I’ve been such a huge fan of the Horror genre for the better part of 10 years, so much so that it’s taken precedence over most of the other genres I watch and review at Adamthemoviegod. For a while now there’s been a lot of hate, mostly from people claiming to be fans of the genre, over the modern era of remakes or re-imaging of so-called classics. It seems as though everyone gets up in arms about the idea of a remake before they’ve even started pre-production, and most of the time it’s without justification. I’m not going to bother discussing pro’s and con’s when it comes to remakes, because most of you already have your mind made up. Instead, this article is mainly going to focus on comparing some of the well-known franchise films, with their modern counterparts. At the end of the four installments, I’ll have a list of film’s I think are in desperate need of a reboot, ones that are competently made but could be built upon and then there’s the true “classics” that I never want to see touched. Before I begin, if you’re closed-minded you might want to give this a miss, because lets face it you’ve already made up your mind. I’m not here to necessarily try and change it, just to open the discussion up by giving you some simple facts about these films. You’ve been warned (haha).
Let’s kick of it with something not so well-known, as far as Horror movie franchises go anyway. If memory serves me correctly there’s been four films in the franchise of Piranha. The first was released in 1978, Directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins). The second came in 81 and was infamous for being pretty terrible. What’s worse is that James Cameron had a hand in that (haha). All was quiet on the Piranha front for the better part of 30 years, that was until Alexandre Aja (a favorite of mine), felt it was time for a reboot. The last and possibly cheesiest installment came from (Feast) Director, John Gulager in 2012. So there you have it a rundown of the life of Piranha.
PIRANHA VS PIRANHA 3D
If we begin by comparing the poster artwork, which is usually the first thing to catch your eye. Aja’s artwork from 2010 really stands out. The colors are bright, you get a good look at the Piranha and he’s maintained the image of a girl floating on the surface of the water. Half of the original poster is alright, but it’s faint and dull in color and the Piranha is stupidly over sized. I don’t think the cast in Dante’s original got that they were in a silly creature feature flick. They attempted to try to take it seriously and in turn ruined the campy vibe a film like this should have. Aja’s film boasts a cast with varying degrees of experience. From the lovely and experienced Elisabeth Shue, and always likeable Jerry O’Connell, to up and coming talent like Steven R McQueen and Jessica Szohr, it was pretty well-rounded. Once you add fan favorites Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd and Ving Rhames, how can you possibly go wrong? The original’s shooting style was solid but the cinematography and color of the landscape is somewhat washed out. Aja’s film on the other hand is incredibly bright. The camera comes at you from all different angles and is constantly moving.
Where were the lovely partially or fully (either would have done), naked women in Joe’s film, Other than the opening 5 minutes or so I don’t remember seeing much. Alexandre being a student of the genre, knew exactly what to give his mostly male based audience (haha). Gratuitous and in places, totally pointless nudity. After all it’s what you want to see in a film about locals getting attacked by Piranha. The 2010 film will be remembered by fans for the full frontal, mermaid style underwater camera shots. Writers Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, were clever enough to write a girls gone wild, type of subplot into the main story in order to give it a hint of appropriate placement (haha). The eye candy in the remake is remarkable. Szohr, Kelly Brook, Riley Steele and are just a few of the gorgeous women appearing in Piranha 3D. Even porn stars Ashlynn Brooke and Gianna Michaels have a scene (the latter quite a memorable one haha).
From a blood and gore point of view, these two films couldn’t be further apart when it comes to quality and amount of on-screen carnage. No doubting it was harder to get your film a classification back in the 70’s, you had to be careful with how much was shown and what you cut away from. The original film had a few nice death sequences, but only one involved several characters at one time. On the other hand, Aja’s film gives you some good early kills which help build for what takes place in the middle act. Other than the opening scene to the less than stellar “Ghost Ship”, I haven’t seen a massacre quite like the one in Piranha 3D. All the more impressive is that nearly all of it’s done practically. Sure there’s a CG accentuated decapitation scene on the beloved Eli Roth, as well as a digital penis floating around here or there (haha), but everything in each frame has a certain attention to detail, which ends up looking awesome. That’s partially down to a bigger budget, knowledge of practical effects and what can be achieved in the modern-day business. The amount of fake blood used in the film is an accomplishment in of itself. The makeup team designed countless prosthetic wounds, each on a different part of the body and in different stages of decay for just about every extra in that scene. My mind is still blown away by it.
If you’re looking for a good mix of characters, appropriate camp, raunchy nudity and the most gore delivered in a creature feature how can you pass on Piranha 3D. What do you think? I think it’s clear who the winner is here.
Originals- 0 Remake- 1
Next comes the 1981, cult classic from Sam Raimi it’s “The Evil Dead”. A blend of supernatural horror and slasher, Evil Dead was one of the first times we saw a group of young adults head to a cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway. Sam wrote the kick-ass, iconic hero role of “Ash” and cast Bruce Campbell to play it. Since then, people have been sporting the characters outfit at conventions, buying collectables and memorabilia, and now getting excited for the TV show based on Ash. There was 6 years between the original and the sequel, which I’ve heard is equally as impressive (having not seen it yet). 26 years on, Fede Alvarez was given the task of remaking the film and giving it new light. It was a huge task to take on considering it was Alvarez’s first full length feature but he did it and the result was staggering.
EVIL DEAD 1981 VS EVIL DEAD 2013
As far as the artwork is concerned I think it’s a tie. The original has the hand coming out of the ground and going straight for the throat. It’s a cool image, but it’s missing the possession aspect. Maybe Sam didn’t want to give to many details away about the film, who knows. The battered and bruised Mia (played by the lovely Jane Levy) with her back to us, combined with a blood-red background is better. However, what I don’t like about the new poster is it claims to be “The most terrifying film you will ever experience”, big call by Fede given you’re at the helm of such an iconic franchise. The remake has it’s fair share of tension but most will agree it’s a far cry from “most terrifying”. I think the shooting style in both films is pretty good. The tones used in the remake, and the way in which it was shot seemed to give off a much more claustrophobic feeling. The scenes in the bathroom were a standout, even the main lounge room seemed awful small when all that carnage is happening. In Raimi’s original there’s a fairly lengthy scene involving the infamous “molesting tree”, as well as a couple of other longer scenes outside. The stuff we did get to see in the forest during Fede’s film were crisper and achieved their purpose quicker. The fog off the water, and the thick muck and scrub made for a great landscape and those shots are some of the best in the film.
In the original film I felt like “Ash” was the only character with some backbone. He actually put up a fight, he didn’t just complain about how everyone was going to die etc. Betsy Baker, Ellen Sandweiss and Theresa Tilly played the three female leads in Raimi’s original. I found that none of them projected much, all of them were annoying and you just knew they were going to meet their demise. It’s okay to have the odd character you want to see bite it, but not all of them. I was genuinely surprised at how much I liked the casting in Alvarez’s remake. The biggest surprise packet being Jane Levy. I hadn’t seen her in anything before, and she really stepped up right from word go and showed her chops. She was natural and believable in her reactions, and the chemistry with the rest of her cast members was honest. Jessica Lucas impressed me in “Cloverfield” and was a real trooper here playing Olivia. Also a personal favorite of mine is Lou Taylor Pucci who bought some sympathy to Eric, the idiot dumb enough to read from the book and bring about the demise of his friends. I’m not saying the dude was smart (haha), just that he fought it until the very end to try to make amends. If there’s a slight weak link in the remake its Shiloh Fernandez playing David, Mia’s brother. For the most part he’s alright, but during some of the more emotionally intense scenes, it felt like he was reaching.
Evil Dead is all about its gore, or it should be. Both versions of the film built up their suspense through the first, and most of their second acts. The difference is that the 1981 film, gave you the original shock of seeing a character possessed and it was creepy (or at least it started out creepy). It’s obvious Raimi took inspiration from the makeup work done on Linda Blair in 1973’s “The Exorcist”. In the final act things do go violently pear-shaped, but in this viewer’s mind it came with a far more displaced comedic tone, something I wasn’t expecting. A lot of fans love that about the original, but I’m not one of them. I admire how Sam went about doing his effects though, after all it was 1981 and the film was considered very low-budget. A lot of green was mixed with red to get various “splatter effects” etc. I thought the performances went to over the top, the gore became unrealistic (not that it always has to be realistic), but for this desired effect to work it does (or at least what I thought was the desired effect). In the end it feels to me like an inferior version of any of the early works from Director Peter Jackson (Braindead or Bad Taste). Fede on the other hand, built his suspense with a sub-plot of Mia being a recovering drug addict. When you combine that with the ominous, and dark color palette in this version, it sets up the messiest, goriest bloodbath in recent times. Minus the odd moment of black comedy, this delivers one exhausting blow after another but in the best way possible. Nearly everything you see on-screen here was done practically, it’s also the most amount of fake blood used on a movie set. We get tongues and faces being sliced in half, limbs chopped off, and disembowelment amongst plenty of other things. When you think the film can’t go any bigger it’s all topped off with an epic blood rain sequence as Mia fights herself (sort of? haha), too close the film out. The second half will go down as one of the best in horror history, clearly putting shame to anything else in the franchise.
Originals- 0 Remakes- 2