age wise in their respective roles. The supporting cast are mostly extended cameos from the likes of Anne Heche, Sofía Vergara and Stanley Tucci who notably steals the show as mob boss mediator Baby.

Digressing slightly, thanks to Bruce Willis taking pay cheques for small cameo roles it’s left a gap in the market for well loved but still under appreciated Jason Statham who, endless Transporter roles aside, has offered some decent performances in the West’s own Mechanic, Killing Elite, Revolver, spring to mind.

The production values are high. it goes beyond the out of the box action film in terms of look thanks to Shelly Johnson’s cinematography and West’s keen eye for detail giving him a knack for creating atmosphere.

Statham puts in an immense physical performance. It’s a solid action film, and quiet restrained, no big explosions, with minimum gun-play, it focus its on physical altercations. And for these reasons recommend.

With the release of Day of the Dead Blu-ray (Collector’s Edition) (1985) from Shout! (Scream) Factory. I thought I’d revisit Romero’s zombie Classic (film review below), I loved the Arrow Blu-ray edition, some may like Shout! Factory ‘s new colour, you can find a comparison here and there’s a new documentary ‘World’s End: The Legacy of Day of the Dead’.

That’s said it’s personal preferences I have no idea at all which is more accurate to what Romero indented as both we remastered from an original and the Arrow Ed. was also loaded with extras and Docs.

Here’s the walking dead bad news for many – this new Collector’s Edition is region A locked, so if you have a European player that isn’t multi-region you’re dead out of luck.

P.S more bad news – if you’re interested in the 2014 Day of the Dead Remake and whether or not Lori Cardille will appear, I caught up with Lori and sadly she advised me that no one has got in touch yet not even for a cameo. (There’s still a chance though, I hope.)

Set a reminder! Put a note in your diary of the dead!

The zombie good news is that Dead Pulse is totally free only kindle worldwide this Halloween season (31st Oct-3rd Nov) More info on Dead Pulse below.


A small group of military officers and scientists reach breaking point in the confines of a bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

The first two scenes set precedence that the rest of the film can’t equal. The jumpy dream sequence is followed by and eerie deserted city during the day that soon comes to ‘life’ with the walking dead. The city scene creates tension, the howling wind and echoing voices.

Lori Cardille acting is excellent as Sarah, as too is Terry Alexander, as realist pilot, John. Jarlath Conroy is the alcoholic radioman William McDermott, however, after this strong introduction and the movie looses it lustre and wider audience as it goes into the underground bunker.

From here on in, we’re treated with a great performance from Sherman Howard as the ‘thinking’ zombie Bub and a fantastic monologue from Alexander, this is where the film finds it feet. There are fantastic special effects by Tom Savini, who fine-tunes what he did in Dawn’ and adds some more gore into the mix. Over the years the score by John Harrison has really grown on me and given the film a memorable lost hope feel.

There are other fine moments in Romero’s script, Miguel Salazar’s break down, Sarah’s struggle and some memorable on liners mostly from Richard Liberty’s Logan and Joseph Pilato’s Rhodes. However, what lets this film down slightly is some uneven acting. That said, John Amplas underrated and overlooked subtle performance as Dr.Fisher is a hidden gem and Johns monologue at the ‘Ritz’ is Oscar worthy.

Day of the dead is a tight zombie film, and debatably a classic but even if you disagree it’s worthy enough to enjoy time and time again.

When being dead no longer means the end…

So with a staple on George A. Romero’s dead mythos while paying homage to his ‘rules’ I wrote my second novel Dead Pulse which gives an insight into the zombies pecking order, their thought process and how they actually function. Dead Pulse also explores what it truly means to survive a zombie apocalypse through the harsh seasons on the land, sea and air over an intense 12 months. Of course there’s all the zombie action you’d expect from the genre and more.

  Death does not discriminate…

Dead Pulse is out now from a variety of online books stores, including Amazon US and Amazon UK you can also order it from your local store. Remember the e-book free this Halloween. Also if you get your undead hands on the paperback edition the Kindle comes free too.

Check out Dead Pulse’s “calm before the storm” trailer:

A group of youngster visit a cabin to help their friend detox, however, they so find them themselves pawns in a prophesy to raise an abomination.

Evil Dead ‘re-imagining’ was overseen by Sam Raimi himself, there’s a few tweaks and a couple of beloved things are missing (mostly comedy setups), it follows Evil Dead’s highs and lows story blueprint wisely hitting all the right notes, loss, sacrifice, possession, supernatural high-jinks, the book of the dead, a cellar, cabin and so on.

However, gone is the mix of wackiness with horror and what we’re left with is just horror. Packed with jump scares there’s blood – more blood than you can possibly imagine coupled with gratuitous and graphic violence, a nail gun, chainsaw, and claw hammer action.

It’s dark, ominous, gritty and wonderfully shot by Fede Alvarez. The special effect and music score a worthy of note. The opening is reminiscent of a million torture-porn films and adds little to the proceedings, although the series is known for irregular continuities, if anything the setup robs Evil Dead of being a sequel to the original. In addition, there’s a odd homage after the credits that takes Evil Dead 2013 stand alone stature. It’s as if Raimi and Co. couldn’t cut the umbilical cord to the original video nasty, or avoid backlash from fans.

The cast are a group of good looking kids and on the whole the acting is pretty good, lead Jane Levy is exceptional. But the group of twenty something Americans has been done to death and steals any novelty away from Dead by default. Nevertheless, there’s a welcomed gender change and duel role that allows Levy to really excel.

All in all as someone who avoids horror-comedy I thought a serious remake would be a good idea, that said, The Evil Dead 1981 was a basic concept and it was its style that made it. It goes to show that you should be careful what you wish for.

To Alvarez’s credit as horror film it is skilfully made, and if you’ve not seen its 1981 counterpart it excels. Nevertheless, if you’re familiar with the Evil Dead, its novelty , choppy charm, resourcefulness and it’s mix of scares humour, you may feel that this in some peculiar uncanny way falls short. There’s a reason archetypal books don’t get rewritten – the same could possibly be applied to cult films.

Ultimately, even with it’s ‘Evil Dead’ shortcomings it’s an entertaining piece of horror and still a must for horror fans.

Evil Dead on IMDB

With Halloween closing in I covered the Halloween films that featured Donald Pleasence in the Pleasence years. Take a look at 1,2,4,5 and 6 Here. Again skiping Halloween III: Season of the Witch as it’s a stand alone story I thought it would be intresting to cover Jamie Lee Curtis’ return, demise and founder of heavy metal band White Zombie -Rob Zombie’s remakes.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)


20 years after the events of Halloween killings Michael Myers sets out to complete his unfinished job and kill his sister once and for all.


The most appealing thing about Halloween 20 Years Later is its very title and Robert Zappia’s story concept itself especially as it features the return of Laurie Strode, the heroine that started the series. It’s no secret that this instalment disregards parts 4, 5, 6 and has no tie to 3. Although it side steps the aforementioned and by default Donald Pleasence’s work, he’s there as Sam Loomis in spirit in newspaper clippings and Nancy Stephens reprises her role as his assistant Nurse Chambers.


It takes the action from Haddonfield placing it in a private school giving the film a different feel. Even though Laurie Strode has assumed a new identity, Keri Tate, she is still haunted by previous events unwittingly passing on her fear to her son played lethargically by Josh Hartnett.


Gone is the grittiness of the first and second Halloween, it’s sleeker and leaner, both in production design and direction. That said, it does feel set like at times, losing its on location feel synonymous with many of the other films. When Jamie Lee Curtis is on screen the film has weight and emotion but outside that it plays against the genre ‘rules’ with false scares, red-herrings and quip dialogue reminiscent of the Scream series courtesy of writers Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg.



Note worthy is Adam Arkin playing Strode’s boyfriend and LL Cool J is fine as the security guard although arguably too humorous. The rest of the supporting cast are Myers fodder. There’s a nod to Psycho with a cameo by Janet Leigh real life mother of Jamie. Chris Durand’s take on the Michael/Shape is realised well, he’s both menacing yet oddly vulnerable this coupled with Curtis performance holds the film together. Jamie Lee Curtis is pretty much faultless as a troubled individual and over concerned mother.



Director Steve Miner gives an eerie edge at times with reflections, Strode’s visions and the vanishing Shape. Miner creates some interesting set pieces, Strode hiding in the chapel like hall, confronting Michael in the kitchen and the van crash. Although the kills throughout are nerve racking and well executed with good effects it also feels glossy and staged. This may possibly be due to so many slasher films over the years numbing audiences to the blood and violence.


Halloween: Resurrection (2002)


A group of students win a competition to spend a night in the house of killer Michael Myers while it’s broadcast on an Internet. However, Michael is living in a below his childhood house and the killings begin.



Continuing the continuity of H20, Resurrection takes the viewer back to Haddonfield. Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal returns with a run of the mill horror affair. It looks good and is slickly edited but disappointingly suffers from the horror trend of the day. In the vein of Scream, it has smart talking characters, packed witty quips and answers it also borrows from ogles of video feed footage horror films.


Busta Rhymes puts in a surprisingly entertaining performance as Freddie Harris who goes head to head with Michael, this time played by stuntman Brad Loree. Tyra Banks character Nora is a copycat Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers and gets little screen time. Like H20 the rest of the cast are just characters cut out from countless other films and meat for Michael to dispose of. The strong dark opening with Jamie Lee Curtis’ cameo is probably the most interesting and satisfying part of the film.



While trying to appeal to the teen film goers, it becomes the trend instead of setting it, this dilutes the scare horror factor that made Halloween successful.


As a plain slasher it’s an adequate ride, but lacks any of the previous Halloween magic including horror and fear.


Halloween (2007)


After being committed for 17 years in a mental institution, Michael Myers escapes and immediately returns to his hometown of Haddonfield where he begins a series of killings.


Despite how die-hard fans feel about giving Michael a background reasoning for his actions and departing from Carpenters scary unfounded killing motivations director Rob Zombie has chosen to include lengthy scenes of Michael as a young boy. This gives weight and credence to the character, Michael’s killing of animals, family and school issues follow a realistic progression mirroring real life serial killers. It’s clear that Zombie put some effort into the screenplays back story and its conception.


The characters have more shades of grey than its original counterpart. What Zombie does successfully is bring the fear factor back while constructing and surpassing the grittiness of the first. That said, as the perfect suburb setting is gone and the unsavoury world created by Zombie has a lesser contrast to the murderous Michael. In essence it’s a dark hopeless world that Michael already resides in, as oppose to the quintessential small town in the original that he assaults upsetting the calm balance.

Without drawing comparisons to the original the cast is very good, although very unlikable. Malcolm McDowell gives depth to Dr. Samuel Loomis and notable is Tyler Mane’s imposing and physical Michael Myers. There’s a lot of shock for shock values sake dialogue in Zombie’s screenplay similar to Devils Rejects. Some of what he puts on screen is gory and disturbing. There are many nods to the original and the inclusion of Danielle Harris from part 4 and 5 is appealing.


Overall, Zombie has made the film his own visually and retains the essence of Halloween, but arguably it’s an unnecessary remake. Halloween 2007 caters for Zombie fans and is only really appealing to those who are admirers of Rob Zombies harsh and unforgiving work.


Halloween II (2009)


Laurie Strode left mentally-traumatized after the Halloween day massacre finds herself dreading the one-year anniversary of the killings, unbeknownst to her Michael Myers sets about to finish what he started.


Writer director Rob Zombie returns with his trademark style. There’s more vulgar dialogue, violence and mayhem. But this time it’s all the more gritty, graphic and brutal. Zombie departs from the structure in original Halloween II and very little is set in a hospital. It isn’t a remake at all and Zombie takes it into a different direction.

Dr. Loomis has changed significantly hungry for notoriety, Laurie is has become an unhinged oddball and Michael a long haired homeless man who pops on a mask now and again. Michaels Mask is synonymous with Halloween and taking it away at times is like removing Freddy’s glove. Tyler Mane is not doubt menacing and makes a great Myers.


There are plenty of kills but like Zombie’s Halloween, there’s just nothing to like, especially the character of Laurie Strode. It’s not actress Scout Taylor Compton fault either, to Compton’s credit and the casting director she’s refreshing non Hollywood looking, its Zombie’s alienating screenplay that’s the issue. Oddly the visions of Michael’s dead mother played by Sherri Moon are the most interesting scenes of the film even if feeling somewhat misplaced.


As a grungy bizarre serial killer film Halloween 2 may appeal but as a Halloween movie it falls short of meeting expectations even more so than its predecessor. This leave the future of the Halloween series on a knife edge.
Let Me In - Original Movie Poster - 2010Re-imagining, remake, version of,  re-boot or whatever you’d like to call them are ‘lazy’ big business, especially when you’re remaking a good film, and it’s not just old films that are subject of being remolded, having a cinematic remaking.
Let the Right One In Poster 27x40 K?re Hedebrant Lina Leandersson Per Ragnar
For example, Hammer’s most recent offering is ‘Let Me In’ (2010), a remake of the recent excellent Let the Right One In (2008). Hammer can’t fail with a successful director Matt Reeves at the helm.
Another is Quarantine (2008) a year after the originals release an unnecessary remake of Spanish horror [REC] (2007).
Rec (English Dubbed)Quarantine Art Poster Print
Halloween Art Poster PrintOld slasher classics John Carpenter’s Halloween ’78, remade by Rob Zombie in 2007. Friday the 13th 1980 remade in 2009. The harrowing I Spit on Your Grave (Day of the Woman) (1978) recently in 2010 and ’72’s The Last House On The Left again in 2009. …
Halloween Poster Movie 11x17 Jamie Lee Curtis Donald Pleasence Nancy Loomis P.J. Soles
It goes on and on and there are more in the pipeline and it doesn’t happen to just horror, it’s across all genres….   Arthur, The Karate Kid, The Taking Of Pelham 123 and Conan to name a few.
Friday the 13th Movie (Jason Standing) Poster Print - 24x36Friday the 13th (1980) - 11 x 17 - Style A
The Man Who Knew Too Much Poster B 27x40 James Stewart Doris Day Brenda de BanzieWhether you like remakes or not studios and film-makers have been doing this since as far back as the beginning of film, notably “The Great Train Robbery” (1903) remade in 1904. Even Hitchcock remade his own film,   The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) re-hashed in 1954.
I’ve put together a random selection of… let’s call them incarnations, both that I feel are good and bad for your perusal…
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Original Movie Poster Freddy KruegerA badly burnt gardener is killing teenagers in their dreams, however, their deaths are not just random as these children are all linked by their past and their parents secret.
Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer’s screenplay is never brave enough to develop the new ideas injected into A Nightmare on Elm Street which is a shame as Watchmen and Shutter Island lead Jackie Earle Haley is excellent as Freddy Krueger, but is rarely on screen.
Where as unnecessary remakes The Amityville Horror: (2005), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) ,Halloween (2007) and Friday the13th (2009) to name a few tried to elevate the original concepts and add further depth, director Samuel Bayer’s Nightmare’ fails to do either and this latest offering is no better than Robert Englund’s last outing in 2003.
There a distinct lack of dreamlike quality for the most part. The lighting and sets are first-rate but the eerie, ominous atmosphere and build up of tension are missing. Just as there are glimmers, the return to the school, the parents decisions, Freddy’s return as so on, it never gives enough weight to the exposition or execution to those new ideas and your left with a hollow feeling and a few cheap jump scares.
With limited screen-time Clancy Brown, of Highlander (1986), steals every scene with his presence. Sub-characters Kris (Katie Cassidy) and Dean (Kellan Lutz) are missed early on. The acting of the rest of the cast is adequate, with a teen cast of familiar faces including, Rooney Mara and Thomas Dekker, but they are all to polished for the viewer to connect with them and feel any authentic fear. That said, Jackie Earle Haley limited time is welcomed and the Freddy makeup and costume is excellent. As too is the effective rework of the original music score.
Ultimately, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) adds nothing new, either as a re-imagining, an addition/reboot to the series or a remake of the original. Even as standalone horror film it falls short and fails to give you nightmares.

Quarantine (2008)

Quarantine Art Poster PrintA television reporter and her cameraman are on call with a group of fireman. When they are called to an apartment building their night takes a turn for the worse… The building becomes quarantined confining them with the inhabitants who are infected by a virus that turns them into bloodthirsty killers.

If you’ve seen Rec (2007) this version adds nothing new. Director John Erick Dowdle and writer Drew Dowdle can’t fail as it’s almost a paint by number remake, only with English dialogue instead of the dubbed or subtitles of the original.

While Hostel’s Jay Hernandez give a great performance, the majority of the rest of the cast are less convincing. Quarantine it’s a lot sleeker in it’s execution and looks really good. That said, the griminess of REC has been lost and this version sadly loses the raw innate fear factor.

As a standalone point of view shot film it’s entertaining enough. Blood, gore, tension and claustrophobia but if you’ve seen the original it’s an unnecessary remake and cash-in on Rec (2007) made less than a year earlier.

Clash of the Titans (2010)
Clash of the Titans Movie (Sam Worthington) Poster Print - 24x36New sandals, old hat, Clash of the Titans is an enjoyable remake, but the original only made in 1981 doesn’t seem that long ago.
The 2010 version strength is that you don’t see sandals, Gods and monster adventure films much these days(unless they are made for TV). However, you cant help but think why remake Clash of the Titans when Jason and the Argonauts would have been more advantageous.
Sadly the score is pretty forgettable but the effects are great, minus a disappointing CGI Medusa. The old world feel is captured perfectly credit to director of photography Peter Menzies Jr. the locations are breathtaking, Sam Worthington is a reliable as the an action hero but his character is underdeveloped. There are some great performances by Mads Mikkelsen and heavy weights Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. The rest are a mixed bag, yet Gemma Arterton is startling first-class as to is the almost unrecognisable Jason Flemyng as Calibos. However, if you’ve seen the original, Calibos like Perseus lacks characterisation.
Apart from a few tweaks, director Louis Leterrier’s version retreads the first. While it exceeds it predecessor in some parts, thankfully there’s no owl, it includes the Sheikh Sulieman; Lo; scorpions; Pegaus and flying monsters; in places it fall short of the original -The Medusa scene;the training of Perseus and Calibos role.
Nevertheless, it’s a fun adventure film and I’d happily watch an inevitable sequel.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Dawn of the Dead (Widescreen Unrated Director's Cut)A group of strangers take refuge in shopping mall, in a desperate attempt to survive a zombie outbreak.
You know Michael Cain once said, to paraphrase, ‘why do they always bloody remake good films, they should remake the bad ones’. Of course I agree with this, but Michael went on to star in the remake of Get Carter and Sleuth. So to follow in Michael’s foot steps and do a u turn, I’d like to state the re-imagining/remake of Dawn of the dead is a blast.
Although I love George’s original Dawn of the dead, with his traditional slow moving dead, the zombies in this remake Directed by Zack Snyder (who went on to direct 300 & Watchmen) move fast. The fast moving are like the virus infected people in 28 days/weeks later. They are just plain menacing and bloodcurdling.
Zack Snyder directs a solid cast of relatively unknowns, Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Jake Weber. The body of the story is the same as the original only this time a nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors arrive at a shopping mall for protection from the hordes of zombies that await outside.
The effects are excellent and the first 15 minutes of the film is crafted and executed to a standard that I’m sure Hitchcock would have been proud of – it’s pure tension, scares and horror.
In retrospect Dawn of the dead 2004 is probably the most underrated re-imagining/remake ever. Grab a raw steak and watch it if you don’t believe me.
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Night of the Living Dead (1990)Before horror remakes became popular and the the term ‘reboot’ was only used for computers Tom Savini horror effects maestro directed the remake of the black & white classic Night of the Living Dead. Originally Savini worked on Dawn of the Dead and other films directed by zombie godfather George. A .Romero, his gory effects were influenced by the real life deaths he witnessed in Vietnam.
The secluded and atmospheric location works a charm and Candyman’s Tony Todd is on top form but the film is let down by some bad performances from the supporting cast, who I wont name.
Savini proves he is a competent director. He makes the wise decision to stick close to the original material giving us a pacier update, a coloured version that comes with a few welcomed tweaks to the story line. It’s worth every zombie bite.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Planet Of The Apes - 2001 - Advance Movie Poster (Size: 27" x 39")Remake, re-imagination whatever you’d like to label it as, Planet of the Apes (2001) is inferior to the original 1968 film in almost every way.
That said, the make up is excellent, Tim Roth as Thade is fantastic, Colleen Atwood costumes are notable and Danny Elfman’s thumping score is an achievement. The spaceship sets and on the location night scenes have a unique atmosphere and edge about them. Even Mark Wahlberg tries his best to handle the half-baked script and there are a few welcomed cameos from some of the original cast.
On the flip side there’s some choppy editing, an uneven story, the ape city and the sandy finale are emotionless and uninspiring. Slipped in is some unnecessary humour, usually supplied by Paul Giamatti (aptly named Limbo) and you never feel any danger or threat from the apes apart from Thade. Also, there’s no likable characters to really root for. Nevertheless, nothing can save nominated director and visionary Tim Burton’s incarnation of Apes.
The fist ten minutes and the last two are probably the most attention-grabbing of this version but with an estimated budget $100,000,000 there’s no excuse for the travesty in between. Let’s hope Caesar: Rise of the Apes (2011) can put the series on track.
Red Dragon (2002)
Red Dragon - 2002 - Original 27x40 Movie Poster - Anthony Hopkins - CollectibleComedy director Bret Rattner gives us Red Dragon. Ex-FBI agent Will Graham is assigned to help track down a serial killer; with the aid of the notorious criminal genius Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter who he imprisoned.
Based on Thomas Harris novel inevitable comparisons between Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986) are unavoidable due to the same source material- in essence it is a remake.
It is big budget event including an expensive supporting cast Emily Watson, Ralph Fiennes and Philip Seymour Hoffman to name a few. The usual provoking Edward Norton sadly gives a monotone performance as Will Graham and those who are familiar with Manhunter will be disappointed. Memorable Anthony Heald reprises his role as Dr. Frederick Chilton and Frankie Faisonis is once again Barney Matthews. Anthony Hopkins is back as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, set before Lamb’s and Ridley Scott’s Hannibal it’s an odd casting choice if only from an aesthetic point of view because if his age. Also as in the casting of Julianne Moore in Hannibal, Harvey Keitel as Jack Crawford is peculiar from a link point of view as Scott Glenn was just as good. So there really was no need to have cast Hopkins as Lecter as continuity isn’t an concern for the producers here.
Danny Elfman’s score is surprisingly mediocre and uninspiring. Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is noteworthy and every scene looks great with some fantastic lighting, especially when there’s a big set piece. Rattner’s film over all is fine looking, well constructed and is as well polished as most of the actors. Nevertheless, despite a great cast ensemble and a budget, Red Dragon lacks the ominous edge of its predecessors.
To it’s credit it is worth watching if only for the opening scene and the joy of seeing Hopkins (albeit older) lurking in his (Slience of the Lambs) cell.
Shutter (2008/I)
Shutter Original Movie Poster, 27" x 40" (2008)A married couple discover ghostly images in the photographs they develop and they discover a spirit of a dead girl is seeking vengeance.
Shutter was released the same year as the Mirrors (2008), in the wake of other successful remakes of Asian chillers including the exceptional Dark Water. This offering is as average as it’s 2004 predecessor, screenplay writer Luke Dawson injects the Americanisms and little else. There are good solid performances by Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor, with the template already set director Ochiai does a more than satisfactory job. He also makes the wise choice of using Japanese locations than sets, which are striking at times.
Regrettably, everything is forgettable and it not the films fault. It’s the fact that if you’ve seen any recent Asian remakes The Grudge for example; you know ten minutes in what the twist is going to be. There are some creepy moments and it’s better than most of the remake batch including films such as the teen orientated One Missed Call (2008)and Pulse (2006).
Shutter is competently spooky,with some nice effects and to its credit a lot better than the endless supply of teen horrors that are doing the rounds.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Amityville Horror Original Movie Poster, 27" x 40" (2005)The Amityville Horror (2005) is a very effective, yet, an unnecessary remake of the The Amityville Horror (1979) which was based on a book, based on an account by the real life Lutz’s who credibility was questionable.
Although it is based on a true story the only fact is that the DeFeo family, the first occupants of the home, were killed by their son.
Amityville Horror 2005 is creepy, genuinely jumpy, well written and directed. It’s an enjoyable horror film. There are some spine-tingling, moments enhanced by the eerie music by Steve Jablonsky who has gone on to score bigger films. In the same way Rachel Nichols stands out in a brief role, which probably got her a lot of roles in other horror films. Ryan Reynolds, as George Lutz is first rate as you see his character progressively change and Melissa George is reliable as usual.
It’s an effective remake but you can’t help but think they could have just made an original haunted house horror film with such clearly talented people.
The A-Team (2010)
The A-Team Poster Movie (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm) Liam Neeson Bradley Cooper Jessica Biel Sharlto Copley Patrick Wilson Quinton 'Rampage' JacksonRumours have circulated for a long time about the possibility of an A-Team movie, we’ll it’s here. Based on The A-Team (1983) which hasn’t aged to well but still has a charm of it own, the 2010 incarnation follows Iraq War veterans looking to clear their name with the U.S. military.
The cast, Joe Carnahan direction, effects are great, the tweaks and changes to update the A-Team into 2010 are fitting. Although that allure and humour of the original has somehow been lost. That said there are a few good one liners. A stand out one from Murdock is – “You can’t park there, that’s a handicap zone,” in the context of what’s happening on screen at the time is hilarious.
Jessica Biel, along side bad guys Brian Bloom and Patrick Wilson give good performances and weight to the story. It has its faults, while Bradley Cooper puts in a great performance he’s the only character that appears very different to the original Dirk Benedict’s ‘Faceman’. Also there’s a distinct lack of Colonel Hannibal Smith disguises. Nevertheless, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson portrayal of B.A is notable and Sharlto Copley’s interpretation of Murdock is praiseworthy.
There’s plenty going on, double crossings, tremendous action scenes and escapes. For this film not to surpass the tacky fun Saturday evening show it would have been a crime with the budget and talent thrown at it.
It’s good fun but lacks that wow, revisit factor. With expectations lowered, if there’s to be a sequel I’m sure Liam Neeson and company will look more comfortable in 1983’s A-Team shoes given a second outing.
The Crazies (2010)
The CraziesThe story briefly… A small town is suddenly plagued by insanity after a toxin contaminates their water supply.
I’m a George Romero fan, but I didn’t enjoy the 1973 cult classic as much as his zombie films or this version. It’s very rare I salute remakes, especially needless ones. However, The Crazies is an exception to the rule. Breck Eisner direction is effective and the writing is excellent, stopping it falling into b-movie territory. My only negative remarks are that there were too many ‘getting saved at the last second moments’ and an unnecessary CGI driven ending.
The film plays on fear of dying and isolation. There’s lots of gore, tension and atmosphere. Radha Mitchell and the underrated Timothy Olyphant are excellent as they convincingly fight for survival against the town folk that have turned crazy. Joe Anderson deserves a mention as the deputy.
If you like 28 days later, you love this.
The Invasion (2007)
2007 The Invasion 27 x 40 inches Russian Style A Movie PosterRemake of remakes and based on Jack Finney novel, thankfully The Invasion borrows more from Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and as a plus doesn’t try to recreate its daring chilling ending, coming up with its own penultimate finish.
The supporting cast are great and include ’78’s Veronica Cartwright. It is a fine cast ensemble that reunites Jeffrey Wright and Daniel Craig in two effective roles as they help Carol Bennell played by Nicole Kidman find her son and stop a virus that is turning humans into ‘perfect’ emotionless shells of themselves.
Already off to a head start, based on such excellent source material director Oliver Hirschbiegel brings David Kajganich interesting screenplay to life. It’s subtle at times but injects plenty of foot and car chases. The on location shooting sells the tension as you see the city’s people change. Make up effect are fantastic and not too overboard. The good use of lighting, camera angels backed up with a nail biting score helps to heightening the paranoia as everyone Bennell knows becomes one of ‘them.’
Kidman’s endless supply of unnecessary fitted clothing and botox aside, she gives a good performance and despite some surprisingly already dated effects shots of microscopic virus the film is well crafted.
Overall, if not compared to its predecessors, The Invasion ticks all the boxes as a retelling of a character driven, sharp, thrilling sci-fi.
The Omen (2006)
The Omen (2006) (OST)Remakes of good films are always unnecessary, remake the bad ones. Never the less, notable horrors The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) Dawn of the Dead (2004), and The Amityville Horror (2005) success paved the way for remakes of ‘classic’s’.
The Omen (2006) is no exception, basically the same as it’s 1976 predecessor there are a few tweaks to the story but the core plot remains the same, an American ambassador comes to terms with the fact his son is literally the Antichrist.
It’s a star studded cast including the likes of David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, and Michael Gambon who give more than adequate supporting performances. Note worthy is Mia Farrow as the nanny, an elegant, intelligent and creepy Mrs. Baylock. Julia Stiles is on form as the mother who senses something is wrong with her child and Liev Schreiber is excellent as the father Robert Thorn, who holds a secret about their son. It’s fast paced and you see glimpse of Damien ageing from new-born via home videos. Arguably the child actor is not as menacing as the children in recent horrors but is effective enough, as most of the frivolities happen when he’s not on screen.
The film is superbly crafted by director John Moore, the locations and David Seltzer’s well written screenplay give the film a realist weight. Even though there’s some over saturated post-production lighting, the movie has a terrific ominous look, containing plenty of rain and shadows. Accompanied by Marco Beltrami’s excellent music score remarkable creepy scenes include a visit to a monastery and cemetery, Thorn’s meeting with Postlethwaite’s priest and some eerie dream sequences.
Cheap jump scares aside and without drawing comparisons to the original, The Omen is a very intriguing and entertaining horror thriller that is worth your time.
The Thing (1982)
1982 The Thing 27 x 40 inches Style D Movie PosterAn atmospheric understated sci-fi at it best. I’ll never understand how Carpenter lost the lustre in some of the other film he made, nevertheless, his Thing is one of his best movies and also once of the best sci-fi movies ever. Despite being based on the same source material (before remakes were popular) the thing has a look and feel of it’s own and is very different from its 50’s counterpart.
The isolated setting, the astounding cinematography and scenery creates intrigue; drawing you in from the very beginning. It’s a perfect horror/sci-fi cocktail of Ennio Morricone’s haunting foreboding score, Rick bakers benchmark practical effects (which are unsurpassed) Carpenters claustrophobic set ups and Bill Lancaster screenplay.
It’s rare that every single actor is exceptional and supplied with effective dialogue. All the cast from Kurt Russell to Wilford Brimley as Blair are all captivating, great casting by Anita Dann. The characters have their own issues and as the paranoia sets in relationships are forged and other broken, building to a bold and satisfying conclusion.
This is more than just a cult film with a ‘monster’ hiding in warm places surrounded by snow, it’s a finely tuned science fiction horror masterpiece.
The Wolfman (2010)
Wolfman Original Movie Poster, 27" x 40" (2010)The Wolfman is a fanciful looking film and a good remake of The Wolf Man (1941). It also has a reminiscent atmosphere of the old Hammer movies.
Joe Johnston proves once again he is a more than effective director. As a bonus werewolf effects veteran Rick Baker provides the some of the special make-up effects and a brief cameo. Danny Elfman gives a wonderful and fitting score, the whole film has a great Gothic ambiance to it.
Anthony Hopkins (who I usually love) as Sir John Talbot comes across lazy and uninspiring in this particular role and at times the film is too CGI driven. However, Benicio Del Toro is the perfect Wolfman and Hugo Weaving is ideal as the witty Scotland yard Inspector who has some great moments.
Itdoesn’t have the crispness of Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but is far more enjoyable than Coppola’s Dracula.
For old school horror monster fans it’s a delight. All in all it’s a fitting retelling of a classic monster movie.
My Bloody Valentine (2009)
My Bloody Valentine 3D Original Movie Poster, 27" x 40" (2009)Based on George Mihalka’s 1981 slasher and Stephen A. Miller’s story of the of the same name; a killer miner returns to a small town on the 10th anniversary of his killing spree to pick-axe the ones that got away but, is it really him?
What starts out as a teen-like slasher,such as Prom Night/Friday 13th,this quickly feels more grounded when the story moves 10 years on. There’s lots of gore and the killings are bloody and have been executed with some great effects. My Bloody Valentine is an above average stalker type gore slasher. The acting is a mixed bag of impressive performances by Kerr Smith and Jaime King, however, Supernatural’s lead Jensen Ackles is mediocre.
This remake doesn’t need the 3D gimmicks which actually spoil a few great moments of escapism, with it’s lingering close shots that cheapen the look of Brian Pearson’s cinematography.
What makes this better than most is the 1981 whodunit story and Todd Farmer and Zane Smith’s updated screenplay that sticks to the original, it’s little twists, the characters and the relationships are well written and explored. There’s plenty of drive and motivation even in the sub character’s including Tom Atkins and Kevin Tighe.
Overall, despite My Bloody Valentine’s faults it is surprisingly good due to the storytelling and satisfying conclusion.
I welcome Kiefer Sutherland with open arms as he’s in the land of TV far too often. Although he seems to lack the great range of his father Donald, he is a great underrated actor. Mirrors gives Kiefer plenty to play with, but as with so many Asian horror remakes that have been spat-out recently and while Mirrors is one of the better remakes, the story twist is something we’ve seen too many times.

No stranger to remakes director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes remake and 2010’s Piranha 3-D) takes the viewer though paint by numbers stuff as Ben Carson (Kiefer), a former undercover detective, is forced to take a night time security job at a department store that was gutted by a fire. However, there is an evil lurking in the mirrors, an entity he must stop to save his family.

Lately, I wish all the PC’s in the world were stolen so I wouldn’t have to see another dodgy effect detract from an actor’s performance. While some effects are modest it’s the bad CGI that spoils some moments of scariness. When practical effects are used there’s one moment that would stop you ever looking into a mirror and taking a bath again.

Jason Flemyng shows up for a welcomed moment but seems to take his pay cheque and disappear as fast as some of the eerie atmosphere. Between Paula Patton and Amy Smarts (almost a cameo appearance) the acting is above average even down to the child actors who are at no time annoying.

Overall, Kiefer leaves his mark and it may not be the most original horror but at times it is certainly is creepy, not since Poltergeist and Poltergeist 3 have mirrors been so chilling.