If they're going to remake a movie...

For the discussion of Movies, Television, Comics, and other existential distractions.

Moderator: Moderator

Donald Petersen
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:53 pm
Location: Pasadena, CA

Postby Donald Petersen » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:26 pm

robochrist wrote:If I were to give the Godzilla remake a generous 2 stars, I'd STILL be giving the former a "BOMB" rating.


I'm with you. Awful as it was, I was at least momentarily entertained while sitting through Godzilla. But then, I was prepared to be a very easy audience for that one.

But throughout The Haunting, I became filled with an uninterruptedly growing desire to get my money and time back.

I tellya, though, I really do like the 1982 version of The Thing much more than the Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks version, if only because it hews much closer to Campbell's excellent little story. Plus it has an incredibly talented cast. I think it's Carpenter's best work by far.

This might be the only SF remake I can think of that surpasses its original, however. Of course, we have yet to see whether the new Land Of The Lost works or not! :lol:

User avatar
robochrist
Posts: 3426
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:30 pm

Postby robochrist » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:05 pm

"This might be the only SF remake I can think of that surpasses its original, however."

I don't think your devotion to Carpenters flick will provoke a lynch mob here, but I suppose you know there's a MASSIVE crowd out there who'd fight you to the end on that one.

The Thing remake would have held out better if Carpenter weren't ultimately such a hack. (He has a rep for coming up with good ideas but rarely knows how to do them full justice)

I mostly had trouble with the stupid-ass characters in his movie. They all act and sound like frat boys. The original holds to an intelligent tone throughout.

While I always felt the original was a TAD overrated (I always thought THEM, for instance, to be superior as a film), it holds its status as a classic for good reason.

Carpenter's has MOMENTS. The ending, I feel, is by far its STRONGEST moment. But overall, it gets pretty damn trashy. It may get closer to the original story, but that doesn't mean it did the story justice. Look at the first version of I Am Legend, "Last Man On Earth". THAT movie comes closest to its source but it's the WORST!

For the record, the Carpenter movie that works best for me, other than Halloween, is THEY LIVE. It sticks to its humor best, and takes itself less seriously.

Tony Rabig
Posts: 230
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 4:44 pm
Location: Parsons, KS

Postby Tony Rabig » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:19 pm

While it's true that Carpenter's remake of The Thing sticks closer to Campbell's original story, and that it has a terrific cast, the remake just doesn't do it for me the way the original does.

The original's actors weren't bad either, and the dialog throughout was a joy -- it actually sounds like intelligent adults talking. (And if they had to put in a female lead, they could have done a LOT worse than Margaret Sheridan, whose scenes with Kenneth Tobey are delightful).

And the scene on the plane where the crewmen discuss the directive regarding UFOs cracks me up every time I see it.

The remake gives us a gruesome horror story closer to its source material; the original gives us a 1950s monster movie made for grownups. They have little in common save their source in Campbell's story, and approach it so differently that they don't really seem like two versions of the same movie at all.

Bests to all,
--tr

User avatar
Steve Evil
Posts: 3519
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2004 3:22 pm
Location: Some Cave in Kanata
Contact:

Postby Steve Evil » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:01 pm

It's because I am such a huge Godzilla fan that Emerich's film made me want to send him a mail bomb. Japanese monster movies have a pretty idiot-proof formula; Emmerich proved to be an even greater idiot. If he really wanted to make a movie about a giant misshapen chicken running around New York, he should have just called it that and not blasphemed Big G's name. Among fans, that one is simply known as " 'zilla" having taken God out of the equation.

And don't go callin' Carpenter a hack. Whatever else he might be, he ain't no hack. At least he's got ideas, which is more than most commercial filmakers nowadays (ESPECIALLY those working in the horror genre.)

Donald Petersen
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:53 pm
Location: Pasadena, CA

Postby Donald Petersen » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:26 pm

robochrist wrote:I don't think your devotion to Carpenters flick will provoke a lynch mob here, but I suppose you know there's a MASSIVE crowd out there who'd fight you to the end on that one.


Oh, sure. I know The Thing From Another World has its devoted fans, just as I know Carpenter has his detractors. FWIW, I don't love (or even like) much of Carpenter's work, but I enjoyed his work with Kurt Russell (it may have helped that I was a yogurt-headed kid at the time) and I really liked They Live as well. But I also liked Vampires. Make of that what you will. Dark Star (especially) and Halloween didn't really do it for me.

The Thing remake would have held out better if Carpenter weren't ultimately such a hack. (He has a rep for coming up with good ideas but rarely knows how to do them full justice)


Both of the Escape From... movies are examples of this. What wasted opportunities!

I mostly had trouble with the stupid-ass characters in his movie. They all act and sound like frat boys. The original holds to an intelligent tone throughout.


I dug the characters. I didn't necessarily think it believable that an Antarctic outpost could be populated by four scientists, two tightasses and six burnouts, but I liked their slovenly testosterone-fueled bullshit and how it believably turned into paranoia. Though fully half the cast seems misplaced in a scientific research facility, there was that frontier sensibility about the whole situation (neatly encapsulated in Macready's beard and Yosemite Sam flying hat) that made their laid-back no-girls-allowed treehouse vibe work for me.

While I always felt the original was a TAD overrated (I always thought THEM, for instance, to be superior as a film), it holds its status as a classic for good reason.


It's fine, no question. But I like Carpenter's better. I think the paranoia works better in it, and I definitely think it has aged better. The original feels a bit creaky to me, while the 1982 one feels almost like it could have been made last week. The small amount of stop-motion at the end, Macready's chess computer and Blair's computer-analysis of the "virus" are the only bits that date the film, IMHO. (Compare that to the barely-older Escape From New York, which looked dated in 1986, let alone 1997 or today.)

(And I agree: THEM! is superior to both.)

Carpenter's has MOMENTS. The ending, I feel, is by far its STRONGEST moment. But overall, it gets pretty damn trashy. It may get closer to the original story, but that doesn't mean it did the story justice.


Well, I disagree. My first encounter with "Who Goes There?" was in a paperback comic reprint collection entitled Questar, which I gather from my half-assed internet research of two minutes ago was a 1977 collection of Starstream comic adaptations of classic SF stories (I remember the book also contained a comic version of Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe."). One can see the cover here:

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/b ... 840948%201

I couldn't have been more than eight years old, and the very concept of the story gave me nightmares. I didn't read the actual short story until years later... I actually have it on a piece of cardstock which was a publicity-kit item for Carpenter's movie. I do think the 1982 movie does the story justice, though as you say, there are many who disagree.

Look at the first version of I Am Legend, "Last Man On Earth". THAT movie comes closest to its source but it's the WORST!

For the record, the Carpenter movie that works best for me, other than Halloween, is THEY LIVE. It sticks to its humor best, and takes itself less seriously.


Well, that's certainly true. Carpenter does have a bad habit of coming across as self-important, and They Live is refreshingly goofy.

User avatar
robochrist
Posts: 3426
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:30 pm

Postby robochrist » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:51 pm

Steve,

I'm not trying to rattle your fan base...well maybe I AM...but I've seen NEARLY every movie by Carpenter, and it's the FACT that he comes up with good ideas and then makes garbage out of them defines exactly what a "hack" means to me.

It's one thing when a guy has no ideas.

That's your "alpha hack".

Then you have guys who come up with ace ideas, but just haven't the skill to realize their full potential.

Time and time again, I've seen Carpenter meet that second definition.

I AM with you, however, completely, about the original Godzilla from the early 50's - which approached its material with a documentary feel, and presents that poignant character arc with the Oppenheimer figure.

**Now, to wrap up the Thing debate with a bow and ribbon, no matter HOW you dice it, I basically hate Carpenter's movie - beyond its camp value. It DOES have some good moments. But, for me, too much of it is simply stupid. (And since the arctic is a CONSISTENT outpost for scientific research - and HAS been for decades - it makes LOTS of sense that the base would be mainly occupied by researchers, with normally level heads - accompanied by SOME military personnel; such a combination, in fact, provides some intriguing potential for character development.)

BTW, Carpenter, by his own admission, has trouble with how to handle the THIRD act. As I'd come to view so many of his movies I'd come to agree with him completely. It's a huge weakness he's rarely overcome.

User avatar
Ben W.
Posts: 443
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:07 pm

Postby Ben W. » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:55 am

robochrist wrote:Carpenter's has MOMENTS. The ending, I feel, is by far its STRONGEST moment. But overall, it gets pretty damn trashy. It may get closer to the original story, but that doesn't mean it did the story justice. Look at the first version of I Am Legend, "Last Man On Earth". THAT movie comes closest to its source but it's the WORST!


Uuuuuuuuuh....no. No, it isn't. The Vincent Price version might be clunky at times, but it's the only adaptation so far to accurately nail the atmosphere of lonesome desolation from Matheson's book. I for one feel Price gave the performance of his career, despite accusations from the majority of critics of being miscast in the part.

In stark contrast, the third act of the Will Smith vehicle makes the cheesiest moments from THE LAST MAN ON EARTH look like cinematic gold.

User avatar
robochrist
Posts: 3426
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:30 pm

Postby robochrist » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:25 am

I didn't see the Will Smith version, nor WILL I.

But the constraints on the Vincent Price version show throughout the whole thing, regardless of its source. And I don't care for the directing.

Matheson didn't like it. There are 2 sources where his opinions about it are printed: Outre Magazine (when it was OUT) and Mike Nichols' Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

I actually DID have a better time with the Omega Man than I did with the Price outing. I don't know WHY - apart from being a Ron Grainer fan. Possibly because I'd been exposed to it on the tube since I was a kid, and my expectations from it weren't high. It's semi-high camp. (I better watch it or I'll have gays chasing me soon!)

I was REALLY disappointed when I saw the only version that followed the book.

It IS definitely ONE of THE most frustrating issues for me, because I really love Matheson's novel, man!

User avatar
Ezra Lb.
Posts: 4547
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:02 am
Location: Washington, DC

Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:58 am

Interesting discussion.

I don't hate Carpenter I'm just not sympathetic to his approach. Instead of having the goat entrails spilt into my lap I prefer the icy fingers touching the back of my neck. I'm from the Val Lewton/Hitchcock side of town, ya dig?

That said the Carpenter movie that I do love because it goes against the grain of his usual methods is THE FOG. From dear old John Houseman's ghost story at the beginning through the lonely shots of the hissing ocean the movie is a genuine creepfest. They kept the story simple, nothing fancy, and for once, for me anyway it worked. (I hear there has been a remake but I'm not interested.)

Also, endings are important. THE MIST was a great movie but how you respond to it is directly related to what you thought of the ending. I didn't think the Will Smith update of I AM LEGEND was half bad up until the ending which made me want to stuff puppy dogs into a citrus juicer. Same thing with Soderburgh's SOLARIS.

As far as remakes in general you can see the calculation made by the chuckleheads that have the power in Hollywood pretty clearly. Why take a chance on a new gamble when you can regurgitate classics with a built in baby boomer audience who'll apparently line up for anything that reminds them of their long lost youth?

And finally, on the theory that a word to the wise is sufficient...

Go See CORALINE! In 3D! With as many kids as can be stuffed into your paddywagon.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Donald Petersen
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:53 pm
Location: Pasadena, CA

Postby Donald Petersen » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:33 pm

robochrist wrote: I basically hate Carpenter's movie - beyond its camp value. It DOES have some good moments. But, for me, too much of it is simply stupid.


I obviously disagree. I don't think it's the most cerebral horror flick out there, but I don't think it aims to be, either. There was the potential for Carpenter to take an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-esque approach where the infiltration of the Thing could have been a metaphor for your garden-variety 1950's creeping Fifth-Column paranoia, but it always seemed to me that Carpenter just set out for a more visceral (literally, with Rob Bottin's genuinely revolting work) straightforward horror approach. I think it works quite well if you don't look for any subtext or deep meaning.

But then again: I am the guy looking forward to the new Land of the Lost, and thus my opinions are immediately suspect. :wink:

(And since the arctic is a CONSISTENT outpost for scientific research - and HAS been for decades - it makes LOTS of sense that the base would be mainly occupied by researchers, with normally level heads - accompanied by SOME military personnel; such a combination, in fact, provides some intriguing potential for character development.)


Yeah. And that's what bugs me (a little) about the 1982 version. Palmer, Nauls, Windows, Clark and Macready (and to a lesser extent Fuchs) strike me as a larger contingent of eccentrics than I'd expect to see in a research outpost with a staff of twelve. But what do I know? I think I've read somewhere that the denizens of McMurdo who would stay through the winter included some very odd ducks indeed.

BTW, Carpenter, by his own admission, has trouble with how to handle the THIRD act. As I'd come to view so many of his movies I'd come to agree with him completely. It's a huge weakness he's rarely overcome.


Rarely indeed. And I also have a bit of a potato chip up my ass about his insistence on giving himself a possessory credit. "John Carpenter's The Thing." "John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars." "John Carpenter's The Fog." (Another disappointment!) I think he's done that for himself on nearly everything but Memoirs of an Invisible Man, which apparently wasn't good enough for him to claim ownership.

Donald Petersen
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:53 pm
Location: Pasadena, CA

Postby Donald Petersen » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:55 pm

Heh... one last Carpenter tidbit. I found this quote on his IMDb bio page:

"In France, I'm an auteur; in Germany, a filmmaker; in Britain; a genre film director; and, in the USA, a bum."

User avatar
David Loftus
Posts: 3182
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2004 2:15 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Postby David Loftus » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:23 pm

I always loved Carpenter's "Thing." I thought it was a hoot and a half. I didn't find the characters outlandish, because it takes certain kinds of people to do such isolated work, they'd been out there a long time, and when things start going wrong it's a bad spot to be in.

But then, I'm not an SF or horror fan.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

reddragon70
Posts: 516
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:06 am

Postby reddragon70 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:57 pm

Right there with you on The Thing. Carpenter did a great job on that remake. Partly becuase he understood the original short story "Who Goes There?" but mostly because he just knew (at that time anyway) how to make a damned good movie. I know Harlan isnt a fan of it but hey we are allowed to disagree. Unless its with Harlan and you are prepared for the flak.

The shape changer that imitates a life form perfectly was excellent. SO perfect in fact that it copied a victims heart condition.... Bloody genius

User avatar
robochrist
Posts: 3426
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:30 pm

Postby robochrist » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:05 am

Ezra basically summed it up for ME.

cynic
Posts: 2684
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 3:55 am
Location: chicago

Postby cynic » Fri Feb 20, 2009 5:08 pm

mr.s robo and petersen,
i'll have to see THEM again. i enjoyed it the 2 or 3 times i saw it,but wouldn't have put it above the original THING FROM...

http://www.classiccinemaonline.com/cine ... /them.html
i hope to see it this weekend,

what would you suggest i consider while viewing?

i will,of course review the original "THING...",i think i came across it on the net somewheres.

follow your bliss,mike


Return to “Pop Culture”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests