The Crazies

Being that I couldn’t sleep tonight I decided to take up an old late night can’t sleep past time and check out the latest bunch of movie trailers on Apple’s website. Looking through, one in particular caught my eye…. a new trailer for a remake… or as they’d probably want it said… re-imagining… of the 1973 George A. Romero film ‘The Crazies.’

I’ve actually never seen the original film in it’s entirety, even though I’ve been intending to for a number of years, although my understanding is between it and his original Dead trilogy (which is now coming up to it’s seventh film) you basically get ’28 Days Later’. I’m not sure if Danny Boyle or Alex Garland’s ever made light of this fact in any interviews, although they have mentioned Romero’s Dead films in part.

In regards to the new version, aside from the appalling use (and re-editing) of the Gary Jules’ version of Mad World, it looks fine although probably forgettable in today’s current market. My thoughts are more likely that most will not realize this is a remake of a almost 40 year old film (saying that the 70’s were 40 years ago as a thought is something I’ve never done before, but this thought starts to scare me…), especially in the teen-horror going market they’re probably aiming for and will likely write this off as an American riff on 28 Days.

It’s however seeing this trailer that reminds me of Hollywood’s latest shame, something that’s perhaps gotten stronger this past year due to the Writer’s Strike a couple of years ago, but that the general rehashing of two different origins of films and yet they all have one thing in common… horror. We’re seeing “contemporary re-imagined” editions of cult horror films from the 60’s through to even the early 90’s in some cases, and on the flip side of that the continued “Americanized” versions of foreign horror films.

However unlike the cases several years ago where American film makers were making films based on a concept (something almost specific to retelling Japanese horror pictures into US editions like that of The Ring and The Grudge), recent editions seem to stick close to their original source material, mostly shot for shot, only deviating to “fill” stupid backstory or give a final resolve because apparently English audiences want everything served to them on a platter.

A great example of this a couple of years ago was the US remake of the cult Spanish horror film REC, released into the US as Quarantine. So silly was the promotion of this film that the trailer, the poster, and then also later some DVD covers of the film actually show the demise of the lead character (and thus also more or less the last shot from the Spanish edition of the film). However to add “depth” over the adaquate original, more background and aftermath was added so that the generic audience would not feel cheated. A fairly lame copout mostly. Now that REC2 has been completed by the original team, I assume Quarantine 2 can’t be far off either. The critically well received Swedish vampire film ‘Let The Right One In’ is also currently undergoing an “Americanization” under the title Let Me In by Cloverfield director Matt Reeves.

That said however I can to a degree understand changing what might be harder to market, a Foreign subtitled film, into an Americanized edition in English far more than the latest crime – Remakes of films hardly to be considered that old at all. Some recent listings on the internet have come up with over 100 titles said to be in development that are remakes of previous films or television programs, and scanning the lists you find the majority of these titles to be remakes of Horror titles… and most from the late 70’s and 80’s. We’ve already had “remakes” of Texas Chainsaw, Friday The 13th, Halloween, and others from this period. But then we’ve even had remakes of 50’s and 60’s titles too. Upcoming as well is the ‘re-imagined’ Nightmare on Elm Street as well, which I’m personally only interested in because Jackie Earle Haley did so well in Watchmen. And my worst thought for a remake is the fact they still want to remake ‘The Thing’ or at least a prequel to it (which they’ve actually already done as a videogame released several years ago).

My thoughts are that studios need to start a proper rethink on horror. I was a fan of the original Saw, but unfortunately between it and Hostel, the ‘torture porn’ films have ruined a lot of what horror was and now movies are sold more on a gimmick or the more gore they can pull out and original ideas are few-and-far between. As the 80’s went on the horror got more stale and aside from the odd film here and there, the genre took break, and sadly all these generic looking remakes and horror films are sending the genre down the same path. By this token another trailer I saw while on Apple’s website was simply called ‘Frozen’ and it was intended as  horror film about 3 people who get stuck on a ski lift.

Really? That passes for a horror film these days? That might have made a good short film, or a segment of one of those Tales From The Crypt films, but a full length film…. umm, no.

And so when you see something like that then maybe you can begin to understand some of the ideas behind remaking older films, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to get lazy and do this. If 2 Australian film students can make something like Saw, then I’m sure there are plenty of people who are willing and able with fresh ideas that should be getting made.

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