Twice as nice?

Pub date January 14, 2009
WriterCheryl Eddy
SectionArts & CultureSectionTrash

RANT As 2008 wound down, and filmgoers everywhere began to gag on For Your Consideration flicks, one exciting piece of news gurgled out for genre fans: a planned remake of 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby had been cancelled. According to a post on, producer Andrew Form was stumped by trying to adapt Ira Levin’s 1967 novel for a contemporary audience. "We couldn’t come up with something where it felt like it was relevant and we could add something to it other than what it was," he told the site.

These pearls of wisdom from the guy who produced 2003’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2005’s Amityville Horror, 2007’s The Hitcher, this February’s Friday the 13th, and the slated-for-2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street. Roman Polanski’s paranoia-will-destroy-ya tale of New York City witches is spooky enough on its own, thanks to suspenseful pacing, an overwhelming sense of dread, and its performances, particularly by a bug-eyed Mia Farrow and a grasping, Oscar-winning Ruth Gordon. For current viewers, subtext from the director (the movie predated Charles Manson’s murder party at Sharon Tate’s mansion by a year) and the setting (the Dakota, John Lennon’s last address) further ups the creep factor. The movie itself seems haunted. You think producers who favored lingering shots of Ryan Reynolds’s Amityville abs over any actual scares could replicate that?

But I’m rambling on a moot point. Most horror remakes do get made, and rake in the bucks. Many tend to be hampered by the worst invention in the past 25 years of cinema, the PG-13 rating. (The recent wave of PG-13 horror films really need their own genre distinction that doesn’t have "horror" in it, because there’s no horror in them.) For the most part, post-millennial horror remakes are either J-horror (2002’s The Ring remains the most lucrative) or slashers, like 2007’s Halloween. The selection process for what gets remade seems as arbitrary as the eventual results: Jamie Lee Curtis’s 1980 disco-dance nightmare Prom Night, a cult favorite, became a shitty 2008 release (PG-13!) seen by maybe 15 people. But some seemingly sacrilegious efforts, like the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, were well liked. Even by me.

Up next: 1981’s My Bloody Valentine, a somewhat obscure early-period slasher comin’ at us in 3-D this Friday. (Yes, it’s rated R.) What good is gimmick du jour 3-D if not to enhance flailing limbs and splattering blood? Cynical though I am, I can’t resist. Besides, one of my favorite movies of all time is a horror remake: John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing. (Cheryl Eddy)

MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D opens Fri/16 in Bay Area theaters