The Remake Scoreboard – Creature Features

The Remake Scoreboard – Horror movie remakes – the good and bad list. Thumbs up or thumbs down and a few sentences why.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (remake – 2011)
(original 1973)

This is a movie that should’ve been ripe for a remake. The original, made for TV movie, had a very low-key script with not much back story, and little special effects. Somehow that low-key film managed to be creepy as hell. In the remake, the protagonist was a ten-year-old girl instead of the wife, which should’ve made it even scarier. It wasn’t. The little girl was too brooding and dark for us empathize with her. It would have been much more effective if the girl was happy and when she moved into the house, the creatures turned her darker.  The mansion was too big and exotic for me to associate with my own life. IMO, This film missed its mark by a mile.

The Thing (2011)
(original 1951 & 1982)

While billed as a prequel, it may as well be viewed as a remake because, aside form the last 15 minutes, every aspect and plot point from the 1982 version is repeated in this film. The cold, the isolation, the human/monster test, the flamethrowers, the distrust & paranoia; all are aspects common to both films.  Aside from the finale, the digi-fx were kept to a minimum. I believe the realism in the effects (as opposed to other recent CGI laden films), is that they filmed the scenes with physical animatronics and props, and the CGI was only used to enhance the real props. Is it better than the previous two versions? No, not at all. But, it is entertaining with good suspense, gore, monster-fx, and thrills & chills. However, I do find it unneccesary. If you want to watch or own just one, go with the 1982 Carpenter version.

Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1994)
(original 1931)

Despite baring her name, this film is not true to Mary Shelley’s novel. To  differentiate the film from the Universal classic, the studio added the original author’s name to the title, but the film deviates quite a bit from the original story. (No-one can even give Frankie a flat-top head; it is a fiercely protected trademark by Universal.) This film is a combined hybrid of the original and “The Bride of…”. Kenneth Branagh plays a conflicted Doctor Victor Frankenstein, torn between his scientific obsession and his love, Elizabeth, played by Helena Bonham Carter. Robert DeNiro plays the Frankenstein monster, a fully self-aware, coherent, character, struggling to find his place in the world and his purpose in life. It is an exciting film filled with beautiful Victorian atmosphere and the philosophical concepts of life that made the original novel so powerful.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
(original 1956)

Even though the original is the classic paranoia, alien, quiet-invasion film, this remake has something strong going for it too. The incredibly real and likable characters portrayed by, Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum are exceptional. You can’t help but root for their escape as the world goes mad around them. Coupled with some great special-effects, cinematography, and sound track (effects and music), the remake is a solid, must-see film. Some of the sound effects really get under your skin. I would be hard pressed to make a decision between the two, my suggestion would be to see them both.

The Wolfman (2010)
(original 1941)

I appreciate the nods to the classic here; the gypsy woman and the look of the Wolfman himself, but I think this film missed the mark of becoming a new classic. With Lon Chaney Jr. you had the sense of a deeply conflicted character harboring quite a bit of emotional pain. I think this remake tried too hard and tried to fit too much into the script. It never gave the viewer a sufficient chance to feel the torment of the man-turned-monster. Despite a great cast The Wolfman is just a good movie, not a great one IMO. It doesn’t compare to the elegance and success of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) or, Mary Shelly‘s Frankenstein (1994).



Movies I want to see in 2012

Just a few movies I am looking forward to seeing:

 I enjoy dark, brooding films. This one is a fictional story based on Edgar Allan Poe:

The Raven


Tim Burton’s stop motion figures come to life in his latest film:


A new sci-fi masterpeice by Ridley Scott? We’ll see.


Having grown up watching all the Harryhausen/Scheer fantasy movies, including Jason & the Argonauts and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, I have a nostalgic desire to see these new fantasy/mythology films:

Wrath of the Titans

Jack the Giant Killer

That’s all for now,

I’ll post some more at a later date.

The Remake Scoreboard / Killers On The Loose

willard 2003

The Remake Scoreboard – Horror movie remakesthe good and bad list. Thumbs up or thumbs down and a few sentences why.

Remakes: Killers On The Loose

Black Christmas (remake) (2006)
(original 1974)

The original film portrayed a creepy and suspenseful thriller that built to a nail biting climax. Likeable characters were harassed by an eerie voice on the phone and were dispatched, one by one, in the most extremely unpleasant methods imaginable. The new one is a closely scripted remake but fails to capture the atmosphere, intensity, and character likeability that make the original so good. About half way through the film I was completely disengaged from the story and just wished everyone would DIE already, because I was bored to tears!

When a Stranger Calls (remake) (2006)
(original 1979)

Aside from the ‘he’s in the house’ scene, this remake has a totally different script. The famous scene in the original, where the babysitter is on the phone with the killer while the police trace it – only to find that the call is coming from inside the very house – is still talked about as one of the great terror inducers in film history. However, if you remember the film in detail, aside from the opening and closing scenes (approx. 10 minutes of film time) the rest of the movie was a detective /homicide investigation movie, and a rather dull one. The remake has a babysitter in an elaborate home, being tormented by a killer, and all the events take place during the course of one night. It will never be famous in filmmaking history, but it is entertaining, nevertheless.


My Bloody Valentine (remake – 2009)
(original 1981)

This remake is close enough to the original that no one should get riled over the new version. The fact is, the original, being a very good film, never gained the status of other films released during the same time period. Halloween, the iconic slasher film, stayed in the theaters for several years. Alien, The Shining, Friday the 13th, The Amityville Horror, and The Evil Dead were films released between ‘78 and ‘81. I tend to think that Valentine never got the credit it deserved because of all these great films. The miner, fully masked, with goggles and the light atop his head, coming at you with a pick-axe, is really a threatening horror image. The fact is, the remake is so similar to the original, it’s a toss up on which one to see. There is probably no need to own them both. Pick one and enjoy!

House of Wax (remake – 2005)
(original 1953)

This is like comparing apples and oranges. This new version has your all-star “in-crowd” actors and hot-shorts wearing ‘a-list’ actresses, prancing around and flirting with the camera until they are finally killed off. That’s not to say I don’t like it, because it has its shining moments. But consider the Vincent Price character, plotting and striking revenge upon the socialites and businessmen that ignored and never appreciated his works of art and you will see a stark difference. The 1953 version has a great story and plot – the remake has nice scenery.

Willard (remake – 2003)
(original 1972)

If you are familiar with the 1972 version you will remember a gentle Willard befriending some rats that his bed-ridden mother insisted be dispatched by whatever means possible. The film took quite long to develop and Willard’s anger and revenge was a brief flash, for which he seemed instantly remorseful. With Crispin Glover taking on the role as Willard, we have a much darker, brooding film with a gothic vibe and an instantly believable crossover of Willard from the meek outcast to the vicious psychotic king of the rats. You want to cheer for him but at the same time it disgusts you. This remake is definitely the stronger of the two films.



The Remake Scoreboard / Classic Sci-fi Films

The Remake Scoreboard – Horror movie remakes – the good and bad list. Thumbs up or thumbs down and a few sentences why.

Remakes: Classic Sci-fi films

War of the Worlds (remake – 2005)
(original 1953)

Only Steven Spielberg could remake this 50’s sci-fi classic and do it justice. Great attention to detail was used in making this film and there is not one moment while I watched that I thought, this looks like CGI. The initial rise from the underground of the first tripod craft was amazing, as well as the Hudson River, Ferry Crossing scene. There was so much I liked about this film, from the look of the crafts, which were closer to the descriptions given in H.G. Wells’ original story, to the sound the tripods made, a sort of battle cry, inducing us humans to run for cover. This is my favorite sci-fi movie since 2000. I own it and watch it often!

The Blob (remake – 1988)
(original 1958)

This is a very good remake with likable characters played by Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith. The film also featured some great special FX, thankfully made before the days of CGI, which portray the agile and quick moving amoeba-like creature, swallowing and digesting its human prey. Great story, excellently paced, a remake worth seeing.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (remake – 2008)
(original 1951)

This is a near faithful remake in color. That is not necessarily a good thing, the black and white of the original just made everything seem more menacing. The film starts off well enough with interesting events taking place and some great imagery. About a third of the way through, it becomes a chore to watch as the pacing gets bogged down in a tangle of social issues that seem unnecessary. Do yourself a favor, just stick with the original!

Planet of the Apes (remake – 2001)
(original 1968)

Firstly, there is no touching Charlton Heston’s pinnacle performance as ‘Taylor’ in the original 1968, mind-bomb. The original was laced with a myriad of allegory and thought-provoking social issues. The final scene with the half-submerged, Statue of Liberty is one of the great moments in all film history. The new one had some great looking apes but not much else.

Godzilla (remake – 1999)
(original 1956)

Most fans were not happy with Roland Emmerich’s version of the Iguana-inspired Godzilla. However, there were a couple of things I did like about the film. Godzilla’s first landfall in NYC at the South-Street Seaport and subsequent march through the NYC streets was impressive, mostly because it was filmed from street level, a person’s POV looking upward, rather than from straight-on as most ‘Zilla films are shot. I also liked the Helicopter chase scene as the fast moving Godzilla dodged and darted missiles and gunfire. But the film is also riddled with Hollywood hokey-ness that makes it difficult to watch. The car chase scene was ridiculous and the hundreds of eggs in MSG were too far-fetched to be believable. You would be much better off, sticking to the original.