Archive for the ‘Movie Remakes’ Category

13 Horror Movies Hollywood SHOULD remake.   1 comment

By C. Michael Forsyth

I find the unending stream of movie remakes depressing. It’s a kind of self-cannibalization that generally signals a culture is entering its death throes.

Typically, Hollywood remakes movies that were perfectly executed the first time, like “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and the remakes tend to be inferior. The most unnecessary was the shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho” with Vince Vaughan standing in for Anthony Perkins (who was far better suited for the role).

A remake of “Carrie” is due out this spring – despite the movie already having been remade in 2002. And although director Sam Raimi remade “The Evil Dead” with a better script and higher budget as “The Evil Dead 2,” a remake will be released in April.

The trend will continue as long as producers feel the public doesn’t care much about originality and that they can cash in on name recognition. But what if remakes were chosen for artistic reasons? Why not pick movies that perhaps had a good premise but didn’t turn out as well as they might have due to low-budgets, poor scripting or primitive special effects?

Here are 13 horror movies that SHOULD be remade:

Attack of the Killer Shrews

Big horror comes in small packages in “The Killer Shrews.”

“The Killer Shrews” (1959) — Yes, this movie is ranked among the silliest ever made, but the premise is pretty good. A scientist experimenting on shrews on a remote island causes the voracious creatures – which consume three times their body weight each day – to become huge. That plunges a band of humans stranded on the island into a desperate fight for survival. There’s plenty of conflict between the besieged protagonists and the way they finally escape their predicament is nifty. The movie’s main flaw is that due to budget constraints the shrews were portrayed by collies in masks! Good CGI could make these rodents of unusual size truly terrifying.

Due to budget limitations, collies in masks portrayed the giant shrews.

Due to budget limitations, collies in masks portrayed the giant shrews.

Giant ants threatened mankind in "Them."

Giant ants threaten mankind in “Them.”

“Them” (1954) — In this flick, radiation spawns ants bigger than elephants in the New Mexico desert, courtesy of A-bomb testing. A strong performance by James Whitmore as a small town cop pitted against the enormous insects helps make this one of the best giant monster movies ever made. The special effects were impressive at the time, but imagine what could be done today.

A

Giant monster wreaks havoc in London in “Gorgo.”

“Gorgo” (1961) – A Nessie-type monster is captured off the coast of Ireland and put on display by circus owners in London. The surprise ending, as well as the relationship between Gorgo and a young Irish lad, are quite touching. However, as in “Godzilla,” a man in a lizard suit portrays the monster – the best that could be done at the time.

Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula

GIT OUT OF TOWN BY SUNRISE: “Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula”


“Billy the Kid Versus Dracula” (1966) – One of the most laughable movie titles of all time. But the premise has potential. We’ve seen how well the cowboy and sci-fi genres blended in “Cowboys & Aliens.” Why NOT have this iconic outlaw, who still fascinates historians – go mano-a-mano against the king of the vampires? (A better title might be in order, though).

Temptation in "Gargoyles."

Winged menace hits on Jennifer Salt in in “Gargoyles.”

“Gargoyles” (1972) – In this made-for-TV movie, it turns out that those statues that adorn cathedrals depict creatures that really exist — mankind’s most ancient enemy. An anthropologist and his daughter must defeat the winged humanoids before their brood of eggs hatch and they plague the world again. Cornel Wilde as the aging but still virile professor makes a splendid hero. And a young, hunky Scott Glenn as a long-haired biker made my big sister’s heart flutter when the TV movie aired. Although the makeup that transformed Bernie Casey into a gargoyle was convincing, the flight sequences were not. Now 21st century special effects could create a terrifying squadron of the gargoyles.

BAD VERSUS WORSE: Gabriel Byrne as a Nazi soldier battles an ancient entity.

BAD VERSUS WORSE: Gabriel Byrne as a Nazi soldier battles an ancient entity in “The Keep.”

“The Keep” (1983) – When I read the book by F. Paul Wilson long ago, I found the premise mind-blowing. During World War II a troop of Nazi soldiers takes refuge in a crumbling fortress – unaware that imprisoned in its bowels is an ancient being far more dangerous than they are. Despite a stellar cast including Ian McKellen and Gabriel Byrne, the movie was a critical flop. Hollywood ought to take another crack at the evil vs. eviler story.

Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter

Swashbuckling hero takes a break from vampire-slaying in “Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter.”


“Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter” (1974) – The title character is a master swordsman and former soldier who travels the countryside slaying bloodsuckers with the aide of his sidekick, a hunchbacked professor. I love the premise that there are different species of vampires, each with its own powers and vulnerabilities. The vampire Captain Kronos encounters this time can’t be killed with wooden stakes. There is an element of mystery in addition to horror and action, since Kronos and the professor must figure out both who the vampire is and how to destroy him. My only complaint is that Horst Janson as Kronos is a bit wooden. A better actor could make for a rousing remake.

Van Helsing bore little resemblence to the old doctor in "Dracula."

“Van Helsing” hero bore little resemblence to the old doctor in Dracula.

“Van Helsing” (2004) – Normally, I hate remakes of recent movies, as in the case of the 2008 remake of the 2003 “The Incredible Hulk.” And I enjoyed this supernatural adventure, especially the scene where vampire harpies buzz terrified villagers. But the Clint Eastwood-type hero played by Hugh Jackman bears virtually no resemblance to the cerebral Dutch professor Abraham Van Helsing as we know him from Dracula. The steampunk, gadget-using cowboy actually is more like the hero of “The Wild, Wild West.” In fact, if you changed the name of the protagonist, you could just as easily have titled the movie “James West.” Why not a version featuring a young medical student Dr. Van Helsing based on Bram Stoker’s character, encountering the supernatural for the first time?

Too close for comfort. Rosey Grier and Ray Milland reluctantly share a body in the Thing with Two Heads.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: Rosey Grier and Ray Milland reluctantly share a body in the “Thing with Two Heads.”

“The Thing with Two Heads” (1972) – A dying racist millionaire arranges for his head to be surgically implanted on the body of a black man, in this misbegotten attempt to cross the blaxploitation and mad scientist genres. Oscar-winning screen legend Ray Milland humiliates himself spectacularly as the old bigot hitching a ride on Rosey Greer’s bulky body. But what if you remade this turkey as an all-out comedy? I’d love to see Kelsey Grammer as a snooty one-percenter forced to share shoulders with wisecracking Chris Rock.

Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers haunt New York Sewers in "C.H.U.D."

Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers haunt New York sewers in “C.H.U.D.”

“C.H.U.D.” (1984) — Beneath the streets of New York City lurk Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers — homeless people living in the sewers who’ve been mutated by toxic waste into hideous, flesh-eating creatures. Having exhausted the supply of sewer workers, they’re now surfacing through manholes to feed on ordinary New Yorkers. The movie suffers because more screen time is spent on authorities covering up the crisis than on the monsters themselves. And when the C.H.U.D. do show up the makeup is cheesy. But it’s a great idea, given all the urban legends involving the labyrinthine tunnels, and with good monsters, a remake could be really frightening.

The Brain that Wouldn't Die

Heroine finds herself in over her head in “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.”

“The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” (1962) — A scientist develops a means of keeping body parts alive. He finds a practical application for the breakthrough when his fiancée is decapitated in a car wreck. The lovesick scientist rushes her head to his laboratory, where he manages to keep it alive — and quite talkative — in a liquid-filled tray. Now all he needs is an attractive new body to attach to his sweetheart’s head. As the unhinged doc cruises bars for a suitable specimen, his fiancée goes a bit batty herself, communicating telepathically with a hideous experiment-gone-wrong locked in the laboratory cell. It’s all pretty crazy. So crazy it just might work, as a gory black comedy along the lines of “Re-animator.” (Imagine acid-tongued comedian Sarah Silverman as the nagging head).

"The Vulture"

Terror swoops from above in “The Vulture.”

“The Vulture” (1967) — I remember being scared out of my wits by this film about a half-man, half-vulture creature terrorizing people in a Cornish village. The townsfolk fear it is the vengeful incarnation of a sailor their ancestors buried alive with his pet vulture. However, I was 8 years old at the time. In retrospect, the special effects were awful and the “scientific” explanation revealed at the end is absurd. Still, vulture claws are among God’s scariest creations and, with a decent script and effects, you could scare the bejesus out of an audience.

MATHILDA MAY is a psychic vampire from outerspace in "Lifeforce."

MATHILDA MAY is a psychic vampire from outerspace in “Lifeforce.”

“LIFEFORCE” (1985) — While scouting Haley’s Comet, astronauts find a spaceship that contains the bodies of three human-like aliens in suspended animation. They bring the specimens aboard their ship for scientific study, but the specimens turn out to be vampires that drain psychic energy rather than blood from their victims. They overcome the spacemen and escape to Earth, where they unleash a vampire plague in London. Unfortunately, the movie is slow-paced and unexciting. And Steve Railsback — straight off a riveting performance as Charles Manson in “Helter Skelter” — is surprisingly bland as the surviving astronaut racing to stop the epidemic. I’d like to see a version of the space-vampire flick that doesn’t suck.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

Check out HOUR OF THE BEAST by clicking HERE.

FRIGHT NIGHT Vs. FRIGHT NIGHT! Which version is better?   Leave a comment

Hard-drinking Irish bad-boy actor Colin Farrell plays vampire-neighbor Jerry as a hard-drinking Irish bad boy. (Yes, that IS a British poster, you folks who can spell.

By C. Michael Forsyth

I’ve never looked forward to hating a film more than I did the “Fright Night” remake. I loathe gratuitous remakes and the 1985 original happens to be a personal favorite of mine. Bad enough that Hollywood vultures have to recycle blockbusters like “Planet of the Apes.” Must they mess with little cult classics too?

Chris Sarandon’s chilling performance as the vampire next-door-neighbor Jerry Dandridge earned him a berth in the pantheon of greatest big-screen bloodsuckers — surpassing, in my book, both Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. He’s such a magnetic actor and makes such interesting choices. And what range the guy has! From Al Pacino’s transssexual lover in “Dog Day Afternoon” to a Jesus who is actually INTERESTING in “The Day Christ Died.”

Roddy McDowell as reluctant vampire hunter Peter Vincent in the 1985 version of Fright Night.

William Ragsdale was charming as the mild-mannered hero high-schooler Charlie Brewster. And of course, Roddy McDowell created one of his most memorable film characters: Peter Vincent — an amalgam of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price — a cowardly ham actor who played vampire slayers in old movies and is reluctantly drawn into the real-life vampire hunt.

When I got to see a sneak preview of the new flick at the Flashback Weekend horror convention in Chicago, I relished the opportunity to bash the re-do like a garbage bag full of rabid weasels. It turned out, however, that the movie is really good! In some ways, I grudgingly admit, it’s superior to the original.

The best move the filmmakers made was not try to recreate the original with a new cast, but instead to “re-imagine” it. That’s a cliche among Hollywood recyclers, of course, but this time they really did it, I promise.

MR. SMOOTH: In the original, Chris Sarandon as classy vampire Jerry used charm to snare his victims.

Sarandon’s Jerry Dandridge was a sexy, suave sophisticate who tries to charm his way into the home of Charlie‘s mom and into the pants of the teen’s girlfriend Amy. Colin Farrell’s Jerry is a sexy blue-collar bad-boy who takes a much more “hands-on” approach. At one point, Charlie’s friend Ed warns that Jerry is “like the shark in ‘Jaws’ ” and that’s how Farrell plays him. As an animal: an air-sniffing, impulsive, instinct-driven beast.

FERAL FARRELL: Colin plays the vampire as a beer-swilling blue-collar bad boy.

Some of the changes plug plot holes in the original film. In the ’85 version, it took a real leap of faith to believe that intelligent Charlie — or anyone else older than six — would think that because Peter Vincent played a vampire killer in movies, he would be of any use combatting a real vampire. The new Peter Vincent is a flashy Las Vegas magician who has written extensively on vampires and has amassed a vast collection of tools for fighting them. David Tennant plays him brilliantly, as a boozing, flamboyant, Russell Brand-like jerk.

DAVID TENNANT channels Russell Brand, not the late Roddy McDowell, as obnoxious new Peter Vincent.

In the original, Charlie’s sidekick “Evil” Ed was a fun-loving wiseass played by charismatic young Stephen Geoffreys. I always thought it odd that when Jerry corners Ed and attempts to seduce him into vampirism, he tells Ed how he’d never have to worry about not fitting in anymore. To me, Ed seemed like a cool, funny dude I’d love to hang out with in high school.

WISECRACKING Evil Ed (Geoffreys) was a cool dude in the original.

By contrast, the new Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is a classic sexless nerd, with big glasses and a penchant for Dungeons and Dragons-type imaginative games. Charlie’s wussiness actually becomes a central element of the plot. Here he’s a recovering nerd with a hot new girlfriend who is trying desparately to ditch his old “geek” buddies like Ed. When Ed warns Charlie that he suspects Jerry is a vampire, Charlie (Anton Yelchin) ignores him, saying he’s too old for geeky make-believe games. Ed has his run-in with Jerry and vanishes — a turn of events now moved to the beginning of the film. Charlie feels responsible and must make things right. Thus the “stakes” are raised.

In the original, it was highly suspect that Charlie’s girlfriend Amy could be restored to normal after having been transformed into a bloodsucking vampiress with gianormous fangs. In the update, there’s an explanation given for the potential cure.

POINT OF NO RETURN? In the 1985 version, Charlie's sweetheart Amy develops a taste for human blood.

It was a bit peculiar in the ’80s version that Charlie’s mom remains oblivious to the danger and mayhem, literallty sleeping through much of the action. In the remake, she gets involved, big time.

Charlie (Anton Yelchin) and his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) suspect that hunky neighbor Jerry is not what he seems.

The new movie does introduce a few plot holes of its own. Charlie inexplicably ventures into Jerry’s house, unarmed, in the middle of the night, knowing full well the vampire could return any moment. The fact that kids are vanishing from the school doesn’t raise any public alarm. (Ed’s own parents don’t seem to notice his absence). In the original, Charlie makes repeated and considerable efforts to get help from the police before taking matters into his own hands. This go-around, Charlie gives up on getting help from the authorities even after Jerry… well, let’s just say he breaks a few local ordinances.

In the original, crosses are useless against Jerry when wielded by someone lacking faith. Here there’s no explanation given as to why they’re ineffective.

So, overall, four stakes up for “Fright Night,” the remake. Hey, maybe I should keep an open mind about Farrell’s next visit to the recycling bin: filling Arnold’s shoes in another of my favorites, “Total Recall.”

ON THE HOUR OF THE BEAST FRONT…

My werewolf novel is selling like gangbusters! You can order an eBook for just $5 at http://freedomshammer.com. If that would bust your budget, BEG your local librarian to order a copy. Tell her it’s the perfect book for Halloween.

In two weeks, I’ll be heading to Horrorfind, a big horror convention in Gettysburg, PA. I’m busy gathering interesting werewolf-oriented props to take — so if you have any ideas, leave a comment. The last festival, Flashback Weekend, was a hoot. Here, as promised, is footage from Flashback Weekend’s Zombie Pin Up Pageant, hosted by John La Flamboy, star of the upcoming horror flick, “The Mole Men of Belmont Avenue.” If images of hot girls in full zombie makeup prancing around in skimpy clothing, flashing their undies and gratutiously bending over offends you, do NOT view this video. Vote on your favorite below:

And the winners are…

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