Sunday, 8 November 2020

Book Review: Hades (Contemporary Mythos #1) by Carly Spade

Hades (Contemporary Mythos #1) by Carly Spade revolves around digital forensics examiner, Stephanie Costas, who has the ability to read auras and an unhealthy obsession with 80s music. (As someone married to a person obsessed with 80s music, trust me, it's unhealthy.) Dragged to Corfu, Greece for a holiday with her best friend, Sara, Stephanie meets Hades, actual god of the Underworld. 

Hades has been sent on vacation by his brother, Zeus, who is tired of Hades's moping over Persephone, who's run off with Theseus. He tries warning Stephanie away, knowing they can never be together because of his obligations, but they can't seem to avoid each other. Cue the romance.

This is a sweet one. Although the writing itself isn't that great, it's a fun story and enjoyable to read. I especially like the ending, which is straight up adorable. As an added bonus, it doesn't end with them having babies, which gets tedious with romance novels. 

Fair warning: the description of Hades says that it's an "adult romance," which isn't really true. There's a single sex scene, nearly at the end. And it's not super steamy so I don't think it needs the warning. Also, it says that Hades is a "Hades/Persephone re-imagining," which isn't true either. (And can't be since Hades and Persephone are both characters in the book.) 

So... I have one problem with the book, one suggestion, and one pet peeve. Let's start with that one. When talking about the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio (which is totally real,) the author says, 'Her hatred for their rival, Green Bay, covered anything related to Michigan.' Um... nope. Green Bay is not a team from Michigan. I almost walked away from the book at that moment. Do not talk about things you don't know about unless you've done your research. 


Okay, the simple thing that could have made Hades a better story... Persephone. She's mentioned several times but not used enough. There was an opportunity to use her character more, even as an additional antagonist to beef up the tension, but the author missed it. 

Finally, the problem I have with Hades is the use of Stephanie's ability to read auras. Or, should I say the inconsistent use of Stephanie's ability to read auras? The narrative dwells on her ability when she's at work - a place where it would be least noticeable because she's used to the people there. It almost completely ignores her ability when she arrives at the resort in Greece, which doesn't make sense because that's where it would be most distracting. You really shouldn't introduce something like that if you're going to spend most the book ignoring it. 

Aside from those things and some issues with punctuation/sentence structure, Hades is a fun, sweet, easy read. Definitely worth a shot, even if I probably won't bother with any of the others in the series. 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Movie Review: Tales of Halloween (2015)

Tales of Halloween (2015) is an anthology movie in the style of 2007's Trick 'r Treat. In Tales of Halloween, ten short stories are woven together over the space of Halloween night. It is a little (if I had to guess, deliberately) hokier and a lot funnier than the darker Trick 'r Treat, but every bit as enjoyable. Fans of one should definitely check out the other.

The stories told during Tales of Halloween follow a loose timeline that's easily followed by the children trick-or-treating through the film as well as Night of the Living Dead playing on the various televisions throughout. There are many homages to other classic horror films as the film goes on, starting with Adrienne Barbeau as the husky-voiced radio host - a nod to her role in 1980's The Fog. You may also spot a candy bar named after legendary horror director John Carpenter in "Sweet Tooth" and Evil Dead's Necronomicon hiding in the background during the "Friday the 31st" segment. 

Tales of Halloween starts with a stylized animation that takes you on a tour of the town and introduces the stories you're about to watch. It ends with a brief return to the same animation, which wraps things up nicely. The ten stories that take place in the interim vary in style, ranging from creepy urban legend to alien abduction, but fit together perfectly regardless of their differences. They all have have brilliant imagery - whether it's the dancing flames in "Ding Dong," the ultra gore in "Sweet Tooth," or the creepy fog in "Grim Grinning Ghost," Tales of Halloween is a visually pleasing film. 

There are witches, demons, creeps, and monsters galore in this one. They're all very well done, too, even if some of them do lean toward hilariously cringe-worthy. (I'm referring, of course, to the claymation alien in "Friday the 31st.") The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes style jack o'lantern rampaging through the town in "Bad Seed" is a favourite of mine, as is the revenge-driven demon in "The Weak and the Wicked," which is my favourite story of the lot. 

Although each of the stories are very different from one another, they do have a few things in common, starting with their humour. (Tales of Halloween is billed as a comedy/horror, after all.) But they all do a great job of subverting expectations as well. None of the stories go exactly where you expect them to so, by the time you get to the end, you find yourself wondering just what the fuck to expect. Add a healthy dose of fakeouts and jump scares and you've got a must-see Halloween movie that's just plain fun. 

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Witchy Reads: Hoodoo For Beginners: Working Magic Spells in Rootwork and Conjure with Roots, Herbs, Candles, and Oils by Angelie Belard

Hoodoo can be an intimidating subject, even for people who've practiced witchcraft as long as I have. It's something I've never wanted to get too involved with because of how dark it's perceived to be. But since I've been slowly making the transition from Wiccan to plain old witch, reading this book seemed like a good move toward shaking that three-times-three mentality I learned as a kid.

Hoodoo For Beginners: Working Magic Spells in Rootwork and Conjure with Roots, Herbs, Candles, and Oils by Angelie Belard shattered a lot of long-held illusions and made hoodoo an accessible path, something I can see myself studying further. I was disappointed when I finished it because I wanted to really delve into hoodoo some more.

Honestly, I was a bit iffy about starting this one. I worry with books like these (especially anything you'd find in the "New Age" or "self-help" sections) because, too often, you end up spending most of the book reading about how great the author is and very little time taking in useful information. Hoodoo for Beginners was perfectly balanced, with anecdotes used to show the usefulness of the practice, rather than the ability of the author. I really appreciated that. 

Hoodoo for Beginners is easy to read, easy to follow, and full of useful information. It's a must-have primer for anyone considering the path. I'd love to have a paperback copy of this one on my reference shelf and I'll be coming back to it as I find my feet because the spells are easy to follow and don't require ingredients I'd have to spend weeks chasing down. Even a beginner witch or hoodoo practitioner should have everything handy for these spells. It is a primer, though, so don't expect it to delve too deeply into any given subject. 

As far as I know, this is Belard's first book, which is actually a little surprising, considering how well-written it is. (Sorry, but you know what I mean.) I hope she continues writing because I'd love to see what else she has to offer.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: Drag Me to Hell 2009 vs Curse of the Demon 1957

 Me: Well, let's get started...

I kinda pushed for this one so I'll explain. Unless you'd seen Curse of the Demon (or Night of the Demon, depending on the country,) you wouldn't really recognise Drag Me to Hell as a remake. They certainly didn't bill it that way.

Jay: It's a very, very loose remake.

Me: It is, but there are so many similar elements that you can't deny that's what it is. 

Jay: True. It was also Sam Raimi's long-awaited return to horror. He's good at comedy and action but he truly excels at horror.

Me: He definitely has a very unique style. And there actually is a lot of humor in Drag Me to Hell

Jay: There is.

Me: Okay, so there are some similarities between (I'm gonna call it) Night of the Demon and Drag Me to Hell. It's the same premise, the demon and the cursed item, you also wanna watch the shadows. The shadow work, for example is phenomenal in both films. 

Jay: Yeah, it really was. The the effects in the original are superb, considering it was 1957. They were smart by not showing the demon often.

So, you go to 2009, and the effects are just out of this world and it's a bit slapstick in parts (like with the the goat.) 

Me: It's sort of Evil Dead 2, isn't it? He includes the comedy because of how scary he could make it. I mean, Raimi always said he would never do another film as bad as Evil Dead, but you know, Drag Me to Hell isn't all that far away. Drag Me to Hell made me jump so many times. 

Jay: There are some very nervy moments and, yeah, some real nasty stuff. I mean, look at the protagonist, Mrs. Ganush. She's terrifying. 

Me: I like that you called Mrs. Ganush the protagonist, rather than Christine. 

Jay: Oh no, Mrs. Ganush is the victim, the wronged party. 

Me: That's a fascinating take! I mean... it is kind of a revenge story. When you turn the tables like that, it becomes a very different movie. 

Jay: Exactly. The woman, Christine, could have helped but she was only thinking about herself. It's all about greed. 

Me: Which makes it very different from the original, from Night of the Demon. 

Jay: In what way?

Me: Well, Drag Me to Hell is very personal. It's about a person who got screwed getting her own back. Night of the Demon is impersonal. There's no personal hatred or anything, it's just a group of pagans who want to make a point.

Jay: They want to be left alone. They want these people to stop trying to prove that they're phonies. The demon is relentless but it's-

Me: It's kind of just doing a job. It was summoned to attack this person so it does its job and leaves again. I guess the demon in Drag Me to Hell is the same, just nastier.

Jay: Right. The demon in Drag Me to Hell is revenge incarnate. It's summoned because Christine shamed the old woman, Mrs. Ganush, in front of the whole bank. In Night of the Demon, Dr. Karswell summons the demon from something he found in an old book. In Drag Me to Hell, it's almost like it's a patron, not saint, but a guardian of this gypsy family.

Me: I love that. I think I'd take a guardian demon over a patron saint any day!

Jay: That sounds about right for you!

I miss the old Romani gypsies. They used to travel through our village every now and then, selling charms and telling fortunes. You should have seen their caravans, they were works of art. 

Me: Did your mom buy a charm when they came through?

Jay: You didn't dare not buy one!

Me: I bet. 

Anyway, back to Drag Me to Hell...

Jay: Well, back to Night of the Demon. At the end, you know Dana Andrews is going to win because he's swapped the parchment.

Me: It's a great twist in Drag Me to Hell. After all that, digging up the old woman, giving her back the button... it's all for nothing because it got mixed up with the coin. It's a final little victory.

Jay: The ending of Drag Me to Hell does have a really nice twist to it. After all that shit, it's still coming after her and she doesn't know it. Old Mrs. Ganush finally wins. 

Me: Whereas Night of the Demon is more of a warning against paganism, isn't it? Like, sure, you can summon this demon - but it can just as easily be used against you. Tut tut, caution, and all that. 

Jay: I never really looked at it that way, but yeah, I guess it is.

It's fitting that both movies end at the train station. It's a nice symmetry.

Me: Here's a big difference between the two, though. We've spoken before about how movies back in the 50s were so nice - and Night of the Demon, while atmospheric and spooky as hell, isn't any different. It's nice. You'd let your kids watch it. Drag Me to Hell, on the other hand...

I forgot how freaking gross that shit was!

Jay: It's extremely visceral. It's also a reminder, though, of what the horror industry missed when Sam Raimi walked away from it. He could have done so much for the genre. It's a shame.

Me: What about the differences between Ganush and Karswell. I mean... In Night of the Demon, it's clear that Holden is the protagonist. He's fighting for his life against this unwarranted attack. Like you said, it's not as clear in Drag Me to Hell. Ganush, really is the protagonist, so it's right that Christine gets hers. 

Jay: And?

Me: Well, that's not the only difference between the two, is it? I mean, I want to look at the characters, Ganush and Karswell.

Jay: Ah... right. Well, Karswell is quite the dapper English gent. He's a philanthropist, there doing magic tricks for the kids. Switch to Drag Me to Hell and you've got Mrs. Ganush who is one scary bitch.

Me: She's not just scary, she's nasty. I mean, taking her teeth out at the desk at the bank. Gah.

Anyway, we're running on out of time so I want to ask: after talking about both movies, do you agree that Drag Me to Hell is a remake of Night of the Demon?

Jay: Absolutely. Not in name, maybe, but in form. It's like Raimi took the rough template from Night of the Demon but said, yeah, I'm gonna do this, but I'm going to do it my way. And he did a fabulous job. 

Me: Agreed. So, here's the next question: who is our winner? 

Jay: If I'm honest, it's a tie for me. Despite their differences, they're both excellent movies. 

Me: I'll give you that one. I can only watch about half of Drag Me to Hell because it's so disgusting so I'm inclined to edge toward the original, but only slightly. I'm happy to call it a tie as well. 

Monday, 12 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: The Crazies 1973 vs 2010

 Me: Okay... Um, so before we talk about which movie was better, I kind of want to talk about how interesting the premise of The Crazies is. Especially now, when there's a pandemic running rampant across the globe. It feels really relevant. 

Jay: Yeah, it really does. I mean, I don't suppose when they made The Crazies they realized that... well, you know... 2020. 

Me: Hah. Right. Of course, there's one big difference: the people who are sick in the movie are the crazy ones and in real life, the crazy ones are the ones who aren't.

Jay: Unfortunately, that's pretty much spot on.

Me: You know I can't stand the original The Crazies for so many reasons. What what do you think, though? Which version do you think is better? 

Jay: Well, I think the remake of The Crazies was excellent but you've got to put it into context. This was George Romero's third, maybe fourth film. It was raw, unpolished - but clever.

Me: I see the potential it must have had at the time but it's hard to watch now.

Jay: Of course it is. Part of that is the money behind the remake and the lack of money Romero had when making the original. Even without much of a budget, he did have a great story. I mean, it just goes to show you what could have been done if he'd had the funds.

And don't forget that he was still finding his style.

Me: Yeah... in 1973, I think Romero's style was a hot mess.

Jay: I was too young to watch it when it first came out. I was about ten when I saw The Crazies and it was a bit... heavy for a ten-year-old. I didn't really get a lot of it at the time but it stayed with me. 

Me: I'm not surprised. It's hard to follow. That quick cut from one scene to another is really grating. 

Jay: They didn't do a great job of explaining it, either. They do a much better job in the remake. You see the plane and learn that it's crashed with a virus on it. 

Me: I like that they actually showed the plane in the remake. It's a stunning visual, stretched out under the boat like that. 

Jay: Right. There's also the makeup. In the original, you know that they have this disease, this Trixie, but you can't really tell. The remake gives them an almost zombie-like look. 

Me: For a long time. I love that you can't tell at first that someone has it but it becomes more and more evident the sicker they get. It works better than that instant change you get from some zombie movies.

Jay: They're not zombies.

Me: Sorry, infected. 

Jay: Better. 

It's good with that transfixed look they get, like the guy in the jail cell. He's gone but they can't work it out. It's very effective. 

I also really like the fake-outs, like when the mother is standing in front of the combine harvester and you're just waiting for it to start and plow her down. You think, phew, she made it - but what she really did was seal their doom. 

Me: That was a really sad part. The movie is actually pretty heavy - but still way more enjoyable than the original, which was just depressing. I mean... there is a difference between heavy and depressing, as weird as that sounds.

We were talking earlier today about the way the disease moved through the water through the town, which the remake made a lot clearer. I love that the sheriff goes to the uh... is it a mayor?

Jay: Yeah, I think it was the mayor.

Me: So, he goes to the mayor and he asks him to shut off the water but the mayor refuses. It reminded me of that bit in Jaws when he's trying to get the mayor to shut the beaches and he refuses. Same vibe. 

Jay: Right. But he just goes straight to the source, shuts it off, and breaks it so no one can turn it back on. Brilliant. Too bad it didn't help. 

The sheriff is good but his deputy is a great character too. 

Although he was starting to go mad from the disease, even though he was becoming one of the crazies, he fought it. You didn't really get that in the original, that last heroic act. 

Me: I'll tell you what the original also didn't have... Richard Liberty snogging his daughter. Just... eww. I thought it was completely unnecessary. 

Jay: I don't know why they went there. I think it was to show the disease was taking effect. But, yeah, unnecessary. 

The remake was cleaner, slicker. The music was better, more ominous. It was just a better production. 

Me: I'm not going to argue with you here. 

First of all, I hated the way the original would flash. It constantly flashed between two different scenes. They'd be like we're gonna call in the military and then you get boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. All these images of the military and - oh. My. God The military. Groan.

That military drum beat every fucking time you saw a soldier. That is so tedious. 

Jay: Yeah. Okay, there was no need but again, like I say, it was 1973. It was low budget. 

This is one of those rare breeds where the remake is actually far superior to the original, and it's not a little bit better. It's far superior to the original. A lot of that is down to the actors but it's also just slicker and cleaner. The sound is so much better too.

Me: Oh, the music! The music in the first one was just dumb. The score wasn't good at all. The remake was so much better. It was dark. It was ominous... it almost had that 28 Days Later feel, kind of sad and mournful. I really really liked that. 

Jay: They also used the technology of today well, like using the drone and satellites to tell the story. Even at the end, where they could see that somebody managed to escape the town and the next city was now going into lockdown. 

Me: That's the best part! You're rooting for them to get away but, because they do, they fucked a whole other city. It's kind of heart-breaking, if you think about it. You want them to make it, but you know that if they do, they're dooming others. We should want them to fail - but we don't. It becomes especially relevant when you think about the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Jay: It does. You see the selfishness of people today. That's the thing we've learned over the last eight, nine months: people are just selfish. They don't give a shit about anybody else. It's I'm all right, Jack and screw you. 

But anyway, go back to the movie. 

Me: So... bringing the pandemic into it, you have to look at the military involvement as well. In the remake military is a slick operation. It didn't even come into play for ages. They come out of nowhere in the middle of the night - unlike the military in the original, who stomp in all hectic like and make a mess of things.

Jay: And don't forget those stupid jumpsuits. 

Me: Right. Cringe.

The point I wanted to make with the pandemic was that the first movie, unfortunately, is closer to what we got. Like, you would hope that in the midst of a pandemic you get that second, well organized military. They're swift. They know what they're doing. But no, we got the fucking white jumpsuit guys who don't have a clue what's going on. They don't know how to contain it. They're not getting the support. That's what's happening.

I keep thinking that, really, in both films if the military had just stopped and explained what was going, they wouldn't have gotten so much resistance. Maybe they would've been able to actually contain it.

Jay: I don't know about that. If they'd come in and said, "We're containing you for your own good," do you think anyone would have actually gone quietly? I doubt it.

The real problem they had, in both movies, is the same problem America and Britain have now. Piss-poor leadership. It's like when the sheriff asks about the plane and the guy they catch shows no remorse, no empathy. Sound familiar?

Me: Too familiar.

Jay: I'll tell you the one thing I thought the original did better.

Me: What?

Jay: It's two-pronged. Firstly, there's the doctor who's been working on a cure. He's found it but the soldiers just lump him in with everyone else and he gets killed. The vials get broken. 

Secondly, there's the man who's immune. They're so desperately trying to find a cure but, by the time they bring in the immune guy, they're so overwhelmed that they don't bother testing him. They had two chances at a cure and they ruined them both. It was a nice touch, very dark.

Me: Like I said, heart-breaking. No... it's... hopeless. It's funny that a movie so poorly made could invoke such a powerful emotion.

Right. I've gotta wrap this up because it's past my bedtime. This is your last chance to add anything.

Jay: Not a lot, except that Romero had a good story but not the money to back it up. The remake had both. It a more complete movie. It had horror, romance, and action. It was the complete package. 

Sunday, 11 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: Child's Play 1988 vs 2019

Me: Okay, I'm going to ask you some questions about Child's Play

Jay: Okay. 

Me: So... do you prefer the original or the remake?

Jay: Definitely the original. 

Me: I figured you'd say that. Why?

Jay: It was a better story. The voodoo aspect added something really special to it. It's not just some disgruntled employee, it's a fucking psychopath who's trying to save his own skin. 

Me: I thought it was less a disgruntled employee and more an issue of systemic abuse. Like a sweatshop, you know? Plus, it made it so much more realistic. Reprogramming an electronic doll to remove its safeguards is a lot easier to believe than someone pulling off a complicated voodoo ritual while dying and being hunted by the police.

Jay: That's what I love about you, you take the fun out of voodoo.

Me: Well, I mean... come on. People who really practice voodoo don't fear death so the guy who taught Charles wouldn't have given up the deets on how to move into the boy.

Jay: Do you ever just sit and enjoy a movie?

Me: I did enjoy Child's Play! I enjoyed the remake more, though.

Jay: Meh... They had thirty years to come up with something better than the original and they didn't. An angry employee? That's the best you can do? I mean... I get that you want to do something new, but you could've come up with something better than that. 

I don't know. Maybe if I hadn't seen the original, I would have enjoyed it - but I had. I mean, I did enjoy it, but I didn't enjoy it more - and that's the point of a remake, right?

Me: They did a great job of bringing it up to date, though. The original does feel pretty dated now.

Jay: A lot of things are the same. You've still got an overworked single mother living in an apartment with her son. In the original, though, you've got a better reason for Chucky's determination to kill Andy. 

Me: You mean other than "imprinting" on him? (Which kind of feels a little Twightl-y, but okay.)

Jay: Exactly. 

So Charles is stuck in this stupid doll and he wants out. The only way he can do it is to take over the kid's body. There's a reason for his obsession. 

You know the original was better because of its longevity. It's still relevant today and has spawned... seven sequels?

Me: A lot. There have been a lot of sequels - and they're all pretty good. Especially some of the newer ones.

Jay: Right. Has there been any talk of a sequel for the remake?

Me: Actually...

Jay: Seriously?

Me: Well, not in so many words. They were talking about it but then, you know, the world ended. 

Anyway, let's talk about the rebranding. Goodbye, Good Guy. Hello, Buddi. What did you think of that? And, damn, that's a big doll. Freaking huge doll.

Jay: Alright, well, let me ask you a question. 

Me: Shoot. 

Jay: How many Good Guy Chucky dolls have you seen? 

Me: Loads. I actually had one. 

Jay: Of course you did. That's my point, though. Everywhere you look, you see the original version. You just don't see the Buddi version anywhere and that's because it didn't have the darkness that the Good Guy doll did. He looks kind of messed up, but not scary.

And, really, it's supposed to be a doll, not this weird animatronic thing that looks human. Well, kind of human.

Me: That's just changing to fit the new technology of the time. 

Jay: Yeah, but what I'm saying is that, with all the CGI available now, you could have made it so much more believable. The remake kind of fell short. It just... doesn't look right. It still just looks like a weird rubber doll. 

They really could have done some of the effects better. Chucky was better in the original, with fewer special effects available. 

The original doll was terrifying. There's that bit where she's threatening to throw it into the fire if it doesn't talk and then it goes nuts. That's a great scene, absolutely terrifying.

Me: Honestly, the fact that Charles Lee Ray was inside the doll, sleeping with the little boy in his bed... that was the terrifying bit for me. So much yuck.

Jay: I don't think it was intended to be sexual, just terrifying, knowing that danger was so close.

Me: I'm gonna stick with yucky but okay. 

What about the casts?

Jay: The original cast was far superior. I mean, there were some good actors in the remake but there were no Chris Sarandons. No Brad Dourifs. They were more or less forgettable. 

Me: Well, Chris Sarandon was definitely fun to look at, but I didn't like his character. He was just a douche-y cop. I'll give you Dourif, though. He's always amazing. 

Jay: It's the mania he brings to the role. When he's fucking losing it, when he's laughing maniacally... the new Chucky didn't have that. The original was straight up evil.

Me: For me, the fact that the the new Chucky didn't really understand that he was wrong was so powerful. He didn't get that he was bad. I like the fact that they, the kids, kind of taught him to be that way.

It's like when Chucky watches Andy stab the knife down onto the wooden block, then you see Chucky mimicking it like... yeah. 

Jay: But why would he have learned that? Why would have chosen to learn to murder? There were so many things he was taught. Why did that stick and none of the rest?

Me: It's because that was what made Andy happy. (Which, by the way, creepy.) If, I dunno, knitting had made Andy happy, he probably would have learned that. Very different movie. 

Jay: It just seemed too sudden to me. Like, he goes nuts straight away. Charles Lee Ray had a reason, he was stuck inside this fucking doll and couldn't get out. That would make you crazy. 

Me: I can tell we're not going to agree on this one. I thought the remake was a great film. It had some good fake outs, some good jumps, and there was some great humor. Oh, my god. When Chucky kills the mother's boyfriend and the guy's scalp flies off - that was fucking great. 

Jay: I understood that kill but what about the old black woman? What was the point of her death?

Me: It was because she made a joke about Andy being her new best friend. Chucky couldn't understand humor, so he got jealous.

Jay: But... couldn't he? The fact that he was manipulating technology - cutting off the video feed at just the right time, that said to me that he understood perfectly well what he was doing. So which is it? Does he have the mentality of a child or is he intelligent enough to control all the technology around him? You can't have it both ways. 

Me: What would you have liked them to do with the Chucky doll?

Jay: I dunno... something different. So his eyes glowed, that's it. They could have done so much more, made him so much more. I'm not saying I want him break dance or something, just... I don't know. Switch it up.

That's how I feel about the whole movie. They could have changed the story in so many ways, really taken it in a new direction. But they didn't. Why not make Andy a spoiled little rich brat who got unlucky enough to get that doll? Do something different!

Me: Okay, decision time. I prefer the remake. It's more relevant and more believable. I have a feeling you're not going to agree with me, though.

Jay: Listen to that feeling.

Me: Hah. So you're picking the original. 

Jay: Definitely. They had a chance at taking it up a notch and they failed. They didn't beat the original.

Me: Another draw...

Saturday, 10 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: Poltergeist 1982 vs 2015

 Me: Okay, I kind of had to twist your arm to talk about Poltergeist because you said to me earlier that you were never really into either movie. 

Jay: No, not really. 

Me: Can you give me a little bit more? 

Jay: Well, Spielberg was a producer on the original, so that's always a good sign. And Tobe Hooper was director, which is also good. Even with both involved, the original Poltergeist was... okay. Not spectacular, but good. 

The really interesting thing about the original Poltergeist movie is the fact that its production was meant to be cursed, ending with the death of Heather O'Rourke, the little girl who played Carol Anne.

Me: Um, I think her on-screen sister, Dominique Dunne, died too?

Jay: She was strangled by her boyfriend, if I remember. But, there were other actors that died from the franchise too. It was a little surprising that they decided to do a remake, with as cursed as they believed it to be. 

Me: Okay, so I'll take a moment to point out that we don't agree on which movie, the remake or the original wins this one. You're staunchly for the original and I think the remake works better. Tell me why you like the original.

Jay: I found it very entertaining. The haunting bits were good, like the bit where the chairs move and then the slow build-up until you find out that the house was built on a cemetery and they never bothered moving the coffins, just built straight on top of them. 

Me: I thought you were going to say 'an ancient Indian burial ground' then and I was totally going to correct you. They actually joke about it in both movies, saying "at least it wasn't an ancient Indian burial ground!'" It made me wonder... when did that become part of our cultural literacy?

Jay: That's a good a question. I honestly don't know the answer.  

Of course, Poltergeist gave us a couple of classic horror lines. "They're here," and "This house is clean." 

Me: I'm glad you brought that up because 1. It's so much less annoying when the little girl says it in the remake and 2. I wanted to ask what you thought of Zelda Rubinstein and Jared Harris.

So, when Tangina comes into it, there's not really any kind of explanation or anything. She's just there and they're like, okay she's gonna do this now - and she doesn't even do it. Really, it's all the mom. 

But in the remake, you get a good build up with Carrigan, with the tv show and such. And they actually make him part of the story, give him his own story within it. You don't get that with the original. Tangina's character is just kind of throwaway. 

Jay: Well, Jared Harris is a tremendous actor - but if someone imitates that line from the movie, it's Rubinstein's character they mimic. 

Me: Fair point. But I still like Carrigan better. 

Okay, but characters I don't like. First of all, either father. They're both dicks, the one in the remake even more so. In the original, though, I got distracted by how very Conservative the family is and that just annoyed me. This election has got me so fucked up in the head that I can't even stand fake Republicans at this point. 

Jay: Hah. Yeah, I don't think anyone else would even have noticed that. 

Me: Here's the other thing that bugs me about the original... Why the fuck did it just start happening? The houses all have a very lived in look and the neighbours all clearly know each other, which means they've been there for awhile. I think at some point they say it's been months, but I'm not sure. Either way, why wait so long to start shit? If I was an unquiet spirit, I think I would've fucked with that family the second they moved in.

The remake is better for me because it literally starts the moment they move in. It makes more sense. 

Jay: Hmm. I guess I assumed the family in the first one had just moved in too. It's been a long time since I've seen it, though. 

Me: I also like the family better in the remake, especially the older daughter. She honestly didn't seem important in the first one. I don't know why they even included her in it. Mini rant: I thought it was disgusting that the builders sexually harassed the older daughter and the mother just stood there and laughed. Eww. 

In the remake, the older daughter, Kendra, is actually part of the family. She's actually in most of the movie. 

Have I sold you on the remake yet?

Jay: Not a bit. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was okay. If I hadn't seen the original first, I might have enjoyed the remake as much as you did. But I didn't. I honestly don't know why they remade it. If you can't do it better, don't fucking do it.

Me: Except I think they did do it better. 

Jay: You're entitled to your opinion. The critics didn't particularly like the remake, though, so I think more people agree with me. In fact, they're talking about remaking it again. 

Me: Yeah, I'd heard that the Russo brothers wanted to get their hands on it, but I assumed it was more because they're such hot property that they can do whatever movie they want. 

Jay: Probably, but they should leave this one alone. There's no point in making another one because it won't be able to compete. 

Me: Well, thanks for talking about Poltergeist, even though it wouldn't have been your choice for today. (And you're wrong, the remake is better.)

Jay: You're welcome. (And no, it wasn't.)

Waiting For...