10/29/10

Halloween Overachievers:13 Remakes from Matt of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby

Oh man, these Overachievers are starting to make me second guess my own list, and I've only got three more entries to go! Today's 13 Remakes comes from a man who is the stuff of myth a legend. After all, if Chuck Norris Ate My Baby, I'd be quite sad indeed, but Matt seems to be OK with it. He fires up some massive Friday night dance parties, gets you through the weekend with the Horror Hangover, and generally lays down some of the most entertaining posts around. Every time I visit Chuck Norris Ate My Baby,  I know I'll leave with a smile on my face (and it doesn't even cost $2.99 a minute, yet.) Seriously, he's a great fellow, and one of the many people I look forward to meeting in just a couple of weeks at Horrorhound Cincinnati. I'm definitely going to owe the man a  round for the work he put into this one. Take it away Matt!



I've never been one to hate on the idea of remakes. Sure, they are sort of the embodiment of Hollywood's lack of originality, but a remake will never take away from me my love for the original source material. A remake doesn't 'rape my childhood' as some would say. My childhood was already enjoyed, thank you very much. While it is rare, there are certainly diamonds in the rough, and if there is to be yet another great version of a story I already love, well, that's just a win win situation if you ask me. What's the worst that can happen? The remake sucks and you never watch it again? You can still sit back and enjoy the original - It's still there and you'll still love it, no matter what a remake is like.

13. House of Wax: I love the original House of Wax staring that dude, Vinnie Price, and this 2005 update is just that, an update that took the basic setting and made an original film around it. Actually, it is claimed that House of Wax is not really a remake of the '53 film (which itself is a remake), only sharing its name. But in all reality, someone was trying to capitalize on a familiar-ish name with a good-looking cast meant to draw in the youngsters. However, House of Wax avoids the pitfalls that many other films of its ilk fall to by being well made, having an awesome setting, and the wax figures themselves are super creepy in a very Tourist Trap kind of way. And I fucking love Tourist Trap, so good on them for having that level of creepiness.

12. House on Haunted Hill: Now, here's a film that sort of came before the remake onslaught, in fact, I think it played a crucial part in the ongoing boom that is still strong even today. It's also the birth film of Dark Castle Entertainment, a company that made its initial stamp with a handful of remakes, including House of Wax. Anyway, history aside, House on Haunted Hill is a ton of fun and has plenty of creepy moments, many of which involve the mad Doctor played by genre darling, Jeffrey Combs. Now, while I do enjoy this film quite a bit, I do have one major issue with it, and that is the Disney-fied happy ending with a ghost Chris Kattan. Shit is so awful, but up until that ending, the movie is a rollercoaster ride of a time.

11. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The 1974 film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is one of my all time favorite horror movies. We're talking top five or better here, so for me to be even remotely pleased with this 2003 update says a lot in my opinion. This is a remake that follows the same guidelines, but does it in a way that makes it different enough to keep from being just a simple rehash. The movie is a little overly stylized, but with that does come some solid grit and a definite presence of the brutality that is to come. R. Lee Ermey's performance might be the most frightening thing over anything else, including Leatherface, who in all fairness is no slouch himself when it comes to being intimidating. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the first film to come from Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes, and remains the best of the bunch that the studio has released remake wise, unfortunately. Is anyone really surprised, probably not.

10. The Hills Have Eyes: Even if I think it's a tad bit over rated by most horror fans, I really enjoy Alexandre Aja's remake of the Wes Craven pseudo classic, The Hills Have Eyes. It takes a film that was brutal at times to begin with and amps things up more than a few notches. It also fixed many of the issues as far as cheesiness goes with the original Hills, which is something that always held that film back as far as being an exploitation/horror classic. You could say that this is a case where the remake is better than the original, and that makes this update a prime example of why the remake risk is sometimes one worth taking. It should also be noted that it would seem that the presence of Craven as a producer had a major play in the way this remake was handled, and that is only further proven by my next pick.

9. Last House on the Left: Here we are again talking about a remake of a film that I have always been a huge fan of, and when you say exploitation, I say The Last House on the Left is one of THE most definitive exploitation films ever made. This time around, we have a film that trades in the dirty grindhouse look for a polished and very well crafted style. And while many would complain that that is not what a Last House on the Left film should look like, I say why would you want to see yet another exact replica of a film that you have already seen? The 2009 Last House is superbly shot, and even if it is not quite as brutal as its predecessor, its mean-spiritedness is just as impactful with characters that are written and acted in a way that you actually care about them. And for the record, I love the ending.

8. Body Snatchers: There have been more than a few celluloid versions of this tale, so in many ways this doesn't really count as a remake, but a stand-alone film that takes from a written source material. Either way, I would be remised if I didn't include 1993's Body Snatchers on a list of my favorite remakes. I simply loved this film - as well as its star, Gabrielle Anwar - when this film came out, and even with some of its faults, it is a genuinely creepy and smart movie for a multitude of reasons. The Abel Ferrera direction is solid, with a true sense of unease at all times, and all of the performances are spot on, with a stand out by Meg Tilly, who gives one of cinema's most chilling lines of dialogue: "Where you gonna go, where you gonna run, where you gonna hide? Nowhere... 'cause there's no one, like you, left." If you still have clean undies after this moment, then you might be a pod-person yourself.

7. The Ring: There were very few remakes that came from the J-Horror rip-off splash of last decade that were any good, but the one film that stood out above them all was the one that certainly influenced that wave in a huge way. The Ring is a perfect example of taking a foreign product and Americanizing it for accessibility without dumbing it down. It's sleek, atmospheric and has a true ominous sense throughout that I really enjoy, and that is only compounded on by the patient pacing of the movie, something that is always appreciated in a time of flashy cuts and over stylization. And for the record, the scene with the horse is scarier than anything that happens in the original film.

6. Night of the Living Dead: He may be a wicked dick, but FX maestro, Tom Savini, really stepped up to the undead plate with this 1990 remake of the 1968 classic George Romero film (and another of my all time favs). While Savini used the original screenplay as his guideline, there was a major change, specifically with the character of Barbara (Patricia Tallman), a women who was portrayed as weak and useless in the '68 film, and made to be a take-charge women who has as much will to survive as her male counterparts. An important part of what makes this such a great remake is the fact that Tony Todd was able to put forth a performance as Ben, which was on par with what was done by the incredible Duane Jones. And let's face it, Jones made that movie, and the same can be said for Todd with this one. Night of the Living Dead '90, in my opinion, is a near perfect modernization of a classic.

5. Dawn of the Dead: And what better way to follow-up the Night of the Living Dead remake than with the remake of its sequel, Dawn of the Dead. Well, it just so happens to work out that way, and out of the glut of modern horror remakes, this is the one that I believe most all horror fans champion as the cream of the crop, myself included. Here is a film that truly stands on its own two feet and does so while retaining the essentials. A mall, zombies, gore and a whole lot of kick ass. The characters are interesting, the actors are all great, the film is shot very well, and that opening, oh that opening is simply awesome. Dawn of the Dead will go down as a classic example of how to do a remake right, but more so, it will go down as a shining example of a great horror film, whether it's a remake or not.

4. Cape Fear: The first time I watched 1991's Cape Fear, it was double feature style with the first film being Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Now, while I pretty much love Jason Spends Ten Minutes in Manhattan a whole lot, I was very disappointed at the time, and to have a film such as that as your lead in to the tour de force that is Robert De Niro as Max Cady, it's no wonder I was so blown away by Cape Fear. From the tension filled opening credit sequence with that fantastic Bernard Hermann score, to the creepiest make out scene in cinema history, Martin Scorsese crafted one of my all time favorite remakes. Scorsese's style splashes the screen with powerful visuals, only adding to the ever-present insanity of one Max Cady. In addition, De Niro's generated madness is one of the man's best performances outside of Raging Bull. 

3. The Blob: Coming 30 years after the original, 1988's The Blob is one of the best monster movies of its time. Some of the FX work looks very dated now (which is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you), and at times it reeks of the 80's (mostly due to Kevin Dillon's sexy presence and demeanor), but it's a respectfully made update that fits in perfectly with its time period as was the case with the 1958 film in its own decade. That's not much of a surprise with someone like Frank Darabont's name being attached as co-writer, along with the film's director, Chuck Russell, who has a decent repertoire himself. This is a horror film straight up, and the scenes involving the titular menace are quite memorable and very nicely executed in just how visceral and gory they are. When it comes down to it, The Blob is simply a fun, and at times, gut wrenching monster film, and I love every second of it.

2. The Thing: Speaking of monster films, what's scarier than a monster that has no 'shape?' How about a monster that only takes the form of whatever body it takes over, making its home in the empty vessel of an unwilling man, women or even an animal? That monster is known only as it can be, The Thing, which is also the name of the 1982 classic John Carpenter update of 1951's The Thing From Another World, a film that is a classic in its own right. I mean, what can you say about The Thing that already hasn't? The claustrophobic setting, compounded by the frigid snow surrounding a group of men that trust no one but themselves, makes for a film that pisses out tension in spades. The Rob Bottin special effects are still astonishing, if not terribly morbid and grotesque, and that score done by the great Ennio Morricone does nothing more than add to the taut feeling of emptiness and seclusion that the film's characters, as well as its viewers, are faced with. One of the greatest films the genre would ever produce, and that's all that needs to be said.

1. The Fly: Well, while 90% of the horror community would put The Thing as their number one remake, with MY number one pick, The Fly, being not too far behind it. For me, both The Fly and The Thing are interchangeable as far as favorite horror remakes (and films period) go. However, my reason for putting David Cronenberg's body horror classic at the top of my list, is partially it's one of the greatest horror films ever made, as well as a film I watched all the time as a kid. For real, I watched a taped off of TV version of The Fly like once or twice a month for years as I was a child, and I loved it with all my black heart. I even used to spit tapioca pudding back into the little cup it came in to freak out my boy, which it did.

With a film that is mostly set in one main location with very few actors involved with the main story, The Fly places as much focus on the impact the metamorphosis has on all of the characters involved as it does the horrific transformation of Seth Brundle from human to Brundlefly. The tour de force performance from Jeff Goldblum is incredible to watch, and his transformation as a person is what drives the film even more so than do the physical changes. But boy, are those changes something to behold, and seeing what Seth Brundle goes through is truly frightening in ways that very few films can attain. To not be able to stop your body from deteriorating due to illness is horrific, because it can happen to any one of us if we were to be stricken with the right disease. Minus that whole fly thing, naturally.

If you made it this far, thanks for doing so, as that is my list of my top 13 favorite horror remakes!


7 comments:

  1. Matt, you are my potato sack partner on this list! You’ll see when Bugg gets to mine-we share much. Because you are genius.

    And I was thinking the other night as I rewatched The Blob, in the war of bad hair, it’s actually Shawnee Smith’s lazy girl mullet that totally takes the prize.

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  2. Ha, I guess the love I had for Shawnee blinded me when it came to her poor hairstyle!

    Thanks for the kind words, Emily! I can't wait to see your list, and I am curious as to what your number one will be...

    And thanks a bunch to the host with the most, T.L. Bugg (if that's your real name), for letting me take part in such a great event!

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  3. Great list, I love your choices! And thanks for including House of Wax. That film is pretty damn good.

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  4. Terrific choices! I really love that poster for The Blob you chose. I don't think I've seen that one before.

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  5. Remakes in general don't really bother me either Matt, in fact there are a lot of enjoyable and worthwhile ones, as evidenced by your list. The only movie on your list that I still have not seen is The House on Haunted Hill (I know, that movie came out forever ago!) but I agree with all of your other picks :) I kind of forgot about Body Snatchers--it's been a while since I've seen that one, and I (along with Wings) also really enjoy House of Wax. I mean, any movie that features Paris Hilton meeting a grisly demise is OK in my book!

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  6. Great minds think alike indeed, sharing many of the same films as myself and Ms. Intravia. Great list dude!

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  7. Yay! I'm pumped you guys all dug my list, let alone even read it in the first place! Thanks!

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