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.

Friday FabOoolousness – Cue the Chainsaw

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I 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 a horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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

Five young adults, traveling the back, desolate roads of Texas, pick up a wandering and nearly comatose hitchhiker.  When the hitchhiker has a psychotic break and commits suicide, the group’s only option is to explore a nearby and deserted community searching for help, but instead stumble on a family of sadistic killers.

Before I begin, let me first mention that to this day, I have never watched the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre entirely.  Why?  Because the story spooks the bejeezus out of me.  First of all, I’m a Texan.  Secondly, the story claimed to be based on actual events.  Third, not only did my family live out in the country when I was a little girl, sort of anyway, so did both sets of my grandparents.  And what was the only way to get out to my grandparents’ properties?  We had to drive down desolate, two-lane Texas roads.  Oh, and the sound of a chainsaw?  You’re kidding me, right?  I will still run the other direction to this day—just ask my friends that I attend haunted houses with every year…

Anyway, despite all of my above fears about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I’m usually not one to shy away from a good horror movie.  So, I saddled up and watched the 2003 remake.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I now know the TCM tale isn’t really a true story, even if it is based on bits and pieces of actual real-life sociopaths.

So that I don’t give too much away for those who have yet to see either the original or the remake, I’m going to stay away from a storyline synopsis here.  Regardless of whether or not readers have seen the films, I’m quite certain everyone knows the gist:  A man known as “Leatherface” uses a chainsaw to hunt and kill his victims, victims that are stranded out in the middle of nowhere and have no hope of rescue.

But what I do want to do is compare the 2003 film to Catie’s “Why is Chainsaw a Classic?” list.  How else can we determine whether or not the remake is worthy of our time?

Let’s start with the opening.  Catie mentioned that the original begins with a voice-over by John Larroquette that leads viewers to believe the events of the film are based on a true story.  Keeping with what I consider to be one of the best indicators of a well-made remake, the 2003 feature also uses a voice-over by the very same John Larroquette to open the film.  It’s always in the details… right?

So, obviously, the voice-over—check.  We covered that above…

The hitchhiker—check.  Seriously, who picks up a hitchhiker?  Call me crazy, but I actually speed past ‘em… maybe I’m not a nice person?  Or maybe I’ve just seen too many horror flicks!

The isolation—check.  What’s scarier than being stranded out in the middle of nowhere?  Not  much.

The eerie lack of dialogue from the killer—check.  It is always the silent ones we need to keep our eyes on, right?

The “help is not coming” factor—check.  This fits alongside the isolation factor.  Granted, today we have cell phones.  But this film is based in 1973, when if someone was stranded, they were stranded.  And just when you think you’ve found a gas station attendant or a sheriff to help, think again…

The cringe-worthy violence—check.  Cringe-worthy is definitely the proper terminology used to describe the violence in TCM.  What the viewer actually sees isn’t too horrible and gory; yet, what is left up to the viewer’s imagination is pretty disturbing.  Well, depending on where the viewer’s mind goes…

The music—no check.  Maybe a check?  I honestly have no idea.  I was so engrossed by the intense scenes and the sound of the chainsaw that I literally can’t remember if there was music in the film!  Someone help me: was there music?

The murder house luring its victims in like a spider web draws its prey—check.  Seriously, why not run the other way when you discover a graveyard of the previous victims’ cars?

The simple fact of knowing the killer is still out there—check.  Even if he only has one arm left, he still has that chainsaw, and he’s still roaming the desolate, two-lane roads of the Texas countryside.  Scary!

Comparing the remake to the original in the list above seems to indicate the 2003 film holds up.  But with most horror films, and not just in remakes, I look to the dialogue.  Is it quirky?  Does it make me laugh?  Is there the element of foreshadowing and does the dialogue itself state the obvious?  The answer to these questions is an absolute YES in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

“You’re all going to die.”
“He’s a bad man.”
“Something like this comes along, makes folks realize how crazy the world is out there.”
“Pig Sty.”  (I really loved this one, especially since the character was walking through a disgusting living room as huge pigs meandered about.)
“Deader than a doornail.”  (And here I thought only my family said this….)
“You’re so dead, you don’t even know it.”
“That wasn’t a good idea.”

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, Friday the 13th (coming soon in our original versus remake series), and today’s feature, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Mr. Bay may be one of my favorite producers in Hollywood now simply for this reason.

And here we are, closing in on the end of the review, and I haven’t even mentioned the characters/actors in the 2003 movie.  Well, that’s because it honestly doesn’t matter… unless, you’re a man.  Men will love this movie.  Why?  Because most men will enjoy watching Jessica Biel run around, sweaty and wet, in a knotted-up-tank-top, showing off her big breasts, curvy waist, and great derrière.  Really.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?  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.  And be sure to check out her blog post today, where she talks about Elmer Wayne Henley… one of the real-life killers used as inspiration for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

And why stop there?  Visit a few of her archives that also relate to our original versus remake series this month:  Leatherface’s House (we can actually go have dinner there in Kingsland, Texas… if you want) and Ed Gein: The Man Who Changed Horror, another of the real-life inspirations used for the movie.

And while it may not  be horror, remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle and Nook!

Now, I need to go watch another of the films in the franchise—The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Why?  Because Matt Bomer is in it!!  You know, Neal Caffrey from White Collar… or Ken from Magic Mike?  Oh, and don’t worry men; there’s some eye candy for you too (Jordana Brewster).

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