Commentary on Movies and TV by Brian Holcomb

Sunday, June 22, 2003


Since the very successful release of Gore Verbinski's remake of THE RING, both Sam Raimi and Tom Cruise have announced that they are also in the Asian cult horror film remake biz. Raimi will produce a remake of Shimizu's JU-ON(THE GRUDGE) while Cruise has the rights to the Pang Brothers' THE EYE. There are also threats being made to remake Argento's SUSPIRIA and in the coming months we will have remakes of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and DAWN OF THE DEAD heading our way.

I'm not writing this info in order to slam on the idea of remakes as bad cinema. What I find amusing is that money has been spent in order to purchase the rights to these stories in order to remake them. The problem lies in the fact that many of these cult films are worthless as literature and especially in the case of Argento, only interesting in the style that the filmmaker has used to spin the tale. Who really cares about the story beats in DAWN OF THE DEAD without the particular satirical sensibility and editing style that belongs to George Romero? I hear ,by the way, that this remake, written by James Gunn of Scooby Doo fame, has only a tentative relation to the original. Then why call it DAWN OF THE DEAD? Does this title actually hold a mnemonic value to the multiplexers who buy tickets to 2 Fast 2 Furious? If an actual remake wasn't really produced, why not just call it something else and make it in the tradition of Romero's picture. This was the case with THE ITALIAN JOB as well, which I actually enjoyed. The original film was not a success in America in the 60's and it's cult value is really only in England and Europe. Since most of the plot was jettisoned, what was the value in keeping the title?

In Hollywood, it seems that a remake is only second to a sequel in making a picture with a strong audience awareness. Adapting a famous tv show like SWAT, or EMERGENCY is supposed to be a safer bet than to shoot a new movie about a Swat team. In the old days of Hollywood, they just LIFTED any story they wanted and made a picture LIKE another picture only different. And this seems to be the key to what the POP audience lives for, they want a new kind of familiar.