Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rejection of Regurgitation, Part 05

Awright, let's wrap this puppy up...

Just like anything else, remakes can be solid business - and solid works - if done right. Regardless of what the last four parts of this series would tell you, not every remake ever is terrible. Or a terrible idea. Hell, one remake spawned a film franchise so big it's become the cultural touchstone of our generation.

Okay, we'll get this out of the way as to avoid confusion as well as any arguments from those who have spent their lives analyzing every detail calling me out - Episode IV: A New Hope the very first Star Wars is not a proper remake. George Lucas actually borrowed from several sources - Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, "Dune", and several other classic science-fiction stories influenced Lucas's first movie. However, the plot itself owed much more to Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress - so much so that Lucas considered buying the rights to that movie in order to make a more faithful version of it. In space.

We all know how that turned out.

So many other remakes - be they good, bad, or indifferent, could be discussed but it comes down to a simple point. Put in a little time, a little imagination, and give the public either another angle to the story or a different version of it altogether, and a remake can be very viable. It doesn't always take as radical of a departure as a Star Wars; merely something new brought to the table and maybe a little actual work in making sure the project is worth the ticket-buying public's time and effort.

What's not working anymore is a misleading sense of thinking people will buy a carbon copy just because it looks newer. People fell for that trick at first, but they're starting to see through the facades. The hardest facts of all - the numbers - are starting to prove that you can repackage an polish a can of Spam all you want to, but it's still a disgusting by-product that the public no longer sees as fit for consumption.

And that goes double for The Crow (you know, what started all this in the first place?) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rejection of Regurgitation, Part 04

Now then, where were we? Oh, right, right - how the remake craze started felling apart.

Strike one: Studios tend to discount (or outright ignore) the initial impact of the original movie. That may sound strange, considering why they would bother to remake anything, then, if it wasn't that successful in the first place. But this isn't about success - what they're ignoring is initial reactions and why they were what they were. Using the aforementioned Nightmare as an example, the fact is that the first time around, it was original enough that it caught people off-guard. Second time around? People knew what was coming. They wanted to see more than just a re-hashing.

Rob Zombie was able to do that with Halloween. When John Carpenter unleashed the original, the slasher genre was pretty much virgin territory that he exploited. In doing so, he gave us a memorable (pro-?) antagonist in Michael Myers. What he didn't do, however, was tell how any why Myers became what he did. Seeing a need to fill for horror fans and having a means to do so, Zombie explored Myers's beginnings and added to the original story. Some would claim it's unnecessary as it could be questioned whether or not knowing Myers's origins makes him any scarier, sure. However, Zombie not only gave his version of Halloween a viable reason to exist by telling a version of Myers's background, but he also made an anomaly.

Most '80s horror films - such as Nightmare and Friday the 13th (another box-office victim the second time around) made the mark they did because they were ideas that moviegoers had not yet seen at that time. Seeing or hearing anything a second time, no matter how well-loved, loses a little of its luster because it's no longer new. Kinda like sex.

Strike two: You want to "reintroduce a classic to a new generation"? Show 'em the bloody original!

Strike three: Some movies are kitschy cult favorites because of how they look or feel. Another remake rumored to plague the land is The Rocky Horror Picture Show (I wish I were making that up.)

What use a remake will serve that movie I really have no idea. The idea is to update and add a modern sheen to a musical homage to old "B"-horror movies? It's supposed to look campy! A CGI-saturated update with a cast that simply won't get what that movie what it was for an audience that'll have to be educated on 65% of the references will make that remake a success how, exactly?