Oh man, you guys, I just got back from seeing Gravity and I am having a hard time concentrating on the horror movie writing right now. But we can do this. Let’s try.
It’s Friday! Which means Matthew and I are coming to the end of our week on Remakes. Um, thank goodness? This week has been a little underwhelming (and super disturbing) so I’m kind of glad to see the end of it. Thankfully today’s movies were both fun so I’m ending it on a good note.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Matthew covers I Spit on Your Grave in his day 3. He watched both the original and the remake and I mean, good for him? I was traumatized by the remake on my day 1, I had no desire to revisit the original. But check out his post, he writes some interesting things on the movies about rape and how this can maybe be a feminist thing but probably isn’t.
Then stay tuned this weekend for some collaboration stuff from both of us. We’ll be doing a Google+ Hangout live on Sunday at 12 PM PST. Tune in & send us your questions. It’ll be fun! Even if you can’t watch live on Sunday, feel free to send us questions ahead via twitter or in the comments and we’ll still answer! It’ll be fun. Promise. Follow us both on twitter for all the updates @mrbowers and @theladysrevenge.
For now, it’s on to Day 4 of the 31 Days of Horror. For today I watched both the original and the remake of The Crazies. What did I think? Let’s see.
The Crazies, 1973. Dir. George Romero, Written by Paul McCollough, George Romero. Starring Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lynn Lowry.
The Crazies, 2010. Dir. Breck Eisner, Written by Scott Kosar, Ray Wright. Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell.
Finally! I remake I enjoyed! I’ve been waiting all week for this. While the 2010 remake of The Crazies isn’t perfect, overall I thought it was a pretty fun update of Romero’s original 1973 flick. It drops a lot of Romero’s social commentary in favor of more zombie type scares, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but it still manages to invoke small town life and what it might look like if that life slipped into chaos.
I enjoyed the original, A LOT, but I did sometimes feel like the commentary was coming on kind of (really) strong. Vietnam, the Holocaust, distrust of the military, fear of technology and disease, the Communist Red Scare… I could go on but you should probably just watch it for yourself and see what you take out of it. Vietnam is definitely a big one there. And the Holocaust is pretty all over the place too. One reason I think it was actually not a terrible idea to remake this film though is that the original definitely suffers at times from its lack of budget. The production value is absurdly low, as it was with the Dead films but unlike those, here I think it actually does hurt the overall story.
The original focuses on both the civilians of the town and the leaders of the military. We flip back and forth between survival tale and disease outbreak containment. At times it felt like a mash-up of the Dead movies and flicks like The Andromeda Strain. It more or less works though and makes for a compelling 70’s horror flick.
In contrast, the remake moves away from the social commentary and plays up the scares. Again, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. The decision to make the military more of an unknown boogey man doesn’t really work for me. Changing our hero to the town Sheriff so he’s right in front when it comes to figuring out what’s happening works really well. Doesn’t hurt that Timothy Olyphant is cast as said Sheriff. I could watch that man act for days.
The scare scenes are also hit or miss. A scene in the infirmary with Judy and Becca after the military has quickly abandoned ship is great. A later scene where our heroes find themselves trapped in a drive thru carwash, not so great. The climax is devastating bordering on hokey, with a dash of ridiculous thrown in for good measure. The remake tries to make its ending bigger, explosions and whatnot, but while it is certainly flashier, it lacks the emotional punch of the original which chooses to focus on the fates of our individual characters.
I think the most fun I had with both movies ties back to the social commentary and playing the “What are they trying to say?” guessing game. Is this scene about Vietnam? That one is clearly about mindlessly taking orders which could pertain to so many different wars. I don’t want to spoil the fun for you though.
And both movies are fun, especially when viewed as a double feature. This remake doesn’t feel like it’s so much trying to replace the original as it is continuing the story in a new town. It’s well done.
I mean, don’t expect any amazing works of art here. If you’re a fan of Romero (I am), I think you’ll really enjoy the original. If you ignore the moments when the remake slips into remake mode (think the cliches so common in all of these remakes, hyper violent scare scenes, a lot of running around in the dark, more focus on shocks than compelling emotional moments, etc.), it’s an enjoyable movie in its own right. Okay, that maybe sounded worse than I meant to. Really, it’s a fun movie. It’s self-aware but not TOO self-aware. It respects the original while taking the freedom to do its own thing. It could have done a few things a lot better but in the end, there’s more it could have done a lot worse.
I think this is the first pairing where I can answer my question “Was this remake worth it?” with a definitive yes. Good job, The Crazies, good job.