With the arrival of the less-then-stellar update of the Tom Holland classic "Fright Night 3D" hitting theaters this week, we felt somewhat inspired to sink our own Starpulse film fangs into some equally frightful follow-up flops. Flicks so bad, so crappy and so obviously a ploy to rape the movie-goer of every penny that even the top studio execs still feel a tad dirty from the fallout. (Or maybe not!) So listen up all you cinema slackers out there (yes, even reported "Oldboy" remake filmmakers Steven Spielberg to Spike Lee – shame on all of you!) because below is a hard lesson on why certain films should be left alone. Run out of ideas? Looking for an instant cash cow? Buy a lottery ticket you idea barren bastards and for reference feast your eyes on our glaringly horrible list of the...Top Ten Worst Remakes Ever. (Plus there's one so personally foul it gets it's own category afterwards!)
10. "The Last House on the Left"
I remember asking Wes Craven after the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes" if there was a film that he would not want to see re-done, something too personal like maybe his first film "The Last House on the Left?" His response – it was already in production. And so went the original’s topical timing (it was a perfect wake-up call for the year 1972 – not so much for 2009!), shocking behavior (the original was wide-awake with unbridled viciousness – the remake could have come with a pillow!) and whole reason for parental vengeance (the tortured girls died in the original and gave reason to angry mom and dad – the remake parents conveniently were 'trying to save their little girl!') into one shallow grave just so the shameless folks over at Rogue Pictures could make a few bucks on House’s cult status back. (And that completely out of place Tony Goldwyn scene tacked on the end didn’t make it better boys!) If this was the last house, left or otherwise, I would say consider me homeless –and proud of it.
9. "The Day the Earth Stood Still"
Matching the acting skills of original 1951 Klaatu Michael Rennie with 2008 counterpart Keanu “Chain Reaction” Reeves is like comparing Dom Perignon to Cold Duck. But add to that some seriously sad CGI, a gamey Gort (even the obvious man-in-suit original was far superior to the unspectacular effects driven remake bot!) and an unmemorable supporting cast (did Jennifer Connelly just need cash?) and you’ve got yet another abominable Christmas release that at least managed to make it to the top of one list – Santa’s naught one.
Is it just me or did once amazing "Die Hard" and "Predator" director John McTiernan completely miss the whole political overtones boat when he badly steered this titanic sized follow-up flop? As remade from the Norman Jewison directed, James Caan starring flick that cleverly pumped in as much social commentary as it did roller action, the normally accomplished McTiernan unfortunately went the studio way and chocked his embarrassment-on-wheels so full of flash, fluff and flat performances that even Michael Bay was laughing. The title for this mess is no accident - after watching it you want to roll up into a ball, die and still ask McTiernan and MGM for your eight bucks back post-mortem.
7. "Pure Luck"
The original upon which the dreadful "Pure Luck" is based is a funny little five-star French flick called "La Chèvre" (Translation – The Goat!) starring straight man Gerard Depardieu and Stooge-like wacko Pierre 'wild hair' David. The clever foreign laughs and performances were then replaced in 1991 with crappy American sight gags and B-actors Martin 'Ed Grimley' Short and Danny "Operation Dumbo Drop" Glover to prove to our overseas friends that even the most uproarious ideas can be royally mucked up. Luck is not how I would describe a floating turd like this – it’s purely a case of someone forgetting to flush.
6. "The Fog"
Mood, mayhem and music were always key to what made filmmaker John Carpenter’s early work so memorable, especially in the case of "The Fog." With its eerie vibe (what’s actually in the fog folks?), cool cast (Barbeau, Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis – kiss the cook!) and flawless filmmaking (Carpenter never met a scare he couldn’t make better!), "The Fog" was elevated from what could have been just another ABC Movie of the Week. But take away all the tasty trimmings, add some bad actors (Tom Welling?!?!) and give it a PG-13 tone-down teen twist and you’ve got a flick proud of filling in that empty two-hour network spot. Even the gentlest gorillas in this mist would have welcomed extinction.
5. "Assault on Precinct 13"
Screenwriter James DeMonaco, Director Jean-Francois Richet and the remake happy people at Rogue give the term lazy fat a$$ (did Hollywood really run out of ideas or were these folks just that damn lazy?) a whole new meaning by gutting all the goodies of the John Carpenter, Howard Hawks inspired original film (Carpenter + Cash apparently equals do and take anything you want!) and leaving a barren base that wasn’t all that impressive to start with. (An understaffed police station under siege – so original!) The cast stinks (Hawke may shine in "Before Sunrise," but he’s no Austin Stocker!), the bad guy licks (Laurence Fishburne vs. Darwin Joston – guess where my money’s going!) and the direction blows (why the hell did helmer Richet save all his tricks for the awesome "Mesrine" three years later?!) and frankly I’m being diplomatic here. Forget the precinct house – this one needed to be taken out back for an old-fashioned assault and battery session.
4. "The Hitcher"
Third times a charm on this list for the - surprise, surprise - Rogue (do I sense a company trend here!?) distributed re-vamp that has no idea why the original film was such a lingering viscous victor in the first place. Yes, the story was interesting. Absolutely, up-and-coming kids C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh brought home some good old-fashioned peril. But it was the out-of-control work by a seemingly insane Rutger "Hobo With a Shotgun" Hauer that gave "The Hitcher" its ample thumb action. And while Sean Bean may have originally been a unique casting choice, the talented actor is given nothing good to do (his menace seems mundane!), forced to battle crappy foes (Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton are the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez "Gigli" couple of horror flicks!) and under the broken wing of music video director Dave Meyers is made to go style over substance – Hauer wouldn’t have that.
3. "Point of No Return"
What pencil-pushing a$$ clown thought of the slick and thoughtful direction of Luc Besson and came up with the American equivalent of...John Badham?! Oh right, the man behind the likes of "Short Circuit" and "Bird on a Wire" is a natural fit for a dark story of a troubled girl who is turned into a refined assassin. (Didn’t Rosie O’Donnell touch on this in her multi-faceted role in Badham’s "Another Stakeout?!") His casting choices (Bridget Fonda is much deeper then Anne Parillaud – NOT!) and slick direction (love those copied Besson action sequences!) alone proves that sequel or not, Badham is the right man for the job – if the job is tainting a tasty flick.
Unfortunately Christopher Nolan’s (yes, he of "The Dark Knight," "Memento" and "Inception") only misstep, in a career littered with successful leaps, is this never spoken of retelling of an astonishing Norwegian flick that simply bends over and takes it for Hollywood on every level. From the big name casting (layered work by Stellan Skarsgard and Bjorn Floberg is replaced here by on-note wonders Al Pacino and Robin Williams!) to the changed 'happy and just ending' (no way Nolan wrote this sh!t!) everything about this outing screams sellout. Not to lose sleep though – with work that followed Nolan has certainly made amends.
Let me preface this by saying I’m a huge Gus Van Sant fan ("Paranoid Park" is in my top ten films of all time!), but what the hell was he thinking here? A shot for shot remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic? (Universal – have you no shame?!) I don’t know
what’s worse – the fact that the film actually has shots that weren’t in the original (what the hell is up with that montage of weird images?!) or knowing that Gus thought surface actor Vince "Wedding Crashers" Vaughn was on par with the layered Anthony Perkins to play Norman Bates. In any case, the disgrace and dishonor by all involved is truly palpable and if there was any cinematic justice this one would be quietly lowered into the back swamp and never heard from again – but alas this sad soiling of the sanctity of the Bates home will forever be remembered.
TOP "Personally Hated By Me" REMAKE EVER MADE:
This time it’s personal. Being the movie freak that I am, my first-born son was naturally named after a stunning movie performance - William Peterson’s character of Will Graham in the superb Michael Mann film "Manhunter." So color me disappointed when I became aware that not only was the film being re-made under the title of Thomas Harris’s novel "Red Dragon" (the only saving grace here!), but it was going to be directed by under qualified spoiled Hollywood flavor-of-the-month Brett "Rush Hour" Ratner. (He claimed that working on the Nic Cage crap fest "The Family Man" gave him the dramatic prowess to take on Mann’s flick – uh, yeah.) And Ratner messed up the picture just as I knew he would, miscasting the great Ed Norton (who is WAY too young to play a retired FBI Agent!), trivializing the Francis Dollarhyde character (played so brilliantly by the great Tom Noonan in "Manhunter!") by having Ralph Fiennes play a cardboard cut-out baddie and he even had the nuts to put Anthony Hopkins back in the role of Lector, even though "Red Dragon" happens long before "Silence of the Lambs." (Great idea Brett - he does look younger here!) But for all his movie missteps, the sad fact is that in the end Ratner besmirched not only Peterson’s astonishing original work, Mann’s visual mastery and Noonan’s layered serial killer, but ultimately my kid’s sacred namesake – hopefully time (and a continued career of crappy movies!) will slay this superfluous dragon.