Be on the look out for the latest episode of ’11 Questions with…’ This time it’s going to be a bonus sized edition with legendary filmmaker John Carpenter on Monday April 2nd 2012! In the mean time, there’s this…
A little while back I went on a rant about remakes, you can read about it here.
And now, I’m going to rant, at least a little, again.
My readers should know my feelings for Brian De Palma at this point. Even when the man does plenty wrong, he can do no wrong. His stylistic over the topness is music to my eyes. The soft focus, gelled lens, rose tinted, slow motion, split screen world that his films exist end never cease to thrill and excite me. This sentiment of course holds true for his handling of the first screen adaptation of Carrie in 1976.
While the film may deviate quite a bit from Stephen King’s source novel, it gets the spirit 100% correct, and aside from a few dated touches (the “whacky” prom clothes buying, sped up montage, anyone) it is a true classic of the genre.
On the acting front, Sissy Spacek is perfect as the terminally shy, but psychically gifted Carrie White, eliciting sympathy from the character that few other actresses, even of the time, could’ve come close to, as well as making her intense and terrifying. As her mother, the uber-religious Margaret White, Piper Laurie plays to the cheap seats, delivering an electrifying, scenery devouring performance that is the polar opposite, but perfect match for Spacek’s understated turn. They both truly deserved their rare for the genre Oscar Noms, is pretty much what I’m saying here.
Overall De Palma and crew set out to create a Horror film that plays with a touch of class, amongst it’s lurid shocks, and they succeed amiably. It’s probably the 1st or 2nd best treatment a King Novel has ever been given cinematically, behind or tied perhaps only by Dolores Claiborne, The Shining or Misery. It’s no wonder the film is still talked about and loved the way it is to this day, and why it was one of the most respected and massive horror hits of its time.
23 Years after the first film we were given it’s exorable sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2. The film is exactly what you’d expect from a late 90’s horror flick from the director of Stripped to Kill. The cast is a bunch of teenage by way of 30, bland, WBish cast offs (aside from the lone original film star to return, Amy Irving, who skews her general awesomeness with a phoned in banality) who blithely emote their way through on camera line readings.
The plot is a thinly “gothitized” version of the original films (shades of The Craft influence the whole proceeding) in fact I’m willing to bet the movie was an entirely “original” film called ‘The Rage’ that was turned in to a Carrie sequel to bump up the potential profit. The direction is uninteresting, uninterested, and flat. And, the special effects (especially the CGI) are typical for the time period, horrendous. It’s not a movie you watch, it’s a movie you endure.
3 years after The Rage left its musty stain in theaters (in 2002 mind you, 10 years ago) an official, made for TV remake was foisted upon the Carrie name (seemingly just because so many other King projects have been turned into mostly successful mini-series.)
Carrie The Mini Series tells the same story as the De Palma version, in practically the same way, aside from the lack of style, and the non-linear framing device of the film, which jumps around the timeline and unfortunately comes from the book, and also adding back in some scenes from the novel that had been excised from the original film due to budget/time constraints.
The direction from TV veteran (and Star Trek Generations) director David Carson makes Katt Shea’s handling of The Rage seem positively Fellini-esque by comparison; it’s flat, it’s dull, it’s lifeless. The cast is equally without consequence, practically faceless. Naturally, being a mini-series, it is needlessly long. And despite having more elements from the novel incorporated and more time to deal with it, the film seems empty and hollow, lacking even a tenth of the emotional validity of De Palma’s original.
It’s not as bad as The Rage in terms of sheer awfulness, few things can be, but its excessive mediocrity makes it FEEL a lot worse.
Now that all that back story is out of the way, we’re up to the soon-to-come new remake of Carrie (to be released in 2013.)
As mentioned in my remake/rant article, I’m not opposed to remakes, there have been some great ones, the 1988 Version of The Blob, Philip Kaufman’s take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers and John Carpenter’s classic handling of The Thing, to name a few. But there is a trend as of late that churns my stomach to no end…
Remaking a movie a scant few years after it has already been unsuccessfully remade.
A recent take on this would be The Hulk. Ang Lee did one in 2003 that made some dough, but was pretty much hated, then they hit the reset button on it 5 years later with The Incredible Hulk (which also made some money, but was kind of given the “meh” reception overall.) Same thing with Invasion of the Body Snatchers; the original from 1956 is a classic, as is the previously mentioned 1978 version, the one from the early 90’s, Body Snatchers? Not so much… Then you have Nicole Kidman’s horrendous version (The Invasion) from 2007, and a forth coming remake of THAT.
I’ll tell you why… I know from personal experience and behind the scenes conversation with NUMEROUS industry big wigs and higher ups that most studios literally do not want anything new. They only want franchises, tested properties and tent pole projects. It’s not suspicion, its fact. No gay characters, no interracial romances, no messages, no sex, no nudity. It’s the Hayes Code all over again. Sure once and a while an indie film that’s of some weight will slip through the cracks, as will the occasional big film of some mild quality from an ‘auteur’ filmmaker (Nolan’s handling of the Batman series, for one.)
But overall, there truly is a ban on original thinking. And, it’s sad.
What can be said or done now, in film, that couldn’t have been said or done 5 or even 10 years ago?
There are a ton of young (and old) screenwriters and filmmakers out there who’d be willing cut off their left arm to deliver an original script (or even an original knock off) for next to nothing. You could do 200 or more original films, or even knock offs, with decent low budgets and a couple “name” actors, for the cost of 1 John Carter. But no one is going to do that. Why? I dunno. Supposed ‘risk.’ (Granted I’d hardly call the 200+ Million Dollar write off known AS John Carter to be a NON-Risk, would you?)
Chloe Moretz, a plain looking starrer of numerous things of little note has been cast in the title role of Carrie in the new film, it’s being directed by ‘classy’ filmmaker Kimberly Peirce (of Boys Don’t Cry acclaim, and Stop-Loss not so much acclaim) and scripted by a producer/writer who is best known for contributing a lot to Glee; and it sounds, at least from all that, that we’re going to get another exercise in cinematic water treading and banality like we did with A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Stepfather, The Hitcher and Prom Night (to name just a few.)
I’m angry and I hate it all, but, I won’t bitch and complain anymore, I’ll just leave it at that… Oh and remind everyone of another resent remake/abortion… Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows