Cinema Reservoir
Breaking Cinematic Opinion and Observation

Guilty By Association

Hollywood is usually suffering from creative bankruptcy, the result is that we get great films recycled and refitted to suit modern times.  Sometimes remakes are worth the trouble – Cronenberg’s The Fly or Carpenter’s The Thing – more often than not they are mediocre – Vanilla Sky or Ocean’s 11 – but occasionally we get a film that could never, ever live up to the original groundbreaking, dare I say, perfect film.  These films, honest attempts at a decent remake or not, are Guilty by Association of not being worth your time or money…



Dawn of the Dead (2004) – The thing about making a zombie film is that it will always be compared to Romero’s 1978 epic.  If The Wicker Man is the Citizen Cane of horror films, then Dawn surely must be the Gone With the Wind of horror films.  The film makers of the remake decided to commit blasphemy by making the zombies run and thinned the plot by focusing on a group of 10 or so survivors rather than the original’s 4.  It also took out any social commentary on ravenous consumerism, the government’s inability to administer aide, or the media’s desire for ratings over accuracy.  If you take out everything that makes a film a classic, why bother making it?




ity of Angels (2000) – Nick Cage stars in this remake of Wim Wender’s 1987 beauty, Wings of Desire, about a curious angel who falls in love with an acrobat and decides to shed his wings and embrace this mortal coil.  The remake takes any expressionism out of it by casting Cage and the insanely boring Meg Ryan, who’s never done an interesting or challenging film in her life.  Wings of Desire makes you feel alive, while City of Angels bores you to death.  There is a fine line between avant gard and avant garbage and City of Angels crosses it.



Psycho (1998) – Why Gus Van Sant decided to remake this, Hitchcock’s most well known film, is a complete mystery.  Perhaps he had a kitchen knife to his throat the whole time or maybe he just didn’t want someone like Michael Bay to get his hands on one of the master of suspence’s films (though get ready for his remake of The Birds).  Either way, whats the point of remaking a film shot for shot, angle for angle?  At least it was creatively cast.



Halloween (2007) – Rob Zombie should never be allowed to make a movie ever.  Whenever I leave his films, i feel like i just paid to see a two hour uncensored episode of Jerry Springer.  He failed astonishingly at reinvisioning Michael Myers, John Carpenter’s most terrifying boogeyman, as a trailer trash killing machine.



Blow Out (1981) – Brian DePalma, who’s every other film is a remake of either Rear Window, Psycho, or Vertigo strays very little from this pattern in his one official remake of a film.  That film is Antonioni’s Blow-Up. DePalma restructures his film around a sound engineer instead of a photographer, who witnesses a car crash instead of a couple flirting, who finds out it was an political assassination, instead of a regular murder.  Antonioni’s film is a pinnacle of 60’s filmmaking, seemingly all style over substance, but about a man who gains substance over style, though for an admittedly brief period.



Hairspray (2007) – Though Hairspray marks John Water’s shift from the undergound to the mainstream, it is certainly representative of Water’s signature, if peculiar, mentality.  The entire idea behind the remake is as ridiculous as the plot of Desperate Living… an adaptation of the play, which is based on the original film.  Nikki Blonski is no Ricki Lake, Michelle Pfieffer is no Debby Harry, and nobody, not even John Travolta is or will ever be Divine.  The remake is so much less fun and less Waters-esque (where is the zit popping close up or the hair bomb terrorist plot?) and the music has all been reworked to fit the typical High School Musical format, something that the original seemed to be mocking all the while.



The Shining (1997) – If Stanley Kubrick tried to make one thing clear with his entirely mood driven masterpiece, it was that Stephen King’s book (while great) is unfilmable.  But King himself had to go out and prove it with an unbearably long miniseries, complete with cringe worthy acting and bad CGI topiary animal attacks.

A look into the future…. These films haven’t come out yet, but they would be shoe ins on this list had they already been released:

THE BIRDS – the previously mentioned Michael Bay production, which will presumably have a “bullet time” bird attack.

HELLRAISER – I guess this would be the Pulp Fiction of horror films. Though I suppose a remake is better than making a seventh sequel.

PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE – Who did re-doing this make sense to?  The original’s surreal awfulness is unparalleled.

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORKWho could (or would want) to picture anyone but Kurt Russell as Snake Pliskin?  And wasn’t Escape from L.A. remake enough?


One Response to “Guilty By Association”

  1. I saw this at…with graphs:

    “My Trilogy Meter
    I know other movie geeks are going to have disagreements and that’s fine. And yes, I know some of these movies went more than 3 sequels, but none were ever meant to.

    These are rated purely on my enjoyment level on each film and nothing else. Frankly I’m surprised by how many sequels were better than the original. And I’m not surprised that the 3rd movie is never the best.”

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