Monday, August 27, 2007

Quick Thoughts On The Upcoming Halloween Remake

John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN is one of my all time favorite films and it is one of the key films of my youth. I first saw it in my early teens on VHS and I must have watched it, and its first sequel, over twenty times as a teenager. I also read all of the novelizations and devoured article after article about it in back issues of magazines like Fangoria. I still revisit the film every Halloween and I never grow tired of it, it is a true American classic and one of the major films that marked Horror as my favorite genre.
I have very mixed feelings on the upcoming re-thinking of HALLOWEEN by Rob Zombie. I think it is a mistake and whatever merits it might have, there is no way it will come close to equalling the original. That said, I must admit that I like Zombie very much and I will be seeing the film opening weekend and I hope it plays better than anyone might expect.
I was never a fan of his music and his first film, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES (2003), left me cold but I greatly admired his THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005). To me it is one of the few modern exploitation films that comes close to feeling authentic. It is a controversial work that divides horror fans but I honestly believe that THE DEVIL'S REJECTS will someday be regarded as one of the key genre works of this decade.

I also really like Zombie's wife, Sheri Moon and think that she is an incredibly charismatic and talented actress. The main thing I like about both of them is that they seem to really love the genre. I don't feel any winking, pandering or apologizing, just an overwhelming affection for the same horror movies that I loved and admired growing up.
Zombie has stated repeatedly that the original HALLOWEEN had a major impact on him growing up and I believe that his new version is meant as a tribute. When I saw John Carpenter speak several months ago, he spoke highly of Zombie as a person and filmmaker (and very highly of the check he received for the new film).
So, I will be seeing the new HALLOWEEN but I have to admit that I wish it had been directed by a total hack and I could just ignore it. Apparently the studio has already been tampering with Zombie's final cut and I am honestly not expecting a lot. I hope that Zombie follows it up with an original work and doesn't get trapped in a remake mode, as we are overrun with them right now.
HALLOWEEN is one film that I did not want to see get remade. It is one of the most perfect American films of the seventies and I can only hope that Zombie's version isn't an embarrassment. Hopefully it will turn out like Aja's searing HILLS HAVE EYES remake and have something valuable to add rather than being something truly horrendously bad like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE re-working. Either way, I will be there opening weekend and success or failure, I will still admire Rob and Sheri Moon and hope that they will one day deliver another film as good as THE DEVIL'S REJECTS.
I must say that even if I do end up liking the new HALLOWEEN, nothing and I mean nothing will ever replace these three for me.


Rogue Spy 007 said...

I'm usually wary of remakes. I don't like the ideas of them being done. Of course, Hollywood has always enjoyed making remakes. They are definitely in a remake mood when it comes to classic horror movies. I've always been a horror fan so I'm not thrilled over favorites of mine being remade. Some of the remakes have been good, while others have been terrible. I do think it's hard to capture the magic of what made the originals so striking. I loved the original Halloween. It's an amazing film period, not just a horror film. It had an endless amount of sequels. Some good, some awful. I'm pretty hesistant about them remaking this. In a way, it would have been nice for some idiot to have done it, made it PG-13, and I could have ignored it as another mindless remake. I like Rob Zombie. I liked some of his music years ago. I loved The Devil's Rejects. Not a big fan of his first film. It tended to be a little too out there and stupid. Rejects was amazing. I found myself pulling for these monsters. I adore Rob's wife, Sherrie. She's very beautiful. What I like about them is that they are horror fans. They really love the genre. That's cool that they aren't like those who hold their noses when it comes to horror. I'm hoping it's good. I hate to think that the studio will make a mess with it. Leave his vision alone. Great blog.

colinr said...

The thing that depresses me about the remake culture is that they are often seen as replacing the originals in some way. I'd hate my first experience of a classic horror text to be through a remake - it would be like reading the Cliff Notes version! It might also allow people to write the films off based on just having seen the crappy new version - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a good example, as the remake contained all the explicit gore that the original so brilliantly implied.

I actually prefer sequels - although they often took stories in wildly unpopular directions at least they felt the need to push the plot along a couple of steps rather than simply rehashing the same events (or, as in the various slasher film series where they did just rehash the same events, at least they gave us different characters and locations each time!)

At the same time I can understand when someone thinks so highly of, or has been so influenced by, a film that they would like to pay tribute to it by doing their own 'cover version'. Yet it seems such films are very dependent on playing to an audience very familiar with the originals, not an entirely new group - audiences who will appreciate the differences, but at the same time might get incredibly angry at some of the changes made to their beloved classic! Psycho is a classic example of this - I personally admire Gus Van Sant's thinking behind doing the film, yet that doesn't stop me hating the film with a passion because it screws up so many of the elements that were perfect in the original! (and in a way needed to screw them up to become its own film)

Soderbergh's remake of Solaris was one of the few remakes that is actually (more than) decent, yet given the choice I'd watch the Tarkovsky any day - it just means I don't feel so guilty having them side by side on my shelf!

One of the rules of remakes I think I've found is that if the film is acknowledged as a remake by the cast, crew or studio in the advertising that there is at least a chance it might be respectful and maybe worth watching, even if there is little chance of it matching the original.

If however there is talk of 'updating for a new generation' or that 'the film was very old fashioned' then this is a sure sign that nobody has watched the original (i.e. Tom Hanks proudly announcing that he didn't watch the original of The Ladykillers because it would have impacted on his interpretation of the role!) or that they thought the original was a pile of crap and feel no responsibility towards either it or its fans - feel safe to boycott at that point!

I'm also thinking of adding a new rule boycotting any viewing of the next two films an actor or director who says such things makes as a kind of tiny punishment of them! Hey, it must work - I managed to avoid The Da Vinci Code!

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith,
"Halloween" was one I didn't want to see remade but like you I do hope this turns out to be at least a good tribute to the first film...

Thanks Colin,
I agree with most of your sentiments here. It makes me nuts to think about younger people who only know the remakes. I still feel particularly burned by "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake as I thought it was just atrocius.
I love Soderberg's "Solaris" as well as the original and having a remake that strong is rare. I think Aja's "Hills Have Eyes" remake also came close to Craven's for sheer intensity but I still thought it was a bit of a drop after "High Tension"
Whatever happens with the new "Halloween", I do believe ultimately that Zombie's intentions were good...Carpenter's film is just one that can't be replaced for me.

Thanks for both your comments.