Original Vs. Remake – A Kiss Before Dying (1991)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the noir film, A Kiss Before Dying.

First, let’s take a look at Catie’s summary that applies to both films:

A money-obsessed college student murders his pregnant girlfriend out of fear her rich father will disinherit her.  Then, he goes on to woo her sister, still in hopes of infiltrating the same wealthy family.

I didn’t realize that the 1991 film starring Matt Dillon and Sean Young was a remake until Catie suggested we add A Kiss Before Dying to our Original Vs. Remake series.  So, after a little teamwork, with the two of us researching and seeing which of the two movies we could actually get our hands on, Catie agreed to cover the original and I ordered up my usual—the reboot.

I remembered seeing the remake years ago, probably close to when it first aired on the cable movie channels.  But I hadn’t seen it since and couldn’t remember the details.  I knew the gist—poor boy wants desperately to inch his way into the wealthy family he has kept his eye on his entire life.  Literally.  From watching the copper trains pass behind his house as a small boy, to following the family in the news over the years.  So, I set my DVR and watched it again, ready to take notes.

A Kiss Before Dying is classified as a noir film.  According to Webster, a noir film is a type of crime film featuring cynical, malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography and foreboding background music.  And like Catie said, sometimes that background music is a bit much…

The 1991 version has been called a neo-noir, a modernized film that uses elements of the film noir genre but with updated themes (music, cinematography, style, visual elements, etc…).  It was all there.  The orchestra music, camera angles, dark shadows, and some things we don’t see as much in films anymore—boobs, sex, and a lot of smoking.  Granted, this film was shot back in the early ‘90s when smoking wasn’t as much a taboo like it is today, but still.  When watching today, in 2013, the smoking stands out.  As does the nudity and sex.  Films today have sexual encounters, but many of these scenes are not shown in detail.  At least in my opinion…

Anyway, the remake stars Matt Dillon as Jonathan Corliss/Jay Faraday, a guy from a not-so-wealthy town ready to get out and never come back, whatever it takes… and Sean Young as twin sisters Ellen and Dorothy Carlsson, heirs to the Carlsson Copper company, who find themselves stuck in a Corliss/Faraday web.  I’ve never been a big fan of Sean Young, unless you count her role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (LOL), but I’ve liked Matt Dillon since the first time I saw him in The Outsiders.  Perhaps his movie selections don’t land him a lot of award nominations, but let me just say this, he nailed the role of a sociopath in A Kiss Before Dying.  Nailed it.

The character of Jonathon is very calculating, controlled, and purely evil.  He takes risks but minimizes his chances of being caught.  And man, he is violent… he’ll push a pregnant woman from atop a building, strangle a man equal to his size or bigger without breaking a sweat, and he doesn’t hesitate to watch the life drain from anyone.  Yet, he’s superficially normal in social settings.  Matt Dillon may be cute, but he is uber-creepy in this film.

Like I said earlier, I had seen this movie before.  And despite not remembering much about it, I didn’t find it at all suspenseful.  Perhaps that’s the noir aspect… the music just gives too much away in my opinion.  I knew something bad was about to happen or someone was about to bite it before it actually aired on the television screen.  Plus, when the mystery begins to unravel, it does so very quickly.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy this film.  Take for instance the story… I truly appreciate how everything comes full circle, from the opening scenes of the small boy watching the trains pass by, to the very end when Dorothy is running for her life.  I haven’t read the book by Ira Levin, but I have to assume he deserves the credit for this.

So how does the 1991 version compare to the original?  I can’t tell you… but I can say that I want to watch the 1956 film for one reason—Robert Wagner.  I’ve had a crush on him since I was a little girl.  Hart to Hart was one of my favorites growing up.  He was such a beautiful man back in the day; heck, he’s still not so bad… I simply must see him play Jonathon/Jay.

But back to the remake… I think the 1991 film is worth watching for Matt Dillon.  His performance surprised me the most.  I just wouldn’t expect to be clinging to the edge of your seat in suspense.  Other psychological thrillers have gotten me a lot more than A Kiss Before Dying did.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or remake of A Kiss Before Dying?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

High School Movie Showdown – The Party Animals

It has been a while since the last High School Movie Showdown, a Friday FabOoolousness series here at The Ooo Factor where we take two popular movies in the teenage genre and pit them against one another.  We’ll feature the classics (like Grease), some popular Generation Xers (like Clueless), and some that are a bit more recent to the scene (like Project X).

Today, we’re taking a look at some party animals…

Late one night, as I flipped through the channels, I happened upon Can’t Hardly Wait.  Like I do with a handful of the ‘90s classics I have seen numerous times, I sat down and watched the film again from start to finish. I say again because it had to be at least the fifth or sixth time…  And while the movie might seem a tad dated, looking at the outfits and the hairstyles, it reminded me why it will forever be one of my favorite movies about high school.

Not long after watching Can’t Hardly Wait, as I was waiting for a new flick to begin, the channel I happened to be watching aired a preview for another movie—American Reunion.  I’ve already seen American Reunion a few times and truly enjoyed it; but if it weren’t for the first film in the franchise, American Pie, the highly successful sequels wouldn’t have been made in the first place.

Can’t Hardly Wait and American Pie… two ’90s greats about high schoolers, crushes, love, sex, and partying.

This got me to thinking… when paired up side-by-side, which of these films would win?

Both films do share a few similarities: both are loaded with popular young actors from that particular generation (Can’t Hardly Wait stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Peter Facinelli, and Seth Green… and American Pie stars Alyson Hannigan, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Sean William Scott, and Chris Klein); both introduced new actors and actresses and are partially responsible for kick-starting their current popularity (Lauren Ambrose, Jason Segal, Clea Duvall, Jamie Pressly, Donald Faison, Selma Blair, Jason Biggs, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Shannon Elizabeth, and John Cho); and both relied on a few familiar faces in cameo roles—some of which were uncredited—to help get people interested in the films (Jenna Elfman, Jerry O’Connell, Melissa Joan Hart, Breckin Meyer, Blink 182, and Casey Affleck).

The overall messages of the two movies are not all that different—in high school, everyone wants to fit in, to belong to a group; everyone is searching for that one true connection, emotionally and physically; everyone is awkward and insecure in one way or another, regardless of their current popularity status; and more times than not, high schoolers look to blow off steam (and celebrate) the same way—to party.

William cutting loose for the first time – Can’t Hardly Wait

However, the two films are also different.  For one, Can’t Hardly Wait is filmed almost entirely at a post-graduation party (the opening and closing scenes take place elsewhere).  This was because the filmmakers believed the majority of the best scenes of the ‘80s teen movies took place at parties (such as Jake’s party during Sixteen Candles).  American Pie follows a group of guys (and their respective girlfriends) through their high school days, extracurriculars, and even their “private” time.

Also, despite the fact both flicks are categorized as teen comedies, Can’t Hardly Wait, for the most part, keeps it semi-clean; while American Pie falls into a sub-category I have grown to love over the years—raunchy comedy.  After all, the boys are obsessed with losing their virginity before graduation.  Heck, Jim even practices sex on a pie!

But probably the biggest difference?  Only one launched into a multi-million dollar franchise—American Pie.

Jim, his dad, and “the pie” – American Pie

Bottom line, both films were popular in their day.  And both will probably achieve cult classic success and live on through their fans year after year.  But which one would win in a head to head battle?  The love story of Amanda Beckett (JLH) and Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry), or the coming-of-age stories of Jim, Oz, Stifler, Kevin, and Finch?

The fact that I had to clarify who Amanda Beckett and Preston Meyers are probably gives my winner away…

American Pie.

How about you?  Can’t Hardly Wait or American Pie?  I’d love to hear from you!

Oh, and the music in both movies will definitely take you back to the ’90s…

Can’t Hardly Wait includes artists Third Eye Blind, Blink 182, Smash Mouth, Guns N’ Roses, Boys II Men, Creed, Tone Loc, and even Barry Manilow.

American Pie also features Third Eye Blind and Blink 182, as well as Sugar Ray, The Barenaked Ladies, Tonic, and Everclear.

A Killer Curse – The Grudge (2004)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the horror film, The Grudge.

First, let’s take a look at Catie’s summary that applies to both films:

When someone dies with a deep and burning rage, a curse is born.  It gathers in the place where that person died and manifests on those who encounter the curse.  This film is a set of six vignettes, starring different characters, about a house in suburban Japan where a murder took place.

It may be hard to believe, but I didn’t actually request to cover the remake this month.  To be honest, I was hoping for the remake because I had already seen it… years ago, but either version was fine by me.  So, I let Catie choose which one she wanted to review before turning in any requests.  And with her decision to cover the original Japanese film, I found a copy of the American version via OnDemand and set it in my queue to rewatch.

And I’m glad I did.  Rewatch it that is.

I didn’t recall feeling favorable about The Grudge (2004) when I first watched it as a new release back in the day.  However, watching it again, my opinions of the film have changed.  After all, what is a sign of a good horror movie?  The suspense made me jump… impressive, considering I’d already seen it once before.

As Catie mentioned in her summary, the film follows six different vignettes, or small scenes, starring different characters who have all encountered the house and its curse in one way or another.

However, the main story follows a foreign exchange student (Karen played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I mean, Sarah Michelle Gellar) who has been volunteering at a care center for a social welfare credit.  When a fellow worker doesn’t report to duty, Karen gets the call to take over looking after an older woman confined to her residence.

But Yoko (the co-worker) did report to her job at the older woman’s house…

And once she arrives, Karen realizes this was not the assignment she had been hoping for…

Rewind three years when the Saeki family lived in the house.  Once Mr. Saeki kills both his wife and son before taking his own life, the curse is born.

While watching the American version, I couldn’t help but think the son looked very familiar; he looked just like the boy in the movie poster for Ju-on: The Grudge.  How could that be?  Well, it’s because it was the same boy.  The actors portraying Toshio (the son), Kayako (the mom), and Takeo (the dad) all appeared in the Japanese film as the cursed Saeki family as well as in the American version.

Quite a few familiar faces are tied to the Saeki house, and therefore its curse: Bill Pullman (does he really need an introduction?), Jason Behr (from Roswell and Dawson’s Creek), William Mapother (Lost), KaDee Strickland (Private Practice), Clea DuVall (from Carnivàle, Heroes, and American Horror Story: Asylum), and even Ted Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess), brother to the film’s producer, Sam Raimi.

Sam Raimi has had his hands in many other films, whether it is by acting, directing (the Toby McGuire Spider-Man franchise), or producing (The Evil Dead series, the Kevin Sorbo Hercules franchise, and many other “dark” flicks, including 30 Days of Night, Boogeyman, Drag Me to Hell, and The Possession).  And having seen many of his works, I can honestly say there’s a unique aspect he brings to each of his projects.  The Grudge is no different.

Perhaps one of the creepiest parts of the entire film is the sound the Kayako ghost makes when opening her mouth.  *Shivers* I almost forgot how freaky that clicking sound is. Ooh-waa-haa-haa-haa-haa-haa-haa-haa.  Forgive me, but I don’t know how else to describe it…

Oh, and speaking of creepy… the scene at the end of the film when Kayako moves down the stairs was supposedly not a special effect; it has been reported the actress really moved that way.  For anyone who has already seen the film, this scene is as disturbing as the Linda Blair head spin from The Exorcist.

Catie mentioned Ju-on: The Grudge and the story of its curse has some validity to it as far as Japanese folklore and mythology are concerned.  This probably helps explain why it’s rumored that the entire cast and crew of The Grudge (2004) were blessed before filming, hoping to prevent any evil from befalling upon them.

The Grudge spawned two sequels, also produced by Raimi.  I have not seen either of these films, but from what I understand, the story picks right up where the 2004 flick left off and continues.

You know, the Japanese police really shouldn’t have saved the Saeki house from burning to the ground…

So how does the American version compare to the Japanese film?  That’s  right; I caught Ju-on late last night on the movie channels and can actually compare the two!  Well, the stories are quite similar… with only a few small differences; the Japanese version has subtitles; and more importantly, Ju-on doesn’t have Sarah Michelle Gellar.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the Japanese film or the American remake of The Grudge?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  AND do you believe in curses?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Beating the Summer Heat with Movie Madness

Summer is the perfect time to fill our weekends with late night cinematic greatness.  After being out in the Texas heat, my guy and I only seem to have enough energy to curl up on the couch and pop in a movie.  Mostly we lean toward the comedies, wanting to laugh the week away, but we don’t shy away from the action flicks, adventures, dramas, mysteries, or even the fantasies… especially where zombies are concerned.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a list of movies that come highly recommended here at The Ooo Factor, so it’s time…

*****

Warm Bodies

Not your everyday zombie movie…

I must admit, I enjoyed Warm Bodies far more than I expected to.

Based on the novel of the same name by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies follows R (Nicholas Hoult from X-Men: First Class), a recently turned teenage zombie, who in all actuality doesn’t like being a zombie.  He hates feeding on humans, but he will—after all, even zombies need to eat.  While out to “lunch” with a few other zombiefied friends, R runs into a group of human teens scavenging a local laboratory for supplies.  As one would expect, the group of zombies attack, and even R feasts on the brain of a young man (played by James Franco’s younger brother, Dave from Fright Night and 21 Jump Street).  And, when a zombie eats the brain of a human, he absorbs the human’s memories…

Enter the girl…

When R spots Julie (Teresa Palmer from I am Number Four), he falls in love and decides to do everything within his power to protect her.

There’s comedy, gore, and romance… just the right amounts to leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Oh, and the soundtrack rocks!

*****

Parker

Most everyone has already learned about my crush on Jason Statham.  I will pretty much watch any of his movies, just to get my “Statham Fix” in.

And Parker was no different.

Only this film was actually a bit different that I expected.  While there are the typical Jason Statham fight scenes, Parker has a solid story.

Based on the novel series by Donald Westlake, aka Richard Stark, Parker follows a down on his luck professional thief (Parker, played by Statham) as he seeks revenge against his former team for sticking it to him.  Left for dead, and rescued by a quaint farming family, Parker recuperates and tracks the team (Michael Chiklis—The Shield, the Fantastic Four films, and the recent one-and-done Vegas on CBS—Wendell Pierce—The Wire—and Clifton Collins, Jr.—The Event and another one-and-done, Red Widow) to Palm Beach where he learns they are planning another heist.

When Parker arrives in Florida, he hires a realtor (played by Jennifer Lopez, yes, the singer/actress/dancer/what does she not do?) to show him around.  While she thinks he’s a rich Texan looking to buy a multimillion dollar property, he’s actually searching the area for perfect hideouts (a cover house) for his former colleagues.  He finds them, she helps, and stuff goes down.  I don’t want to give too much away… but I will say this movie was pretty entertaining.

But then again, I do like Jason Statham…

*****

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

This is NOT a fairy tale for children…

Not that I thought it would be, but sometimes I never know going into a movie like this.  Let’s just say H & G drop a few “F” bombs, and well, this film might have a bit more gore than Warm Bodies.  Okay, a lot more.

We all know the story of Hansel and Gretel, right?  Two young children are left out in the woods by their parents to fend for themselves.  After wandering around with nowhere to go, the two happen upon a house made of candy.  They run to the house, break off what they can eat, and creep inside when the front door opens.  However, inside lives a mean witch who keeps Hansel chained up and forces Gretel into being her slave.  One day, when the witch is preparing to drop Hansel into the oven, Gretel breaks free and throws the witch in instead, saving her brother.

Same story, only in the film, Hansel and Gretel become famous for their ability to kill witches.  A local mayor hires the brother and sister to help find a group of local children who have recently gone missing, and agrees that his law enforcement will stand back and let them do their thing—kill as many witches as necessary along the way.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters definitely kept our attention.  I’m just not sure if my nephews (they’re eleven) should watch it or not…

I had hoped for more Jeremy Renner (I’ve really started to like him, especially after watching his performances in  The Town, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Bourne Legacy, and The Avengers), but I kind of felt jipped and thought Gemma Arterton (Gretel) had a bit more screen time.

Regardless, if you don’t mind the dark fairy tales, this one might just be for you.

*****

Have you seen any of these movies?  If so, what did you think?  What movies have you seen lately that come highly recommended?  Have you been disappointed by any recent films?  I’d love to hear from you! 

The Amityville Horror (2005) – “This House is Bad.”

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the classic horror film, The Amityville Horror.

First, let’s take a look at Catie’s summary that applies to both films:

Some bargains are too good to be true.  After getting a great price on a historic home in which a set of gruesome murders occurred, a family is terrorized by a malevolent paranormal force.  This movie chronicles the twenty-eight days they lived in the home before fleeing for their lives.

It may be hard to believe, but I didn’t actually request to cover the remake this month.  To be honest either version was fine by me—I hadn’t seen either one in its entirety.  So, I let Catie choose which one she wanted to review before turning in any requests.  And with her decision to cover the original, I set out on a venture to grab a copy of the remake.

The Amityville Horror claims to be based on a true story, and it is—sort of.

On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr., believing to be possessed, heard voices, instructing him to kill everyone in his house at 112 Ocean Avenue.  So he did—his father, mother, and four siblings (sisters, 13 and 18, and brothers, 9 and 12), all while sleeping in their beds.  DeFeo, Jr. is currently serving his prison sentence in New York.

These murders led to the release of the novel of the same name written by Jay Anson in 1977, as well as ten films.

The 2005 adaptation begins one year after the murders when a newly married man (George Lutz, played by Ryan Reynolds), his wife (Kathy Lutz, played by Melissa George from TV’s Alias and Hunted), and her three children move into the DeFeo house.  Despite learning about the multiple murders, the Lutzes decide to take the great deal on the house and begin their new lives together as one big happy family.  After all, “There are no bad houses, just bad people.”

But then strange occurrences begin to take place…  George wakes up every single night at exactly 3:15 a.m., the approximate time DeFeo killed his family; the family dog barks incessantly at something that can’t be seen inside the boat shed; and the young daughter (Chelsea, played by Chloe Grace Moretz from Kick-Ass and Dark Shadows) welcomes an imaginary friend into her life—a girl who lives in the closet.  Not only that, but George begins to feel ill and starts losing his temper with his wife and the children… something that is very unlike his personality.

One thing leads to another, and twenty-eight days later, the family flees for their lives… even if “Houses don’t kill people.  People kill people.”

While I haven’t seen the 1979 film in its entirety, I’ve seen enough to recognize a few similarities… like the priest being surrounded by an infestation of flies as he attempts to bless the house.  Ryan Reynolds even sports longer hair and the full-on beard like James Brolin.  And speaking of James Brolin, that is one man who gets sexier with age… am I right, ladies?

The real-life Mr. Lutz was allegedly not pleased with the 2005 remake.  However, in an interview, Lutz did confirm quite a bit about the details shown in the movie: the Lutzes did have the house blessed by a priest; the house and boat shed did indeed have “cold spots”; the Lutz family did discover a hidden room in the basement; and Mr. Lutz became sick not long after moving in.  In case anyone is interested, here’s Jeff Belanger’s interview with Mr. Lutz via Ghostvillage.com.

But let’s get back to the movie, specifically Ryan Reynolds.

I was looking forward to seeing Mr. Reynolds in this role.  I’ve loved him over the years in the raunchy comedies that launched his career—National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Buying the Cow, Waiting…, and Just Friends.  Throw in the earlier action/adventure movies (Foolproof and Smokin’ Aces) and the romantic comedies (The In-Laws and The Proposal), and one might consider me a full-fledged Ryan Reynolds fan.  Heck, I can’t even count how many times we’ve watched The Change-Up and Safe House in our house… probably more than my guy would like to admit (and I’m sure he’d say I forced him to watch these movies over and over again, but whatever).

However, now that I’ve had the chance to watch him in this horror/psychological thriller, I’m sold.  Not only is he funny, and not only does he have a pretty face (and body, ladies…his body is plain insane in this film), but he can act.

It was rumored that James Van Der Beek turned down this role.  And if that’s the case, I’m glad he did.

Bottom line, the 2005 remake did not disappoint this horror fan at all.

Before I go, I have a little personal history with the house at 112 Ocean Avenue.  Amityville, New York is approximately ten to fifteen miles from a house my godparents lived in when I was a young girl.  On a family visit in the late ‘80s, my parents took me to the DeFeo Murder House.  That’s right; I’ve been there… I only wish I could remember more.  Mostly, I remember the “nice” things from my trip to The Big Apple and Long Island, like visiting The Empire State Building, seeing my first ever homeless person and blue Mohawk, being pulled by a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park, and eating at Tavern on the Green.

However, visiting the real “Amityville Horror” house as a small child explains a lot as to why I love horror and true crime today… thanks, Mom and Dad.  Seriously.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of The Amityville Horror?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  Have you ever visited the scene of a true crime and/or haunted house?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

And if anyone is interested, here is a forum site with FAQs that Mr. Lutz launched prior to his death…

Red Dawn (2012) – Wolverines!

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the coming-of-age action film, Red Dawn.

Usually, I include Catie’s summary that applies to both films.  But this time, I tweaked it just a bit:

With North Korea and Russia invading the United States, a group of Washington State high school students turned refugees slowly organize themselves into an effective guerilla force. 

It may be hard to believe, but I didn’t actually request to cover the remake this month.  Since I had already seen both films, I let Catie choose which one she wanted to review before turning in any requests.  And with her decision to cover the original, I returned to Redbox for a copy of the remake.

Before I dive into the 2012 film, let’s talk about the 1984 version.  I can remember my older brother LOVING this film in the ‘80s.  I watched it on occasion with him, but being that I was quite a bit younger at the time, the movie didn’t resonate as much with me as it did him.  However, now as an adult, I believe the original Red Dawn will forever be a classic.

Heck, just look at the cast: Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, Powers Boothe, and Harry Dean Stanton (to just name a few).  Every single one of these actors and actresses are still known today, something that can’t be said for most ‘80s Hollywood stars.  But casting aside, the film stands firm on its own merits… and my fifteen year old, soon to be sixteen year old, nephew has watched this “old” flick a few times himself and enjoys it just as much as his dad did back in the day.  This alone speaks to the power of Red Dawn.

So is it even possible for the remake to hold up?

Like many others out there, I was appalled by the news that Hollywood was remaking Red Dawn.  I mean, seriously… are there any original thoughts left as far as films are concerned today?

Regardless of how I felt, I knew at the time that I would have to at least check it out.  And then I heard who was cast (THOR, people!) and saw the trailer, both of which piqued my interest.

THOR! I mean, Jed…

Granted, besides Chris Hemsworth (that’s Thor for those who don’t already know), not many of the actors and actresses were “big” stars.  But I did find it interesting that Connor Cruise (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s son) was making his acting debut in this film… plus, we had just recently seen Adrianne Palicki in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, so it’s not like we didn’t “know” any of the other cast members.  And once we started watching the remake, we recognized others: Josh Hutcherson (Peeta, The Hunger Games), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Sam and Dean Winchester’s dad from Supernatural), Isabel Lucas (Alice, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Edwin Hodge (Kai, from the hopeful NCIS: Red Team), and a few others.

But what about the story?

The 2012 remake kept the general idea behind Red Dawn’s storyline; I mean, didn’t they have to?    However, they did change enough of the individual facets to help it stand on its own… different location, different character details (i.e. Jed is a Marine in the remake instead of “just a regular guy”), different bad guys, and a few different twists with the plotline that you won’t expect—sorry for being so cryptic, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

But most importantly, the 2012 film will more than likely affect today’s generation like its predecessor did…  even if the children of the ‘80s disagree… and I feel this is important.

Bottom line, the 2012 remake did not disappoint this Red Dawn (1984) fan at all and I think everyone should at least give it a chance.

Wolverines!!

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Red Dawn?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Deadly Pranks – April Fool’s Day (2008)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the holiday horror film, April Fool’s Day.

Usually, I include Catie’s summary that applies to both films.  But this time, I tweaked it just a bit:

One year after an April Fool’s prank goes horribly wrong, a group of friends realize the joke is on them when they start to die one by one…

For once, I didn’t actually request to cover the remake.  I know;  I know.  No one believes me… but it’s true.  Since I had already seen both films, I let Catie choose which one she wanted to review before turning in any requests.  And with her decision to cover the original, I ran out and found a cheap copy of the remake… considering I couldn’t find it on cable, On Demand, or Amazon streaming.  I had only watched the 2008 film once, and while I sort of remembered it, I couldn’t recall enough of the movie for the sake of this post.  And that, my friends, should have been my first clue as to just how good this version was/is.  Can anyone hear my sarcasm through my writing?

Anyway…

While the young cast in the 1986 film was rather popular at the time, April Fool’s Day (2008) cast primarily unknown actors at the time (at least to the general viewing audience) with only a few familiar faces.  However, today, quite a few of these folks are very recognizable…

Taylor Cole (CSI: Miami and The Event)
Josh Henderson (the incredibly sexy John Ross Ewing from TNT’s new Dallas)
Scout Taylor-Compton (The Rob Zombie remakes of Halloween)
Joe Egender (Alcatraz and American Horror Story: Asylum)

Yes, that’s Josh Henderson in the middle sans shirt.

It’s not surprising that the others in the film haven’t skyrocketed to success just yet, but that’s not to say we won’t see any of them in successful projects in the future—right?  I’m not trying to hate on any of the actors in this movie, I’m just implying that this job probably didn’t do them any favors.

The 2008 film isn’t so much a remake, just another telling of April Fool’s pranks between friends and foes with the slasher/horror element.  The original is so much more suspenseful than this flick, and the fact that the viewers really can’t connect with or care for any of these characters doesn’t help.  At least not for me.

April Fool’s Day (2008) might just be one of the more recent films that fall into the campy category—and I usually only use this word to describe older films in the horror genre.  Not only that, but Catie mentioned the scary music as one of the clichéd elements in the original… well, the music in the “remake,” and I say that loosely… that’s why it’s in quotes, is almost goofy at certain points in the film.  There aren’t any “grisly, cringeworthy murders” like in the 1986 version, and there are no “cheap scares that make you jump.”  Really, the only horror clichés that exist in both films are the partying teenagers, and in the 2008 flick, I’m not sure they’re technically teens… let’s go with young adults.

At least the film has pretty people…

I normally love slashers, especially when centered around a particular holiday; and while I have now seen this twice and actually own the DVD, I can’t find much to say about it that’s positive.  Well, other than the eye candy… and the fact that I’m quite certain the role of Blaine Cartier was great on the resume for Josh Henderson when he auditioned for the part of John Ross Ewing.  The Cartiers are “The Kennedys of the Carolinas” and being wealthy, privileged, and entitled doesn’t even begin to describe these kids… just like Mr. Ewing.

So, in closing, I’d like to quote the character of Wilford (the butler): “Oh, my.”

I’m not getting those ninety minutes back.  If you want to watch a movie called April Fool’s Day, go for the original.  Hands down.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of April Fool’s Day?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

High School Movie Showdown – The Footballers

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love high school football.  Growing up in West Texas, I lived the real Friday night lights.  Everyone in the community either plays, cheers, or supports the local teams.  It was this atmosphere that gave me the idea for my Football Sweetheart series.  I took two things I loved—high school football and mysteries—and twisted them into stories of my own.

But enough about that.  Today’s post is the second installment of the High School Movie Showdown, and we’re featuring two of my favorite high school football movies—Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights.

First up, Varsity Blues

Varsity Blues follows a group of high school football players in the fictional town of West Canaan, Texas.  Anybody who’s anybody plays their part for the team.  Training begins at a very early age—girls perfect their toe-touches as soon as they can jump, and boys practice tossing the pigskin through a tire hanging from a tree as soon as they can stand.

Everything comes crashing down around the boys in West Canaan when the star quarterback (Lance Harbor, played by Paul Walker from the Fast and the Furious franchise) injures his knee during a game and his good friend and backup (Jonathan “Mox” Moxon, played by James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek) is thrown onto the field and thrust into the spotlight.

James Van Der Beek (Jonathan “Mox” Moxon) and Paul Walker (Lance Harbor)

Varsity Blues isn’t just about football, but more about teens finding their way in spite of what they have been conditioned to do.  This film is about as realistic as it gets when talking about high school football in West Texas, without actually claiming to be inspired by actual events: the coach’s win-at-all-costs attitude; the quarterback’s celebrity (everyone remembers the whipped cream bikini, right?); the realization that great moments are oftentimes the most painful; and the understanding that character is built by going against the norm.

Oh, and the ending can make even the toughest man cry.

Next up, Friday Night Lights

Two things come to mind when people outside the state of Texas think about West Texas—high school football and oil.  So, if everyone outside the state knows about the teenage pigskin programs, what do the people inside the state think?

Football is life.  Win at all costs.

By now, everyone has heard of Friday Night Lights—whether it is the book by H.G. Bissinger published in 1990, the motion picture produced by Brian Grazer in 2004, or the television series starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that aired from 2006 until 2011.

But today we’re focusing on the film. 

Friday Night Lights follows Coach Gary Gaines (Hollywood great, Billy Bob Thornton) and his Odessa Permian football team.  Everything seems to be right on schedule and the boys are well on their way to accomplishing their one goal—win the Texas state championship.  That is until their star running back tears ligaments in his knee.

Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) MUST win to save his job…

Coach Gaines is immediately under fire in the media and around town; a head football coach’s job is never safe in West Texas without wins.  And when a star player goes down, people panic.

And his players?  They’re faced with a mound of obstacles—a coach that pushes them too far, parents living vicariously through their teenage lives, and the societal pressures of the Odessa community.

The team pushes through and the season ends with a three-way tie in the district between Permian, their arch-rival Midland Lee Rebels, and Abilene Cooper.  With a flip of a coin, Permian and Lee move on (yes, they really flipped coins in the ’80s to break a three-way tie in conference when determining playoff spots).   And of course, Permian rolls through the playoffs and meets a Dallas team (Carter High School) in the state championship.

But you have to watch the movie to find out what happens next….

The Permian Panthers…

So, when paired up side-by-side, which of these films would win—Varsity Blues or Friday Night Lights?

Look, like I said earlier, I grew up in West Texas.  I served my football team as an athletic trainer and have first-hand knowledge what it’s like “behind the scenes” on the practice field, in the locker room, and on the sidelines.

These movies take me back—whether I’m watching Friday Night Lights and remembering the rivalry games between Midland Lee and Odessa Permian that I, myself attended since childhood; or I’m watching Varsity Blues and vividly recalling the blood, sweat, and tears I felt with the players on my team as they struggled to maintain greatness and take it to the next level.

Bottom line: Both films are fantastic and portray what high school football is really like in West Texas.  I truly believe that both movies will achieve cult classic status and live on through their fans year after year.

But which one would win in a head to head battle?  The fictional West Canaan High Coyotes, or the loosely accurate portrayals of the real Odessa High School Permian Panthers?

I say Varsity  Blues.

Regardless of how many times I have watched this movie, I still bawl my eyes out at the end of this film.  Yes, it’s fictional; but man, does it bring back memories of my senior year and our final football game.

Yes, Mox… you are the winner!!

Oh, and the music rocks!  Collective Soul, Loudmouth, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Third Eye Blind, and Van Halen are just a few of the artists featured on the soundtrack.  Even though these artists and their featured songs are popular in their own right, I still can’t hear one of these tunes without thinking of Varsity Blues.

How about you?  Varsity Blues or Friday Night Lights?  Leave your pick in the comments… I’d love to hear from you!

When Fantasies Become Reality And Vice Versa – Total Recall (2012)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the classic dystopian action film, Total Recall.

Usually, I include Catie’s summary that applies to both films.  But this time, I tweaked it just a bit:

Set in a dystopian future (end of the 21st century), a factory worker named Douglas Quaid is haunted by dreams he can’t explain—he’s trapped, being chased, and he can’t get away. Ignoring his good friend’s warnings, he decides to check out Rekall.  Promising him any memories he wants, he chooses to be implanted with memories of being a secret agent.  There’s only one problem—none of the implanted fake memories can be true… and during his psycho polygraphic panel, the administrator discovers Quaid is not who he says he is.     

Before I begin, let me just say why I requested the remake.  Regardless of how ashamed I am to admit it, I usually choose the newer versions because I have not seen the originals.  However, this is not the case this time.  I’ve actually seen the 1990 film at least once.  So why did I request the remake?  Two words—Colin Farrell.

Yes, Colin Farrell is the exact same reason why I chose the remake last month when we covered Fright Night.  Clearly, I have a Colin Farrell addiction here…

But let’s get back to the movie…

If watching the remake of Total Recall taught me anything, I learned that I needed to rewatch the original.  My guy kept insisting that the two films, while somewhat similar, were still quite different.  Clearly, I don’t remember enough about the Schwarzenegger version; however, I do know this: if action is what you like, the 2012 release doesn’t disappoint.

Loosely based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, Total Recall (2012) takes place at the end of the 21st century.  Global chemical warfare destroyed the planet as we know it and only two territories remain:  The United Federation of Britain and The Colony.  The only transport between the two territories is a train that actually travels through the planet, known as “The Fall.”  Everything is peaceful between the two territories, except someone keeps bombing trains in the UFB, and “The Resistance” (a group of domestic terrorists from The Colony) is being blamed.

Workers travel every day from The Colony to UFB, the more developed of the two territories.  Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is not any different.  But one day after waking from the same nightmare (Quaid is trapped, being chased, and can’t get away… however he manages to help the mystery woman he is with—played by Jessica Biel—escape), he realizes he is a creature of habit… and he’s ready to shake things up a bit.

Against the advice of his best friend, Quaid decides to check out Rekall; after all, they promise to “remember it for you.”  All one has to do is tell Rekall his or her fantasy and they’ll make it a memory.  There’s only one catch—none of the desired fantasies can actually be true in one’s real life.   If the fantasized memories are indeed true, it can cause irreparable conflict and confusion.

Quaid agrees to Rekall’s policies, chooses to be a secret agent, sits down in the chair, and the administrator begins the psycho polygraphic panel.  There’s only one problem—Quaid is not who he says he is.  He’s not who he thinks he is.  The machine wouldn’t lie…  Soldiers storm the room and one by one Quaid fights them off.  He is definitely in a state of confusion; he has no idea what is going on or how he has the ability to kill these trained men.

In a state of panic, Quaid rushes home to find his beautiful wife (Lori, played by Kate Beckinsale) watching the local news—a terrorist has attacked and killed multiple soldiers at one of The Colony’s Rekall locations.  Quaid confides to her that it wasn’t a terrorist… it was him.

Lori can’t believe what she’s hearing and tries her best to console her husband.  She pulls him in for a loving hug, and holds on tight… too tight, squeezing tighter and tighter.  Turns out, she’s an officer of the UFB who was sent in undercover to play his wife.  One thing leads to another and the action of the film kicks into high gear.

The dystopian future is very interesting in the film.  Technology is obviously more advanced, indicated by the fact cell phones are implanted into the palms of one’s hands, giving “talk to the hand” new meaning.  And as one would expect, the world’s currency has evolved and now includes “Obama Bucks.”

And while the 2012 version is quite different story-wise from the 1990 flick, one thing’s the same—the three breasted woman.  I mean, how could they leave that out?

So how does the remake hold up?

One thing’s certain—Colin Farrell is much sexier as Quaid than Arnold Schwarznegger.  Two other hotties (Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender) were reportedly considered for the role, but I personally think the casting directors went with the right man for the job.

And let’s talk about the ladies for a minute… the two female leads in Total Recall (2012) are to today what Sharon Stone was to 1990.  Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are not only gorgeous and have a list of successful films on their resumes, but they are also well suited for action/adventure movies.

However, if anyone is looking for a remake of the story with an updated version of a trip to Mars, this may not be the movie for you.  But if non-stop action is what you like, this remake won’t disappoint.  As Catie suggested, the up-to-date special effects definitely make this film a better choice today… in my opinion.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Total Recall?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

High School Movie Showdown: The Mean Girls

Welcome to the High School Movie Showdown, a new Friday FabOoolousness series here at The Ooo Factor!  At least once a month, we’ll take two popular movies in the teenage genre and pit them against one another.  We’ll feature the classics (like Grease), some popular Generation Xers (like Cluelesss), and some that are a bit more recent to the scene (like Project X).

First up, the mean girls…

Pretty much everyone is familiar with or has lived through high school cliques and mean girls.  And for the most part, we all survived or are in the process of surviving.  But no matter how hard we try, these two obstacles will live on and continue to haunt teens for generations to come.

Not long ago, as I flipped through the channels, I happened upon Heathers.  Like I do with a handful of the ‘80s classics I have seen numerous times, I sat down and watched the film again from start to finish. I say again because it had to be at least the twentieth time…  And while the movie might be a tad dated, from the outfits, to the actual clarity of the frames, it reminded me why it will forever be one of my favorite movies about high school.

Then again last night, as I was waiting for a new flick to begin, the particular movie channel I happened to be watching aired a commercial for their current features—Heathers being one of them.  The sound bite called the film, “the original mean girls.”

Which got me to thinking, when paired up side-by-side, which of these films would win—Heathers or Mean Girls?

Both films do share a few similarities: both are loaded with popular young actors from that particular generation (Heathers stars Christian Slater, Winona Ryder, and Shannen Doherty… and Mean Girls stars Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried), and the overall messages of the two movies are not all that different—in high school, everyone wants to fit in; no one wants to be a pariah; yet, everyone is awkward and insecure in one way or another; and more times than not, there’s always that one obstacle preventing them from shining, making them feel inferior… and often times, this obstacle can only be described in one way (well, two ways)—the Heathers and the Mean Girls.

Heather, Heather, Heather, and Veronica.

However, the two films are really nothing alike, the most important element being the fact that Heathers is a dark comedy and Mean Girls is a flat-out, laugh-out-loud comedy.  For instance, the main characters in Heathers play murderous games with their classmates, whereas the “Plastics” in Mean Girls are just plain mean.  Say what you will, but poisoning a friend, staging the said friend’s suicide, shooting classmates, and planning a bombing at a school function goes way beyond mean.  What did the girls in Mean Girls do again?  Oh yeah, they spread rumors, secrets, and gossip (although they do this as well in Heathers), and played tricks on one another.

Cady, Karen, Gretchen, and Regina.

Bottom line, both films were popular in their day.  And both will achieve cult classic success and live on through their fans year after year.  But which one would win in a head to head battle?  The Heathers, and Veronica and J.D., or the Plastics and Miss Cady?

I say Heathers.

How about you?  Heathers or Mean Girls?  I’d love to hear from you!