31 October 2016

You Forgot The First Rule Of Remakes, Jill. Don't F*** With The Original.

I've been wanting to look at movie remakes for a while now but hadn't found the right opportunity, until it presented itself to me under the guise of horror films. I've always had a resistance to watching a remake/reboot for the reason that Hollywood seems to be rehashing fan favourites left, right and centre instead of focusing on developing new, original ideas. An easy option, Hollywood now even seems intent on remaking films that have only been released within the last 5 years, not giving the audience time to view the original and remake as two different entities. Something everyone is so very much aware of, even movies themselves are mocking this inability as demonstrated by the title of this article, which can be heard in Scream 4. Lately however, I've been more open to the concept and willing to give a remake a chance. Turns out, this is not always a good idea as you will see with the films I have chosen to look at....

I'm going to start off with The Omen. First released in 1976, this is pretty much classic, 70s horror. The film capitalised on the trend in the late 1960s and the 1970s of films that for some reason, were focused on the devil and the different ways that this could possibly be presented to people. Films in this vein, that preceded The Omen, include Rosemary's Baby (1968) and of course the most famous of them all: The Exorcist (1973). It seems that only The Omen has been given the privilege of having a remake produced based on the original (ignoring the TV versions of both The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby)
The Omen (2006)
The Omen (1976)
Jumping on the marketing ploy of releasing the film on 6 June 2006 (06.06.06), Hollywood decided what the world needed (whether it wanted it or not) was a remake of The Omen. Now as far as remakes go, this actually is not the worst adaptation (*cough*Poltergeist*cough*). However, the production studio seemed to take the word 'remake' quite literally, as this version is more of a 'let's just do the same thing again and set it in modern times, see if anyone notices' film . The film seems like a rehash of the original, albeit with probably a few more sophisticated effects (a reflection of the time). Still enjoyable, yet one may wonder what the point was in actioning a remake, considering the original is still very much watchable (which seems to be a running theme in questioning the decision to remake a film). I guess those who have a reluctance to watch 'old' movies from the 70s would be more inclined to watch the remake. Of course the generation who grew up watching those 70s horrors are more likely to collectively groan at those who are only discovering great films as remakes and are probably not even aware that what they're watching can be viewed as a more tense, atmospheric version; a staple of 70s horror. Yet, it's not only the fact that the remake was just rehash of the original with identical shot-by-shot scenes, that makes The Omen (2006) a poor imitation. It's the use of actors in both films and when compared, it is obvious the original still holds reign. Gone are the decent performances by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick in the main roles, to be replaced by the wooden performance by Liev Schreiber and the monotonous performance by Julia Stiles. David Thewlis turns in a good performance in the role of Keith Jennings, the photographer, but the kid who plays Damien is far less superior to the original Damien. And yes, I know he's just a kid but he was a bit older playing Damien in the 2006 than the original was in the 1976 version.
If you want an up-to-date film that focuses on the supernatural, by all means choose the remake of The Omen but if you want chills and something that will stay with you longer after the credits have rolled, always choose the original.

The next horror film that has had the remake treatment is Fright Night. This was a film that was originally released in 1985 and has remained a fan favourite to audiences ever since. When thinking of 80s horror, one tends to think of the dark comedies that had spawned out of that era, including Fright Night (see also The Lost Boys [1987]). So of course, when the late 00s saw a sudden surge of vampires being featured heavily in films, thanks to the Twilight series, Fright Night was on the list for Hollywood to update. Now I've spoken briefly
Fright Night (2011)
Fright Night (1985)
about the Fright Night remake before in this blog but here I will go into more detail to compare and contrast with the 1985 version.                      
 So, I'm actually a fan of this remake and that has to really do with a combination of things that all add up rather than just one aspect of the film. I'm going to go out on a limb here and state that I'm not actually a fan of the original. Which is a new concept really, being a fan of a remake over the original (well yes, there's Scarface but as that's not a horror film, it doesn't count towards this viewpoint). There's something about the original that doesn't hold the same charm and one of the main reasons why is the characters featured in that version. In the remake, you as the audience are rooting for the main character Charley; he's relatable and affable - the every-town guy, and is charming but not in an annoying, sickly way. In the original, Charley is basically a creep who tries to force himself upon others, he always comes across as being frustrated towards the other characters. Another character who seems to fare better in the remake is Amy, Charley's girlfriend. In the original she's pretty two-dimensional, not standing up for herself with Charley, whose actions are questionable and when she does finally stand up for herself, nobody takes her seriously. In the remake, she's pretty independent, who will not be taking any nonsense from Charley if he doesn't treat her right. However, I will say that the transformation in the original, of human Amy to vampire Amy, is more effective than the remake. The rest of the cast in the original, aside from Chris Sarandon as Jerry and Roddy McDowall, are far more forgettable and are outcharmed by their counterparts. Chris Sarandon is probably on a par alongside the remake's Jerry - Colin Farrell, and David Tennant's version of Peter Vincent, while a humorous character if it was a stand-alone film, can't really compare to McDowall's portrayal of the so-called vampire killer.
I will give the original this: the special effects are far more superior in the original, interesting considering that the original was made in the 80s. However, the CGI effects always caused me to wince when watching the remake as it took away the horror feel; instead here is a film that is relying heavily on CGI which always makes a film feel, to me, like an animation cartoon. The original relied on SFX makeup for the horror effect, obviously due to the era it was produced in, which may cause the audience to genuinely feel fearful when watching the film. 
When looking at Fright Night as both an original and a remake, it's best to not actually compare them to each other. The remake is different enough to the original to be treated as a separate entity, so if we view this as an original film by itself, it may be enough to satisfy both fans of the 1985 version and those discovering the 2011 version as a stand-alone film.

The one thing I'm going to take away with me, after writing this article, is to not dismiss remakes outright, to give them a chance and to maybe not have the original in mind so much when viewing a new version. Happy Halloween folks and happy viewing!

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