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?

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – American Horror Story

With summer coming to an end, and the new fall television schedule right around the corner, I have decided to take a break (of sorts) here on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.  I say “of sorts” because instead of reviewing a fresh new series, I want to feature a few shows that I am looking forward to returning in the 2013/2014 TV season.

This week, American Horror Story

Over the years, FX has launched itself as one of the premiere networks due to their phenomenal original programming.  The channel hit pay dirt in the 2011/2012 season with yet another fantastic FX original to add to its list of past successes.  Joining the likes of Nip/Tuck, Damages, and Justified, American Horror Story kept with the creepy and dark storylines and didn’t disappoint!  And now, with two seasons “in the books,” the writers and creators hope to score big… again.

Season one, American Horror Story, followed the stories of the Murder House…

Following a miscarriage and an affair, Vivien and Ben Harmon left Boston with their daughter, looking for a fresh start.  The family bought a gorgeous house in California, despite learning that the previous owners both died in the basement in an apparent murder-suicide.

The house was perfect for the Harmons; large enough for Ben (Dylan McDermott, The Practice) to open his private psychiatry practice, and outdated just enough to keep Vivien (Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights) busy redecorating.  At first daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) doesn’t understand why the family had to move across the country, but she soon adjusted after meeting her father’s new patient and fellow “cutter” (Tate, played by Evan Peters).

The Murder House… aka The Harmon’s New Residence..

Not long after moving into the new home, the neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves: Constance (Academy Award winner, Jessica Lange) and her daughter Adelaide. Constance warned Vivien that Addy had always been attracted to the Harmon’s new home and had the tendency to walk in as she pleased, but failed to disclose that she too had a long history with the house.

Next, Vivien met Moira, the house’s former housekeeper.  After briefly visiting with Moira, Vivien decided to re-hire her to help tend to the house.  But here’s the creepy part – Vivien saw Moira as an older woman (played by Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under), but her adulterous husband saw Moira as a young and sexy maid (played by Alexandra Breckenridge, Dirt).

Following a home invasion of crazy people, reenacting a previous murder that allegedly took place in her house in the 1960s, Vivien decided to hop on board a tour bus that stopped outside her new home to learn the history of the house—The Murder House.

Season one brought us The Gimp…

The house was built in the early 1900s by a Dr. Charles Montgomery for his wife, Nora.  Suffering from a down economy, the doctor performed abortions inside the house for extra money.  It was not long before an angry family member of one of Charles’ patients kidnapped and murdered his son.

In the 1960s, a group of sorority girls lived in the house.  Maria, a devout Christian, answered the door to find a bleeding man on the front porch.  She brought him inside and called upstairs for the house nurse to help—but it was a set-up.  The man and his friends drowned the nurse, and hog tied and brutally murdered Maria.

In the 1970s, the house was vacant and a set of red-headed twin tweens enjoyed vandalizing the property.  Young Adelaide warned the two to not go inside, but they ignored her and continued to break lights and wreak havoc on the house.  After entering the basement, the two boys were murdered.

The stories continued… and the murders continued over the years; thus the nickname, the Murder House.

I made no secret of the fact that I loved the first season of American Horror Story.  The creators and writers produced groundbreaking TV; every episode was filled with eerie, spooky, and creepy storylines with twists and turns week in and week out.  No one was safe, not even the main characters played by major Hollywood actors and actresses.  And the ending?  Well, it wrapped up the Murder House storyline perfectly for the epic first year with potential for more.

But unlike most television dramas, season two brought something fresh—no more Murder House.  Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk took season two in an entirely different direction.  Together, they created American Horror Story: Asylum.

The series kept a few of our favorite leads from the first year (Jessica Lange, Evan Peters) and brought back a few of the supporting cast (Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, and Zachary Quinto) as well.  But no one returning for season two played the same character—Constance (Lange), Tate (Peters), Moira (Conroy), Nora (Rabe), Billie Dean (Paulson), and Chad (Quinto) were gone; instead, we had Sister Jude (Lange), Kit (Peters), The Angel of Death (Conroy), Sister Mary Eunice (Rabe), Lana (Paulson), and Dr. Oliver Thredson (Quinto).

New characters were also introduced in season two with well-known actors and actresses accepting the roles (Joseph Fiennes, James Cromwell, Chloe Sevigny, Adam Levine, and Mark Consuelos to just name a few).

The story was also completely different.  Instead of the Murder House, we had Briarcliff—the mental hospital/insane asylum—where again, it seemed no one ever really escapes.  Unlike the first season, which took place in the present, season two took place in the 1960s for the most part.  Instead of the theme of infidelity like in season one, season two focused largely on themes/things that could have happened, have happened, and were rumored to have happened, and might possibly happen again in the future, making it even creepier than season one… if that’s at all possible.

Asylum brought us Bloody Face…

In lieu of the creepy and spooky, the stories were primarily dark, twisted, and extremely bothersome… bordering on disgusting.   Perhaps one of the reasons season two was so gripping was because of the controversial storylines: aliens, demonic possession, abuse at the hands of medical professionals and the Catholic Church, the inhumane treatment of those locked away in the mental hospital/insane asylum… all simply because those in charge could get away with it.  As mentioned before, all of these things could have happened in real life, have happened, and will quite possibly happen again in the future.  That’s why American Horror Story: Asylum was scary—different from the purely suspenseful themes in the first year.

For me, I enjoyed the first year more than the second… as far as the story is concerned, anyway.  The acting and characters?  They were still just as impressive.  Once again, Jessica Lange and Even Peters carried the show with help from American Horror Story alumni Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto.  I watched every single week just for the cast.  Now, I’m not saying season two was bad, just different and not as good in my opinion.  In keeping with the first year, the unique storytelling, twists, and revelations of Asylum were simply genius and still unlike anything else on TV today.

American Horror Story: Asylum closed just as nicely as the first… perhaps even better.  Every story was wrapped up in a big red bow with no questions or cliffhangers left dangling.

News of the third season pickup thrilled me; but left me wondering what we, the television audience, could expect with a new year of AHS.  And then I saw the story’s new “home” of sorts…

American Horror Story: Coven

Coven?  Are you kidding me?  We get witches?  Oh, heck yes!

Not only that, but a few of our favorites are back!  Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe return… as do a few of season one’s veterans we missed or barely saw in season two: Taissa Farmiga, Frances Conroy, Alexandra Breckenridge, and Denis O’Hare.  One name is missing, I notice, and this makes me sad… Zachary Quinto.  Fingers crossed he at least stops by the Coven for a second or two.

We also have some new faces joining the cast… some really familiar faces: Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Patti LuPone, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, Grey Damon, and Mare Winningham.

After seeing what the writers and creators were capable of in the first two years, I will be one of the first to press play on my DVR October 9th when American Horror Story: Coven premieres on FX.

It’s for this reason (and all those mentioned above), that I must award the entire American Horror Story series with the GTV rating… even though I clearly enjoyed the first season more than the second.

Bottom line –  FX has themselves a groundbreaking television series, appropriate for viewing after dark with a perfectly grilled bone-in filet, steaming broccoli, and a glass of fine red wine.

What do you think—will you watch American Horror Story: Coven?  Did you watch the first two seasons of AHS?  Did you prefer season one or season two?  I’d love to hear from you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

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.

Spooky and Seductive Vampires – Fright Night (2011)

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, Fright Night.

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

A teenager realizes his next door neighbor is a vampire and enlists a supposed vampire hunter to help him make his neighborhood safe again.

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 1985 film so many times, I decided to blog about it last week.

So why did I request the remake?  Two words—Colin Farrell.  Who doesn’t think this is the best casting for the sexy, dark role of Vampire Jerry?

But let’s get back to the movie…

The storyline for the remake is quite similar to the original, although the screenplay added a few needed updates to make it its own: a teenage boy (Charley Brewster, played by Anton Yelchin) begins to believe his next door neighbor is actually a vampire.  But instead of him watching his neighbor (Jerry Dandrige, played by Colin Farrell) move in with coffin-like boxes like in the 1985 flick, it takes warnings from his best friend (“Evil” Ed Lee, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and numerous classmates missing from school before he realizes his neighbor might actually be a blood sucker.  One thing leads to another, just like it always does, and Charley seeks assistance from a Las Vegas magician (Peter Vincent, played by David Tennant), who also has a reputation for allegedly being a vampire hunter, for help.

When Charley confides why he’s been acting so strangely to his mother (Jane, played by Toni Collette) and girlfriend (Amy, played by Imogen Poots), they both think he has lost his mind.  Vampires aren’t real!  Right?  Oh, but they soon change their minds…

There’s more to the remake and to Vampire Jerry than in the original… he’s not just feeding off sexy women and whomever he pleases to survive, he’s building… something… I don’t want to give too much away, but I honestly liked this new tweak to the story.

In addition to the famous and familiar actors and actresses names mentioned above, a few other notable roles include: James Franco’s (Freaks and Geeks, Spider-Man, 127 Hours) little brother, Dave Franco, playing Mark; Sofia Vergara’s (Modern Family) little sister, Sandra Vergara, playing Ginger; and Lisa Loeb (1994 hit song, “Stay”), playing Evil Ed’s mom.

Clearly, the cast is great.  And despite Mr. Farrell’s sexy and dark performance as Vampire Jerry, I think David Tennant’s portrayal of Peter Vincent might just be my favorite.  Most of the humor in this film surrounds Peter, and Mr. Tennant’s comedic timing is fantastic.  He most definitely should be applauded for making such an iconic role his own.  Because let’s face it, many watched the original Fright Night for Roddy McDowall.

And speaking of the original’s cast… some might consider me a dork, but I love when actors and actresses from an older, or original, work are incorporated into the remake.  This tells me that not only do they want the work, but in a way it says they have given the reboot their blessing.  Regardless, it’s a small detail that I appreciate.  The Fright Night franchise would not be the same without Chris Sarandon, and even though his screen time is lightning fast in the 2011 film, I noticed and I thank all those involved in making this happen.

And like its 1985 predecessor, Fright Night (2011) is not a feel-good vampire movie.  It’s mysterious, dark, and at times spooky.  Even the music was eerie, particularly the instrumental “Welcome to Fight Night” by Ramin Djawadis.  When I heard this song in the opening credits, I knew I was in for a treat!

So how does the remake hold up?  Is it possible for someone who loved the original and watched it countless times as a little girl to enjoy it just as much?  The answer is an unequivocal yes!

The original was great, even if a bit campy when watched today as Catie mentioned, but this film, from a story-telling aspect, is better; it was more developed, allowing it to stand on its own in today’s market… especially for those who aren’t familiar with the franchise… and let’s hope that demographic is very small!

Without fail, the 2011 film did not disappoint this Fright Night fan (not at all like the 1988 sequel).

Before we go, Catie always lists some sort of fun trivia in her reviews, so I thought I’d throw one out there:

It is rumored that Heath Ledger was in consideration for the role of Jerry, but he passed away before the project kicked into high gear.  After watching his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight, I have no doubt that Mr. Ledger would have been fantastic as Vampire Jerry.  May he rest in peace.

However, don’t worry;  Mr. Farrell nails it as far as I’m concerned!

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Fright Night?  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.

Spooky and Seductive Vampires – Fright Night (1985)

Every second week of the month, Catie Rhodes and I review a classic film and its reboot in our Original versus Remake series.  For the month of February, we’ve gone back to the horror genre and selected Fright Night.  While Catie will be reviewing the original on Wednesday, and I will be covering the more recent adaptation next Friday, today I thought I’d share my take on the ‘80s classic I watched countless times as a little girl.

Yes, that’s right; my parents let me watch whatever I wanted when I was younger.  The horror genre really took off in the ‘80s, and I can’t express my thanks enough to my parents for not sheltering me from these movies.  Watching these frightening flicks didn’t scare me away either; I absolutely love slashers and all kinds of horror today.

But most vampire movies today want the audience to fall in love with the vampire.  Take the Twilight series for example – none of the Cullens actually feed on humans (not that we see, anyway).  No, the bad vampires (like Victoria) are the evil vamps killing innocents; and the good vampires, like the Cullen family, fight these bad seeds to protect Bella and the other humans.

The same can’t be said about Tom Holland’s 1985 classic, Fright Night.

That’s not to say the viewers don’t secretly love Fright Night’s vampire lead.  Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) possesses all the qualities we love in a vampire; he’s sexy, seductive, brooding, and he’s not afraid to sink his teeth into a nightly feed.

But Jerry is not the character the audience is supposed to cheer on during the big showdown at the end of the movie.

Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) lives a normal teenage life with his single mother, Judy (Dorothy Fielding), quirky best friend, Edward, aka “Evil Ed” (Stephen Geoffreys), and girlfriend, Amy (Amanda Bearse), until one night he notices the new neighbor moving in with what resembles coffin-like boxes.

Being a horror fan, Charley immediately questions whether or not a vampire has just moved in next door and he begins investigating.  He reaches out to a television vampire hunter, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), for ways to prove, or disprove, that his new neighbor is indeed a blood-sucker.

Watching women disappear after joining the mysterious man next door, Charley decides to sneak over and put some of Peter’s ideas to the test.  His suspicions are confirmed when he notices Jerry’s image does not reflect in a mirror.  But unfortunately for the teenager, Jerry learns that his young neighbor has been sneaking around when Charley leaves behind a piece of his mirror.

Jerry stalks Charley, terrorizes him, and makes his life a living hell.  He lures those closest to Charley by turning them and compelling them to do as he wishes.

Charley’s only hope is to trust Peter.  Armed with holy water, crosses, and wooden stakes, Charley and Peter enter the vampire’s house with one goal—kill.

Fright Night is not a feel-good vampire movie.  It’s mysterious, dark, and at times spooky.  Even the music was eerie and seductive, particularly the instrumental “Dream Window (Come to Me)” by Brad Fiedel.

The movie won awards, spawned a novelization, a sequel, a comic book series, and a computer game.

And in 2011, a remake.

DreamWorks (Steven Spielberg) has remade the classic film, and cast Colin Farrell as Jerry.  Colin Farrell!  Who doesn’t think this is the best casting for the sexy, dark role of Jerry?

The casting all around is FaBOOolous: Anton Yelchin (Terminator Salvation, Star Trek) plays Charley Brewster; Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, United States of Tara) plays Jane Brewster; David Tennant (Doctor Who, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) plays Peter Vincent; and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Role Models, Kick-Ass) plays Evil Ed.

A few other notable roles include: James Franco’s (Freaks and Geeks, Spiderman, 127 Hours) little brother, Dave Franco, playing Mark; Sofia Vergara’s (Modern Family) little sister, Sandra Vergara, playing Ginger; and Lisa Loeb (1994 hit song, “Stay”), playing Evil Ed’s mom.

So how does the remake hold up?  You’ll have to come back next week to find out!

Be sure to tune into Catie’s blog on Wednesday to see what she thinks about the original, and I’ll be back next Friday with my take on the 2011 film.

Until then…

What do you think?  Were/are you a fan of the 1985 Fright Night?   I’d love to hear from you!


Tele-Tuesday: Anxiously Awaiting the Return of American Horror Story

Over these last few weeks, The Ooo Factor has introduced seventeen new programs to the 2012 television schedule.  But what about our returning favorites?

By now, I think everyone knows just how much I loved a few of the new dramas last year.  When asked which one I enjoyed most, I have a difficult time choosing (all three are very different).  First, we have ABC’s Revenge, where we watch the angry, yet beautiful protagonist Emily Thorne exact vengeance against all those who destroyed her family years earlier.  Next, we have CBS’s Person of Interest, where we watch the Jack Bauer-Raylan Givens-like protagonist John Reese kick bad guys around each and every week.  Then we have American Horror Story

FX did it again in the 2011/2012 season with yet another fantastic original drama to add to its list of past successes.  Joining the likes of Nip/Tuck, Damages, and Justified, American Horror Story kept with the creepy and dark story lines and didn’t disappoint!

To recap:

Following a miscarriage and an affair, Vivien and Ben Harmon leave Boston with their daughter looking for a fresh start.  The family buys a gorgeous house, despite learning that the previous owners both died in the basement in an apparent murder-suicide.

The Harmon Family…

The house is perfect for the Harmons; large enough for Ben (Dylan McDermott, The Practice) to open his private psychiatry practice, and outdated just enough to keep Vivien (Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights) busy redecorating.  At first daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) doesn’t understand why the family has to move across the country, but she soon adjusts after she meets her father’s new patient and fellow “cutter” Tate (Evan Peters).

The family’s new neighbors stop by to introduce themselves: Constance (Academy Award winner, Jessica Lange) and her daughter Adelaide. Constance warns Vivien that Addy has always been attracted to the Harmon’s new home and tends to walk in as she pleases, but fails to disclose that she too has a long history with the house.

Next, Vivien meets Moira, the house’s former housekeeper.  After briefly visiting with Moira, Vivien decides to hire her to help tend to the house.  But here’s the creepy part – Vivien sees Moira as an older woman (played by Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under), but her adulterous husband sees Moira as a young and sexy maid (played by Alexandra Breckenridge, Dirt).

Regardless of which version of Moira is on screen, Constance can’t stand her.  Years earlier, young Moira was sleeping with another former owner of the house (played by Eric Close from Without a Trace), a man who Constance loved.  After walking in on Moira and her lover having sex, Constance shot and killed them both.  Constance didn’t bother to notice that her boyfriend was forcing himself onto the beautiful housekeeper; instead, she just shot point-blank into Moira’s eye before taking dead aim at his chest.

Following a home invasion of crazy people reenacting a previous murder that allegedly took place in her house in the 1960s, Vivien decides to hop on board a tour bus that stops outside her new home to learn a bit of history about the house—The Murder House.

The Murder House… aka the Harmon residence.

The house was built in the early 1900s by a Dr. Charles Montgomery for his wife, Nora.  Suffering from a down economy, the doctor performed abortions inside the house for extra money.  It was not long before an angry family member of one of Charles’ patients kidnapped and murdered his son.   The events destroyed the family, particularly Nora, but when the doctor sewed his son back together like a Frankenstein monster, his wife lost it.

In the 1960s, a group of sorority girls lived in the house.  Maria, a devout Christian, answered the door to find a bleeding man on the front porch.  She brought him inside and called upstairs for the house nurse to help—but it was a set-up.  The man and his friends drowned the nurse, and hog tied and brutally murdered Maria.

Learning of these additional stories about her house, Vivien decides she has heard enough.  Noticing blood, she jumps off the tour bus and rushes to the doctor afraid she’s suffering another miscarriage.  Her baby is fine, but despite her doctor’s warning to not attempt a move during pregnancy, Vivien insists they sell the house.

In addition to the legends that Vivien has already heard, the house has an even longer history of death making it difficult for the realtor (Christine Estabrook, Desperate Housewives) to show the house.

In the 1970s, the house was vacant and a set of red-headed twin tweens enjoyed vandalizing the property.  Young Adelaide warned the two to not go inside, but they ignored her and continued to break lights and wreak havoc on the house.  After entering the basement, the two boys were murdered.

Look behind you, Vivien!

Another previous owner, Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare, True Blood), set the house on fire while his wife and daughters slept—or did he?  Regardless of how the fire started, he too burned, but was spared before perishing himself.  After serving years of his life sentence in prison, he was diagnosed with an advanced stage of brain cancer and was released to live out the remainder of his days a free man.  Now free, Larry begins to stalk Ben and warns him that he must get his family out of that house…

On Halloween 2010, gay lovers Chad (Zachary Quinto, Heroes) and Patrick (Teddy Sears, Raising the Bar) died while preparing to celebrate the festive holiday.  Following a fight, Patrick stormed off and a mysterious man dressed in rubber drowned Chad in his apple-bobbing station.  Attempting to mend fences with his lover, Patrick rushed home wearing his Halloween costume and discovered his partner’s body before suffering his own untimely death at the hands of The Gimp.  As we can see, the previous owners did not die in a murder-suicide, as the realtor tells it, but rather a double homicide…

The Gimp… or is that Ben? Or Tate? Who is wearing the creepy rubber suit?

Past events continue to unfold, but remember one of the reasons why the family moved away from Boston?  Ben had an affair with his student (Hayden played by Kate Mara from We Are Marshall).

Hayden announces she is pregnant and shows up at the Harmon house hoping to convince Ben to take care of her or warns she will ruin his marriage.  Crazy Larry takes a shovel to Hayden’s head and Ben covers up the murder by burying her in a grave in the backyard.  As Larry sees it, Ben now owes him; and the house has a new ghost lingering around.

Speaking of the grave, there were other bodies down there—Moira for one.  Constance explains this is why the slain housekeeper is forever tied to the house, especially after Ben builds a gazebo to cover up Hayden’s body.  But are there other bodies down there too?

Tate, Constance, and Moira watch as yet another falls victim…

And this is just early into season one… the really good thing about American Horror Story is that the show actually answered many of our questions, including:

Who is The Gimp?
What happened to Tate?
What happened to Constance’s other children, and is she a ghost?
What happened to Mrs. Montgomery?
Will Addy be tied to the house along with the other ghosts?
Will the Harmons escape The Murder House?
And, who is the father of Vivien’s baby, her husband or the man in the rubber suit?

But unlike most television dramas, season two brings us an entirely different story and cast.  Instead of a family moving into The Murder House, this year the story takes place in an asylum.  Instead of playing Constance, Jessica Lange now plays Sister Jude.  Instead of playing Chad, Zachary Quinto now plays Dr. Thredson.  Instead of playing Tate, Evan Peters now plays Kit Walker.   And, instead of playing Nora, Lily Rabe now plays Sister Mary Eunice.  Other than this, the entire cast of American Horror Story season two is new:  James Cromwell, Joseph Fiennes, Adam Levine, Chloe Sevigny, Clea DuVall, and Mark Consuelos to just name a few.

I won’t lie; a part of me is sad that the story of season one died along with… well, I don’t want to give anything away.  But after seeing what the writers and creators were capable of last year, I will be one of the first to press play on my DVR October 17th when American Horror Story: Asylum premieres on FX.

Did you watch American Horror Story?  What do you think about the change in location and cast for season two?  Which non-returning character will you miss most?  Which new character are you most looking forward to?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – Living with a Wicked Stepfather

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I to break down another cinematic original and its remake – this month, we discuss The Stepfather.

First, I must applaud Catie’s homemade summary for the 1987 thriller:

Jerry Blake is in search of the American Dream.  Somewhere out there is a house surrounded by a white picket fence and a family who will live up to his expectations. And if Jerry’s family doesn’t live up to his expectations, he’ll murder them and start over again.

And in keeping with Catie’s style, here’s a taste of the most recent, The Stepfather (2009):

When I first watched the trailer, I had no idea this film was a remake.  I saw the stars of the movie (each from past and current day television programs that I highly enjoy) and the premise of the movie, and I was hooked!  Not to mention, you know you’re aging when you have just as much of a crush on the dads of the film as you do the young actor playing the teenage son…

Now for a few differences between the original and the remake:

Jerry Blake is now Grady Edwards, or David Harris (played by Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck).  We can’t be sure of his real name because he has changed it each time he has murdered his family and attempted to move on with his life.

David is definitely no Sean McNamara...

David meets Susan (Sela Ward, CSI: NY) in a grocery store where he discovers his next opportunity — his next American Dream — a single mother with two young children, a boy and a girl.  He introduces himself, she invites him to dinner, and the happiness commences.

Susan just wants to be happy...

That is until Susan’s oldest son, Michael (Penn Badgley, Gossip Girl), returns home from military school.  Apparently, Michael didn’t respond well to his mother and father’s (Jon Tenney, The Closer) divorce, so Mama sent him away to give Michael time to contemplate whether or not his acting out was the best way for him to deal with his life changes.

Michael is ecstatic to be home, but he’s not thrilled about David — he doesn’t like the speed with which David has courted his mother; and David makes him uncomfortable when he invites Michael down to the now padlocked basement for a shot of tequila for the two to bond over.  But Michael’s girlfriend (Amber Heard, Playboy Club) convinces him to give David a chance — after all, his mother has been so happy since David came into her life, and she doesn’t want Michael shipped back to military school.

Don't do anything stupid, Michael!

Everything in David’s new world is perfect — Susan’s sister (Paige Turco, Person of Interest) hires him at her lucrative real estate agency; he and Susan will soon marry; and it seems he has successfully escaped his life as Grady Edwards.

That is until the neighbor sees a man resembling David on America’s Most Wanted.  Of course this neighbor loves to gossip, so Susan laughs her off.  But not David.  No, he can’t have a nosy old woman sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong.  So he does what he does best — he murders her.

It’s also about this time that Michael and Michael’s father begin questioning the new man in Susan’s life.  And they aren’t the only ones…

Mom, are you sure you can trust David?

Why is the basement padlocked now that David lives in the house?
And since the basement door is already padlocked, why are the brand new shelving units that David built down there also padlocked?
Why does David call his deceased daughter by two different names?
Why doesn’t he have any form of identification to provide to his boss for his required government tax documents?

Stepdaddy is CRAZY!!!

Catie mentions in her post that including the POV of the brother of Jerry’s dead wife saves the predictability of the 1987 film.  The same can’t be said for the 2009 remake.

What’s not predictable?  The fact that David escapes at the end…  I honestly didn’t see that one coming.  Of course, had I known at the time that there was an original and subsequent sequels as I watched The Stepfather (2009)  for the first time, perhaps the ending would not have surprised me the way that it did.

But here’s the best part — The Stepfather movies are loosely inspired by actual events.  Has anyone ever heard of John List?  John List murdered his entire family and then walked away — vanished into thin air.  For more on List, click over to Catie’s blog today and read all about him on her Freaky Friday post.

David can change his appearance, but he can't change the crazy!

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of The Stepfather?  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.

Friday FabOoolousness: The Fear of the Unknown

Catie Rhodes and I are back with our new blog collaborative series where we each review an original movie and it’s more recent remake.  This month, we discuss the psychological horror film/s, The Thing.

Despite the fact that Catie agreed to review the 1982 film version of The Thing starring Kurt Russell, I scheduled the DVR to record it and watched it as well.  What better research for my blog post than to watch both films practically back-to-back, right?

For an early ‘80s film, The Thing is really terrifying.  I had seen it before, but still managed to jump in my seat on multiple occasions and cringe at some of the special effects — not because they were outdated, but because they were so well done and gory beyond belief.

The 1982 movie poster

After reading Catie’s post, I knew exactly why I was so impressed: The Thing was directed by none other than John Carpenter himself.  I may not be a “Level 3 Nerd” fan like she is, but I too believe the man is genius and knows horror (I am a big fan of Halloween; thank you, Mr. Carpenter).

I am also glad Catie mentioned the hotness of Kurt Russell.  Even with a full-on beard, the man had it going on in The Thing.  And if we’re being honest here, the main reason why I wanted to review the 2011 remake of The Thing is because of another cutie on my radar – Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: LA).

He's not a bad reason to watch a movie, right?

So I keep saying remake, but this is not correct.  I had heard in passing that the 2011 film was actually a prequel to the 1982 movie, but like usual decided that I must first see it to believe it.

It is.

Based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, writer Eric Heisserer begins the story with the Norwegian and American scientists who discover The Thing.  Not only do they discover the alien life form, but they also find its spaceship buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice.    The Norwegians contact a doctor (Ulrich Thomsen) about the discovery and he immediately makes plans to travel to the base.  But he first needs someone to assist with the dig.

The doctor remains hush-hush about the find when he hires a paleontologist to assist him (Kate, played by Mary Elizabeth Winsted).  Together with the doctor’s assistant (Olsen), the three travel to the Antarctic not knowing what BIG discovery they will unearth.  It doesn’t take long for their eyes to bug out in disbelief when they see firsthand what they are dealing with.

Kate immediately gets to work, and with help from the scientists removes a large chunk of ice surrounding the alien.  They return The Thing to the Norwegian base and the Mister-Know-It-All-Doctor demands a tissue sample from The Thing, even though Kate highly recommends against it.

The group later gathers in the common area and celebrates the find – they will forever be associated with the team that captured the first alien life form known to man.  While they party, the alien breaks through the ice and escapes.

Or does it?

Burn it! Burn it!

After capturing and burning the alien life form, Kate learns from a tissue sample that the creature’s cells have yet to die.  Instead, these cells have the ability to imitate another’s cells perfectly: a human’s cells.

Much like the original film, panic and mass paranoia spreads across the camp like a wildfire in hot, dry, and windy conditions.  The search for The Thing yields many dead bodies (and a dog, which I could have done without).  But luckily for the group, Kate discovers a crucial tell-tale sign about The Thing — when it imitates a life form, it cannot absorb any metal — therefore no dental fillings, no earrings, and no metal rods replacing bones from previous surgeries will absorb in the mutation.  Knowing this will later prove to save her life.

I'd be looking behind my shoulder too...

The 2011 movie ends just as the 1982 movie begins.  The transition was very well done, even matching the music and the burned Norwegian camp with the dead body inside (the man slit his throat rather than die at the hands of The Thing).  The film also answers how The Thing escapes camp to continue its slaughter of human lives after MacReady (Russell) arrives – the alien is the dog (again with the poor dog).

Unlike the 1982 movie, the prequel (ha, notice I didn’t say remake this time) didn’t get great overall reviews.  But it’s really not that bad.  I particularly liked the fact that one doesn’t have to watch the films sequentially in order to understand what’s going on.  I also applaud the fact that even though the 2011 film is a prequel to the 1982 version, they didn’t take us back in time with ‘80s clothes and other retro images.  Or if they did, it wasn’t distracting.  It’s not that I have anything against the ‘80s (I’m actually a proud child of the ‘80s), but sometimes the effort to create a certain time period takes away from the rest of the story.

Having watched both films, and truly knowing what to expect, I still jumped in my seat…on multiple occasions.  I even looked away at times.  That to me is good horror.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1982 or the 2011 The Thing?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  I’d love to hear from you! 

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