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Halloween Candy
What's YOUR Flavor?
31 Days of Halloween: Days 11 thru 13 
15th-Oct-2014 08:18 pm
I'm a little behind, but I'm hoping that won't last long.

11) Repomen
Sooo, I put this on the list because I thought it was a mainstream, non-musical remake of Repo! The Genetic Opera. And I guess it kind of is, because the basic setting is similar: we're twenty minutes into the future and organ failure is a huge problem, but so is the economy, so this Big Corporation makes it possible for people to get organ transplants and pay in installments. If they can't make their payments on time, the Repoman comes and eviscerates them. That's a very specific set of similarities, but it's also the only thing the two movies have in common. The ONLY thing. The style and tone are more Black Comedy Sci-Fi Thriller than Goresploitation Cult Horror (With Songs!), and the story structure and POV have more in common with Logan's Run than anything else. Our main character, played by Jude Law, is one of the titular Repomen who, after a freak "accident" with a faulty defibrillator, finds himself with a heart transplant and an expiration date. It's very action-heavy, very gory, and has this recurring Schroedinger's Cat motif that I think we're supposed to take as a metaphor for Jude Law's current situation: he's both alive and dead at the same time, because he has a working heart right at this moment, but he's also on the run from people trying to kill him. I think? The Schroedinger's Cat thing is a little weird--I had trouble following it to be honest. It's more focused on action and gore, this movie. It's also hilarious. No, really. I had to stuff both fists in my mouth to stop from waking up the house laughing at this thing, pretty much from start to finish, and I wasn't quite prepared for that. Part of that is Jude Law's performance--he does Affable Psychopath so very well, popping his headphones on and humming while he dissects people. Really loves his job, this guy. The only problem I have here is that the setting stretches my suspension of disbelief just a bit too far. The Purge brought me right up to the edge of extreme plausibility with a dark twist--this puts me over that edge a smidge. Not entirely. It's just this, "Hey, I think killing people for being poor is maybe a bad thing?" moral awakening Jude Law goes through when he's forced to see things from the other side is a little . . . obvious? Like, the audience doesn't need to be told that. Not in this context. We know. But oh, it is fun to watch.

12) Dracula Untold
You know how the Frank Langella movie is basically Dracula: The Harlequin Romance? Well, this is the Dracula: The Dungeons and Dragons Campaign. With a dash of fanfic thrown in, because if there's one thing fanficcers are known for, it's taking an unrepentant villain and rewriting him as a tortured, misunderstood good guy who just needs to be loved. And . . . somehow, it works. Sorry, Gary Oldman, I love you, but Luke Evans is my new favorite on-screen Dracula. This is supposed to be the story of how Vlad Dracul, aka Vlad the Impaler, went from bloodthirsty warrior to bloodthirsty vampire. Supposed to be. There's very little historical accuracy--it's more an origin story for the Dracula in Bram Stoker's novel, with a new twist on the classical mythos. Except not really, because it's never explained why vampires have this aversion to silver and sunlight, so whatever. Here, Vlad is a tortured but basically good guy who did some awful things for the sake of his One True Love and his Family and his People, and really it's all the fault of those nasty Turks who turned him into a hardened battle-ready death machine by snatching him from his family at age ten, and also REVENGE! The actual, historical Vlad the Impaler was a terrible, terrible human who should still be burning in Hell right now if it exists. This guy is a misunderstood, lovable anti-hero who became a monster for the people he loves. It's fluff, it's silly, it's a heavy metal album cover playing extremely loose with both history and literature, and lord-a-mercy it is wonderful and I loved every ridiculous, action-packed minute. Also, Charles Dance shows up as Caligula, which is brilliant. (DRINK!) Technically, the credits say he's the "Master Vampire," but no, he is Caligula. The ending leaves things wide open for a sequel, but in the present day, which means we'll be skipping the Carfax Abbey episode entirely. I'm kinda sad about that, but sign me up right now, because I want MORE.

13) The Amityville Horror (2005)
Snore. I can usually find something to love about any given horror movie, no matter how dopey or tropey, but this is the first one so far (this year anyway) that utterly wasted my time. I guess when you hire Michael Bay as your producer, you get what you paid for. (Seriously, Michael Bay. Who the hell thought that was a good idea?) This is the third and final Chloe Moretz movie on my list, and by far the worst movie I've seen her in. Keep in mind that includes the Tim Burton version of Dark Shadows. Okay, so the reason I put this on my list in the first place is there's a new book out right now called Amity by Micol Ostow, a teen horror reimagining of the Amityville legend. And it is excellent. Because so many of the tropes and imagery we associate with haunted houses come either from this story, or from Stephen King's The Shining, it can be a real challenge to make it seem fresh, new, exciting, and scary again. Ostow's book does it beautifully, ramps up the tension and dread to the breaking point, and builds to a satisfactorily grisly conclusion. Seriously, the new book is awesome--check it out if you can. This, though? This is paint-by-numbers. If they'd held back on the Significant Close Ups a bit, or the jump scares, or the awful dialogue, it might not have been so bad, because it's not aggressively terrible. It if were more obviously terrible, that would almost be better, because at least you could make a drinking game out of it or something. This is just . . . boring. Unscary, unengaging, waste of my time. Funny thing is, apart from popping in an Evil Mirror instead of an Evil House, this is pretty much the same movie as Oculus. Only that one did it right. Really drives home what a huge difference it makes when the filmmakers know how to edit properly. That is how you do an age-old scary story and make it fresh again. This is not.
16th-Oct-2014 01:04 am (UTC)
LMAO. I could've warned you Repomen had absolutely nothing to do with Repo! The Genetic Opera--and I haven't even seen the Jude Law one yet. (I keep meaning to.) IIRC, both movies even came out in the same year, and both flopped miserably.

The remake of The Amityville Horror is just another remake churned out in the world of "LET'S REMAKE ALL THE CLASSIC HORROR FILMS!" that brought us remakes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, etc. It's dumb, dull, and unnecessary. (Though I did jump when the dad axed the mom in the chest. I think that's how it went. . .? Anyway, that scene is the only one I remember from the film.)
16th-Oct-2014 01:25 am (UTC)
Pffft--whatever, dude. Margot Kidder got axed in the face. I'm not even that close to the original, and they made a watered-down, more sanitized version in every way possible.

See what I mean about modern horror being very "safe?" They're more interested in passing everything through the MPAA ratings board than actually creeping people out. Which is why I appreciate it so much when movies like Evil Dead say, "Screw it, we're going ALL OUT, prepare to be disturbed!" OR they go in completely the other direction and make the atmosphere so tense and awesome that it doesn't need any gory scenes to be utterly terrifying.
16th-Oct-2014 01:58 am (UTC)
Well, I've never seen the original Amityville, so I didn't know that Kidder got axed to the face. I just remember being startled that Melissa George turned around and WHAM! axe to the chest.

But I wholeheartedly agree that the remakes are very watered down. I believe most of the original movies were made "outside" of Hollywood. They're more raw and gorier, and willing to GO THERE. Whereas, like you've said, Hollywood wants the remakes marketable for the general consumer; so they give us R-lite--or even PG-13--horror, where the original movies went for the hard R.
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