We kick things off this week with what I'm calling "The Remade". Mostly because that sounds cool and almost represents a horror movie title of its own, but in reality, I watched three classic horror movies from the 1950s that were remade in the 1970s and 1980s. Remakes have a somewhat spotty reputation amongst film nerds in general, and horror dorks in particular. The recent spate of Platinum Dunes (amongst others) remakes of beloved horror movies seems to be driving the current distaste, mostly with good reason. Remakes from other eras are perhaps not as universally reviled. For my part, I find it difficult to get too worked up about this sort of thing, especially since I've realized that a remake is generally accompanied by a corresponding release of a remastered, high-quality edition of the original movie. So yes, the Black Christmas remake wasn't great, but the original got a fantastic DVD release, so it's hard to complain. Similarly, this year's forthcoming The Town That Dreaded Sundown remake is welcome, if only because the original will suddenly come back in print and be widely available too (in this case, the remake shows some promise too, especially since they chose a relatively obscure movie to remake). In any case, movies from the 50s that were remade in the 80s actually worked reasonably well for the remakes (not covered in this post, but could/should be: The Fly, whose remake is superb). But it's still interesting to go back and revisit the remade, as I did this weekend:
- G.I. Joe - S01E28 - The Germ (TV Episode)
- Phantoms (trailer)
- The Blob (1988 trailer)
- The Blob (1958) - A small meteorite containing a small, blob-like substance that eats everything it comes in contact with, growing as it goes. I don't know this is the first movie where something falls from the sky and some old dude finds it and pokes it with a stick, only to be consumed by whatever, but it's certainly the quintessential example of the trope. This is actually a local movie, filmed in a bunch of Philly suburbs like Downingtown, and the famous movie theater and diner are still around in Phoenixville, where they have an annual "Blobfest" and re-enact running from the theater screaming. As a film, it concerns itself greatly with the no-one believes the teenager angle. Phantoms (which is a gazillion times better than the movie adaptation and puts a different spin on a blob-like creature) and more goofy fare, like the episode of G.I. Joe linked above. In the end, this was an interesting enough watch, and worth the stretch for students of the genre. **1/2
- Who Goes There? by John Campbell (Short Story)
- Zombie Zombie (Stop Motion Short)
- The Thing (1982 trailer)
- The Thing from Another World (1951) - Very loosely based on John Campbell's short story, Who Goes There?, this movie follows a group of scientists and Air Force personnel as they discover a downed spaceship and its alien inhabitant frozen in the ice. Eventually he thaws out, and hijinks ensue. It turns out that I'd never seen this before, which is surprising. It's played more like a straight creature feature, and as those things go, it's actually pretty good. A little talky at times, but there are some great shots, especially when the monster shows up (and they do a good job keeping him hidden in the early proceedings). 1982 remake is superior in almost every way. Not only is it a better adaptation of the original story, but it just works all around. Unlike the mean-spirited nature of The Blob remake, this one strikes a good balance, even while maintaining spectacular creature effects and gore. That being said, the 1951 film is very different, and has its own charms. The Cold War symbolism is probably toned down a bit here, but it's clearly there, and that's unsurprising given the nature of the 1950s! The 2011 prequel is a little perfunctory and forgettable, but it's reasonably effective for what it is. In terms of influence, the original short story has certainly been referenced and homaged repeatedly throughout the years, such as the X-Files episode "Ice". The original movie is worth a watch for fans, but you'd probably be better served reading the original Campbell story. **1/2
- The Puppet Masters (trailer)
- Slither (trailer)
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 trailer)
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - I was surprised to find that this was my favorite of the three movies I watched this weekend. A small town is slowly being replaced by emotionless copies of residents. It turns out that they are grown in pods from outer space. More Cold War and Communism symbolism here, and it's funny, because it's based on what is, by all accounts, a second rate novel that was preceded by much better received stories by Heinlein (The Puppet Masters) and Bradbury. And yet, Invasion is the one that clearly caught the zeitgeist and has proven to be very influential, inspiring countless remakes and homages.
I have no idea what next week's theme will be, but rest assured, it probably won't be as quaint as the 1950s conception of horror. Also, just want to give a shoutout to the brainchild of the Six Weeks of Halloween, Kernunrex, who is of course going to put me to shame in terms of the number of movies he watches and quality of commentary he posts, so be sure to check him out. Also, Bonehead XL has already begun his marathon and will surely outpace me as well.