Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 17 of the 30 Day Horror Challenge: Last Remake on the Left

Day 17 - Your favorite horror film remake –

To avoid fainting just keep telling yourself:


THEY REMADE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT… And it’s a fuckin’ great remake, ghoulies. I guess when you tackle a remake people want to know what makes the re-do so much better than the original or at least as good or tolerable. I love Sean Cunningham and Wes Craven, most of their post and/or pre Last House endeavors and the original Last House on the Left. I have no qualms with the original picture. Even got myself a Fright Rags shirt beat up and lookin’ super green. I love the original so much that I listen to the full soundtrack. Yes, I love Wait for the Rain, but I’ll sit down on a sunny Sunday morning and read the horror news with a cup o’ coffee to the full on soundtrack or maybe just David Alexander Hess’s album (not the soundtrack… his album).

The remake is grand. It takes a cheaper, grindhouse style picture and gives it some cojones. Maybe its just more real because we’re updating the picture for a modern audience. They’ve hired some talented actors although no one quite does a rape/humiliation scene like Hess. The realism is terrifying. The updating brings it closer to home than any “piss your pants” dialogue from the original. You get some great gore/kills. You even get a slightly happier version than the original (all be it a Hollywood ending, you can’t really call this a Hollywood picture). It’s important that a remake take its own initiatives, straying from the original but not so much that the audience feels that you’ve used the namesake to maximize your marketing dollars alone.

Let’s talk a bit about Dr. Jimmy’s creep outs. These would be the things that get under my skin. Last House has three of Dr. Terror’s anti-wish list (because they make me pee my pants, Hess would be proud). 1. Claw end of the hammer to the head (like Halloween II only more brutal). 2. Garbage disposal hand mutilation (just try and get me to use your garbage disposal you fucking sadistic animals) and 3. Microwaved head (I always imagine the safety on the microwave door fails and I ended up cooking myself… any part of myself… not specifically the head). Terrifying. How they managed to touch on three of my heebie jeebie moments is beyond me. Maybe they took a poll or somebody hacked my Facebook.

I don’t mind remakes. I dislike bad remakes more than I would dislike a non-remade bad movie. I’m the kind of guy who can walk into the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street and take it as a standalone picture that occasionally pays homage to the original “lore and legend” but lives or dies by its own merit. Most movies deserve to get a chance. Maybe an example will help fill in the gap between good remake and bad remake (that really is a bad movie but because its remade sucks more).

Bad remake: April Fool’s Day. – adds nothing, brings nothing, imagines nothing, does not capture the fun of the original version and isn’t even a good story much less a retold story. Poorly acted drivel. The kills suck. That’s what made the original so much fun. This gets a big Fuck You from the doctor.

Good Remake: I Spit On Your Grave. – more brutal update, revenge sequences go a step farther, but you actually manage to identify with the new actress as much as you did with Camille Keaton with far less on screen rape time. Torturing the bad guys looks like fun and you’d probably try it if you had half the chance.

The volume of great remakes would surprise you. As I always say, if you think you dislike remakes than just throw out all your Dracula and Frankenstein movies, masks and memorabilia. They’re most likely related to remakes of earlier versions of those stories. You can’t judge a remake just because it’s a remake. Plenty of great stories deserve to be retold. Hopefully you like that Last House on the Left got to be remade and by the proper folks. Best example to throw at a remake hater: The Thing. Bless You John Carpenter. Bless you Kurt Russell.

-Dr. Terror

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