Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Screw Your Remake #1: Halloween

Years ago, I was a writer/editor on the site www.speakyourmindnews.com. It was there that I came up with the idea to write a column focusing on the shite that is movie remakes. I named that column "Screw Your Remake". Succinct, to the point. I was only able to do one article before the site shut down. I haven't written another since. Recently, I've been reminded how much I loathe remakes, so I've decided to pick it back up! Below is the first and original, and there are more to come!

(Originally posted on www.speakyourmindnews.com)

I’ve decided to start a series of columns dedicated to the pure awful that is movie remakes. As most of you know, the majority of these remakes are being done on horror film classics or Asian horror films. I’m sure there will be other articles about non-horror remakes, but my love and passion is horror films, so they will be prominent.

To begin, let me first say that the word “reimagining” will only be used as a mockery, in a sarcastic tone, and with venom. You haven’t re-imagined anything. The entire concept of the “re-” is that something is being done again. If you had an imagination, you wouldn’t need to leech off the ideas of others. Others to whom ideas actually were original; They called that imagining. Notice the absence?

Reimaging is a concept as asinine as “new and improved!” Which is it - new, or improved? It can’t be both. New denotes something that hasn’t been done before, improved suggests that something old has been revamped and made better. Reimagining = fail.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s begin.

John Carpenter will always and forever hold a firm position in history as a filmmaker. Many of his movies have achieved Classic status, whether mainstream or cult, and have prompted many revolutions in the way films are made today. One example of this is Halloween (1978 ).

With influences from Alfred Hitchcock, Carpenter created a character that successfully scared the crap out of generations of children and adults alike. All without the use of gore or gratuitous violence and nudity. His Halloween was and is a psychological thriller, tapping into our fears of evil and our inability to stop or understand it.

Some critics argue that this film was a social critique, noting that the sexually promiscuous and otherwise morally inept characters are the ones to die the soonest. While Carpenter dismisses these analyses, there is no denying that the perceived parallel between moral strength and likelihood of survival has become a standard slasher movie theme. Another common pattern stemming from Halloween is the main killer’s ability to survive gruesome attacks or even return from the dead multiple times.

While I have been known to argue the movie’s right to being heralded as a Classic, I do not deny its strong influence on horror as we know it today. Because of that, I respect its standing in film history. A respect I fear is devoid in Rob Zombie after watching his horrific remake.

The first thing I’d like to say to Rob Zombie is this: If you want to make films about trailer trash, show off your wife’s tits, and make movies that are two hours of blood, guts and sex then have at it. Leave Halloween and other psychological thrillers and classics alone.

In Halloween (2007), Zombie, bitten by the prequel bug, took it upon himself to completely change a character that has become an icon. Michael Myers, in 1978, is from an upper-middle class white family. They live in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood. In 2007, Michael Myers lives in a trailer with a stripper for a mom, a drunk for a step-dad, and a slut for a sister.

In 1978, Dr. Loomis informs the sheriff, along with the audience, that Myers is evil. Pure evil. There is no other reason for his behavior than that he is perhaps a human incarnation of what people spend Sundays in church to dispel from their lives. Myers, the jolly giant in Zombie’s movie, was picked on as a kid, or maybe he’s a sociopath… both?

The inconsistency in the explanation for why Myers acts the way he does is frustrating. Not only have you tried to garner sympathy for the character by showing him bullied as a child, but at the exact same time you’re trying to claim he is a psycho with no sense of morality that doesn’t deserve the sympathy or have any reason for what he does. Make up your mind! Myers doesn’t kill his mom or his baby sister because they are the only ones who are nice to him. But while he is being transferred, he kills the janitor that has taken to him since he was a kid and treated him with nothing but kindness. Then when he meets Laurie, he has no intention of killing her until she tries to escape from him, thus being mean to him and incurring his wrath.

One of the amazing things about the original Michael Myers was that he seemed to show no mercy, but also no emotion. His killings were cold, calculated and quick. He stared deeply into the eyes of his victims as he wrapped his hand around their necks and cut off circulation, seemingly enjoying the event with calm collective. He didn’t rush around in a frenzy, he was patient. This is what made Michael Myers so scary. To think that anyone could so wholly lack any sense of conscience or morality is frightening. He was able to do this because he was evil.

Poor little Mikey who got picked on by the mean kids at school would likely not act this way. People out for revenge harbor very strong emotions about the people they kill.

The near pornographic quality of the film was totally unnecessary and goes a long way to hack down Zombie’s status with me. A good film shouldn’t need tits and ass to keep the audience’s attention. It also shouldn’t require a mass amount of blood and guts. Those are all just smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that your film is lacking in quality elsewhere. Like, say, plot and consistency? Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous camera tricks that near gave me a seizure while I was watching the film. I get it, Dude’s big. I don’t need to see it from a thousand angles to believe you.

One of the things that hurt me the most about this film is that movie legends like Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Caligula) and Brad Douriff (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Child’s Play) associated themselves with it. I suppose getting old does a lot to hamper your reasoning. After seeing McDowell in Doomsday, I determined he’s officially senile.

Long story not quite short – the Halloween remake was unnecessary and a complete crap on the concept and status of the original and everything it has influenced since. When I find a remake that isn’t, however, I may just die of shock. Now there is a sequel on its way. The only pleasure I see coming from that one is when I tear it down piece by piece for the bile it is.

Like a knitting needle to the jugular, I’m Maygin Theresa.