Tag Archives: remake

Shoot Me Twice: Friday The 13th

by Dan Fields

Shoot Me Twice by Fields Point Review spends the night with the four original Friday The 13th films and their 2009 remake

Gear up, campers! This week, we salute the ominous convergence of the summer holidays and a real live Friday the 13th. If you are striking out into the wild with your pack and lantern, don’t forget to throw in a snakebite kit, a guitar to ward off bad vibes, and a working knowledge of the following films. Knowing the paths to avoid may save your life. You’ll be fine, of course. Just count your tent stakes and pitchforks before going to bed. And if you were planning for a weekend of fooling around in the woods with someone special, you may want to reconsider. Abstinence and meditation might be better ways of keeping your head attached.

More prolific than Halloween or Hellraiser, or even A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th originated one of the longest-running film series in popular horror. Much credit is due to the creation of Jason Voorhees, an undisputed icon among movie killers. Another probable reason for its longevity is that among well-known movie franchises, its content is the cheapest and easiest kind to mass produce.

Friday The 13th (1980)
directed by Sean S. Cunningham

Kevin Bacon meets early doom in Friday the 13th
Six Degrees Of Mutilation! The Crystal Lake curse makes bacon of Kevin Bacon
© 1980 Paramount Pictures

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Shoot Me Twice: The Fly

by Dan Fields

Shoot Me Twice by Fields Point Review turns a compound eye on the 1958 and 1986 versions of the Fly

Marrying human flesh with the cold spindly tissues of an insect, The Fly weaves its eerie charm by positing our ability, through our own technological brilliance, to forfeit our very humanity. The concept works astonishingly well as both a high-camp creature feature of the late 1950s and a timely confrontation of addiction mentality in the anxious 1980s. In each film, science fiction turns to horror when a far-seeing scientist leaves a tiny, negligible possibility out of the equation. The slightest detail out of place, no larger or more remote than a single humming pest, gains the monstrous power to change human destiny.

The Fly (1958)
directed by Kurt Neumann


All eyes are on Hélène (Patricia Owens)
© 1958 20th Century Fox

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Shoot Me Twice: Robocop

by Dan Fields

Shoot Me Twice by Fields Point Review dissects the 1987 and 2014 versions of Robocop

Part man. Part machine. All cop. There’s your tagline, and what better introduction to the original and remade versions of the iconic RoboCop?

RoboCop (1987)
directed by Paul Verhoeven

Peter Weller as Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop brings law to a city in chaos
Alex Murphy, a.k.a. RoboCop (Peter Weller) saves Detroit with tough, blood-soaked love.
© 1987 Orion Pictures

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Shoot Me Twice: Black Christmas

by Dan Fields

Shoot Me Twice by Fields Point Review dials up the 1974 and 2006 versions of Black Christmas

The original Black Christmas shares 1974 with the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, preceding both Carrie (1976) and Halloween (1978) – films commonly credited with shaping horror movies as we know them today. Black Christmas seldom gets the same acknowledgment, though its structure arguably makes it more influential on the slasher genre than even Chain Saw. At very least, it gave rise to its own distinct branch of the tree. Whereas Chain Saw honed the conventions of the psycho-redneck road saga, Black Christmas made the world unsafe for sorority sisters, babysitters, camp counselors and other teenage miscreants in such milestone movies as Friday The 13th, Prom Night, and once again, John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Black Christmas (1974)
directed by Bob Clark


Classic Billy has an eye on the naughty list
© 1974 Ambassador Film Distributors

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Shoot Me Twice: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

by Dan Fields

Shoot Me Twice by Fields Point Review compares the 1956 and 1978 versions of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers has seen four high-profile adaptations to film, but only the first two share the essential link between film and remake. Abel Ferrara’s noteworthy Body Snatchers, and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s less noteworthy The Invasion, riff on different themes than the two versions fully titled Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Though their styles diverge sharply with the decades in which each was produced, these movies mine contemporary social anxiety to the same terrifying effect, thanks to skillful directing and acting in both cases. Given the number of disappointing remakes to be covered in the coming weeks, it seems like a good idea to begin the series with an unqualified success.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)
directed by Don Siegel

Kevin McCarthy battles the Invasion Of The Body Snatchers in Don Siegel's original film
Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) pitches in.
© 1956 Allied Artists Pictures Corporation

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Shoot Me Twice: A New Series From Fields Point Review

The world of remakes, reboots and sequels is a dark and fuzzy realm. This is especially true with the recent wealth of horror franchises dubiously revived by such production companies as Dimension Films, Twisted Pictures, and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes. In the midst of an unprecedented remake boom, Fields Point Review presents a new featured series entitled Shoot Me Twice. Each article will examine a film that someone, for whatever reason, deemed ripe for re-interpretation. The primary goal is to examine such works side by side. With any luck, trends and patterns will emerge to tell something ediyfing about the artistic motivation of a remake, the success rate of the practice, and so on.

With a topic so fluid and open to definition, there will be unavoidable pitfalls. Guidelines will be needed to keep a manageable scope on the discussion. The author hereby declares these guidelines, with the intention of following most of them, most of the time. Mostly.

First, the selection of examples will keep to a minimum of twenty years between the original film and the remake, reserving the right to the odd exception. The spirit of this rule is the keep the focus on a certain type of remake. Hollywood’s practice of remaking successful foreign films virtually overnight is not new, but it it recent years it has seen a distinct rise in popularity. This may be a fascinating subject for another project, but let us leave it out for now.

Another sticky point is the question of source material. More films than you or I know (take my word for it) have been adapted from novels and short stories. Sometimes a remake will cast aside the original film almost wholesale in order to re-interpret the printed word in new ways. This is not always a bad thing. This series emphasizes cases in which the later film seems substantially inspired by the prior film, and is not merely a new, free-standing adaptation of the source novel or play.

The diversity of practical and creative variables that shape a remake will make patterns or trends difficult to identify. The context of the original film, the artistic vision of the directors and producers involved, and the circumstances giving rise to the homage may differ drastically from case to case. The common factor in almost every case is that one filmmaker saw unexplored potential in the work of another filmmaker, and made a derivative work either exploring those divergent ideas or copying the first work in a new style better suited to contemporary audiences. In some cases the motive seems more complicated, as in Gus Van Sant’s experimental staging of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but it holds true as a rule. Despite the confounding variety of factors that cause one film to share a title and basic plot elements with another, subtle patterns of execution do emerge in an extended study of the phenomenon.

It is usually safe to presume that greater resources, production methods and special effects were available to those who remake films, and that signs of these advantages will appear in the finished work. However, time is not strictly linear in the world of moviemaking. For a lesson in how fabulous new technology can set an industry back, revisit Stanley Donen’s Singin’ In The Rain. Also, there is no accounting for deficiencies of talent, craft, or pure timeliness which can spoil any well-conceived work of art. The permissiveness of modern times, in all its fluctuating inconsistency, plays a large factor in any film’s execution. Pictures made before the Motion Picture Production Code circa 1930 enjoyed a rare freedom to showcase bad behavior, while a remake of such a film, made ten or twenty years later, might be shocking only in the degree to which the Code’s censorship dulled its edges.

The arbitrary curiosities of the MPAA rating system, successor to the Code, is also a matter of public record. While restrictions on strong language and graphic violence are at a permanently low ebb, certain taboos do re-assert themselves. There are elements of tone in Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, for example, that no modern slasher no matter how transgressive has the audacity to replicate (including its actual, regrettable remake, which we will cover). No matter how sexually liberated today’s movie teens have become, they will probably never be as delightfully vile as spiteful as they were in John Carpenter’s Christine or Brian de Palma’s Carrie. In some cases, such as rising global awareness of culture and race, these changing trends of content serve a reasonable goal of intelligent good taste. Just as often, however, a powerful story falls victim to artless expurgation by shortsighted moralists. Hypersensitivity to valid contemporary issues like youth violence, terrorism and economic inequality are marking today’s films for good or ill, as surely as world wars and Red Scares marked their own eras. Hopefully more filmmakers of this age will find ways to channel our anxieties into good science fiction and suspense thrillers.

The point of all this hair-splitting is to state that there are no hard and fast rules in film analysis, and drawing up criteria for the topic of remakes is especially tricky. Have no fear that the analysis will only cover films considered wonderful and edifying by many. There will be ample pontification on an unspecified quantity of toxic cinematic waste as well. This is a critical work, after all.

Although remakes are especially popular in the horror market, this discussion will cover a wide a range of genres. From Sabrina to King Kong, The Jazz Singer to Friday The 13th, we are going to probe the topic nice and deeply. Discussion, dissension, comments and tasteful arguments are welcome and appreciated. Forgive us our inconsistencies in advance. We will not abuse the privilege.

Movie Review: Mama

by Dan Fields
First published January 16, 2013 by the California Literary Review

Mama Don’t Allow

For any director hoping to bring visions of terror and wonder to the screen, the patronage of Guillermo del Toro is a good place to start. Several years ago, director Andres Muschietti made a tiny and very creepy short film called Mamá about two little girls fleeing from something whose appearance is a crude mockery of what children should call by that name. Now, with del Toro as producer, he tackles the subject again at thirty times the scale. Mama is a movie of weight and a certain dark beauty. It is unlikely to change history, and has a handful of minor problems, but it deserves more than a January release, the exile by which many unwatchable horror movies go to die quietly. Mama is not only watchable, but engaging and at times even powerful.

Victoria and Lily are sisters who, when scarcely more than toddlers, become abruptly orphaned in the woods one day. The family crisis that got them there is rather graceless and contrived, but basically the standard parental element failed them in a big way. Alone and vulnerable, they come into the care of an indistinct but monstrous entity which they learn to call “Mama.” Over several years, the girls regress to a feral state in the idyllic squalor of the forest, little suspecting that civilization wants them back. Continue reading

Movie Review: Silent House

by Dan Fields
First published March 10, 2012 by the California Literary Review

A Poisoned Treat for Sick Puppies

Silent House is a fairly faithful re-staging of the Uruguayan horror thriller La Casa Muda, directed by Gustavo Hernández. In both films, a young woman and her father are fixing up a dilapidated family vacation home to sell it, only to discover secret horrors lurking in its dark corners. The scenario tidily seals its characters in a dilapidated, multi-level house with no phones or electricity, and uncertain means of exit. No good can come of that, as anyone who has seen a movie, or (heaven forbid) actually been trapped in a scary house, will know.

As far as Silent House goes in the remake department, those responsible have managed to pull the original film apart gently, sand off some rough corners, grease a few rusty plot twists, and present the humble horror tale in a more palatable form. Writer and co-director Laura Lau apparently realized that while La Casa Muda had several important scares worth preserving, the audience might appreciate a little more to digest. Continue reading

Movie Review: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

by Dan Fields
First published August 27, 2011 by the California Literary Review

Right Ingredients, Wrong Temperature

Sally has problems. Being passed back and forth between her worthless parents has put her on an anti-depression med at age eight. She has been sent to a scary old house, to live with her dad and his new girlfriend (architect and interior designer) while they restore the old homestead to sell it. If there is one thing this girl needs, it is a whimsical adventure. And she will soon get one, though she may regret it later.

Little does she know, for example, that many years ago in the basement of the house, a man knocked out a lady’s teeth with a chisel to appease something hideous living in a tunnel under the house. Don’t worry. This is the first scene of the film, which primes one to expect much more out of the remaining story. But no, things plod along for a while after this, as Sally explores the grounds of the house to avoid her career-focused dad (Guy Pearce) and her on-deck stepmom (Katie Holmes). She manages to stumble upon the bricked-up basement, which the groundskeeper (Jack Thompson of Breaker Morant fame) warns the family away from in the strongest terms. Obviously he knows something sinister. Nobody listens, of course, least of all Sally, and soon she finds herself tormented by a hive of small, wicked creatures who want only one thing… Sally.

Everything seems right about the setup. In a refreshing change from the norm, Sally is the kind of character who does not falter at reaching or peering into dark places. She seems to be intelligent and adventurous, never giving a thought to the possibility of monsters. This causes us much anxiety on her behalf, as we know something is lurking before she does. And when she does find out, all the natural fears of childhood come crashing in on her. Something that can only exist in the dark wants to take her away, and if necessary will drive her insane to do it. So what went wrong?
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