Wednesday, March 17, 2004


For god's sake!

I was mildly irked at the remake of Psycho, mostly because Gus Van Sant's "vision" was apparently to put Hitchcock's classic in color and add a completely unnecessary step to the voyeurism scene, and that's all. We did get an absolutely unparalleled William H. Macy performance out of it, and I have heard that Van Sant says he did this remake "so no one else would," which makes it acceptable if not admirable.

Then there was that completely unnecessary remake of Manhunter, Red Dragon. We got good performances all around and so forth and so on, but can you really tell me they had any reason to make that other than wringing a few more bucks out of Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter?

Then they ("they say a lot, don't they?") remade The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is one of my all-time favorite movies of all time (you read that right). In the remake, they cast a bunch of pretty WB drones, set the main house up as some kind of sprawling plantation, and put the movie in the hands of someone who obviously wanted to make a slick product (and there is no other word but "product") that more resembled a music video than a movie.

Gone was the sense of visceral energy. Gone was the stripped-down urgency of the original, told by filmmakers who wanted to get their point across with such boundless enthusiasm and love for their work that you could see the dedication in every fucking frame. Gone was the mindfuck of the endless screams, the intrusion of sudden, random violence completely out of left field. Gone was the innovation, the desire to tell basic stories in new ways. Gone were the nobody actors and actresses that allowed us to get into the main characters effortlessly. Gone was the completely nonexistant budget. I don't know if Tobe Hooper wept, but I know I did.

I'm just glad Last House on the Left isn't enough of a visible cult classic to get the same assfucking. Wes... keep your damn grip on that one. Keep it tight.

But now Assault on Precinct 13 is getting shoved through the remake machine. A tightly wound exercise in tension and fear. The setup for John Carpenter's career and an absolutely necessary testing ground before he went on to make the legendary movies Halloween and Escape from New York. And now they're goddamn remaking it with big name stars and a big budget. Are they going to keep going until they update every single example of 1970's guerilla filmmaking? Is that the idea?


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