Original vs. Remake – Romeo + Juliet

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Returning to our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the 1996 remake.  This month we tackle the classic, Romeo and Juliet (or in my case, Romeo + Juliet).

Usually I jump right into Catie’s homemade summary at this point; but she didn’t write one this month.  However, I will borrow her words because as usual they are spot-on: if you don’t know the basic plot of “Romeo and Juliet,” this blog post will probably be lost on you anyway. 

So, let’s just go straight to the trailer:

Before I begin my review, let’s talk briefly about Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet.

One of Shakespeare’s most popular works, Romeo and Juliet may be the most tragic love story ever told.  Many people have complained about reading Shakespeare, but I personally feel that his brilliant use of unrhymed iambic pentameter throughout Romeo and Juliet sends the reader back in time to the intended period and setting.  Shakespeare also connects with audiences of all generations with the universal themes of love and fate, and the destruction of the star-crossed lovers.

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
~ William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

As Catie discusses on her blog today, Shakespeare’s tragedy was depicted into a motion picture in 1968. Sir Laurence Olivier narrated the film, while Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey played the young lovers.  The music composed by Nino Rota still gives me goose bumps when I hear it today.

The classic love story was adapted again in 1996, starring two of Hollywood’s biggest young stars (at the time) – Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.  This time titled, Romeo + Juliet, Shakespeare’s story is modernized (for example, using guns instead of swords) while the cast still uses Shakespearean dialogue.  One might ask, a modernized Shakespearean play with traditional Shakespearean dialogue?  Yes!  It’s simply wonderful… and creative… a great way to attract the youth of today… and masterfully performed by all involved.  And the cast is extensive: Brian Dennehy, Paul Sorvino, John Leguizamo, Dash Mihok, Jamie Kennedy, and Paul Rudd to just name a few.

But let’s talk about Leo for a second. Yes, I call him Leo.  Although his portrayal of Romeo came early in what we now know to be a very long and fruitful career, his performance was still impeccable.  But it wasn’t until Romeo + Juliet that I truly fell head-over-heels for him (and again in Titanic… and again in the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby).   However, celebrity crushes aside, rarely do I watch him in a film where he does not nail whatever role he is playing; and I firmly believe he will be remembered as one of the greatest actors of my generation.  And for the purpose of this post?  He can be my Romeo anytime.

And while I wasn’t thrilled about Claire Danes playing Juliet, I still weep pretty much uncontrollably every time I  watch this film (even though I know the ending… and very well at that).  To me, this makes Romeo + Juliet a classic.  I honestly believe it will live throughout the decades.  Shakespeare’s story will be told and adapted countless times in the years to come; but there is just something about this film that will survive the test of time.  Baz Luhrmann’s (writer, director, and producer) creation is unique and it will take some sort of new and fresh creative genius to top this particular rendition of the classic tragedy/love story.

Oh, and before I forget, the soundtrack is amazing.  Despite the fact it’s pushing almost twenty years old, I still listen to this disc on almost every road trip.  This ‘90s fun/blast from the past features Garbage, Everclear, Des’ree, Butthole Surfers, The Cardigans, and Radiohead.

So, overall, is the 1996 version worth a watch?  Yes!  I think so.

Does it compare to the original film?  Absolutely.  It its own right.

Should people forget about the original version?  No.  It’s a classic and originals should never be forgotten.

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog to see what she thought of the 1968 classic.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1968 or the 1996 version of Shakespeare’s classic love story?  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! 

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

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Original Vs. Remake – The Lone Ranger (2013)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Returning to our usual ways, Catie reviews “the original” and I take on the 2013 remake.  This month we tackle the classic, The Lone Ranger.

Usually I include Catie’s homemade summary here, but since hers sounds a bit different from the 2013 film I will talk about today, let’s “borrow” the IMBD summary:

Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

Now, let’s watch with the trailer:

Before I begin my review of the 2013 version, let’s talk generally about The Lone Ranger.  As Catie pointed out in her review, the concept of The Lone Ranger dates back to the 1930s when a radio show aired three episodes a week for over twenty years.  Then came the books, a newspaper comic strip, comic books, a television show, and multiple movies.  The 2013 film falls in at number five.

When something lasts and lives this long, one can assume it has reached cult status.  And I am no different from the millions of other fans—I grew up loving The Lone Ranger.  How did my admiration begin?  I have no idea; since the TV show aired from 1949-1957, I think we can rule that out.  Maybe it was the 1981 film from Catie’s review?  But if it is, I sadly don’t remember much, if any of it.  However, the movie makes sense to me… since I grew up a child of the ‘80s.

Regardless, I was a fan and proudly hung a poster next to my bed.  I wish I still had that poster, but it is lost along with so many of my other childhood things.  But I remember it… The Lone Ranger atop Silver; Tonto riding Scout; the two riding alongside each other, perhaps with Silver rearing back.   That part is a little blurry to me.  Give me a break; it has been a long time.

But anyway…

When I first heard they were making a current film version of The Long Ranger I was thrilled beyond belief.  And when I learned Johnny Depp would play Tonto?  Are you kidding me?  Elated.  Ecstatic.  Excited.   I mean, first of all, he’s Johnny Depp.  Everything he touches turns to gold.  Not to mention, his performances are always above and beyond perfect.  He transforms into character; he doesn’t just act a role.  And to me, the powers-that-be behind this movie couldn’t have picked a better person to play Tonto.

Additionally, the casting of Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger (John Reid) was great.  He and Depp had on-screen chemistry and his comedic timing was spot on.  Not to mention, it’s believable seeing him in the role of a hero—he can pull it off.  Nothing like his role as the evil twins in The Social Network.

The film also stars: Helena Bonham Carter (as we’re very accustomed to seeing in Johnny Depp films), Barry Pepper (whom I adore, although he’s barely recognizable in this film and he plays a not-so-nice guy), William Fichtner and Tom Wilkinson.

The film may have received mixed reviews; however, as one who has never really paid much attention to the critics (odd, I know, considering I write reviews of one kind or another on a weekly basis), I really enjoyed this film.  I did have a few beefs though…

For one, it was long.  Usually when a viewer notices that a film is long, that means the film is dragging.  And it did in parts.  Secondly, although I love The Lone Ranger theme song (from the “March of the Swiss Soldiers” finale of Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture), when it played in the 2013 flick, it blasted my eardrums.  Flat out, it was way too loud.  I compare it to when a commercial plays at a higher decibel then the television show one is watching.  BIG pet peeve of mine.  And third, The Lone Ranger didn’t say, “Hi-Ho Silver, Away!” until the very end.  And I mean the very end.  I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and then he said it and the credits rolled.  It bummed me out that it took so long.

But overall, is the 2013 version worth a watch?  Yes!  I think so.  Especially if one is a fan of any of The Lone Ranger stories—the TV show, the movies, the comic books, etc.  Particularly if one is a fan of Johnny Depp.  And without a doubt if one likes to laugh.  Even those who enjoy westerns should check it out.  And I don’t like westerns.  Can’t stand them, actually.  But I do fall into the three other categories.

Does it compare to the original/1981 film?  Sadly, I don’t know.

Should people forget about the original/1981 version?  Probably not.  Originals should never be forgotten.  But again, I can’t really speak from experience here.  Stop by Catie’s blog to see what she thought of the 1981 film.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1981 or the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger?  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! 

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Original Vs. Remake – The Great Gatsby (2013)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Returning to our usual ways, Catie reviews “the original” and I take on the 2013 remake.  This month we tackle the literary classic, The Great Gatsby.

Usually I include Catie’s homemade summary here, but we’re both at a loss for words this month.  Shocking, I know.

So, let’s start with the trailer:

Before I begin my review of the 2013 version, let’s talk about the novel and the 1974 film.  Thinking back, I first read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic story in the ninth grade.  Like many required readings in literature class, The Great Gatsby, among other things, is a tragedy (just like three other of my favorite school reads—Wuthering Heights, Romeo and Juliet, and Great Expectations).  But that doesn’t mean the story isn’t beautiful.  It pulls readers into the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age, complete with music, parties, fashion, youth, wealth, and love.   And once one watches the 1974 movie, starring a young and absolutely breathtaking Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, they can’t help but fall in love themselves.  At least I couldn’t.

As of today, I have no idea how many times I have read The Great Gatsby, but at least three.  The only stories I ever pick up and read again are those “classics” listed above.  I just wish I could get my hands on a hardback copy of the story.

I have also watched “the original” 1974 film at least a handful of times, and will probably never tire of doing so.  It’s for this one reason why I, like many others, was disgusted at the idea of Hollywood remaking The Great Gatsby.  No one could possibly “be” Jay Gatsby like Robert Redford.  No one.

Except for Leonardo DiCaprio.

Despite my feelings of disgust at the remake, I went to see it opening weekend in the theaters.  And once the credits rolled, and the tears trickled down my cheeks, I wanted to return to the box office and buy another ticket for the next showing.  I didn’t; but I wanted to.

The 2013 film had it all—the music, including artists Jay-Z, Lana Del Ray, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Will i Am, and a few of the classics; the parties, over-the-top and extravagant Jay Gatsby gatherings; the fashion, with Daisy (played by Carey Mulligan) adorned the entire film in Tiffany and Co. diamonds, and iconic ‘20s fashion designed by popular designers like Prada; youth, not teenage youth, but young Hollywood stars, including Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) as Nick Carraway, Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) as Myrtle Wilson, and Joel Edgerton (Zero Dark Thirty) as Tom Buchanan; wealth, as evident by the parties and Long Island mansions; and most importantly, love.

The film may have received mixed reviews, but it made a killing at the box office.  And as one who has never really paid much attention to the critics (odd, I know, considering I write reviews of one kind or another on a weekly basis), I fell in love with this film.

Moreover, I fell in love with Leonardo DiCaprio all over again, just like I did after watching his performances in Titanic and Romeo + Juliet.  His portrayal of Jay Gatsby was perfect.  Perfect!  But to be honest, rarely do I watch him in a film where he does not nail whatever role he is playing; and I firmly believe he will be remembered as one of the greatest actors of my generation.

So is the 2013 version worth a watch?  Yes!  I think so.  And every single one of my girlfriends who have seen it agrees with me… and even a few of the guys.  My best friend’s husband actually thanked me for recommending they go see the movie because they too were hesitant.

Does it compare to the 1974 film?  Yes.

Should people forget about the Redford version?  No.

Let’s be honest; today’s youth isn’t going to watch a film from 1974.  Maybe a small handful will, but not the majority.  I get it; I was a teen once.  But kids today will go see this 2013 version.   And hopefully they will fall in love with the story just like I did back in the day.

Is it a perfect retelling of the literary piece?  Probably not, but I never go into a movie with those expectations.  Never.

Oh, and before I go, why do I keep referring to the 1974 version as “the original” in quotation marks?  Be sure to read Catie’s post

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1974 or the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby?  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! 

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Original Vs. Remake – Carrie (2013)

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

Only this time I’m going one step further.  Not only did I review the 2002 TV movie, I also went to the theater to see the 2013 remake starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore.

First, let’s take a look at Catie’s homemade summary, or actually logline/tagline this month:

This is what happens when the girl who is the brunt of every joke decides she’s had enough.

Before I begin my review of the 2013 remake, let me first begin by saying a few things about the 1976 film.  As with many of Stephen King’s works, Carrie is and forever will be a classic horror story.  Honestly, the original version ranks right up there with The Shining, Misery, Cujo, Silver Bullet, Pet Semetary, and even the TV movie, It.  I can watch any of these films, plus many more King adaptations, over and over again.

Story aside, the actresses in the 1976 classic should also be recognized.  Both Sissy Spacek (Carrie White) and Piper Laurie (Carrie’s mother, Margaret White) nailed their performances… Ms. Spacek as the sheltered and abused Carrie White, who breaks and finds a way to torment those who have always tormented her, and the great Piper Laurie as the overly religious and abusive mother.  Their performances landed both of them Academy Award nominations and deservingly so.  I’m not sure a horror movie has ever received Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominations since, although I could be wrong, and I doubt we see any true horror movies such as this receive this kind of praise going forward, but maybe…

But enough about the original, let’s talk about the 2013 remake.

Rarely do my guy and I actually go to the theater to see any film that is not summer’s big action blockbuster.  But when I saw the trailers for the updated version of Carrie, I knew I couldn’t wait for it to be on video.  Luckily for me, the release fell during the month of October and I was able to convince my guy that dinner, a haunted house, and a movie would be the perfect Halloween date for me.  He knows how much I love the spooky holiday, so he obliged even though he is not a fan of horror like I am.  However, he is a fan of Hit-Girl, so I didn’t have to beg too much…

Let’s start by briefly talking about the basics… the story is pretty much exactly like the original and the special effects are amazing.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let’s talk about the performances…

Chloe Grace Moretz is perfect.  And Julianne Moore is amazing.  AMAZING.  I always tend to like her in most of her films; but now after watching her play creepy Margaret White, I’m really a fan.  Then there’s Judy Greer as Miss Desjarden; she’s not the star, but I like her and the fact she voices Cheryl on Archer has nothing to do with it.

So is the 2013 version worth a watch?  Yes!  I think so.  My guy and I both enjoyed it.

Does it compare to the original?  Yes.

Should people forget about the original?  No.

Let’s be honest; today’s youth isn’t going to watch a film from 1976.  Maybe a small handful will, but not the majority.  I get it; I was a teen once.  But kids today will go see this 2013 version.  And they did, the same showing I went to.  And I was lucky enough to hear a teenager’s conversation with her friend after the movie in the restroom (along with two other adult women).  To loosely quote them…

“That movie had like no plot.”
“I know, right? At all.  So boring.”

Do I disagree with them?  Yes.

But what I found even more amusing was the open dialogue the other two women and I had once the girls left the room.  For one, those two teens clearly didn’t know Carrie is based on a Stephen King novel (if they even know who Stephen King is).  And two, obviously, they’ve never seen the original 1976 film.

It’s a sad world sometimes… now I know why my mom would always get so frustrated with me when I didn’t want to read or watch anything that wasn’t “new” when I was growing up.  I get it, Mom.  I really do.

Before I go, let me just say that I particularly like the idea of watching Carrie today, especially with the world of bullying where it is now.  Bullying has always existed, at home, at school, and all bullies need to know that eventually everyone gets theirs.  Maybe not via telekinesis like in Carrie, but they do in one way or another.  Therefore, why bully in the first place?

If a little movie like Carrie can stop at least one bully before they physically or emotionally attack anyone, good.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the 2013 version of Carrie?  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! 

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Original Vs. Remake – Carrie (2002)

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

First, let’s take a look at Catie’s homemade summary, or actually logline/tagline this month:

This is what happens when the girl who is the brunt of every joke decides she’s had enough.

Before I begin my review of the 2002 remake, let me first begin by saying a few things about the 1976 film.  As with many of Stephen King’s works, Carrie is and forever will be a classic horror story.  Honestly, the original version ranks right up there with The Shining, Misery, Cujo, Silver Bullet, Pet Semetary, and even the TV movie, It.  I can watch any of these films, plus many more King adaptations, over and over again.

Story aside, the actresses in the 1976 classic should also be recognized.  Both Sissy Spacek (Carrie White) and Piper Laurie (Carrie’s mother, Margaret White) nailed their performances… Ms. Spacek as the sheltered and abused Carrie White, who breaks and finds a way to torment those who have always tormented her, and the great Piper Laurie as the overly religious and abusive mother.  Their performances landed both of them Academy Award nominations and deservingly so.  I’m not sure a horror movie has ever received Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominations since, although I could be wrong, and I doubt we see any true horror movies such as this receive this kind of praise going forward, but maybe…

But enough about the original, let’s talk about the 2002 remake.

When I first agreed to take on this film, Catie warned me.  But I always enjoy comparing remakes to originals, even if the recent plethora of remakes does worry me about the lack of originality in Hollywood today.  So I did a quick search on my DVR; found the 2002 film and set it to record; and eventually sat down and watched it.

First of all, I almost turned it off five minutes in.  The quality was horrible and I thought to myself that the film appeared to be a low-budget made-for-TV version of the original.  Little did I know at the time, it was.

But I stuck through it, mainly because you can’t review a film after watching the first five minutes.  The story was *kind of* the same as the original, although they did take a few liberties of their own throughout, and the special effects were horrible.  Especially for 2002.

The performances weren’t all that bad, especially not Patricia Clarkson as Margaret White.  She was great. And of course Angela Bettis (Carrie) and the beautiful Rena Sofer (Miss Desjarden, the remake’s version of Miss Collins) weren’t horrible either; but  everyone else… not so much.

So is the 2002 version worth a watch?  No!  Stick to the original…

Now, I also went to the theater to see the new 2013 Carrie film starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore before watching the 2002 “movie.”  Tune in Friday to find out how it compares to the 1976 original and the 2002 version.

And before I go, let me just say that I particularly like the idea of watching Carrie today, especially with the world of bullying where it is now.  Bullying has always existed, at home, at school, and all bullies need to know that eventually everyone gets theirs.  Maybe not via telekinesis like in Carrie, but they do in one way or another.  Therefore, why bully in the first place?

If a little movie like Carrie can stop at least one bully before they physically or emotionally attack anyone, good.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the 2002 version of Carrie?  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! 

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Original Vs. Remake: Halloween (1978)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  We’re switching things up this month!  I’m taking on the original… can you believe it?  And next week, Catie will review the remake.  This month we tackle the horror classic, Halloween.  After all, it is October!

Who can get through the Halloween season without watching the spooky 1978 film, Halloween?  Not this horror movie fan!

The House

The Mask

The Scream Queen

Michael Myers

Usually, I open with Catie’s Homemade Summary that applies to both films.  But this time, since I’m going first, I had to draft one all my own:

After escaping from a psychiatric institution where he has been held since childhood, a masked killer returns to his hometown and stalks a babysitter, her friends, and a group of small children, while his doctor hunts him down. 



I can’t begin to explain how excited I am that I’m covering the original horror movie classic this month.  When Catie mentioned that she’d like to review the Rob Zombie 2007 remake, I bounced in my seat and clapped my hands.  Luckily I was alone, except for my animals, so no one saw how silly I looked cheering all by myself.

I absolutely love this movie.  To be honest, it could be John Carpenter’s Halloween that began my love affair with horror movies years and years ago.  I watch it every single Halloween.  Sometimes more than once.  And yes, it drives my guy crazy that I can watch and re-watch the same movie multiple times; he doesn’t share the same love for horror that I do.  But enough about me, let’s get down to business.

By now, I hope we all know the origin of Michael Myers and Halloween, but in case someone doesn’t…

The movie opens with a young Michael Myers stabbing his teenage sister to death in 1963.  He is admitted into Smith’s Grove Sanitarium where he spends the next eighteen years undergoing treatment from psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis.  But, on October 30th 1978, Michael awakens from a catatonic state, escapes the hospital, and steals a car.  Where is he going?  He has unfinished business in Haddonfield, Illinois.

The next morning, we’re introduced to Laurie Strode and her best friends Annie and Linda, a happy group of teenage girls walking to school.  The three friends agree to babysit later that night, Halloween night, despite the fact that Laurie feels like someone has been watching her all day – a man in a dark jumpsuit wearing a weird white mask.

Later that night, Annie’s boyfriend calls her for a ride, so she drops off the little girl she is watching with Laurie who is conveniently babysitting Tommy Doyle across the street.  When Annie is alone in the car, waiting for her boyfriend, Michael sits up from the back seat and kills her.  Tommy watches as the “Boogie Man” carries Annie’s lifeless body back to the house, and tells Laurie, but she shrugs off Tommy’s antics as a Halloween scare.

Next, Michael discovers Linda and her boyfriend, Bob, having sex in the house.  What are the rules of horror movies?  Never have sex.  Have sex and die.

Finally, Michael sets his eyes on his true target – Laurie.  After several very suspenseful scenes, Laurie barely escapes Michael’s grasps and manages to hide the children before crawling deep into a corner of an upstairs closet.  Just as Michael finds her, Dr. Loomis finally catches up to his patient and shoots him.  Michael falls from the bedroom window; however, by the time Loomis looks out, he is gone.

Cue The Music

Ever wonder why the film is referred to as John Carpenter’s Halloween?  That’s because John Carpenter wrote the screenplay (with Debra Hill), produced (with Hill, and others including Moustapha Akkad) and directed the movie, and created the original music.

In October 2010, the Biography Channel aired Halloween: The Inside Story, and my appreciation for the original film of the Halloween franchise grew.  Not only did the film captivate audiences, but the movie’s success came with an extremely low budget, even for the 1970s.

Carpenter took the small financing and hired a ton of no-name actors, including the now famous, Jamie Lee Curtis to play Laurie Strode, Michael’s main target.  He approached famous actors to play the part of Dr. Samuel Loomis, but after multiple rejections, Carpenter finally found an English actor interested in the role, Donald Pleasance.

The other cast members had a few film credits to their name, but many were considered “B” movie actors: Nancy (Loomis) Kyes played Annie; P.J.  Soles starred as Lynda; and Nick Castle played “The Shape” – or Michael Myers as we know him.

Keeping within the small budget, Carpenter selected areas in California for filming the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois, and he tasked the actors with gathering and dropping the fake fall leaves over and over again during the twenty-one days of filming.  The most astonishing of all the Halloween facts learned while watching Biography’s special, was the fact that the Michael Myers’ mask is actually a Captain Kirk mask painted and tweaked just a bit so that it wasn’t recognizable as the popular Star Trek character.

Originally titled the The Babysitter Murders, Carpenter’s movie saw extreme box office success. The approximate $300,000 film made over $47 million at the theaters.  The Halloween franchise remains popular today and consists of ten films, including two recent remakes by rocker, Rob Zombie. 

Pleasance and Curtis have remained loyal to the franchise; Pleasance filmed a total of five Halloween films and Curtis four.  The Halloween movies have also featured a few familiar faces over the years:  Danielle Harris (Halloween 4, 5, and both of Rob Zombie’s remakes); Paul Rudd (The Curse of Michael Myers); Josh Hartnett, LL Cool J, Michelle Williams, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Adam Arkin, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (H20); Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes (Resurrection); and Malcolm McDowell and Scout Taylor Compton (Zombie’s 2007 and 2009 movies).

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the only film in the franchise that doesn’t tell Michael Myers’ story, and is by far my least favorite.  So which one is my favorite?  The original, of course.  But, I’ll watch  Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and Halloween: H20 anytime I can!

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Halloween?  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 next week for her take on the Rob Zombie remake.

And at the end of next week, we have a special guest, Jess Witkins, joining the Original vs. Remake fun!  She’s jumping in and covering a third Halloween film.  Which one will she choose?

Original Vs. Remake – Friday the 13th (2009)

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 classic, Friday the 13th.  After all, today is Friday the 13th!!

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

A group of young adults is terrorized by a killer at Crystal Lake and the nearby deserted summer camp.

Before I begin, let me first mention that I love Friday the 13th—not just the movie franchise—but the actual date itself.  But when I think about it, maybe I love it when a Friday lands on the thirteenth of a month because I automatically associate the day as a scary day because of the horror movie and its subsequent sequels.  Regardless, I’m a fan…  When I see that a particular Friday actually falls on the thirteenth, I hit the television and search immediately for a Friday the 13th marathon.  Sadly, not many stations actually take the opportunity to air an all-day and all-night marathon of Jason Voorhees movies; and if I ever run a TV station, this will be one of my first orders of business.

Friday the 13th is a classic and Catie said it best in her blog post discussing the original—if anyone considers themselves to be a horror buff and they have not seen this movie, shame on them.  Because of this movie, there have been many instances in real life where I have felt uncomfortable.  Take for instance when I stayed at a week-long Athletic Training Camp at Prude Ranch in high school… I heard noises outside my cabin… and I really didn’t want to shower out there (or anytime I go to a lake – one never knows what or who’s lurking in that dirty water).  Or when I camped overnight at Palo Duro Canyon in college… I heard noises in the dry, dead brush all around us the entire time.

Thanks a lot, Jason.

See. Now you’re stuck out in the water with a crazy man wearing a mask on the shoreline. What are you going to do now? Die.

One might ask, if the 1980 film is so great, why remake it?  Well, I don’t feel Friday the 13th (2009) is an actual remake… it’s more a re-envisioning of the first few films in the franchise.  The writers did a fantastic job creating a somewhat new story all its own, while still incorporating many elements of the other films and the classic horror movie “rules.”

Let’s talk about the similarities—elements that are required in order to make a Friday the 13th movie complete:

The Curse of Camp Crystal Lake:

It all started in 1980, when innocent camp counselors worked to open an old camp site; a camp that had been closed after a young boy, Jason Voorhees, drowned in the lake.  How did Jason drown?  Two camp counselors that were supposed to watch him decided to have sex instead. Devastated by her son’s death, Jason’s mother took matters into her own hands to ensure the camp didn’t open again—to protect other children from counselors who were more interested in their summer shenanigans than watching the children.  One by one, she stalked the unaware teenagers, placing blame on each of them for her son’s death.  Mrs. Voorhees managed to brutally murder each counselor—all except for one.   Alice managed to escape Mrs. Voorhees’ murderous rampage and turned the tables on the crazed mother.  In what began the true Friday the 13th style, Alice decapitated Mrs. Voorhees with a machete. Thus, we have the Curse of Camp Crystal Lake.

Jason, the mask, and the machete:

Jason Voorhees remains one of the most frightening characters today.  He’s gigantic, has super strength, obtains supernatural abilities, and isn’t afraid to kill.  He always has his machete, but he will also never shy away from bows and arrows, spears, pitchforks, or chainsaws—anything that will cut right through his victims.

The music:

Ki ki ki, ma ma ma – The dreadful, eerie, creepy music.  There have been many debates over what the actual sounds of the Jason music are.  The ‘ki’ sound comes from the word ‘kill’ and the ‘ma’ sound from ’mommy’—a line in the original movie spoken by Mrs. Voorhees in her child’s voice: “Kill her mommy!”

The killings:

Even the murders mirror classic Jason killings from a few of the earlier movies:  a machete chop through the head; a machete stab through the chest and into a tree; an arrow through the head; a metal hook through the throat; a towel rack and an ax through the back; and a fireplace stoker through the eye.  Okay; it’s been a while since I’ve seen all of the Jason movies, but all of these kills at least seemed familiar… since today is Friday the 13th, hopefully I’ll find a marathon so I can confirm that all of these tactics have indeed previously taken the lives of other teenagers standing in Jason’s way.

The re-envisioning also incorporates a few of the franchise’s key moments: a shrine to Jason’s mother with her decapitated head as the centerpiece, showing his love and dedication to her, and also Jason’s finding an old hockey mask to cover his disfigured face.  We also see the classic horror elements that Catie listed in her post: the prior “evil” events at Camp Crystal Lake in 1980, and the fact that help is not coming.

Party… and Die. Jason’s Rules.

Next, let’s go over the horror movie “rules” present in Friday the 13th (2009) just in case someone isn’t quite familiar:

  1. Don’t show your breasts.  Show your breasts, and die.
  2. Don’t have sex.  Everyone knows that the second a couple fornicates, they die.
  3. Don’t drink or do drugs.  Intoxicate yourself in any way, and die.

Now, let’s switch gears and discuss cast and characterization.

Catie mentioned that the cast of the original was primarily a group of relatively unknown actors.  One of Jason’s victims back in 1980 may not have been well known then, but he’s a huge Hollywood star today—Kevin Bacon.  How many times have we seen someone’s starring role in a slasher film actually launch their career?  But I digress…

Unlike the original, the 2009 version stars many familiar faces: Jared Padalecki (Supernatural), Danielle Panabaker (Shark), Amanda Righetti (The Mentalist), Travis Van Winkle (Transformers), and Willa Ford (ex-wife to hockey super-star, Mike Modano and former Dancing with the Stars contestant).  Each of these actors and actresses can be described as easy on the eyes, or eye candy—a feature that doesn’t hurt when deciding which movie to go see…

And while the casting can affect whether or not I’m interested in seeing the movie, the characterization determines whether or not I enjoy the movie—usually.  In the case of horror films and slashers, I usually can’t empathize with many of the characters.  In other words, I don’t mind the fact that I know each and every one of them are about to be hacked into pieces.  However, I can list four characters in Friday the 13th (2009) that I actually liked:

  • Clay, the hero—the good guy on a mission to find his missing sister and protect as many as he can in the meantime.
  • Jenna, the nice girl—the girl with substance, unlike her partying friends, who wants to help others and not only protect herself.
  • Whitney, the damsel—the girl who, even though held captive, plays her captor like a fiddle to prolong her survival.
  • Jason, the killer—the poor, lost soul who wants to follow his mother’s orders (“Kill for mother”), protect his land (“They must be punished, Jason”), and be left alone (“We just want to be left alone, and so does he”).  He may be a serial killer, but viewers see a side of Jason we’ve never seen before… more of a “why” he does what he does.

As usual, Michael Bay’s production does not disappoint.  That’s right—Michael Bay.  Many associate his name with major motion picture action and drama masterpieces (Transformers, Bad Boys, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, etc…), but he also co-owns the production house responsible for so many of our favorite remakes  (A Nightmare on Elm Street, and a previous Original versus Remake feature, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).  Mr. Bay may be one of my favorite producers in Hollywood now simply for this reason.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of the crazed, movie-goers that attended the premiere of Friday the 13th on Friday, February 13, 2009.  How could I possibly pass up the opportunity to see a Friday the 13th film on Friday the 13th?  I couldn’t… so I coaxed my guy into taking me by playing the Valentine/birthday card.  While he tolerated it (he’s not into slashers and horror like I am), the film didn’t disappoint this Friday fan.  I enjoyed all of the classic elements of the older versions, as mentioned above, but especially and most recognizably the ending—Jason’s resurrection after being buried in the water, from which he rises and grabs a survivor before the screen fades to black…

Did you jump?  I sure did!  Now that’s my kind of ending…

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the “remake” of Friday the 13th?  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! 

Happy Friday the 13th!  And remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.