March 31, 2011

A Rant about Remakes?

Is it inevitable that I'd decide to rant about remakes? I guess you could say that. However, I am not jabbering on about remakes here per se. At the end of the day, whether we want them or not, there are and always will be remakes of the films we love, hate or couldn't care less about. My point here though is something a little more nagging, in my mind anyway.

Suspiria, as many know, is without a doubt my favorite movie and I have been hearing rumors of its remake for quite a while now. The fact that it is being remade though is neither here nor there. I really couldn't care less, if it brings the original to a wider audience then that is fantastic. If it doesn't it still won't change my feelings towards Argento's masterpiece. What does piss me off though it that I recently read that David Gordon Green, who is directing the remake, has stated that he plans to use Goblin's original score in his version of the movie. Granted he has also stated that he plans to change it up slightly but my point is this. Why remake a movie if you plan on using elements from the original? Surely the point of a remake is to bring your vision of the story to life?

I find this to be lazy on behalf of the filmmaker. Give the story your twist, hire someone to write a new score, bring your movie to life however you see fit, but make it your movie. The same happened with Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween. Now, I personally enjoyed this remake, I especially enjoyed Michael's backstory as a child. But, Zombie also decided to use John Carpenter's original score. Why? Sure, Tyler Bates score sounded good but all it did was remind us the viewer that we were watching a remake.

These filmmakers want us to believe that they have this wonderful vision of what they can do with these stories. Fine, wonderful, slap yourself on the back for not having original material, but come on guys, using the original score? Why not go the Gus Van Sant route and just remake it shot for shot? Make your fucking remake if you so desire but don't try and suck fans of the originals in by knowing that the scores of movies such as Suspiria and Halloween are as much an integral part of the films as the plot or characters. They are in fact characters all of their own, so why not write your own characters in?

You could argue that John Carpenter used the same title sequence in his vision of The Thing. Well, yes he did, but the difference being is that The Thing and The Thing From Another World were both interpretations of the John W. Campbell book Who Goes There? Carpenter also made an entirely different movie regardless of whether you see it as a remake or not, which it isn't.

Remakes will continue to be a source of debate of that I am sure. If they are to be made though at least have the courage to make your own film, don't ride on the coattails of the source material any more than you already are. Like I said, it is lazy and it is also a further insult to the fans you are no doubt trying to win over.

March 29, 2011

Pick of the Week - The Rebel (2007)

This weeks movie pick is the kick-ass Vietnamese martial arts epic The Rebel. Directed by Truc Nguyen and starring Johnny Nguyen and Dustin Nguyen (am fairly sure they are not all related) The Rebel features a great story, beautiful cinematography and some seriously cool fight scenes. This is a must for fans of Asian cinema and I recommend picking up the 2 Disc Dragon Dynasty release.

March 28, 2011

Balada Triste De Trompeta to Invade the States

Just read some great news over at Fangoria that Balada Triste De Trompeta aka The Last Circus, from director Alex De Le Iglesia, will be getting a limited theatrical release on August 12th from Magnet. Now pretty much all of Magnet's recent releases have debuted On Demand before their theatrical dates for $9.99, but some have been worth it. Personally I caught Neil Marshall's Centurion and The Warlords, starring Andy Lau and Jet Li, each for this price and didn't begrudge it. Hopefully this movie will be worth it too.

March 27, 2011

A Blood-Soaked Journey Down Memory Lane

(Deep Red #4)
Being a fan of genre cinema today is an easy, if not slightly overwhelming, way of life. The internet makes accessing information just a click away. Hundreds of websites, blogs and fan pages are all there feeding us news and reviews of new movies, books and merchandise. It is in all honesty a quite wonderful, albeit a potentially expensive, time to be a fan. Of course you have to wade through a lot of shit to find the good stuff, but it is out there. For all the good it brings it brings an equal measure of hostility and self promotion (of course we are all guilty of that!)  Everyone's opinion is the only one that matters and everyone is an expert. What you like or dislike is open to the masses and you often find yourself questioned and even criticized for what you enjoy. But, we must take the rough with the smooth, and this era is one I embrace. Movies are on demand at home or on your computer, there are thousands of outlets to buy your fix of horror. Theaters have more than one screen, so if you are lucky they may even show a horror movie occasionally, although rest assured it will rarely be independently financed. There are of course the select group of theaters that thrive on special screenings and limited releases. Bless them one and all. My point being is that horror is out there, ready to be gobbled up and spat out before moving onto the next fix.

(Fangoria #73)

(Toxic Horror #1)

It wasn't always this way though. Being a teenager in the 1980's, yes I am an old fucker, it wasn't easy at all, it required a hell of a lot of footwork I can tell you. I can only imagine what it was like in the decades that came before. First off we only had three channels on the television back in the UK. This was before Channel 4, and all its glory, came lurching into the world. So as you can imagine the pickings were slim. There was good stuff to be found though. Hammer Horror flicks and the Universal Classics were often screened, as were movies like The Omen, and Night of the Living Dead. I also fed myself on a steady diet of gore-soaked literature from the likes of James Herbert and Shaun Hutson. Cinemas in my hometown weren't what they are today either, the Pavilion only had one screen so only showed one feature per week, plus a late night screening of something like Halloween 3. I didn't get to see those though as unlike the States where an R rating means kids can be admitted with an adult, in the UK movies had ratings such as a 15 or 18, meaning if you were under the age of 15 or 18 you didn't get in. The most difficult part though was finding out about these wonderful, or not so wonderful, movies. I remember the day it changed though.

(Gorezone #1)

(Fear #1)

At school one day a friend brought in a copy of a magazine called Fangoria. Twas a wonderful thing, full of gory images from films I had never heard of. The hooks were in though, I needed more. At the time my father worked in London, so it was my duty to badger him about grabbing me a copy of this sick magazine. Then one day he came home with a copy, it was issue 73. This opened the flood gates for me, the video age was upon us and I wanted to see them all. Video stores at the time, such as my local Channel 5, only ever carried one copy of each movie unless it was a huge hit. You had to persevere though and put in your time to find the horror. My friend and I would spend hours searching the shelves for horror movies, any horror movie, and would usually leave with three or four at a time. Movies like Street Trash, Basket Case, Intruder and Demons, as well as more lightweight faire like Ghoulies 2, The Gate and Terrorvision. Again, this wasn't easy with the movie certification. At the age of 14 or 15 it wasn't easy to pass as 18, we seemed to manage though somehow. The same applied to the theater, we managed to get in to see Hellraiser 2, The Fly 2 and a seemingly endless supply of Elm Street flicks. We lapped it up, even making it down to London to catch Bad Taste at the Prince Charles Cinema.

(Theatrical Poster which adorned my wall)
Eventually, on one glorious day, I found a store in my home town that not only sold Fangoria, saving having to ask my dad to keep picking them up for me, but also its spin-offs Gorezone, Toxic Horror, The Bloody Best of Fangoria as well as a new UK based magazine called Fear. So every month I would trek down and pick up these beauties and devour every issue. This only opened my eyes to more though, and that involved taking myself to London to visit a store called Forbidden Planet. There I would find even more goodies such as the glorious Deep Red magazine and books such as The Official Splatter Movie Guide (I still have that as well as its follow-up) and The Nightmare on Elm Street Companion.

(I still have both of these)

It certainly wasn't easy though, many of the films I read about with shocking titles like Doctor Butcher MD and The Gates of Hell weren't readily available at the time. The Video Recording Act fucked up everything for a while giving us the legendary Video Nasties list of movies. Extreme times called for extreme measures though, and this called for my father's credit card. No, I didn't steal it! It meant he ordered a couple of films from the States using it. The films were Dawn of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. They weren't on the list but I still couldn't find them. Alas, I never received them, instead my father received a letter from Customs informing him that they had been seized. That put an end to that then. Over the years the laws were relaxed and many, if not all, of these films did finally see a release in the UK.

(Freddy was all the rage so I had to have this!)

Like I said though, it was not an easy time to be a horror fan. You really had to put time and effort into finding your fix. I wish I still had my old books, magazines and vhs movies, but most got left in the UK when I moved to the States in 2005. Yes I am a fool as some of my stuff was incredibly rare, not that I would ever sell any of it. 

(I managed to nab one of these from the theater)

Which all brings us back to the present day. I laugh sometimes when all I seem to read about is how there are no good horror movies being made or released. Of course there is, you just need to put a little time and effort into finding it. It may not be at the theater or in your local store, but I assure you it is out there just waiting to be found. With the resources available there really is no excuse. Don't just gorge yourself on what is easy to find, dig below the surface as there are some really tasty gems to be found.

(Another acquisition from the theater)