Monday, 16 July 2012

Top 6: Remakes Better Than The Originals

I've had more than my fair share of rants about horror remakes/reimagings/rehashes of the usual bullshit. However, sometimes (only sometimes), a remake gets it right, hits the nail square on the fucking noggin and makes a film even better than the original.

In a market saturated with remakes, the number of films that live up to their predecessors, let alone surpass them is terribly low but not unheard of. Some films move beyond being simply a remake and add a new edge, originality and life that transcends the original.

Here are my Top 6: Remakes That Are Better Than the Originals.

The Fly
The ultimate in remakes that are better than the originals. Though the original is indeed a classic in itself, Cronenberg's 1986 remake pushes it to a whole new level. A lesser director would have taken the original script, updated the FX and rested on his laurels, that's not really Cronenberg's style though. Darker, bleaker and full of dread, Cronenberg's tale is so much more twisted and visceral with Goldblum the little black cherry on top, twisting a sci-fi film into a his signature body horror.

The Thing
Another 1980s classic that exceeded it's 50s father ('The Thing From Another World'). Whether 'The Thing' is a remake or just a separate adaptation of John W. Campbell Jr.'s 'Who's Goes There?' is open to debate, but without doubt oversteps the original and with some vigour. Never as an open expanse felt so claustrophobic as 'The Thing's' Antarctic terrain.

The Strangers
No doubt both 'The Strangers' and French original 'Ils' are deeply chilling, but there is something about the US remake that is disturbing to the very core by pushing barriers a step further. Part of the advantage of 'The Strangers' is Liv Tyler's innocent, defenceless female lead. Tyler plays the part perfectly and the thought of bringing any harm to something so precious is nothing short of perturbing.


My Bloody Valentine
This is something as rare as a black actor at the end of a horror film or virginal victim in a slash. 'My Bloody Valentine' is a film I enjoyed despite not only being a remake, but also 3D. It's an enjoyable remake of the Canadian classic about a manic miner far more scary than anything the Spectrum ever produced. Teaming Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer once again, it's a fun film, memorable for more than just Farmer's opening scene with Betsy Rue.

2001 Maniacs
Blood,boobs and belly-laughs, don't dare take Tim Sullivan's remake seriously. Camp and deliberately kitsch is what most fun horror films wish they were. '2001 Manics' is filled with horror references played out by horror's finest including Robert Englund's unhinged Mayor, Lyn Shaye's crazed Granny and Christa Campbell's unforgettable Milkmaid, crazy fun to the very end.

Dawn of the Dead
The controversial choice. Zack Snyder and James Gunn tackle a classic and come out on top. Romero is sacred to many (with good reason), but make no mistake, the original is by no means flawless and the remake is just more...enjoyable.

(PS. Before anyone mentions running zombies to me, read my previous post here.)

Honourable mentions:

Two films that are as good as the films that spawned them.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Crazies

So, that's my list, leave me a comment to let me know what you think and any others that would be on your list.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Frighten Brighton

At the time of writing this, some media sources are reporting that tickets for the Wimbledon final are selling for £15,000 with the possibility of history on the cards. However, just 0.1% of that price though will buy you a ticket to experience history in it's own right.

Just £15 will get you a day pass to 
Frighten Brighton, the classic horror film festival.

The festival brings you 5 films, from 5 decades crammed into 12 gory hours on the 11th August at Brighton's Komedia.

If that wasn't enough, the devious little, sultry archangel atop of the horror tree is none other than presenter, B-movie starlet and horror icon 
Emily Booth. The event starts at midday and ends just before the witching hour. 

The first film is 1930s Mad Love, aka The Hands of Orlac, a tale of mutalation, death, lethal obsession and maniacal doctors. It marks the American film debut of Peter Lorre and claims Citizien Kane borrowed heavily from it.

From the 40s is a personal favourite of mine, Cat People. A stylish, slick noir/horror produced by the legendary Val Lewton and containing the original Lewton Bus. It uses Serbian curses and metamorphosis to express the repressed sexuality of it's female lead.

It's seminal classic Them! next. A 1950s creature feature that kick started the "big bug" sub genre that reflected the pre cold war era and picked up an Oscar nom on the way.

It wouldn't be 60s horror without Hammer and so Plague of the Zombies is the representative. A big influence on the zombie genre with it's themes of colonialism and exploitation.

Then, in the dead of the night, the festival draws to a close with 70s low budget, cult classic Phantasm. A strange and weird tale from the mind of Don Coscarelli. The film contains the infamous antagonist The Tall Man, flying spheres and zombie dwarves.

The festival allows you to view not only some great works of terrifying horror but history itself. History in style and techniques, but also because each reflects the era in which they were conceived. All five films give us a looking into the views and perceptions of the society that produced them. Whether it be the sexual repression of women or cold war paranoia, the evolution of thoughts and fears of people through the ages are evident throughout.

Henry Ford once said, "history is bunk" but he never went to Frighten Brighton.