Remakes are nothing new, though it may seem in recent years as if the cinema has hosted little else. While historically they may have been made because the director had a vision for something different (The Thing, The Fly), lately…
I find it difficult not to give the number one spot over to that classic slasher film that birthed the infamous killer known as Michael Myers, and tonight is no exception. The rightly-celebrated Halloween theme is as iconic as Bernard Hermann’s Psycho or John Williams’s Jaws. If Alfred Hitchcock can credit Hermann for 33% of the frightening effect of Psycho, Carpenter can credit himself for saving his movie with a terrifying score. Even divorced from the film, those quick, high piano notes overlayed with long, low tones (and that ever present staccato chirp underscoring the whole thing), instill a feeling of dread and foreboding.
Those of you who followed along last year may recall my affinity for ghost stories. In keeping with the best of them, director and co-writer David Twohy unravels this terrific little mystery that is, aside from being a good horror movie, an exceptionally well done World War II submarine thriller. Bruce Greenwood, always adept at stolid leadership, here overseas a motley gang of ragged sailors.
An unfairly-maligned meta-sequel that is in many ways cleverer, though not nearly as good or frightening as its predecessor. It’s also the reason that studios greenlight sequels that are virtually identical to their forerunners. Audiences positively hate when you don’t give them the exact same thing they saw before.
You can keep your Silence of the Lambs. I’ll have none of it. Anthony Hopkins took a truly fascinating and authentically creepy sociopath and turned him into a farce, particularly when set against Jonathan Demme’s boilerplate police procedural. Fortunately, Ridley Scott came along and wrapped the character in a wonderfully tragic opera, giving the now legendary cannibal an appropriate outlet for his ostentatious theatrics.
Depending on your disposition, after seeing this you may either get an artificial Christmas tree and spend the rest of your days in solemn repentence of your genocidal past, or buy a plot of land, plant some trees and wish that Christmas would come everyday (I suspect Eli Roth would choose the latter option).
In the remakes-can-be-good file comes this doozy of a gorefest from the captain of creepy, David Cronenberg. Retaining the basic foundation of the 1958 original, he amps up the flesh-defying transformation and truly heartbreaking tragedy. Utilizing Howard Shore’s bombastic score to soulful effect, the slow disintegration of lone and lonely genius Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is simultaneously horrifying and wrenching.