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.

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.)

Friday, 9 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: The Thing from Another World 1951 vs The Thing 1982

Me: The Thing vs The Thing from Another World. I'm not going to start by asking you which one is better because I want to compare them first.


Jay: I guess the first thing is the time. I mean, the age. The Thing from Another World was released in 1951 and I can only imagine it was terrifying at the time because it still holds up well today. 

Me: The original is fun, I'll give it that. I always enjoy watching it.

Jay: It is a lot of fun. But, this is a horror list and, like I said, we can't judge how scary something like The Thing from Another World was because we're so desensitized now. Things are so much more visceral these days. 

It's kind of like my nan saying she ran home after seeing the original Dracula and Frankenstein movies. It seems comical now but was reality then. So, the movie is fun for us - but was probably terrifying at the time. 

Me: Now, The Thing from Another World is... well, nice. It's super nice. And tame. You could let a little kid watch it now.

Jay: Well, all of the movies of that time seem really nice now. Even comparing it to The Thing, which was made nearly forty years ago now, it was tame. You could do thing in the 80s you couldn't do in the 50s and you can do things now you couldn't do in the 80s. It's just the way it goes.

Me: You mean visual effects and the like?

Jay: Yeah, but also in general. Things that were taboo then or deemed too scary to show are fine now.

With The Thing, there was a bit more effing and blinding, sure, and it was certainly more atmospheric thanks to effects, but it's more than that. It's more visceral, not as bad as some of the video nasties, maybe, but certainly more than anything from the 50s. 

Me: The remake is a whole new kind of horror. It's what we call weird horror, I guess. It's visceral but not really in a blood and guts way. I don't know if I'm explaining it right. The Thing is gross but not in a "I'm gonna throw up" way, more in a "Well, that's disturbing" way. Like, the bit with the two faces nearly merged together. Blegh.

Jay: That bit is actually really clever because they tied it into the prequel. Actually, they did a really good job tying the prequel into the The Thing. I recommend watching the prequel first, every time. It adds credibility to The Thing.

Me: You know, I forgot that the beginning of The Thing showed the space ship landing. I only remembered the helicopter and the dog. And, honestly, I'm 100% the idiot that would protect the fucking dog. 

Jay: Yeah, you and me both. 

Me: Going back to the original... I never really got why there was a whole military base up there. I mean... a science base, sure. But why this huge ass military presence?

Jay: You've got the Cold War to thank for that. In the 80s, when you were born and The Thing was made, the Cold War-

Me: Part one.

Jay: Unfortunately. But the Cold War was winding up. It was full fledged back in the 50s. Of course, you didn't have the technology so instead of a room in The Pentagon watching everything across the ocean, you needed people a lot closer. Hence the base in the middle of nowhere - but a whole lot closer to Russia. 

Me: That's a really good point. I'm glad you explained it because I didn't get it. Here's another thing... in the original, the base is perfectly tidy and everyone's enthusiastic and neat. In the remake, the base is a hot mess and all the people there are untidy and on edge. That seems more realistic to me.

Jay: It is more realistic. Drop the America-fuck-yeah from the original and you've got a bunch of people doing a shitty job because they need the money. Those kinds of jobs usually pay well because they're so horrible. You see that more in The Thing.

Me: Can we talk about the monster in The Thing from Another World?

Jay: Very Frankenstein's monster-ish, wasn't it?

Me: It was! But here's the thing that bothered me... it was spawned from a freaking plant? How does that even work? How did they come up with that?

Jay: I don't think you're supposed to know. science and technology were advancing rapidly during that time, during the Atomic Age, and I think it's just one of those wild theories that scientists were coming up with at the time. Like the theory that all of our solar system is actually inside something the size of a marble. 

Me: With how nuts the doctor goes, putting everyone else at risk, I can see how that fits in. There's an element of playing God - or a warning against it, I guess. 

Jay: And also a fear of the unknown, of what could be outside our solar system. Who's to say what an alien is or how it's made? Growing from a seed might not be outside of the realms of possibility.

Me: What about the acting in the original? It was so... I dunno, aww shucks. That's what I'm going to call it, Aww, Shucks acting.

Jay: Oh, yeah. It's dated now, with all the jolly hockey sticks.

Me: I was also thinking that it must have been tricky to film, because of all the black and white. I mean... all that snow on black and white. That couldn't have been fun. 

Jay: I think it helped that a lot of it must have been done in a studio. Just look at some of those backdrops! Obviously painted.

Me: Hah. Obviously.

That changes in the remake. It's not all black and white anymore - and I don't mean that in the literal sense. The outdoor scenes seem very blue, which makes it feel even more unsettling. 

Jay: But it's also kind of natural. Not to that extent, but you do get that blue tint. If it ever snows again, look at the mountains. You'll see that blue hue.

Me: I know you love it when I do this but I'm going to do it anyway...

In the original, there were two women and no black men. In the remake, there were two black men and no women.

Jay: I swear, you're the only one who pays attention to these things. I can actually answer that, though, at least where the women were concerned. Carpenter did a lot of research and the research showed that it was unlikely women would be up there. He did catch a lot of flack for it, but it was realistic.

Me: To be fair, I liked the woman in the original.

Jay: Let's be honest, the blonde  woman was nonentity. 

Me: Actually, yeah. I didn't even notice her until about halfway through. 

Anyway, I loved... Nikki, was it? She was cheeky. She was take charge. She gave him hell. 

Jay: She was also saying things that you'd never hear back then. Like, calling him an octopus and drinking Hendry under that table.

Me: Yes! I love that. Hendry is cool, but a lot of the other men are just as sexist as you'd expect for that time, constantly talking getting women naked and the like. Yawn.

Jay: A lot of it is due to the times. They expected a certain amount of brevity from a film at the time, to keep it from being too dark. You know, otherwise people just lose their minds.

Me: I dunno... I have a hard time believing people were quite so fragile. I mean, we'd just fought a world war and all. Maybe the folks in charge of making movies wanted to believe that, but I'm not sure it's true.

I did want to ask about one more thing, though.

Jay: Shoot.

Me: In the original, the monster is radioactive. It's not in the remake. Do you think that has anything to do with a shift in fears?

Jay: Hmmm. Probably not. I mean... it's been buried for thousands of years, right? It probably would have lost a lot of the radioactivity anyway. Maybe, though. A lot of the monsters during the 50s were radioactive and you don't get that as much anymore, I suppose.

Me: One of the reasons that I like to compare the old and new films is because you can see a change in societal fears in action. In the 50s, we were much more afraid of outsiders, that represents in a lot of alien invasions. In the 80s, in the midst of the AIDS pandemic, there's a fear of something invisible being inside us, inside people we thought we could trust. If they remade it again now, I wonder how that fear would change again?

Jay: Spray tan and bad combovers? 

Me: Eww. No movies about Trump, please!

You can see echoes of The Thing in movies like The Faculty and The Host - but also in games like Resident Evil, with... was it the Nemesis?

Jay: You mean Burkin? With the eye on his shoulder? 

Me: That's right. The remake kind of transcends the original because of that reach. Because it's still relevant.

Jay: It helps that The Thing doesn't age. There's nothing, really, to age it, except maybe the lack of technology. Other than that, it still holds up remarkably well. 

Me: So... are we giving this one to the remake?

Jay: Without a doubt. 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: Salem's Lot 1979 vs 2004

 Me: Wow. Salem's Lot. There's a lot to unpack here. Where do you want to start?

Jay: Where do you want me to start? 

Me: Um... first things first, which one's better? 


Jay: You know, I can't call that, arguing for each version for different reasons. Both the 1979 and 2004 versions are very good.

Firstly, the vampire is so much scarier in the first one. I love the Barlow vampire. That's not to say that the rest of the vampires were bad, it's just that the original had that Nosferatu thing going for it. 

Me: Hah. I was going to say the Nosferatu thing as well - but that's why I give it to Rutger Hauer's Barlow. 

Jay: Eh...

Me: Hear me out. It's like when you watch Dawn of the Dead and you know they're dead because they're blue. I don't like that. I like that Rutger Hauer could walk about in society and you'd never know. The rest of the vampires can, why not Barlow? Remake Barlow for me.

Jay: Original Barlow for me. Original vampires for me. They had those yellow eyes and it was far more effective.

Me: I have a feeling we're not going to agree on much here. I prefer the remake eyes. They had that sort of lit from inside quality. Also, it was almost kind of frosted over. You know, like frosted glass. 

Jay: Well, that's what happens to your eyes when you die, the frosted look, so that makes sense. Except Susan Norton, whose eyes turned red. 

Me: Yeah, and Marjorie Glick. Her eyes turned black, like a demon's. So there was some inconsistency there. 

Jay: This one really is hard for me to call. I mean, Salem's Lot will always have a place in my heart because of watching it as like a nine or ten-year-old. I was so excited to be allowed to stay up late to watch it - and it absolutely terrified me.

Me: Wait. I thought your Mom hated vampire films? 

Jay: Hah. She did - but it was love/hate. Kind of like the way I love zombie films but they're the only ones that still jump me. Or the way you love ghost stories, even though they make you cry. 

Me: That was one time.

Jay: I told you when it was going to be scary!

Me: Right, getting back to Salem's Lot...

Jay: We could talk about the level of stars involved, although that's pretty close too. I mean, David Soul was the hot property of 1978. 

Me: Him and his flares...

Jay: Mother will haunt you. 

Me: Sorry, sorry! Great pants. 

Jay: Like I was saying... a lot of the actors in the original Salem's Lot went on to have successful careers - but a lot of the actors in the remake did too. Remember that Salem's Lot was part of Rob Lowe's comback. But you also have Samantha Mathis, James Cromwell, Andre Braugher, and Rutger Hauer. That's not a small cast.

But it's more than just calibre of actor. Like the soundtrack, which was excellent in the first one. You also have to look at the story, which I think may have been slightly better in the remake.

Me: It felt like a fuller story, more rounded. 

Jay: Right. And it was closer to the book - like the priest, who was sort of an afterthought in the original but played a much larger role in the remake. 

Me: Here's the thing I love about the priest... at the very beginning, you've got Rob Lowe attacking him so you instantly mistrust him. All the way through, you're watching him, wondering what the hell he's up to - and he did look shifty as fuck.

Jay: You don't know if you can trust him but turns out, he's just another fallen priest, a drunk. I know I said I preferred the priest's role in the remake but, at the same time, I prefer the scene with the priest in the original.

Me: Yeah, we're we're definitely gonna have to talk about that. 

Jay: Well, in the original Salem's Lot, you've got James Mason and Barlow turning up. The master vampire turns up and smashes Mark's parents heads together, which was cool, then grabs the boy. Straker's very intense there. He's asking what the priest would do for the life of the boy. It's very powerful, that challenge to his faith.

Me: There were a couple of things happening in that scene that I liked. Okay. So, in the original I like the fact that they're sitting around talking in the lights flicker and it's that foreshadowing. Very cool. 

You don't get that in the remake, but I prefer the remake because rather than it going through his proxy, Barlow is issuing the challenge. That's the problem with the original vampire. He wasn't eloquent, couldn't because of those stupid teeth. He couldn't stand there and have the conversation himself. He had to have a proxy to do it for him. 

Jay: Here's my problem with that scene, you've got Rutger Hauer bumbling about on the ceiling. How is that scary? It makes him look stupid. That's the problem with the CGI in the remake. In places like that, it failed. I hated the way the vampires climb around on the ceilings and walls. 

Me: It struck me as being heavily influenced by things like Bram Stoker's Dracula and even Dracula 2000, same kind of movements. 

I still prefer Rutger Hauer, though, because he's not just a monster, not just this thing with fangs. He's also a person. 

Jay: I don't agree but I see where you're coming from. You know, you're talking with somebody that has probably got centuries of experience. You see that in the other faces he has when he starts to die. I like the way he challenges Mears. He says I'm not the vampire, you are.

Me: Hah. Well, as a writer, I can tell you that that's a little bit true. You take so much of everything that's happening around you and you feed it into your stories. And I think if the people around you knew half of what you took and put into your stories, they would not want to know you. 

Honestly, though? I was a little bi thrown by the ending in the remake when they kill Barlow because he starts flicking through all of the different faces that, like you said, that probably were his other lives. Then the ring falls out and... it's been like 20 years since I've read the book. So I don't remember the details, which frustrated me there. 

Anyway, so I know the remake fits the book more and I'm really glad that Rob Lowe narrates it from the book. You can hear Stephen King in it. (And I would love to have Rob Lowe narrate all of King's books.) They really needed to explain that particular scene a little, though, for those of us who've forgotten or never read it.

What about the extra bit with Susan?

Jay: What about it? 

Me: Which way did you prefer her story ending? 

Jay: The original. It makes more sense. In the remake, they just can't kill her and that's such bullshit. At least in the original they never find her. He says sorry to her as he lights the house on fire because he thinks she's there. He thinks he's killing her.  

Me: I have to agree with you there. It was dumb that they killed everyone else, including kids, but there was a chance to save her. That's lazy. 

I still give it to the remake, though, because of the hunting thing. In the original, you get the feeling that they're running. Not in the remake. In the remake, they're hunting. I like that. I also love that the orderly is stunned at this point. He stares Mark in the face and says he doesn't believe them - but he still opens that door.

Jay: Oh, he believes them. He just can't say that he does, can't admit it. It would change everything he thinks he knows about the world. 

Me: One of the biggest things that I found different between the two versions is in the original, David Soul a hundred percent believes that they're vampires and he's trying to convince everybody else in the remake. Rob Lowe's like oh come on get real and it takes a long time for him to get on board with a Vampire thing. 

Jay: No, I disagree. I think with David Soul he knows something's going on. He knows, but he's trying to keep Burke from ending up in the looney bin. He warns him to let the machinery take over to protect his image and career. That's smart. 

Me: I think this is where we have to talk about the Glick boys.

Jay: Well, for starters, they're all friends in the original. I mean, they were rehearsing at Mark's place and looking at his toys. I mean you still sees it was models in a big way in the remake. The only time they're really together in the remake is that bit in the beginning where they get kicked off the bus together, and later, when they're causing trouble. They don't seem that close, though. 

Me: What about after they become vampires?

Jay: Oh, definitely the original. They're actually scary. The way he withdraws and the fog moves with him. Very cool, very slick. 

Me: I love when he goes to his brother in the hospital, in the remake. The way he moves around the plastic curtain is very effective. Very spooky.

Jay: Why, though? I mean, it's not his property. He can just go through it! I didn't understand that. 

Me: I guess it makes sense. Typically, it doesn't have to be a house, it's any place that human sleeps. 

Jay: Ugh. The mythology of the whole entry thing with vampires always gets changed to suit whoever's writing the story. 

Me: True. That's vampires for ya. At least they don't sparkle.

Jay: Eww. Right.

Me: We've been at it for awhile. Still refuse to pick one?

Jay: I do. I can't choose. I think they both have merits and that's why I won't say I prefer one to the other. There are parts of both that I liked. I like the original Barlow best, is all I'll say.

Me: I have to take a minute here to talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Jay: Buffy? Why?

Me: Yeah. Here's why... In the Buffy movie, Rutger Hauer is the vampire and Donald Sutherland is her Watcher, right? And in the remake of Salem's Lot, Rutger Hauer is the vampire and Donald Sutherland is his minder. How perfect is that? Don't look at me like that, it's brilliant. 

Plus, I love the bit in Buffy after Benny becomes a vampire and he's at Pike's window scratching in such a fun parody of the same scene from the original Salem's Lot

Jay: Have I ever told you that I worry about you?

Me: Every day.

There was a bit in Salem's Lot that we were talking about earlier. The bit with the rocking chair?

Jay: It's one of my favourite scenes. It's so sinister. So dark and twisted. That voice when he orders the teacher to look at him. I love it.

Me: I think I prefer the remake and here's why... in the remake, he's not sinister and dark. He's confused and afraid. That hits my feels harder.

Oh, I almost forgot about Larry Crockett...

Jay: You mean about whether or not that wig needed its own acting credit?

Me: Omg, that wig. Shudder.

No, I mean how much more twisted and wrong he is in the remake. There was no need to go for the paedophilia angle. Eww. 

Jay: Agreed. It was unnecessary. You already know he's a selfish bastard because he sells the town out, when he invites the vampires in. There was no need to take it that step further. 

Me: What I do like, though, is that scene at the end when he looks over the edge of the dump and you see the vampires scavenging.

Jay: It was really clever, because they would. Eventually, they would run out of humans and turn on whatever was available, even if that meant rats. I wonder how long it took to turn on their pets? That's a disturbing thought.

Me: With Ruth Crockett, though... can I just say how much I want that necklace? 

Jay: Hah. Well, you would

I liked Dud Rogers, especially when he became a vampire. Honestly, he kind of deserved it. And which one of us wouldn't jump at the chance to have all our illnesses cured and become extremely attractive? No, don't answer. You wouldn't give the vampire a chance to offer!

Me: Cheeky. But, yeah. 

I loved Duds as a vampire! He was so cool! One of my favourite vampires in the movie.

Oh, I almost forgot Straker! Pick one!

Jay: I don't know if I can. I mean... James Mason's voice sets him apart. On the other hand, Donald Sutherland's character really relishes the evil he's getting into. They're both tremendous actors and both brought something different to the role.

Me: I thought the same thing. James Mason was a little too shifty and nervous looking for me. I loved how much fun Donald Sutherland was having. If you're gonna be evil, so big or go home, right?

Jay: Hah. Right. Plus, he's very expressive. I liked the way they ended his character, too. The fact that they found him dead and hanging suggests that Barlow punished him for screwing everything up. That's a more fitting ending.

Me: It was a nice touch. Can't argue with that.

I won't say which movie is better, because I think it's took close to call but I know which one I enjoy watching more, and that's the remake.

So...

Jay: No! I won't be drawn into which I think is better! They both stand alone perfectly. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: The Amityville Horror 1979 vs 2005

 Me: It's time to talk about Amityville. Whatcha got?

Jay: I actually watched the sequel to The Amityville Horror before I saw the first one. It's a better movie, the sequel, but the 1978 Amityville Horror was good. The sequel was definitely scarier though. There are moments in the first one, like the scene with Rod Steiger as Father Delaney, when the voice says, "Get out!" I thought, 'This has got a lot of potential,' but it never lived up to it. 

Me: The original definitely wasn't as spooky or as jumpy.

Anyway, I went to rewatch these and wow, there are so many different remakes, with so many different names! I just wanted to keep it simple for this list so I went for the two that are actually called The Amityville Horror. They're both very close to each other. 

I remember the bit you mentioned with the priest but I didn't like that scene. I thought it was a little heavy-handed with the symbolism. Yeah, pestilence, we get it. Move it along.

Right. So, the movie is about a demonic possession but it's also kind of a haunting. The comes across better in the 2005 remake, I think. You actually see the ghost of the little girl that was murdered by her father, for instance. 

Jay: Yeah, the effects in the remake were very effective.

Me: Right, and you really don't get any of that haunting across in the original. I don't know if it's because they didn't have the technology for it or just didn't think to do it.

Jay: You really only see the kids in flashbacks in the original. They didn't really dwell on it so much.

Me: Ah, flashbacks. That's one of the things I wanted to talk about. I don't like it in the beginning of the original movie where the realtor is showing them around the house and it constantly cuts to him killing everyone. It interrupts the flow of the action to show you what they've already just shown you. I really hated that. 

Jay: I know what you're saying, but I think it was to show you that this is what happened in this room.

Me: But it only just showed that five minutes ago! 

Jay: Well, yeah, but it's definitely more of a room by room account. Besides, maybe they did it for the American audience... 'cause you know- Ow!

The remake is a slicker movie. You can see the budget being put into it. 

Me: Sure, the quality is better. So are the special effects. I especially love the bit where Ryan Reynolds's George Lutz goes into the closet and you can see the hands holding the little girl ghost up to the ceiling and muffling her and she's flailing and he doesn't see your because it's just above his head. 

Jay: Yeah, it's like the ghost is fighting for help and I found that was really interesting. That ghosts can be held hostage by a demonic force. Clever.

Me: So... which movie do you think is better, the original or the remake?

Jay: It's been a little while since I've seen the remake but, still, I think it'd be unfair of me to say either movie was better. They both have merits.

Me: I can say it though, right? 

Jay: Hah. Yeah, I'll bow to your wisdom on this one.

Me: Well, in the remake, the flow was better. It moved more naturally. It was easier to watch.

Jay: I'll give you that. I thought the original was too long. There was too much bumbling about, too much stuff that they didn't need to put in - like with the money for the caterer. 

Me: Yes, and they never did come back to it. Oh my God. I cannot even begin to tell you how much unresolved things like that in a movie will drive me fucking insane.

Jay: I keep telling you, OCD.

Me: Never mind that. Let's talk about the endings. In the remake, they knock him the fuck out and drag him to the boat and all get away. In the remake, he rescues the dog and goes back to the car. At the end of both movies, they do the text over thing and explain things. They're practically identical, saying that the family left after 28 days and they never return for their belongings. I guess that's good because, you know, consistency.

Jay: I do think that the ending of the remake was better. It was more exciting - whether or not it was more accurate to what actually happened. And, honestly, I don't mind when a film who wants to embellish it if it makes it better. I think if you're going for the cinematic experience, you want it to be more exciting.

Me: Yeah, well, I know they did just leave their belongings behind and left in a hurry but I'm not sure which ending is closer to what actually happened. 

What about the characters? Take Kathy Lutz, for example. Which performance do you prefer?

Jay: I think I'd have to go with Margot Kidder. It's nothing against Melissa George, I just think Margot Kidder is the better actor.

Me: I don't know that I prefer either over the other, really, but I can tell you which George Lutz I prefer. I mean... the thing with Ryan Reynolds's performance (aside from the fact that it was Ryan Reynolds) was the fact that he did a better job of showing the way that the house was affecting him. When they left the house you can see that it eased up and when they came back to the house, it got heavier. So you could actually see the effect that the house was having on him. Whereas I don't think that James Brolin really brought that across as well. I mean... kinda hard to portray any emotion under that beard.

Jay: At least you eventually realized it was James Brolin and not Josh Brolin. 

Me: Shush, you!

Jay: And by 'realized', I mean I had to tell you.

Me: Ahem. Okay, here's a question...

Jay: Yeah? 

Me: Well, we're looking at this list of all of these different remakes and sequels and reboots and re-imaginings (more than twenty, by the way.) Tell me, what is it about the Amityville house that has captured our attention for so long? 

Jay: I think it's how we really want to know if there's something after. You know, do we just die and become nothing or do we have souls that carry on? Personally? We're all energy and energy can't be destroyed so it goes somewhere. As a society, we're drawn to movies like this because we're all dying (sorry, pun) to know what becomes of us. 

Me: For the record, if I die, I do not want to get stuck hanging around this house for eternity. 

Jay: If? 

Me: I've got too much to do to bother with all that dying crap. 

Jay: You know, you might be just ornery enough to do it, too...

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 vs 2010

 Me: I know we're starting to sound like the old broken record here but... A Nightmare on Elm Street has to go to the original, right?

Jay: Right.

Me: Because the new Freddy sucks?

Jay: Well, Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy didn't have anywhere near the charisma of Robert Englund. The new Nancy was okay - who was the original, Heather Langenkamp? 

Me: Yeah. I assume they changed Nancy's last name to Holbrook as an homage to Hal Holbrook? 

Jay: They changed it? I didn't notice. I wouldn't have thought it had anything to do with Hal Holbrook, though, since he wasn't associated with the franchise. 

In the original, Nancy's father was John Saxon, who was an excellent actor. Huh. We've met nearly all of the original cast, with the exception of Johnny Depp. 

Me: Bucket list. 

Jay: Hell, yeah. 

Anyway, I was never overly fond of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, or Wes Craven. There aren't many of his films that I thought were very good and none of them were scary. You know, he just wasn't John Carpenter or George Romero. Just not scary - and they should have been. Somebody that can attack you in your dreams, right? But I just found it more of a comedy than a horror. 

Me: I like that Craven's films have both a humorous element and a horror element. 

Jay: The problem was I found the comedy far more entertaining than the horror. They work better as comedies than horrors because they're just not that scary. Stuff that my friends found scary, I was laughing at. 

Me: Well, maybe you're just a sicko?

Jay: Hah. Probably.

Me: Anyway, in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, you know Kruger was a paedophile (because they told you) but it was a lot more explicit in the remake. They did this whole bit with him luring children away and, I dunno, I felt like it was unnecessary. We know what a paedophile is, we don't need the visual.

Jay: Don't forget the original was early 80s and, actually, we didn't really hear that word much then.

It's kind of like how we had the video nasties in the 80s - more like video snores because they were just so contrived. But, anyway, that stuff was banned then but can be shown now and stuff that was shown then wouldn't necessarily be okay to show now, like racism and stuff. 

Me: What, in relation to A Nighmare on Elm Street, are you getting at?

Jay: Well, paedophiles were around - just look at Jimmy Saville - but it was this dirty secret no one talked about. You never heard the word. So maybe the original, which couldn't have had those scenes, needed them. It would have been enlightening and scarier, actually, to see a paedophile in action back in the 80s. 

Me: I see what you mean. That it would have been better to have those scenes, which really aren't necessary anymore, in the original because the original needed them but couldn't show them because it wasn't okay to talk about then.

Jay: It's kind of a circular explanation, but yeah.

The real thing that disturbs me about A Nightmare on Elm Street, especially the original, is that they took this figure of revulsion, a damned kiddie fiddler, and made him... fun. 

Me: I'm so glad you said that because it's something that's been bugging me. It's weird that Freddy is such a funny, likable character because, hello, he's a fucking paedophile. Eww.

Jay: It really is an eww. I mean, Freddy, Jason, Michael - none of them should be heroes but we've kind of made them that. With Freddy, it's all down to Robert Englund. He brought so much charisma to the role that it's hard to hate him. 

Me: But in the remake, you've got Jackie Earle Haley and I'm sorry but there is nothing redeeming about his character. He's just gross and hateful. 

Jay: Exactly. And, in that respect, it's better. You shouldn't like him. He's a monster, literally and metaphorically. 

Me: I'll concede that the remake is more effective in that way - and only that way.

The makeup, on the other hand, is just a no. They had the technology and the special effects to actually make him look like a burn victim, rather than just an angry scrotum, but they dropped the ball. 

Jay: I think there was talk of making him look more like a burn victim but the powers-that-be changed their mind because they didn't want him to be too repulsive. I think it would have worked better, but I guess they were thinking about butts on seats. Since there's already talk of Robert Englund returning to the role, I guess they didn't get enough butts on enough seats. 

Me: Not surprising, really. 

Monday, 5 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: Pet Sematary 1989 vs 2019

 Me: Okay, let's talk about Pet Sematary

Jay: It was so well cast-

Me: Which one are we talking about? 

Jay: The 1989 one. The original.


Me: Is that your choice? 

Jay: Yeah, yeah. The remake was okay. I mean, it wasn't bad. The problem is if you haven't seen the first one the second one is great. If you have, the remake is kind of pale. The actors are okay, but the two people that give the best performances are in the original, starting with Denise Crosby as the mum.

Me: Actually, I kind of hated her character. She was so annoying. 

Jay: That's what I mean. Denise Crosby is such a brilliant actor that she can make you feel those emotions. Can make you disgusted or angry. I can't even think of who played the same character in the remake.

The other person was Jud, John Lithgow's character in the remake and Fred Gwynne in the original. 

Me: I thought John Lithgow's version was kinder, maybe more likable, but Fred Gwynne's was more powerful. 

Jay: They both gave really good performances, but for me, Fred Gwynne gave a little extra. 

Me: Actually, I thought it was kind of shitty the way that, in the original, he basically lured these people to the cemetery and told them exactly what to do. Straight up, grab the cat. In the remake, he's a bit more reticent. The dad actually starts digging but you can see Jud fighting with himself. Should he tell him? Ah, hell. He has to.

Jay: Yeah, he does tell him about the cemetery, but he says they come back wrong. It does come with a warning. 

Me: Eh... I'm going to take you to bury your daughter's cat, but it's going to come back wrong. Why would you do that? 

Jay: I dunno... I can see how losing a pet would make you desperate enough to try.

Me: Yeah, I guess I can see that. 

But, okay... 

So, here's the thing between the original and the remake. I thought the remake tried too hard. 

Jay: Yeah, it strived to outdo the original, but failed. 

Me: Like with the masks and the procession. I was like, okay, you're trying to go a little bit Wicker Man here and you really don't need to. 

Jay: The original was an emotional movie about pets that was scary. The remake was a movie about pets. That's boiling it down too much, but you get the point.  

What I'm saying is that thirty years on you can't do better? If you can't beat something in a remake, for God's sake, don't don't try. 

Don't get me wrong, I think Pet Sematary is a good remake. 

Me: Well... I thought it was at first. I liked it the first time I watched it, but then I watched it right after watching the original and then I was like, I really don't like this. 

Jay: Well, that's the problem, isn't it? Watching the two together, you see the remake for what it is, a pale imitation. 

Me: Right. But, to be fair to the remake, there were a couple of things I liked better - like with her sister. It really freaked me out, the bit with the dumbwaiter where she fell she was crammed into it at all. Shudder. I like it because I didn't like it at all. 

Jay: I don't remember that exact bit but it would really mess with my claustrophobia.

Me: Yeah, you wouldn't like that bit at all. 

I have to say I think the remake kinda wussed out by not killing the little boy, Gage. Argh. It's a difficult bit because it's a cop out but it's also clever. He's in the road you're waiting for what you know is going to happen. Then, the truck stops and it kills the girl instead. Good move or a bad move? 

Jay: I don't know. I think they just wanted to bring something different to the table. Like you say, you were expecting a boy to die. It was an interesting move - not scary, though. 

Me: Gage didn't really have the same role in the remake. He was almost a nonentity. In the original, though, he was fucking terrifying. 

Jay: Again, there's the problem. I mean, his innocence. The best part of the movie for me was always the bit where Louis, the dad, injected Gage, where he put him down.

Me: No fair! 

Jay: Exactly. He's running off, going, "No fair!" It's creepy. 

Me: It's not even just the way he spoke, it was the way he looked. He was creepy as fuck. 

Jay: I don't know if that was deliberate, but yeah, it works.

Me: This is going to sound stupid, but I even think the freaking cat was scarier in the original. 

Jay: Church. Yeah, he did look creepy. 

Me: Whereas the other one just looked feral. 

Jay: Yeah, and again, like I said, you could have done so much more with a cat in this new one because of the CGI. You could have given the thing glowing eyes if you wanted. They missed a lot of tricks.

You had the chance to do better. You had the budget, you had the actors and you blew it and you could do better. So why bother, right?

Me: I'm with you in saying that the original is the better movie but... Well, the ending is very very different. Not only do you have the daughter buried in the cemetery, she also buries her mom and her mom comes back wrong. They kill the father and the father comes back wrong. Suddenly, you've got the little boy locked in the car by himself. The house is on fire and his family is walking toward him. Great moment. 

Jay: Eh... I preferred the original, with him waiting for her to come back and kill him. I prefer the original film totally. 

Me: Well, I think the original is the better movie but the remake has a better ending. The ending is one of the only things I do like about it. It's clever and the imagery is fantastic.

It's interesting because... I'd like to know where it goes. Either of them. In the original, what happens after she kills him? Is she walking around? Do her parents find her? In the remake, you've got an entire family and you don't know what the hell they're getting up to. The possibilities are endless. 

Jay: It says something that they remake didn't do well enough to earn it the sequel where you might have found out.

Me: Oh, I don't know... I've seen Pet Sematary 2 so maybe that's not a bad thing. 

Jay: Hah. I guess neither of them really needed a sequel. It's better left to your imagination, anyway.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: Snow Beast 1977 vs 2011

Me: Snow Beast. Okay, so I know that you're going to pick the original and I'm not going to argue with you. I just want you to explain why.

Jay: It's all the monster. I mean there was no menace once you saw it, which happens right away in the remake. It was a man in a mask. A bad one. 

Also, the soundtrack was mediocre. The acting was mediocre. I'm not saying it was great, the original Snow Beast, but what it lacked in acting, it made up for in atmosphere. 

Me: There's a lot to be said about not showing the monster if you've got something that's obviously a man in a suit. It was kind of killing me the way that every time they did a close up on his feet because it looked just like the the boots you use for your Beast costume. That was kind of cringe-worthy. 

But clear something up for me. You said that the original wasn't great? 

Jay: Yeah, but despite that, it still holds up well for a monster movie that was, I presume, made-for-television.

Me: Was it? I didn't know that. 

Jay: Well, it's easy to find out. I definitely don't think it was made for a cinema release. So I think it was a made-for-tv movie, like Killdozer. Doesn't mean they weren't good, just that they didn't have the same production value.

Anyway, back in the late 70s the world went mad for things like Sasquatch and the yeti and things like the Bermuda Triangle. Snow Beast came on the heels of that. It was great, the first time we watched it. There was a heavy snowfall that year, which was a perfect time to watch it. Snow Beast frightened me but it terrified my brother. 

Me: I thought you terrified your brother. 

Jay: Well, yeah, you know, you have to have something to terrify him with, right?

Me: You're kind of evil, you know.

Anyway, so... I was just surprised to hear you say that Snow Beast wasn't that great because I thought you really loved it. 

Jay: No, I do love the film. It's a very good film even though, by today's standards, it's quite tame. 

Me: Yeah, it is kind of gentle for a horror movie. But, you're right. It did age well. I mean, obviously you've got things like the wardrobe and stuff - which actually isn't that bad for the original when you consider the fact that most of it's done in ski garb, which hasn't really changed much in forty years. 

Jay: That's what I mean. There isn't a lot (besides, like you said, wardrobe) that screams that it was made in the 70s. But, yeah, it is gentle. There's no real foul language or gore. 

You don't see guts hanging out or anything like that and the monster you only see in flashes. I mean I suppose the biggest look you have the monster properly is when he comes to the celebration and she sees it through the window and, later on, when they've hunted it down. But it would they really did keep it to just flashes of the thing. 

Me: They tried in the remake, but it didn't work. It was almost comical, the way it was always running behind people, they look behind it's gone. Over and over. It didn't work the first time but they just kept at it. 

Jay: In the remake, they also try showing things through the monsters eyes but it just wasn't menacing. Not at all. 

Me: One of the interesting things that they do on the original that they don't do in the remake is when the monster kills somebody. It doesn't really show anything, it just freezes, and flashes red, then leaves it up to you you fill in the gaps - a clever move if you don't have the money or talent to do the gore well.

Jay: Right. The only real time you see anything like gore in the original is when you see an arm hanging down with blood on it. 

I think both of the movies had the same flaw and that's-

Me: Where the fuck has it been all this time?

Jay: Yes!

Me: Like, this resort town didn't just spring up overnight. It's been there for a long time. Where the fuck has it been?!

Jay: But there's the difference with the original. I mean she's been looking at Sasquatch and stuff. If there is such a thing as a Sasquatch (and I believe there is) if it's traveling, if it's migrating, it will show up in new places. If it's not moving, there's no reason it should come into contact with humans. Or, maybe his way of moving normally has changed because of construction or human interference. 

The original wins again because it just inhabits some place that's already there. In the remake, he supposedly digs out a den - except it's a little too perfect.  

Me: Omg. So, even if the rubber monster wasn't Doctor Who worthy (and it was) his den would be because it's perfectly packed, everything is perfectly flat. Perfectly carved out. It's like wow, he's really good at that! 

Jay: And it's like seven feet high. It can walk upright just fine. That's some fine workmanship for a monster.

I understand why they tried to remake it but they didn't do it better. I don't think the budget was that big with the original, but don't think was that small either. I mean they were clever with the way they used what they had. Even though it was a made-for-television movie, the remake had better effects and graphics at its disposal but didn't use them well.

Me: Okay, so here's the question... Say that the remake had actually done a better job with the monster. Would it be a better movie? If the monster was fucking awesome to look at, would it be a better movie than the original? 

Jay: It depends if they showed it or not. That was the whole thing with the original. It was ominous because you didn't know what was stalking everyone. No image of the monster, just a growl. Maybe an arm or a leg.

The music helped with that because it was so atmospheric. 

Me: Right, you said that before and, yeah, the music wasn't scary at all. It was like something from Danny Elfman, right? 

Jay: Yeah, exactly. 

Me: On top of that, damn. The whole movie was like if Lifetime had decided to go into horror. It was a little too nice, a little too squishy. Yeah, like everybody died, except the kid and her dad and they discovered how much they really loved each other. Gag.

Jay: Huh. According to IMDb, they used the same monster suit in the remake. 

Me: No. Freaking. Way. No, just... no.

Jay: Same one. And that's the power of not showing it.

Me: Okay... So why do you think you went from the first one was all about the resort to the remake that was this weird thing about hunting for lynxes? Why do you think it changed? 

Jay: I think they were just trying to bring it up-to-date, that there was a reason to be there other than just skiing. If the budget was lower - and I expect it was - you can get away with a lot more if you're in the middle of nowhere looking for cats than you can if you're filming at an expensive ski resort. 

Me: That makes sense. It gives you a lot of forest to use and not as many indoor shots. 

The remake had more recognizable actors (like John Schneider and Jason London) and the actual film quality was better but... well, nothing else was. 

Jay: Agreed.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: Day of the Dead 1985 vs 2008

 Me: Choosing the 1985 version of Day of the Dead over the 2008 remake was kind of a no-brainer, for both of us. I think the reason for that is that it's an okay movie but a terrible remake.

Jay: It was awful, wasn't it? Especially when you consider the fact that they kept postponing it. You knew it was coming and when it finally did it was like... ugh... it was just a pile of shit. We had to wait all that time and it was not worth it. Aside from the fact that there are zombies and a couple of characters with the same names, the two movies have nothing in common. 

Me: Right. There are soldiers and zombies and... that's about it. From the second it started, it felt... I dunno... cheap? Like a b-movie. It's kind of hard because I'm not just comparing it to the 1985 film, I'm also comparing it to the remake of Dawn of the Dead, which had a cracking director and a hefty budget. You can see the difference in quality before the movie even gets going.

Jay: Yeah, you can tell that they didn't have anywhere near the budget. The movie feels so different from the remake of Dawn of the Dead because there was no continuity. It had a different company, a different director - and it did not benefit from either.

Me: Okay, so my biggest problem with the 2008 Day of the Dead is the zombies. What is up with those zombies? They don't have to die, they just change. Their flesh instantly rots. They're super fast, like the Dawn zombies, but they're also like super zombies, able to leap stupid townsfolk in a single bound. I... I just can't even with that.

Jay: There was no need for it. For any of the changes. The Dawn zombies were fast, they were terrifying. The Day of the Dead remake made unnecessary changes to something that was already perfect. I don't know if they were just trying to get away from what been done before, to do something different - but it didn't work. I didn't like it at all. Honestly, I didn't like the film at all. 

Me: Same. It just doesn't work. I know with some of the movies we've considered, it's been difficult to pick between the two. So not the case with this remake. It's so bad it's almost impossible to compare it to the original, which was a clever idea and a good story.

Jay: Yeah, at the beginning of the remake I was like, okay, we'll give it a try. As it went on, though, it just got worse. I mean... zombies firing guns? A super intelligent zombie? Come on. 

Me: I'm kind of surprised they picked Mena Suvari for the main role. 

Jay: She was awful in this. She's kind of a 50/50 actor anyway - and this was not one of the roles that worked for her. It was also a bad choice to have Ving Rhames as Captain Rhodes. Because he was such an important part of the Dawn remake, he shouldn't have been in this one if he wasn't going to carry on the role.

Let's face it, there's nothing redeeming about the Day of the Dead remake. Be honest, nothing could ever capture the atmosphere of the original. 

Me: It feels like we've kind of hit a dead end with the remake, so talk to me about the original. Of the Romero films, Night is probably my favourite but I know you prefer Day of the Dead. Why is that?

Jay: It gives you a sense of claustrophobia. You're not safe above ground but living underground is making you mad. Everything is too close. Too... lifeless. There are so few of you left. It feels so... futile. Doomed. Nothing good can come from it. 

Me: It felt like the end. What little bit of civilization is left is just falling apart. 

Jay: That was the whole point. Night was the start. Dawn... the zombies have gotten a foothold. By Day, they've more or less wiped us out. And why? All the same reasons everything is falling apart now. No one can agree. No one takes responsibility. It's Trump's America. We have a complete inability to do anything. We're the minority and we're losing fast. 

Me: Which is different from the remake. That's part of what bugged me. Say you just look at the three remakes, right? The outbreak starts in Night and spreads in Dawn... then starts again in Day. It's all out of order. It doubles back on itself, making it a horrible addition to the (then) trilogy. And I really don't want to get into how much I hated the next one in line. Land of the Dead just did not work.

Jay: It was a disappointment, for sure. Romero really should have gone with Twilight of the Dead, rather than Land, like he'd planned. Or, even Dusk. It would have rounded it off nicely. 

Me: So why didn't he? 

Jay: Money, of course. The studios wanted so much control and Romero had to make so many compromises. 

Me: Okay, but I don't want to get into the shit show that was Land of the Dead because (thankfully) they haven't remade it yet. So let's get back to comparing the two versions of Day of the Dead. How do you do that?

Jay: I don't. I mean... you can't. Maybe I'm biased because I saw it so long ago. Because I've seen it so many times over the years. Although the zombies weren't to the standard they are now, they were still good. A little too blue still, but good. Plus, it was a nice ending to the original trilogy. 

Me: I love the beginning of Day of the Dead, the 1985 version. Not the bit with the hands coming through the wall, because I thought that was dumb. I love when they land in the empty town. The way the newspaper flips up with the headline, "The Dead Walk!" And that huge ass gator moseying down the steps. It was a powerful scene.

Jay: Did you notice the gator's mouth was taped? If you look, it's the same color, but the tape is there. When the gator arrived, they couldn't believe the size of the thing but the wrangler was like, it's fine as long as its tail doesn't flick you. Bet they found that comforting! It's a hell of a moment when you see it. It doesn't care about zombies because it knows they're rotten. 

Me: So, one of the things about the remake that bugged me was Nick Cannon's Salazar. The originals and remakes up to this point all had powerful black people in main roles. Then, you get Salazar, the dopey comic relief who's there to make ghetto jokes. I hated that.

Jay: I'm glad you mentioned Terry Alexander's John because I loved his character. I mean... my favourite character will always be Joe Pilato as Rhodes - but that's because he was such a cock. Anyway... I love the bit where they're getting drunk and John tells Sarah what he thinks. That speech! 'You want to put some kind of explanation down here before you leave? Here's one as good as any you're likely to find. We're bein' punished by the Creator... Maybe He just wanted to show us He's still the Boss Man. Maybe He figure, we was gettin' too big for our britches, tryin' to figure His shit out.'

Me: I love that you know it. Also, not surprised. I have to ask... Is Terry Alexander really Caribbean?

Jay: Funny enough, he's not. He's actually from your neck of the woods, I think. They did a reunion not long ago and you hear his natural voice and it sounds weird. 

God. You know... it's terrifying to think that these films are so freaking old! When did that happen? 

Me: Hah. I think about the time we started getting old?

Jay: Old? Who's old? 

Me: Hah! Focus, old man. Back to the movies.

Jay: Right. It boils down to this: Are there better films coming out now? ...I don't think so. Better effects maybe, but not better. I think Hollywood is at an impasse. Maybe this pandemic will inspire them or give them time to think it over. Make them come up with something fresh.

Me: You've gotta hope so - just so something good comes from all this. 

Anyway... one of the big differences between the original and the remake is location. The original is cramped, isolated, while the remake is sprawling, covering an entire town.

Jay: One of the reasons the original is a far superior film. Just the location itself lends an atmosphere that you can't get when you're running around a town. The underground location was so effective that every cast member became ill during the filming of the original. You can feel it, too. You feel uncomfortable without realizing why. 

It's one of those films I saw in the pictures and came out having been on a rollercoaster ride. Does it still hold up? Yes. Are the effects that good? Yeah. Some of the acting... pretty much. Whatever you think of Romero, he was a good director. Of the three zombie films (I won't include the others,) Day of the Dead was his masterpiece. Night was good. Dawn was superb. With Day, he hit it spot on. It was nasty. Visceral. Bleak. That was the thing. You didn't really get bleak films that much at the time but Day was bleak and it worked. 

Me: We haven't really mentioned it yet but there is actually a third remake of Day of the Dead, Day of the Dead: Bloodlines from 2017 and it works a helluva lot better than that 2008 version. 

Jay: It does... but it's still doesn't compete with the original.

Me: No, but at least you can see echoes of the original. You have the bunker - although, it's in a mountain, rather than underground. You've got the scientist versus military thing going on. It's a better remake - but then it goes and blows it by having super smart, super sneaky, super fucking creepy Max. 

Jay: Yeah, he's worse than any of the zombies in the 2008 film. 

Me: And what the fuck is up with those two movies? They both have zombies that are freakishly into one of the women. A zombie isn't in love. A zombie isn't a rapist. I mean... that shit would fall off!

Jay: You've clearly thought about this too much...

Me: I'm disturbed by the social commentary. What does it say about our society that we've moved to not one, but two separate movies that sexualize women from a zombie's point-of-view?

Jay: And, on that note, I think we're done here.

Me: Okay, okay. I yield. But I'm still disturbed. 

Friday, 2 October 2020

31 Days of Horror Remakes: Dawn of the Dead 1978 vs 2004

 Me: I think we both agree that the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead is far superior to the 1978 original, so let's get right into a comparison. We'd be here all night if we started talking about what's different about the two films so tell me... what's the same?

Jay: The only real similarity is the mall. It's the only thing they have in common. Okay, there is a cop, but that's about it. 

Me: When I rewatched these two yesterday, I was struck by the different ways they start. The original drops you right in the middle of the action while the remake has this slow build up, with everything going down around Sarah Polley's Ana and her not even noticing.

Jay: I see it the other way around. The original starts slow. The pacing of the two films is very different. The first twelve minutes of the remake are just mental. Yeah, it starts a little slow, maybe, but by about five minutes in, it's at breakneck speed. 

Me: It was that first twelve minutes that sold you wasn't it?

Jay: Yeah, it was clever showing the full twelve minutes on TV. I couldn't wait to get to the cinema after that. 


Me: Okay, can we talk about how much better the soundtrack is? The soundtrack for the original was just awful. It was like something out of a cartoon in some places. The sound effects were goofy as fuck.

Jay: It wasn't that bad. Not all of it, anyway. You knew when Goblin was doing the music in the original because it was good and you knew when they used a stock track because it was awful. Goblin is atmospheric, it's moody. They only did half the soundtrack, though. I think it was because they did it for a different market but I'm not sure. 

The soundtrack for the remake is far more ominous and filled with dread. It tells you exactly what you're getting into. Although there are humorous moments, it's quite a dark film. 

Me: It really is. The 1978 version is a good watch. It's entertaining, but it didn't make me scream like a little bitch in the middle of a cinema. You really feel the horror in this horror movie.

Okay, what else?

Jay: Well, the other huge difference is the zombies. They don't lumber along, like Romero's zombies. These fuckers run. It's far more terrifying. What chance would you have?

Me: Me? Exactly none. I do not do enough cardio for that shit.

Jay: You and me both. 

Me: Like the beginning, the ending really separates the original Dawn of the Dead from the remake. The 1978 version just kind of... ends. You don't know if they're going to make it but they might. It's kind of... hopeful, I guess. 

You don't get that with the 2004 version. I love that. I love that it follows them onto the boat, their salvation, and shows just how dire their situation really is. The island they ended up on actually kind of made me think of Zombie Flesh Eaters...

Jay: It reminded me of Day of the Dead

You're right, though. The ending of the original is that off-into-the-sunset thing. The same can't be said of the remake because it ends on screaming, with gunfire. You have to think they met their end. They're out of food, they're out of water... it doesn't look good. 

That's the real pity with the remake, there was no sequel. There was some talk of it and I would have loved it, to know where they went from that island. 

Me: I would have loved that too. It would have been perfect, too, because it would have linked it back to the Zombie Flesh Eaters movies, because that was supposed to be a sequel to Dawn of the Dead, right? 

Jay: Right. Kind of. It was even called Zombie 2 in America - that's what it was called in Europe. The Zombie Flesh Eaters sequels weren't great and they didn't really have anything to do with the first one so it's not a perfect comparison.

Me: Okay, I have to say it. The zombie makeup was embarrassing in the original! It was like little kids dressing up for Halloween...

Jay: Well, yeah. I mean... you're talking 1978. Savini was still a new kid on the block. There are some good effects, like when they're ripping chunks of flesh off. Some work but a lot don't. The zombies were just... kind of greyish blue. Even by the time Day of the Dead came, and the zombies were much more to what you thought they'd be, like the rotting cadavers they were supposed to be - but they had a long way to go.

The zombies in the remake were fucking awesome. They were so realistic. It became a very visceral movie, especially if you watch the extended version. There's a lot more of the headshots and the blood and the gore. They'd actually toned it down for the rating. There are also more scenes. 

Me: I'm glad that you brought that up. The DVD (and, I assume, the Blu-ray) had so many extras that it became extremely immersive. It became more of an experience than a film. What are your thoughts?

Jay: I love the extras. It's good because you find out more about Andy and what happens to him. Some of it's pretty hard to watch.

The best part was the bit with Richard Biggs from Babylon 5 as the newscaster. It was tremendous because... it's like it's actually being reported on. 

Me: In that bit, I love the way he becomes more and more dishevelled as it goes on. But, it's also important because it counts the hours and shows how rapidly the virus spread. The whole damned world went to hell in a single day. Scary.

Jay: You feel it a lot more now, because of the pandemic. Current events make it feel so much more...

Me: Real. Like the jackass plugging his book in the middle of a disaster.

Jay: Exactly. And as the report wraps up, you get the message from the president, voiced by Bruce Boxleitner, also from Babylon 5. I don't know if someone had connections with Babylon 5 but it was a nice touch. 

Me: I was wondering that as well. I was actually going to ask you.

Jay: I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised. 

The extras are good and I definitely recommend watching them. You don't have to have them for the effect, though. Straight away, during the opening credits, you get a sense of how global it's become. You get the flashes from around the world. In the original, it focused on America. It was an American problem. But, in the remake, it affected everyone. 

Me: Because, obviously, it would. I wonder if that signals a change in the way we think? As a society, we really do think on a more global scale than we did back in the 70s. We're still working on the whole world-not-revolving-around-America thing, though.

Jay: It is a more global society, you have the internet to thank for that. More and more so now. 

Me: Right. It's interesting to think about how the movie would have changed if it had been remade now, instead of nearly twenty years ago. 

Jay: Don't even say it. This is one movie they don't need to remake. 

Me: Hah. True. 

Since we're talking about society, you know what I'm going to talk about next...

Jay: Racism?

Me: Absolutely. The original isn't heavily racist but it's there. I cringed when Gaylen Ross's Francine asked Ken Foree's Peter if he was leaving behind "real brothers or street brothers." Gah. 

It was interesting, though, that you still have a black cop in the remake (Ving Rhames's Kenneth) but, instead of the racism being turned on him, he turns it against Mekhi Phifer's Andre. He doesn't know the first thing about Andre, but Kenneth starts going at him about being a criminal, right from the start. It kind of made me think of those black cops and politicians who turn against other black people to get ahead, just for a pat on the head from white people. 

Jay: I dunno... you might be reading a little too much into it there. I don't know if what you see as racism is even deliberate. The thing is... the issue is confused because they're both black. I think Kenneth definitely sees Andre as a scumbag but... because he's black? I couldn't say.

And the worst scumbag in the whole movie is Ty Burrell's Steve. 

Me: Omg, that prick! He was just hateful.

Jay: Hah. He really is. From the moment Steve comes into it, with his sarcasm, you know he's the dickhead of the film. There's always one. He was my least favourite character in the movie, the one you were supposed to hate. 

Me: And I did.

It strikes me that the cast of the original is quite small and the cast of the remake is freaking huge.

Jay: It was a large cast. There were some characters that weren't in it enough and some that were throwaway. I would have liked to have seen more of... was it Tucker? He could have been funny. And the gay guy (Was it Glen?) the way he tortured the security guards was great. 

Each character had a purpose, Even Andy. That was the great thing with the DVD. It gave you so much more. I suppose it's just time. You can have all these extras because of the technology - something that wasn't available for the original. Although... there were three cuts. 

The American cut, The European cut, and the extended cut. The extended cut was a lot more visceral. There were bits that had to be cut out for certain markets. That bit with the other cops wasn't included, for example. It was quite a long film for the time, remember. They didn't like long movies as much then. 

Me: I know we've talked before about how shocking the zombie kids were in the 1978 Dawn of the Dead because at the time you just didn't fuck with kids. Well, the 2004 version starts with zombie kids and works its way up to zombie freaking baby! Why the change? Has society lost its reverence for children? Do we see them as somehow less innocent now?

Jay: Or is it a case of... well, by 2004, zombies had kind of been done to death. They had to have something shocking, something new to keep people interested. So... zombie baby. 

One of the things that makes the 2004 version exceptional is the zombies. They ignored Romero's lumbering zombies and went to the fast zombies. Unless they're in huge numbers, the Romero zombies aren't really that scary. The new zombies run after you. You've got no chance. 

Me: There are cameos in the remake from a couple of the original actors, aren't there?

Jay: Yeah, it was nice they had Ken Foree and Scott H. Reiniger. They couldn't get the other two, though. I don't think they could find them. As a result, if you look at the shops in the mall, there's one called the Gaylen Ross.

Me: I didn't notice that. It's a nice touch. Honestly, though? I hated Francine. Just another whiny bitch who couldn't do anything without a man holding her hand. She didn't deserve to survive to the end. 

Jay: Harsh. She wasn't as bad as Barbara in the original Night of the Living Dead movie but she was wishy washy. Sarah Polley's character was much more aggressive, much more leave-it-to-me-and-I'll-do-it. You saw it with Steve, when she kept her promise to shoot him. 

That's how films have changed. It's like the truck driver, Jayne Eastwood's Norma. She saved that big group of people. She's driving with the gun, blowing zombies away and getting them to safety. Even when Andre's shooting her, she manages to take him out. 

By the time the remake came along, women were finally seen as stronger. They've had to fight tooth and claw to make it happen, but it's happened. That damsel-in-distress thing isn't realistic anymore. Women are leaders. Society has changed - and rightfully so. 

Me: I think that's one of my favourite parts about revisiting these movies, seeing how far we've come. (Even if it makes me a little crazy watching how far we've had to come.) 

Since we've started with Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, I don't suppose our next pick will be much of a surprise... 

Jay: No, I don't suppose it will. 

Waiting For...