Wednesday, 30 September 2009

A Nightmare on Elm Street [Trailer]

The 1984 original is one of my favourite horror films. The remake is set to be included in my Re/Made series. New Line Cinema have released the trailer.

While I was initially dismayed at the prospect of a remake I did concede to Freddy In Space that I will watch it upon release God willing.

Having said that the TFi qualifications for remake are

  • has enough time passed since the original release - ie at least a generation?
  • is the cultural landscape conducive for a retelling of that particular story?
  • can it time translate - ie are the salient points still relevant?
  • is the story good enough to be retold?
(If you can think of any others let me know. I may incorporate them in the manifesto)

The trailer does its job! I'm excited but I don't want to be disappointed.

The Japanese series Ringu had a prequel (Ringu 0). The Canadians had Cube Zero. I hate prequels. Why explain - ie debunk - the myth? Contrary to earlier leaks and according to this trailer
this prequel is a sequence which only exists in the first act. Still I think it is a thematic mistake as it serves to humanise Freddy. The beauty of the original was we the audience experienced the film through the hero's eyes. We learnt what Heather learnt as she learnt it. We felt her horror. It was our horror. Setting up Kruger as a lynched victim regardless of his crime justifies his response. That's not horror - that's revenge.

They threw a lot of images in the trailer; there's Tina's levitation scene - it looks horrendous. The pool party scene looks like it's from A Nightmare... part 2 1985. Though there's an excellent close up of a little girl's shredded blouse (knives for fingers) and of course that iconic bathtub scene.

Unfortunately none of the actors look or seem like much kop. I also find it disappointing that the cast looks whiteout. I'm sure there are plenty of Elm Street's, towns and lynch mobs that consist of whites only but the film makers could/should have included teens of other races. We existed in '84 and they exist now.

On a final note it's a gross error to show Freddy's face (lighted) in the film never mind the trailer. In the original we never got a good look at him. He hardly said much. In this trailer he's talking biscuits. That dialogue wasn't chilling it was perfunctory.

Wesley Strick is co-screenwriter. He also rewrote Cape Fear 1991. That was good. That was not horror.

Am I still excited? I'm a horror fan. I intend to see it. I intend to blog it.

I hope I'm scared of it.

20th April 2010

Read more Thrill Fiction:
Drag Me To Hell
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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

I Love Money 102

The backstory: early in Flavor of Love 2 Toastee and bisexual Nibblez bosom buddied up. They spent the night with Flav in 204 then out of nowhere Toastee accuses Nibblez (behind her back) of hand shanking Flav.

Bootz and Buckwild weren’t fooled. None of the other girls believed it either. When word got back to Nibblez she grassed Toastee up to Flav about her porno past.

Flav got rid of Toastee that night.

18 months later the girls meet again on I Love Money.

Women bear children. They also bear grudges.

And the Oscar® goes to…

This week’s MVP.

It’s a new day there’s a new challenge and the teams have to pick new captains. Chance volunteers to captain the Green Team. Of course Whiteboy can’t wait to endorse him so immediately Destiney has something to bitch about.

I think that Chance is not ready to

do what it takes to win.”

She bitches about Chance not removing his bandana for the challenge last week. Methinks there is another issue at bay.

The Gold Team on the other hand unanimously select Rodeo. She rallies the troops; let’s talk strength and what we can all contribute.

Rodeo, Hoopz, 12p, the Entertainer, Nibblez – all athletes.


You know I’m worried because Pumkin and

Toastee are weak and I don’t like it.

I don’t like that at all.”

Destiney has been spying on the Gold Team. She’s at once inspired and appalled. Her team aren’t strategising. They’re not bonding. They’re the Stallionaires.

She pulls Heat to one side. He’s inarticulate but in agreement. With his support Destiny goes to Green Team and initiates a take over.

Whiteboy: “I think Heather should be our captain.”

I’m Destiny.”

Whiteboy: “I think Destiny should be our captain.”

You know what? It worked.

The Greens win the first team challenge.

[Is there anyone reading this who hasn’t seen I Love Money? Well after each challenge the losing team has to send three players into the box.]

Back at the mansion the Gold Team scramble.

It’s an ugly sight.

The next day. Inside the vault.

The Gold Team have 15 minutes to decide who’s going in the box.

With Rodeo as captain it took about 15 seconds.

I want Pumkin to go home.

‘Cos I hate her.”

Now it’s time for the three losers to go on a power outing with the winning team captain – the paymaster – to plead their money hungry cases. They’ve got an hour to get ready and this is where Pumkin shows she’s not just a pretty face.

She and Toastee have been friends since Charm School so the strategizing is natural if not obvious to Nibblez.

The power outing is a day out of local hospitality.

We walk into the restaurant where all these Mexicans

are dancing on the stage and bouncing around

going like ‘arghreeeee’. I have Mexican family

members but they’re just not like that Mexican.”

Ugly American or plain white trash?

Not so Toastee.

In terms of strategy if I portray myself as

a weaker person Destiney will get rid of a

stronger person which is Nibblez.”

I started to think hmm. Wouldn’t it be convenient

if I got hurt right now.”

I did a great job I should really be an actress.”

Toastee: “Destiney takes the bait. Don’t

underestimate your girl Toastee.”

Nibblez really doesn’t know what show she’s on. Having said that she never stood a chance anyway. All Destiney wanted was a reason.

When the four girls get back to the mansion Toastee finds out not everyone is as stupid as Destiney.

Chance: “I think this was a set up. ‘Cos I seen

you walk jump hurdle with heels on. And

you walked and twisted it like that? Damn.”

Even Toastee has to laugh.

Now the moron called Destiney is having doubts.

It’s not too late. It’s the eliminations.

1st cheque goes to

My plan worked.”

Even at our first viewing we all knew who was leaving.

Nibblez goes back to Brooklyn. She was seen once at the season reunion but other than that you’ll have to book into a New York dungeon to see her.

With your credit card. Slave.

Next week on I Love Money:

More revelations from the rock n roll racist bitch.

Read more Thrill Fiction: I Love Money 103

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Sunday, 27 September 2009

Roman Polanski Arrested

This just in from Reuters.

Roman Polanski, the fugitive filmmaker and French resident, has been arrested by Switzerland law enforcement while attempting to enter the country. He was invited by the Zurich Film Festival to accept yet another award for his services to film.

In 1978 Polanski pled guilty to 'engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor
' (a 13 year old). He was 45 at the time. He fled the United States before sentencing. The US authorities subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest. The Swiss are holding him on this warrant.

More to follow from Thrill Fiction.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Re/Made in the USA: The Wicker Man

My impression of The Wicker Man 1973 was of an old British film (ie terrible by default) that had some sort of weird to it. Weird - a la Todd Browning's Freaks 1932 - is not one of my guilty pleasures ergo I ignored The Wicker Man's existance.

It was blogger DTW1 who piqued my interest in the film. Age matures and tastes change. The film’s reputation is online2. It was worth a look. I looked. I watched. I saw the 2006 remake.

Like the rest of the world it seems Britain is currently making some (fair to very good) original horror films – Hush 20093, Eden Lake 20094, The Descent 20055.

Here’s one we made earlier.

The very first shot of is of a seaplane taxing to a stop. The film begins with Edward Woodward’s arrival and the credits tracking Woodward’s police sergeant through dialogue sequence. Sergeant Howie is a religious man, humourless, strict, overbearing to subordinates, unfriendly, out of touch and out of time. He’s a Scot in Scotland. With his attitude he may as well be English in the last days of the empire.

He bears his masculinity: in church Mary Bannock sings from his hymn book. It’s an endorsement of their two year courtship. She cannot wait. It’s his Christian duty to.

(Monday?) Morning and an anonymous letter arrives at the police station. It’s addressed to Sgt Howie from Summer Isle where 12 year old Rowan Morrison has disappeared.

Neither the sergeant nor his constable has ever been to Summer Isle.

Sgt Howie: “Aye. Well the whole place apparently

is odd. To start with they have no licensing

laws – singing and dancing on a Sunday6.”

It is 1973 in the Scottish highlands.

Sgt Howie sets off in his seaplane and the credits resume. The soundtrack is bagpipes and folk song. The scenery is cliff faces and wilderness then jump cuts to farmland and orchards and Simon & Garfunkel-esque neofolk. The final credit - director: Robin Hardy - is super imposed over the seaplane landing at Summer Isle.

In less than nine minutes of enriched detail the premise has been established and the plot thrust forward. This is cinema. We the audience will follow Sgt Howie the protagonist through this ‘odd’ island and we will experience it together through Sgt Howie’s virgin eyes.

I’m from Manchester, England. Most English will never visit Scotland in their lifetime. Most Scots will never visit Summer Isle. This is a part of Britain that exists beyond the terms outback, hinterland or boonies. The natives depicted in The Wicker Man make the ones in An American Werewolf in London 1981 look like sophisticates. Summer Isle is on the map. Somewhere.

This film supersedes Deliverance 1972 in the fish-out-of-water category. Burt Reynolds and co wilfully entered the boonies seeking adventure. Sgt Howie flies to Summer Isle duty bound to investigate a missing girl.

I once read an account of a Holocaust survivor: the death train arrived at the concentration camp and they disembarked. One of the Jews asked too many questions. The guard shot him dead on the spot.

The witness recounted that at that point everything he had ever learnt, everything he had ever been taught was voided. This was a new order and the only way to survive it was to learn the new rules. Quickly.

The obvious correlating experience for any of us would be imprisonment.

There are more insidious scenarios.

Should you ever find yourself pitted against authority you will learn: the government in its various guises7, the police8, the corporation9, the media10. You will learn to know that the constitution and your human rights are a political myth.

Sgt Howie anchors the seaplane off Summer Isle. He is self-resplendent in his black police uniform wearing the authority of the crown.

The old men at the harbour refuse him entry without written permission from Lord Summerisle. He is the authority here.

Sgt Howies demands. The old men relent. They send a rowing boat to pick him up. Once ashore he shows them the picture of Rowan Morrison.

Not a one of them has ever seen her before. They claim.

Edward Woodward has never been a star. He’s best known for the 80s TV series The Equalizer11. Second billed is Britt Ekland.

I have never seen an American on screen with a convincing English accent. I doubt there’s a European who can mimic Scots. I know for a fact Britt Ekland is best acting with her mouth shut. In any accent.

Ekland isn’t an actor. She’s a celebrity. Think Denise Richards. 30 years ago. Also think Andi McDowell in Greystoke… 1984 whose voice was dubbed by Glen Close. Here Ekland was dubbed by Annie Ross12.

I have never heard an American onscreen with a convincing Scottish accent.

It’s not hard to see why Ekland was cast. The blonde Swede stands out amongst the locals. Her beauty, her body, her sensuality, her sexuality. Howie’s preliminary investigations have him spend the night at the Green Man Inn where he’s accosted by the landlord’s daughter. They’re separated by a single wall and all he can hear is the animal in her as she devours a chosen boy. He is abstinent.

On the mainland Mary Bannock cannot wait.

On Summer Isle Sgt Howie has to.

Morning resumes the investigation. These people are full of primitive customs

and perverted practises. This whole island – the children too – seem to be in conspiracy. They tolerate Sergeant Howie. They humour him, they mock him, they taunt him. They trap him. They break him.

Sergeant Howie: “I am a police officer!”

Bring forth the Wicker Man.

Should you find yourself pitted against authority you will learn that the constitution and your human rights are a myth. That is the moment of true horror.

If ever there was a film ripe for retelling it is The Wicker Man 1973. Enough time has passed – a generation - to translate it to contemporary culture. The salient points raised then are relevant now. The story is powerful and cinematically rendered.

In 2006 director Neil LaBute had award winning pedigree.

The opening sequence has a child in a burning car as Californian traffic cop Nicholas Cage tries to rescue her. Car explodes blasting Cage off his feet through the air to land on his back.

With nary a scratch on his face.


The Wicker Man 1973 was low budget and it showed. Big budget is not a bad thing. Hollywood production values are the yardstick the cinema goer is accustomed to. However resources can be misappropriated. A wedding cake can be too rich.

Having bona fide movie star Nicholas Cage play the lead detracts from the story. He is not going to portray himself the way Woodward did: pompous, arrogant, sex starved, confused, weak. It was a virtuoso performance. They hand out Oscar(s)® for less.

Academy Award® winner Nicholas Cage is a fine actor capable of fine things13 but he’s a movie star first.

This film has a convoluted backstory. It’s unnecessary. It’s baffling: sick-leave traffic cop receives a letter from his former fiancée that her (5-6 year old – it’s unclear) daughter is missing. Former fiancée Willow is certain the little girl is still on Summer Isle. (This film is set in America. This Summer Isle is in Pugent Sound WA.)

A child missing for two weeks? Call the police. Like they did in the first film. (Plot holes are disgusting. They’re like someone telling you an outlandish lie and expecting you to buy it because you’ve already paid for it.)

The traumatised Cage takes the trip to Summer Isle where cell phones don’t work (you are officially in a horror film).The innovation here is hackneyed and obvious: Summer Isle is a commune led by females - the men are mute drones. However nothing in this theme is explored or expanded upon.

Former fiancée Willow is a superfluous character and it is because of her Summer Isle is bereft of tension. Yes the inhabitants are weird but they’re Hollywood weird - such as the aged twins who speak in unison and the kitted out bee keepers. In the ’73 film the people were different. Strange? Yes but only in the way any different culture is strange. That’s what made it unsettling. This movie is like a kid thinking she can be sexy because she’s rich. You can botox your head, implant your breasts, tan your skin and blonde your hair. Sexy is personality. It can’t be taught or bought. Horror is story. It can’t be faked. The Wicker Man 2006 is fake from the first frame.

Dream sequences and flashbacks in a horror film are indication of a stuttering plot. This movie is full of them. It is implanted with bait-and-switch red herrings and replete with false alarms. The story first then the film itself descends into lunacy.

There’s a scene in ’73 where Sgt Howie enter a classroom full of girls (the boys were in the playground learning to be men). It’s full of incidental humour and indignation. In the retelling all wit, fine writing and humour are gone. What was appalling in ’73 is replaced with enforced political correctness in ’06.

What is Leelee Sobieski doing in this flick? What purpose does her character serve? Oh I forgot. A fistfight with Nic Cage! As for Kate Beehan as Sister Willow – appalling. There are however some shining lights. Mary Black is excellent as Sister Oak though to be fair the role is a meaty if brief one. Diane Delano also captivates as Sister Beech. Molly Parker is amusing in one of her three speaking scenes. As for the two names - Ellen Burstyn seems to be sleep walking and Nicholas Cage tries the Roger Moore humour route. The director should have told him it was a horror film.

Neil LaBute went on to make Lakeview Terrace 142008 – a much better film – staring Samuel L Jackson. The Wicker Man could have been different. Sgt Howie was an obvious outsider in ’73. A black man investigating a lily white commune would bring that starkness (and other baggage) to 2006. Yet even if it had to be Cage or no film would have been made Summer Isle needed to be fixed.

There are two examples of American ‘communes’ that come to mind – Jonestown15 and Waco16. Unfortunately there are others17. The filmmakers did not have to look far to create a plausible island of horror. This film is a missed opportunity and a fine example of cowardice.

LaBute has moved on. He won’t come back to horror. Yet due to the current boon of the genre other mainstreamers will jump on the bandwagon. Martin Scorcese’s Shutter Island has been pushed back to 201018. Horror is best left to those who love it.

The Wicker Man 1973 did not make my 10 Best Horror Films. It will make my top 20.

Thanks DTW.

Read more Thrill Fiction: Re/Made - The Last House on the Left

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