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Category — remake

Chilly Sci-Fi Horror – THE THING

THE THING is a fantastic remake fueled by Rob Bottin’s “Practical” Magic.

For those keeping score, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) has two so-called “strikes” against it: it’s a remake, of Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby’s The Thing from Another World (1951), and it’s so Lovecraftian it hurts. And although it owes its life to good ol’ H.P.’s At The Mountains Of Madness, it’s a striking film that possesses a visual language all its own. With FX wizard Rob Bottin on creature design and Carpenter’s stellar direction and cast, it still manages gets under your skin and keep you on edge until the knockout finale, even today. Consider the plight of the creature at the film’s icy core – flying around the cosmos must be tough. Crash landing on Earth in the harsh Arctic tundra and being forced into hibernation in order to survive must be even tougher. This is the fate that befalls our alien/creature in the film’s opening. 100,000 years later it awakens and goes into full survival mode. With the ability to absorb and mimic other life forms, our titular Thing can take the form of anything – even a beautiful Siberian Husky. Under this guise the Thing infiltrates the base camp of a 12 man research team, in a memorable opening filled with Norwegian cursing and a Sarah Palin-like helicopter hunting party. As expected, all Hell breaks loose when the kind Americans take pity on the poor dog who runs into their midst. And quicker than you can say “Wilford Brimley” the Thing is doppleganger-ing itself into members of the team, messing with minds and bodies and eradicating the unit’s morale and trust. There’s nowhere to run, you’ve been up for days, and Hell itself walks among you. As a wise man once said, “this is a 360 degree son of a bitch” – bad on all sides. But I would argue that within this ultimate bleak there is beauty. Rob Bottin’s work is still hailed as legendary, filled with hand-crafted horror including a walking head, a teeth gnashing torso, and whip-sharp spaghetti-innards that’ll make you stare at your dog funny. And Carpenter deserves praise as well, for juggling 12 actors and getting us to care about each character. While Kurt Russell has the lion’s share of the scenes as moody reluctant hero R.J. MacReady, he has a wonderful safety net in his fellow cast members, including Brimley, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur, and Keith David, with whom he shares the magnificently ambiguous ending. Though it’s essential viewing, I’d mainly recommend this film to any horror/thriller fans wanting to learn a thing or two about tone – as well as how to rip a human to shreds effectively without looking like a Saw or Hostel clone. And though there’s been talk of a remake/sequel/prequel/destructive re-imagining, this film should exist on its own, forever preserved in cold storage for those moments when the imitators leave you wanting more.

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March 3, 2011   2 Comments

Superb Western Remake – TRUE GRIT

TRUE GRIT is a stylistic romp through the wild, wild west – and the western genre itself.

Forget all the hype that’s filling our theaters now – IMAX this and 3D that – and feast your eyes on a good ol’ fashioned yarn, courtesy of the brothers Coen. Ethan and Joel’s 2010 retelling of Henry Hathaway’s 1969 film returns to the source material – the novel by Charles Portis – to achieve what is essentially an upgrade in all facets of production and storytelling over the old John Wayne flick. The tale of a precocious 14 year old (played by newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) who hires a drunken, dirty, over-the-hill marshal named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to avenge the murder of her father is an oftentimes funny, always fun exercise in storytelling, full of enthralling detail and the brilliant dialogues you come to expect from the Coens. Matt Damon is perfectly cast as a Texas ranger who gets under Rooster’s skin, and the rest of the cast – including Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper – are incredible as well. The Coens paint vivid archetypes, each a fleshed out portrait of the characters we expect to find in the genre – except crazier, dirtier, and meaner than ever, and the narrative’s random bursts of violence and overall sense of dread is perfect build up towards the exciting action climax. On the Coen spectrum the movie falls somewhere between Miller’s Crossing and O Brother Where Art Thou?,  tarnished only slightly by their recently-adopted penchant for “down” endings, a staple of every film since No Country for Old Men. While it sometimes works, here the final narrative bridge – which I won’t spoil for you except to say it is aggressively unsentimental – seems forced, existing simply to burst the bubble they’ve spent hours crafting. However, given its placement at the tail end of such a fantastic film, I’m willing to give the brothers the benefit of the doubt – and say it is there to “make us think.” Regardless, True Grit is an instant classic, and you should run out this very instant and see it in theaters – in glorious 2D!

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January 13, 2011   No Comments

LET ME IN trailer hits the internet

You can take a look at our review of the original, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, here. The remake is directed by Cloverfield director Matt Reeves. I’m still pretty sure it’ll suck, even if the trailer doesn’t seem all that bad… there’s just something mesmerizing about the slow Scandinavian pace of the original which I don’t think Hollywood can emulate. The special effects might be superior in this one, though. I dunno… again I find myself hoping against hope that it works. What do you think?

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July 1, 2010   1 Comment

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