I do not consider myself a movie expert by any means. I have in my spare time casually criticized, debated, contemplated movies for leisure, for purpose and amongst friends. As many times these arguments come up as redundant, that we have no control when those in Hollywood are in the driver’s seat, it’s hard to resist touching upon them. When it comes to enjoying a movie, being picky isn’t such a terrible thing.
There are those films, those dumb movies where the film skeptically should have not been made, but deliver a story “compelling” (notice the quotes) enough to keep in our movie collections. I am guilty of a handful of them.
The remake of House on Haunted Hill (1999) was showcased on Starz movie notwork a couple days ago. Since I have not seen the film in a long while, by choice, I decided to record it…by choice. This film debuted 40 years after the original with the late great Vincent Price. Not only is this film a bore, but my decision to sit through it again has aggravated me enough to write, expressing my grievances toward current film making. I have three of them in particular: remakes, sequels/prequels in general and in regard to remakes, and the use of special effects.
In the remake, I enjoy an aspect at the beginning involving the mysterious force behind choosing the guest list. I am an avid fan of the unknown. I am largely a fan of not explaining the unknown. Sometimes revalations for an explanation can ruin suspense. I would rather not know anything than be disappointed when the metaphorical man behind the curtain is revealed. Although, not revealing a proper explanation is frustrating: ignorance is bliss.
Geoffrey Rush, a fine actor in my opinion, opted to play a Vincent Price ripoff. Lesson learned: you cannot mimic a Price character, nor try to look like the late actor while playing said character. The names have switches from Loren to the we’re-trying-too-hard Price. Also, reflecting upon the previous paragraph, Rush’s Price states, “I’m sure the unexplainable probably will explain Herself before too long.” There is no point in using the unknown when it’s pointed out to eventually be revealed.
“Playboy kills wife with champagne cork,” a phrase uttered by Vincent, is a fitting line. It tops the remake with itself. His nonchalant utterances about death and macabre throughout the film cannot be comparable.
Let’s not forget we have the dark horse of the film, Chris Kattan. The Saturday Night Live alum plays a role as himself trying to be funny. His role, Watson Pritchett is most similar to the original Watson Pritchard, played by Elisha Cook. Even if Cook’s lines are poorly read, if that was the approach he wished to use, his representation of his Watson is applaudably creepy. Who randomly pulls out a hidden knife, flashing it to those around him, and gets away with saying:
“This is what she used on my brother and her sister, hacked them to pieces. We found parts of their bodies all over the house, in places you wouldn’t think. A funny thing is the heads have never been found, hands and feet and things like that, but no heads.”
If a something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Hollywood seems to love remaking movies. Why? I don’t know. The hubris of some writers, directors, producers, etc. wanting to make something better and modern gets in the way, watering down, and potentially ruining the originality of the first. The desire to make sequels and prequels also get in the way. The prequels follow the same format as unnecessary sequels, barely focusing on preceding moments and fail at explanations leading up to the “present installment” made years before. People buy into it and come out seemingly disappointed more often than not.
The reintroduction to the Hulk and Superman a few years back proved to be awful. The reboot of The Incredible Hulk (2008), starring Ed Norton, proved to be the better movie and (thankfully) not as long as Hulk (2003). Superman Returns (2006) did not do as well as expected and will be rebooted with Christopher Nolan taking the reins. He fixed the failed Batman franchise, so this will (hopefully) be the best decision. Spiderman’s franchise is in the same list of quick-fixes.
Why keep making sequels? I can understand wanting to continue a story, but why be so quick about it? Wait a few years, develop a good story, and then roll with it. Whatever happened to making quality? Quantity has nothing to do with anything. You can continue a story and not be careless with it. Why continue a story when it parallels the previous films? I am a fan of horror movies, but the slasher films kill me–pun deliberately intended. I own all the firsts. There is no need to make more and more. The films are not making much more revenue than cost to make the film. Jackie Earle Haley, although a better actor, cannot beat Robert Englund’s portrayal.
Then same goes with the parody movies. Why? We get it. Films can be parodied. The Wayans brothers were effective with Scary Movie (2000) and a tad bit less with Scary Movie 2 (2001). Next thing you know, everyone wants to jump on the band wagon, creating garbage.
Zombie movies, however, are excluded. Each zombie flick is a different interpretation of the whole zombie world. You have to try very hard to screw that subgenre up. George Romero is a genius. Thank you, sir.
Finally, before I get too carried away–I have already–the use of CGI is ruining films. The dinosaurs of Jurassic Park (1993) are far more realistic and scarier than some of the special effects today. The wolves in The Day After Tomorrow (2004) were terrible. I watched Frozen (2010) yesterday–I give 2.5 out of 5–and those wolves were realistic.
Animitronics, dummies, puppets and even explosions have been replaced with computer-generated imaging and a lot of it looks tacky. I am unconvinced with many of the movies. I know Hulk from the television series is cheesey, but the moving mouths of the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are more realistic than a misplaced rendered image moving though walls, moving objects, etc. The old style of scary is so much more comparing than a digital ghost, except Slimer from the Ghostbuster movies. At least he has texture and you can see through him.
I understand time is money and money is time. Wishing the big heads in Hollywood to take their time and not produce/reproduce crap isn’t too much to ask, is it?
I play with words and invisible objects.
A mind, a pen and a piece paper have the best relationship ever.
"Remember this--if you shut your mouth, you have your choice."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald