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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

opening this week: ‘Balls of Fury,’ ‘Death Sentence,’ the gazillioneth ‘Halloween’ movie

Balls of Fury
Remember that bit in Forrest Gump where he plays a lot of ping pong? Someone saw that while stoned and thought it was waaaay more hilarious than it actually was. Then he got more stoned and wrote this.
(now playing; my review is here)

Death Sentence
The director of Saw forces Kevin Bacon to morph from a gentle family man into a shaved-head, homicidal vengeance machine. Warning! No one will be admitted during the tender car-falling-off-a-multistory-parking-lot scene.
(opens tomorrow; screening for critics tonight, at the very last minute; watch for my review tomorrow)

Metal maniac Rob Zombie remakes the classic 70s horror flick about masked mass slaughterer Mike Myers. John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis are rolling in their graves. Oh, wait: they’re not dead. Well, they’re gonna wish they were.
(opens tomorrow; wasn’t screened for critics, and I’ve got no interest in it, so I’m skipping it)

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  • MBI

    Halloween is going to great, just great, I can feel it. You’re totally wrong on this one. While Zombie’s debut feature was awful, his follow-up was not just a vast improvement but a four-star classic in my reckoning. Then again, I’m not at all a fan of the original Halloween — and surfing through your site, I’m actually quite shocked to discover as I was typing this that you’re not either! So why the default position of sacrilege against the original?

  • paulw

    I share your disenthusiasms (oh c’mon, that’s a good word) regarding remakes, especially when the people who made the originals are still around and still making their own movies.

    I mean, we don’t need a remake of the Warriors, and not one where it’s been relocated to L.A. and with all the campy pro-wrestling stuff taken out. We didn’t need a remake of Halloween. We don’t need a remake of Escape from New York, or of the Thing (anyone notice a trend here? Why is John Carpenter’s movie backlog getting raided all of a sudden? Are we expecting a remake of They Live?).

    They need to make some original movies dammit, and stop raiding all the classics be they 10 years ago or 50 years ago or 100 years ago. Um, except for Manos: Hands of Fate. If Tarantino can get a decent budget for that, then maybe…

  • I can say one good thing for all the crappy Carpenter remakes: they made me realize what a prolific director the man was, and got me interested in seeing his work. Now he’s one of my favorite directors. But I don’t see how one could take the position that remaking The Thing would be sacrilege, given that it was itself a remake. Now, if it were bad, that’d be fair game.

    When Rob Zombie first started making movies, I thought they’d be terrible, but everyone’s said that Devil’s Rejects was very good. I should see it some time. I heard Zombie talking about Halloween at ComicCon, and I was impressed by how much he seemed to respect the property. He was also asked what he thought about the trend of gratuitously violent horror movies (the so-called torture porn, though I can’t remember if the interviewer used that term), and he said that he was never a fan of movies like Friday the 13th that were mindless violence with no rhyme or reason. So I’m more hopeful than I might be otherwise.

    I loved the original Halloween, but I’ve chosen not to watch any of the sequels. If someone sat me down in front of one, I might watch it, but nothing I’ve heard makes me think I’d like any of them. A remake is a dangerous idea, but the franchise has had enough missteps that it can’t really do any harm. And I think Zombie is coming at it with the right attitude. There are some dubious choices, like the decision to give Michael Myers a sympathetic backstory, but Zombie’s trying to respect the original property while still putting his own touch on it. That’s the way one should approach a remake. So whether or not it’s ultimately successful, I’ve got no problem with Zombie for choosing to do it.

    On the subject, though, I did see someone elsewhere suggest that the reason for so many crappy remakes is that people only remake good movies. They might have better success if they took old movies that had potential but either failed due to some sort of uncontrolled events, like budget crises, or worked at the time but are hard to take seriously by today’s standards. The example, of course, is when John Carpenter remade the 50’s B-movie The Thing from Another World.

  • MBI

    Me, I like remakes and I don’t see why people don’t. I really don’t. I say, bring on the remakes. Remakes in piles, remakes for miles.

  • MaryAnn

    Some remakes are fine. Most are not. Most are nothing but evidence for the contention that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt.

    Zombie’s last film, *The Devil’s Rejects,* was indeed very stylish, but also very empty. (I reviewed it here.) That one was screened for critics, though. This one wasn’t. That’s not a good sign.

  • MBI

    I actually think there’s tons of stuff to be mined from The Devil’s Rejects. Granted, I think that about a lot of horror films, but The Devil’s Rejects, as far as I’m concerned, is the top of the heap.

    Now, House of 1,000 Corpses, that’s stylish and empty.

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