Remakes That Are Giving Me the Red Ass Right Now

Baseball people have a term that they love to use- “red ass”. It’s used in reference to people who are quick to anger and are willing to scrap, or play hard, or however you want to interpret it. Typically, it revolves around perceived injustices. It can also be shortened to “the ass”. A few usage examples:

“Ty Cobb was a real red ass”

“That brawl never would have happened if their catcher didn’t have the ass”

The current Hollywood trend- remakes- isn’t inherently giving me the red ass. After all, there are occasions where remakes make perfect sense. 2010’s The Crazies is a perfect example. The 1970’s original had a great idea, but it was flawed. They updated it and it was vastly improved. Unfortunately, a lot of remakes don’t fit this dynamic. Sometimes, it makes no sense whatsoever to remake certain films. And when it happens, it gives me the red ass. Some examples:

Troll Hunter (2010)
The corpse is barely fresh on the Norwegian horror. It was in theaters in 2010, and didn’t hit theaters in the U.S. until 2011. And yet, there’s already buzz of a remake. As of now, it’s slated to come out in 2014. It doesn’t make a damned bit of sense to me. One of the biggest reasons the film works is the Norwegian fascination with trolls and troll mythology. The film works and comes with tongue firmly planted in cheek because it’s Norwegian. In the States, we don’t give a damn about trolls. It’d be like if a Chinese film studio made a movie about the American mafia. Or worse.

Straw Dogs (1971)
Sam Peckinpah’s ruthless tale of revenge worked so beautifully in 1971 because it was so uncommon to the filmgoing public. The studio system had given Americans a steady diet of clear heroes, clear villains, and no violence or nudity for the bulk of American film history. It was a wonderful shock to see something like this in 1971. In 2011, violence and nudity are nothing new. Revenge isn’t anything new, either. If anything, it’s done a complete 180. Right now is the worst possible time to remake a movie like this. And that says nothing of how great the original was. Speaking of Peckinpah…

The Wild Bunch (1969)
That’s right. Tony Scott is going to try to remake The Wild Bunch. It’s a classic, part of the American Film Institute’s top 100. Like Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, it worked at the time because of the jarring nudity and violence. There is almost nothing that Tony Scott could do to The Wild Bunch that would improve upon the original. It’s arrogant to assume that it could be improved. And the very idea of it gives me the ass.

Oldboy (2003)
There’s a lot giving me the ass about this remake. The original Oldboy has already developed a cult following, serving as the answer to the countless times people have asked “Which foreign/unknown horror/Asian thriller movie should I watch?” for the last eight years. It’s not unknown anymore, so there’s definitely a level of quality that will have to be reached. Also, the original was one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. Ever. Forever and ever, and if you know the type of stuff I’ve seen then you know that statement is nothing to sneeze at. As much as I respect the hell out of how great it was, I have no desire whatsoever to see it a second time, either in Korean or any other language. But therein lies another problem. Horror/thriller directors in other countries are willing to do so much more to disturb their audiences. Specifically, Japan, Korea, France, and even Thailand all come to mind as countries that have no limits when it comes to putting shocking things to celluloid. And the nauseating acts that happen in Oldboy are a huge part of why it works. Strip it of the nausea and you’re left with a lower quality version. I’ll admit that Spike Lee’s involvement piques my interest- I’m a fan- but I don’t like the guy nearly enough that I’ll watch this remake.

The Orphanage (2007)
My issues with The Orphanage remake are much like the Oldboy remake, but amplified. Just as Oldboy has developed a following, The Orphanage was all over the place in American theaters just four short years ago. For a brief period of time, you couldn’t go to a movie or turn on your TV without seeing the Creepy Bag Face Kid™ in a preview. What type of horrible short attention span audience will this remake attract? And frankly, this is the ultimate example of the hubris behind the assumption that taking subtitles away will instantly make something better. The fact that Guillermo Del Toro is producing the film makes me feel a little bit better about it since he was also involved with the original. After all, in Del Toro, I trust. And it’s not someone remaking someone else’s movie. The fact that the idea even exists- that it needs to be remade, and so soon after the original was out- gives me infinite amounts of red ass, Del Toro notwithstanding.

The Thing (1982)
This was one of a small handful of movies that very nearly made me crap my pants when I was a little kid. It’s the stuff that my childhood nightmares were made of. It’s legitimately great, a classic in the horror-sci fi genre. I understand that the original was also a re-make of The Thing From Another World (1951). But that’s the difference, as well. There’s nothing about the 1982 version that makes it feel outdated or stale. It’s still a perfectly good- nay, brilliant- piece of science fiction horror. The 1951 version was loads of fun but was very clearly a dated film, full of hokey special effects and typical 1950’s dialogue. As lovable as it was, refreshing it in 1982 was a wonderful idea. There’s nothing about the 1982 film that needs updating in 2011. Ergo, the upcoming remake gives me the ass.


21 Comments

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21 responses to “Remakes That Are Giving Me the Red Ass Right Now

  1. Completely agree on both The Thing and Oldboy…no remakes are necessary for those movies. Have not seen the other movies yet…

  2. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    I thought The Thing (1982) was freaking great. The scene where the guy’s head turns into a spider and walks away had a pretty lasting impression on me. I’m not sure it needed improvement with a re-make. What particularly pisses me off are the remakes of the Mount Rushmore of horror icons–Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Hellraiser (I heard this one was in the works). From a female perspective, I would be similarly pissed about Footloose and Dirty Dancing remakes.

  3. Phil

    While I agree that most remakes generally aren’t as good as the original, you should always judge a movie by what’s on the screen – not by any expectations. You make great points about the subtext of movies changing.

    Let the Right One In / Let Me In remake is a good example of well made American remake.

  4. The remakes are pissing me off too. Especially the STRAW DOGS one. How much you want to bet they’ve sanitized it and completely removed the Peckinpah feel of the original? I hate them so much.

  5. I’d be interested to know how a project like the Straw Dogs remake gets funded in the first place. How do you pitch it? “I’m remaking Straw Dogs. Peckinpah’s take is 40 years old. Nobody’s seen it. It’s a great revenge flick. Let’s get a babe who’ll work naked, say, Kate Bosworth, and a young guy who’ll bring in the chicks, say, James Marsden; and lay on some righteous violence. It could blow up.”

  6. Let’s face it. Something like Oldboy will always remain a “niche masterpiece”, meaning the vast majority of people will not even give it a chance because it was made outside of Hollywood. I’m definitely intrigued by the remake given the cast (Josh Brolin and possibly Christian Bale).

  7. Roger

    The thing about “The Thing” is that it’s not a re-make; it’s a prequel. It takes place in the Norwegian camp before the “thing” makes it’s way to Kurt Russell’s camp. “Straw Dogs”, however, is a movie that has no reason to be remade. The nuances in the original will probably not be recreated, and even if they are, they won’t be as shocking as they were in 1971.

  8. Only way Oldboy works in the US: Jerry Springer tie-in. Let’s be honest, that’s pretty much as close as America has ever gotten to addressing such taboo interests. They’re people to laugh at, and Oldboy is nothing of the sort. So while I’m annoyed they’re remaking, part of me wants to see the reaction Americans have to the subject matter. Because unlike a lot of us bloggers who have run into films with such high profile touchy subject matter on more than one occassion, mainstream America avoids them entirely.

    Now, if you’ll allow me to stretch my Kurosawa fandom legs, I’m going to place the remake of High and Low out there. Seven Samurai is inevitable and I’ve spent years prepping myself for it – besides, it’s happened before. A High and Low remake blindsided me complete. Chris Rock pegging the screenplay turned that blindside into a full on pile drive. I don’t want to say it’ll be bad – because we honestly don’t know. And I’ll admit that if ever there was a time to deal with some of the issues it dealt with, now would be it. Still, I can’t help but think it’s going to fail… and epically so.

    • Chris… Rock? Really?

      Kurosawa’s a tough one. I’d love to be a hardass about it because his films were so damned good. But there are tons of remakes of his movies that have worked out. Rashomon as The Outrage was decent; Seven Samurai as the Magnificent Seven was great; Fistful of Dollars as Yojimbo was fantastic; Last Man Standing as Yojimbo was… not awful, I guess. None better than the originals, of course. The originals are old enough that people might not see them anyway and hopefully it’ll help raise awareness. Some dumb kid will see the High and Low remake, love it, and find out it’s been done, better, and seek out Kurosawa’s movies. That’s the perfect scenario, anyway.

  9. First of all, I hate remakes. And now I’m really pissed off because if Tony Scott’s remaking The Wild Bunch, my favorite Western of all time, I don’t know what the heck Hollywood is thinking right now but this is an insult for all cinephiles out there. Like if the younger generations were too stupid to watch the original in all their raw aggressive-alcolical Peckinpah touch! Anyway, even paid to see it I will never watch those remakes.

    • I saw a quote from Edgar Wright that made me chuckle a few months back. I’m paraphrasing but the gist of it was “We directors need to start making original movies so we’ll have something to remake 10 years from now”.

  10. Craig

    There are rumors of a(nother) Scarface remake which is something the world just doesn’t need.

  11. Rhett Cochran

    The thing that made the Peckinpah original of Straw Dogs so brilliant was how it cast the quaint English countryside against type (something that was done to equal effect (albeit in a hilarious manner) by Edgar Wright in Hot Fuzz. This time, the American South is the stand in. What a shock, Hollywood is taking another swipe at the Red States as backwards, inbred sociopaths. It’s the most crapped out plot device and they go to it yet again.

  12. Stu

    Despite the fact that “The Thing” will be more a prequel than a remake, I still see it as unnecessary and irrelevant. Quick Americanizations like “Orphanage” and “Girl with the…” are give me the red ass more than anything.

    • I loathe the original Girl film, and David Fincher is a genius, so I don’t mind that remake much. It’s the perfect kind of remake, I think.

      • Interesting- what’d you dislike about the original?

        I was… ok with it. I liked it but it had been so overhyped that I expected more. If anyone can do it up right, Fincher can.

        • There’s no tension whatsoever. Blomkvist’s main motivation for investigating the case is “eh, why the hell not, I’ve got nothing better to do”, as spoken by Vanger. Sure, Vanger’s offering him other things– but it’s that lackadaisical attitude of “might as well” that sets the whole thing off for me, apart from the fact that the only person really pulling their weight is Rapace.

          There are a lot of other problems I have with it– pacing, for one– but the film’s slack approach to its own internal tension really kills it for me. “Loathe” might be a strong word, but I’m not a fan.

  13. I couldn’t tell you which one of these aggravates me the most. Honestly, it’s probably Troll Hunter out of the sheer vulture-like figure that that remake cuts. It’s a really good little movie, one that’s really not ripe for being remade (especially by Americans, for whom trolls aren’t really a familiar boogeyman)– but it can be made on the cheap and should have a good return on investment. Disgusting.

    Oldboy worries me less now than it used to, which is saying a lot considering how militantly anti-Oldboy remake I was at first. Not to say that I’m for it now, but if Lee and Brolin are involved I can’t imagine that the result will be the disaster that a Spielberg/Smith version would have wound up as.

    I don’t hate The Thing prequel. I nothing it.

  14. Yeah, the remake craze has gotten crazy. Sure we got Rise of the Planet of the Apes out of it, but to remake something like the Orphanage is crazy.

  15. I’ve been making a bunker that plays nothing but Oldboy. Ironically, it will be in a room similar to Oldboy.

    I regret nothing.

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