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.
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.