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.

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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.

When Nightmares Kill…

With Halloween having just passed, I have been busy watching a TON of the classic horror movies.  Thanks to AMC’s Fear Fest and the SyFy channel, I caught a lot of the Halloween franchise, the Friday the 13th franchise, and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise over the course of the past month.

Not only have I seen Wes Craven’s 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street, I’ve watched it so many times I’ve lost count over the years.  However, I still remember my first time…  I was a little girl, not quite ten years old, and Freddy Krueger scared the bejeezus out of me.

Since then, I’ve watched the original and all of the subsequent movies in the franchise probably more times than I should admit.  A few years ago, in preparation for the 2010 remake, I even hosted a group of girls for a Nightmare movie marathon.  Despite having seen the film countless times, the fear of Freddy and his razor-sharp claws still worked its magic… I checked under all of the beds and in all of the closets before going to sleep.  I know; I’m a dork—Freddy doesn’t get anyone while they’re awake, it’s after they fall asleep…

One thing’s for sure, the endearment “Sweet Dreams” changed drastically in 1984 when audiences met Freddy Krueger for the first time.

And, what about that eerie nursery rhyme with the little girls dressed in beautiful white baby-doll dresses jumping rope, singing, and having fun?

“One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you.

Three, Four, Better lock your door.

Five, Six, Grab your crucifix.

Seven, Eight, Gotta stay up late.

Nine, Ten, Never sleep again.”

Say what you will, but that rhyme still spooks me to this very day!  Not to mention the fact that I have a hard time remembering the actual lyrics to the peaceful children’s song now.

Craven created the Nightmare franchise with his horrifying screenplay and his directing brilliance.  Robert Englund may still be recognized today as his character, Freddy Krueger, more than he is as Robert Englund, the actor.  This horror flick opened the door for nine feature films, including a 2010 remake.

According to Robert Englund in a 2010 interview for Biography’s Inside Story, A Nightmare on Elm Street is the “universal story of the bad dream, the nightmare, and the boogeyman.”  And I’d have to agree.

In each of the films, Freddy taunts and haunts a group of teenagers.  And only the teenagers understand—don’t fall asleep.  The adults… not so much.  All the adults (parents, nurses, etc) want the kids to do is get some rest.  Rest, as we all know, is the last thing these teens should be getting.

With every Nightmare movie, viewers can expect to see Freddy (of course), a cast of young, hot, and up & coming teens (ah-hem… Johnny Depp, anyone?), a few of the classic Freddy-esque scenes, and hear at least one of Freddy’s quirky one-liners (even though I read somewhere that when Craven first imagined Freddy, he pictured him being a silent killer, much like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees).

Some of the movies are great; some are a bit campy and out there; but everyone around the globe knows who Freddy Krueger is.  Right?

Let’s just hope he doesn’t visit us anytime soon in our dreams…

Are you a Nightmare fan?  Which of the films do you enjoy most and why?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – AMC’s Fear Fest

October is one of my favorite months.  First of all, football season has officially kicked into high gear.  Also, the cooler weather slowly begins to creep into the state of Texas—everywhere really, but we Texans can finally start to notice a difference between the daytime and nighttime temperatures.

Additionally, one of my favorite holidays just happens to fall during the month of October—Halloween.  I enjoy getting dressed up, most of the time anyway, and handing out candy to all of the children who knock on my door.  I’m also fascinated by the idea of anything spooky—haunted houses, horror movies, etcetera.

I usually dedicate each Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday post to a particular television show.  But not today.  Today, I want to feature an entire channel and its commitment to my favorite time of year—AMC’s Fear Fest.

For almost an entire month (October 13th-31st), AMC airs our favorite horror movie classics.  Everything from:

Alien

Cujo

Child’s Play

Friday the 13th

 A Nightmare on Elm Street

Tremors

The Amityville Horror

The Exorcist

The Omen

And of course, Halloween

Most nights, AMC even plays these movie franchises in order.  Take this week for instance.  Every night this week, we can watch Jason hunt his prey at Camp Crystal Lake.  This weekend, Tremors.  The days before Halloween… you guessed it… the entire Michael Myers collection.

My television is pretty much stuck on AMC’s Fright Fest all day long, every day of the week leading up to Halloween.  It drives my guy crazy.  Not just because he’s not as big on horror flicks as I am, but because I’ve seen all of these films a hundred times over and never tire of watching them.  Oh well, at least he has video games he can go play…

So, if you like the classic horror movies as much as I do, perhaps you’ll want to tune into AMC this month.  As for me, you know where I’ll be.

What’s your favorite classic horror movie?  Are you a fan of AMC’s Fear Fest?  I’d love to hear from you!

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.

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.