Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stop the Inanity!

A pet peeve of mine is when people refer to P.J. Hogan’s version of Peter Pan as a remake. I recall hearing it and reading it in the months before its release. “Why are they remaking Peter Pan? Don’t we have enough?” As I stated in my post regarding my thoughts on his movie, Hogan did not do a remake. (Unless the silent film counts.) Disney’s animation and Spielberg’s Hook certainly don’t. Disney does not because this is in reference to a live-action feature. Hook because, well, it’s not the original story and it’s a strange “What If?” game that probably shouldn’t have even been played.

But forget about Pan being remade. I just got wind of three new remakes on the horizon. And it’s starting to make my stomach turn.

Yes, I realize that remakes have always been a part of Hollywood - new adaptations of books and plays and previous movies. But where is the sense (other than money) of revamping classic films? Or even “bad” movies?

I’m sure every one of you can name a remake that has made your skin crawl. And more often than not (if not always) the remake doesn’t come close to re-capturing the magic of the original or is just plain bad.

Okay, the three movies that sent me into this tirade are: Child’s Play, Poltergeist and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’m not suggesting that Child’s Play is a classic movie. No offense to those who like it, but let’s be honest. It’s a silly fright flick. Why does it need remade? Poltergeist on the other hand, is a terrific (both senses of the word) movie. It’s great as is. Does it need a remake? Okay, perhaps the effects could be a bit better…but in this case they don’t have to be. The movie is well made and holds up…don’t fix what isn’t broken. The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Come on now, what are they going to do? Make it “good” instead? The whole charm of the movie is how delightfully awful it truly is - you don’t base a whole subculture on something that isn’t a cult classic! Make it a parody and you defame the original as well. The movie didn’t try to be lousy, it just is - hence why it’s “good.” Strive for that and it won’t succeed. Aim to make a “legitimate feature” out of it and well…does anyone want to see that? [It's going ahead without O'Brien's blessing, by the way.]

Another recent mention slated for a redo is Rosemary’s Baby. I’m sorry, but this is the epitome of unnecessary. Nothing can be done to surpass the original. What will they do? Give it more special effects? Finally show us the baby? The whole reason the movie worked in the first place is the suspense of the unknown and the deep psychological tortures of the characters. No “jump out at you” effect is going to bring more merit. And even if the greatest actors in the world are cast, how can they possibly outdo the original performances?

Then again, I am not totally against re-doing movies. For instance, a reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street is also in the works. This one makes a little sense. Unlike Rosemary’s Baby, the story and the visual effects certainly can benefit from today’s headlines and F/X technologies. So, yes, okay, I understand. And the word is they're going for scary - a la no one-liners for Freddy. Nothing silly. As scary as they can muster. It will be interesting to see such a movie assuming it's done with any sort of skill or justice.

If other actors want a chance to portray these characters, what about trying them on the stage?
Imagine a live Rosemary’s Baby. Or Richard O’Brien’s crazy Transylvanians re-imagined doing the Time Warp on something other than a movie set. (Yes, I am aware it began on stage and is often done and has been recently as a major production.)

I just hope they utilize the newly found full copy of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis when they produce the remake of it. (And yes, it’s coming.)

Seriously. Is there any way to stop this inanity? *sigh* I suppose not.
It’s a fact of Hollywood life… but it doesn’t mean we have to like it.


Danielle Mari said...

((stepping in to join your rant))

And what was up with the remake... the frame for frame remake of Psycho?

Seems like a re-visioning appeals to you more than a remake does. Eh?

Mel said...

I agree that re-makes, as a general rule, suck. It's a rare re-make that works (Would you consider His Girl Friday a re-make of The Front Page or a re-visioning?). The problem lies, though, with the audience, specifically that target demo of 18-24. They have such a distaste for anything "old" that the only way they're going to experience some of these classics is via a remake. I have the hardest time getting my students to watch "old" movies -- and their definition of old is shockingly broad. They threw a fit when I tried to show them the original Psycho. They weren't even too keen on Alien. Somewhere along the line, our culture has sent this message that newer is better and we have to find a way to fight that bias or else our classics are all up for grabs.

I would add, though, too, that I am sick of the "screen to stage" phenomenon. Just because it was a great movie doesn't mean it belongs on stage.

And, btw, who the frick is Russell Brand?

Peter Von Brown said...

It is rather sad - this mentality you speak of...

And I didn't mean to suggest that all films should all find their way to the stage instead. Certainly not all films will work on stage. I just meant that I can see actors very much wanting to play a certain role...and a staged version would give them the chance. Also, it could be interesting (if done well) to see how the adaptation creativity manifests. But as with all re-vamps it can be an atrocity.

Another cool way of doing it is the "homage" way - I'm specifically thinking of Down With Love which is a parody of sorts, but I'd rather say homage, to the Doris Day and Rock Hudson series of flicks. In my opinion, Down With Love did a wonderful job capturing the originals but making a story new and all its own. And they even roped Tony Randall to be in it!