Ghostbusters Remake: Why I Won’t See It

The Ghostbusters remake trailer premiered a couple of weeks ago and confirmed every fear I had. This topic has been controversial since its announcement and with good reason. From the cast to the writing, the trailer alone suggests remake tragedy. As far as I’m concerned, I hope it bombs, so they stop trying to destroy well-loved movies.

The All-Woman Cast

Those who are not excited about the cast are not necessarily sexist. I’m a strong, independent, hard-working woman. I support my family and am a good mother. I support nearly every fight for better pay, treatment, career advancement, rights, etc. And I hated the idea the all-woman cast. But it’s not about them being women; it’s about Hollywood taking advantage of us.

In Hollywood, woman power has become a trend. I love the idea of an all-woman cast if done for the right reasons, but in this situation, Hollywood executives saw an opportunity to capitalize on 1) women and 2) a successful franchise. It’s like they said, “Oh, women are cool right now, so let’s make them Ghostbusters and see how much money we can make off of them.” That insults me.

The trailer even suggests they dumbed the characters down, made them goofy and not funny. Where’s our sharp wit? Where’s our ability to handle things rationally? Not in this trailer.

The Writing Stinks

“You’re a brilliant engineer.” … “No one’s better at quantum physics than you.” Why do we need to say that? Why can’t writers allow the audience to assume roles and intelligence? We don’t have to spell out everything in a movie. The Ghostbusters remake is certainly not the only movie with this problem. Most modern movies say too much and explain things unnecessarily because the people writing them should not write movies. If you’re targeting women, guess what? We are smarter than that.

On another note, the trailer is not funny. I’ve watched it 10 times and never once smiled. They ripped out the wit, sarcasm and dry humor, and added vomiting and awkward banter. Note to Hollywood: Vomiting is never funny. Ever.

Also, why are they making fun of The Exorcist? I love The Exorcist; it still scares the crap out of me, but why is it appropriate to include it in Ghostbusters? In the trailer, they poke fun at one of the most intense movies in horror history, and as a fan of The Exorcist and horror in general, that is not okay with me.

Gotham Meets Ghostbusters

Many people are criticizing the ghosts’ appearance. I’m okay with some of the CGI, and Slimer looks good. However, most of the ghosts flying or walking around downtown make it look like Gotham City from the first Batman franchise. The ghost in the striped pants (watch trailer) made me roll my eyes. Also, there were very few floaters in the original. It wasn’t a sideshow of neon lights and CGI.

I’m Over Remakes

We had a blast this past Halloween comparing originals and remakes, but I noticed we did not review anything after 2010. Remakes in the last few years have, for the most part, sucked. Poltergeist, The Fantastic Four, Point Break, all decent/good originals, all remade in 2015 and not well received. If a remake does well, it is because it is well written, directed by the best person for the job, and cast well. A movie will not make a good remake just because the original was popular. For example, would the Halloween remake have succeeded if M. Night Shyamalan had directed it instead of Rob Zombie? No.

There’s my rant. I will not see the Ghostbusters remake, and I’d appreciate Hollywood stop trying to destroy some of the best movies of my generation. If you don’t have an original idea or can’t produce a ‘good’ movie, then maybe it’s time you get out of the industry.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer. Take note of the dislikes:

Originals and Remakes: Horror Films that Need a Modern Remake

We hope you’ve enjoyed our October Original vs. Remake series. We had a blast comparing them, and we hope you’ve tried at least a couple!

We also understand many have grown tired of the remake trend; however, a few horror movies need a remake. Whether getting back to classics or bringing light to underrated movies, we wanted to conclude the series with something a little different. Theses movies could and need a modern remake:

James’ Picks:

The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920)

The original film in 1920 was a silent German expressionist masterpiece borne out of the inter-war period in Europe. It is a story told from the perspective of one character and actually has a twist worth something (if you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil it here). The main plot revolves around a mad doctor, Caligari, who uses a sleepwalker, Cesare, to murder for him. It is shot with painted shadows, twisted imagery, and a warped perspective as the narrator shares his own mentally distorted view of what happened. I can imagine this film, shot by a talented director using practical effects (Edgar Write I’m looking at you..) for a modern audience relieving some of the abstract and abbreviated storytelling prevalent in the silent era. There was a 2006 remake, but one, true to the original, of wider scope and scale would do this amazing classic justice.

White Zombie (1932)

I first saw this film in a zombie-thon when I was a teenager. It came on with Romero pictures and was distinctly out of place and, for me, unusual. As an adult I’ve come to appreciate just how fascinating this film is and how great a remake would be. It focuses on Madeleine and her fiance Neil. A wealthy plantation owner, Charles, is also in love with Madeleine and enlists a voodoo mystic (played here by the glorious Bela Lugosi…someone would have to up their game to play this role) Murder Legendre (though his name is not really heard in the film except for maybe one piece of dialogue). In a great scene we see Murder use his powers to turn Madeleine into a voodoo zombie, a status of wakeful hypnosis fully under Murder’s control. What would make this a great remake? Well getting back to the original voodoo zombies, powerful zombie masters, great characters straight from the origins of horror (Dr. Bruner is Van Helsing in all but name.) A great modern remake could, again, fill in a vague story from the dawn of horror cinema and bring this tale to a modern audience. Plus it would introduce people to how the zombie legend originated. Let’s face it, the flesh-eating zombie thing is kind of done, whether it be from unknown causes or disease or whatever they cook up. Let’s put some magic back in zombie movies and tell a great classic story in a new way.

Raven’s Picks

Cherry Falls (2000)

Brittany Murphy Cherry Falls
Photo from: scare-tactic.blogspot.com

Cherry Falls ranks as my favorite teen slasher. However, many have never seen or heard of it. I realize that a remake would seem a little insensitive to Brittany Murphy, but I bet she would be honored knowing this movie received the attention it deserves. There are two reasons why Cherry Falls needs a remake. First, it was never released in the U.S. I’m guessing Hollywood thought it was too influential, as the storyline suggests teens must lose their virginity to survive. If America’s youth are that easily influenced, it’s time to look at the parents. Second, we haven’t had a good teen slasher since Scream 4, and that was in a series. I can’t remember the last good teen slasher. Hollywood needs to stop making crap that no one wants to see and get back to basics. Cherry Falls had an original storyline – gasp! – and serves horror well, as it’s dark, funny, gruesome, and entertaining. The horror film industry needs to cut back on CGI ghosts and jump scares, and get back to making movies that rely on a good story and actors.

Cabin by the Lake (2000)

Cabin by the Lake
Photo: youtube.com

Cabin by the Lake – a USA Network-release – is gold. In fact, good luck finding a DVD copy under $40, and you can find a lower-quality version on YouTube. Judd Nelson plays a writer/serial killer, and Hedy Burress is a fantastic final girl. Nelson not only kills them, he has created an underground garden of victims deep in the lake. The movie is funny, suspenseful and entertaining. A Cabin by the Lake remake would bring back a theme that has disappeared: the crazy writer. I mean a writer who is unbalanced and disturbed on his/her own, not one driven crazy by a supernatural force. The original story is different and refreshing, and again, it would be nice to see Hollywood get back to basics. I enjoy horror movies for a number of reasons, but entertainment value tops the list. Minus a few, modern horror movies are no longer entertaining. They focus too much on mood and CGI, and not enough on the story or character development.

If done correctly, all of these remakes would get Hollywood back on track, and introduce new and forgotten stories and elements to modern audiences. We hope good screenplay writers out there will pay attention!

We’d love to hear what movies you think could use a remake or reboot! Feel free to tell us in the comments or on social media.

Remakes and Reboots: Part 4

The Failed Remake

Of course not all remakes can achieve the heights of some of the previously mentioned films.  We have recently been inundated with remakes that have either fallen short or failed spectacularly.  Famously, there is the disastrous remake of Psycho, which was copied short-for-shot with a new cast in color.  As if a new director could possibly have made the film better than Alfred Hitchcock?  The argument could be made that it is the same method used for the Night of the Living Dead update, but there are subtle differences… most importantly Savini participated in Romero movies and made his film to honor Romero and help audiences remember the original.  Psycho… I’m not entirely certain what the purpose of it was.  Everyone, even people who have never seen it, KNOW the original.  It was shot by a cinematic virtuoso whose work could not be replicated or improved upon.  The same could be said for Kurosawa (if Hitchcock has an equal, his name is Akira Kurosawa), but remakes of Kurosawa often honor the original and try to place the basics of his story in a new place (as we have seen, with mixed results).  There has been word that Kurosawa’s magnum opus, The Seven Samurai, is getting yet another American remake, this one starring George Clooney.  Not only would it be the second western remake of this terrific film, this is overall a TERRIBLE idea, however still will not insult the original as much as reshooting the source film in color, shot-for-shot, with new actors as though he didn’t get it right the first time a la Psycho.  Please people… just bite the bullet, enjoy the black and white and watch the originals… there’s a reason these films are considered some of, if not THE, greatest movies in film history…

Cult Classic Case Study: Clash of the Titans (1981)

Leaving classics aside (as the general reception of the Psycho reaction proved) cult classics have become the focus of the remake machine.  While they are more understandable fodder for a remake, the reason behind the popularity of the original is still lost on most remakers.  One easy example is Planet of the Apes, which also achieved the same level of negative response as Psycho despite Tim Burton at the helm.  I saw the remake only once, and I remember enough to know I wouldn’t want to see it again.  We’ll jump to a more recent remake disaster: Clash of the Titans.

First, the nature of the cult classic.  The cult classic remains a cult because it succeeds in spite of its flaws.  It is greater than the sum of its parts.  Clash of the Titans (1981) was a delightfully cheesy feast.  Harry Hamlin’s Perseus is a feathered-haired relic of the late 70s and early 80s.  Monsters and creations by stop-motion animation wizard Ray Harryhausen show the art form at its precision best, from scorpions and vultures, to tiny clockwork owls, and Medusa with her dozens of snakes.  Acting legends like Laurence Olivier, and soon-to-be legends like Maggie Smith graced the screen with B-movie actors like Hamlin and Ursula Andress.  The story is right out of the basics of mythology, a hero is set upon by a vengeful god… he now has to set out on a journey, far too big for him, aided only by his guile (and some well-placed allies on Olympus) he goes to save his love, Andromeda, from the wrath of a sea goddess and her vicious creatures.  He gets an adorable clockwork owl, Bubo from Athena, a special sword and shield (of course), and rides the unridable Pegasus, one of Zeus’ winged horses.  Along the way, he fights with the twisted Calibos, fends off attacks from Calibos’ vulture and scorpions, duels Medusa, and finally saves the day by turning Poseidon’s mighty Kraken to stone with Medusa’s severed head.  The film is fun because it is so silly.  Stop motion isn’t as slick as CGI, but that’s what makes it special, something that took craft, patience, and years if not decades of training to get a physical something in front of the camera with actual lights reflecting off of it and casting actual shadows.  You wonder at how the little R2D2-esque owl flew, or how the menacing vulture, or the elegant Pegasus did the same.  You know it’s all just “the movies,” but you still leave it wondering how someone could take the time and effort to do all these things.  Perseus himself is a demi-god who acts like an everyman.  He doesn’t have the strength of Hercules, by far the most famous demi-god, but his cleverness makes up for it.  He succeeds by out-thinking enemies not out-muscling them.  He gets help when he needs it, and accepts it because he knows he needs it.  He travels the world to save his love while the gods literally play at dice high above him.

The film is not the masterpiece of Yojimbo, or Psycho, it’s not even a reflection of the times like The Karate Kid, instead it’s just a fun movie designed to entertain audiences and take them away to a fantasy world like movies are meant to do.  Then the remake…

Cult Classic Remake: Clash of the Titans (2010)

It’s hard to tell whether the 2010 version was supposed to be a remake or a reboot of a series.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  It is one of the worst remakes, and one of the worst recent movies, in a number of years.

There has been a trend in movies, especially action movies and historical period movies, for revenge as a motivation for the protagonist.  Braveheart and Gladiator are two critically acclaimed movies that display this trend.  It’s strange to consider as revenge is, at its root, a very ugly thing; something not to be desired in a person, and certainly not a hero.  In the 1980s Clash (hereafter known as Clash) Perseus’ motivation was rescue.  He has offended the sea goddess, Thetis, and now she seeks her revenge by forcing Perseus’ betrothed Andromeda to be sacrificed.  Note that it is the villain of the piece after revenge… as traditionally a villain would be after something that petty.  In the 2010 remake, Crap of the Titans (hereafter known as Crap… for obvious reasons) Perseus’ family is killed by Hades at sea (Why Hades at SEA and not Poseidon?  I’d guess because the filmmakers thought, “Hey Hades is like the Devil he’s so much COOLER than Poseidon!”), and Perseus tries to defy the gods by tracking down Hades and defeating him.  That’s right, Perseus is seeking revenge for his family, which we’ve seen in every movie that features a guy with a sword since 1997… yawn.  Perseus in Clash looked every bit the classic Greek hero (save for the feathered hair).  Greeks always favored cunning over brute force.  Perseus uses his cunning constantly, he’s quick, clever, and fast thinking.  Things aren’t always spelled out for him (or the audience), and he has to decipher mysterious puzzles to defeat overpowering enemies.  And Perseus in Crap?  He’s a generic thug.  His shaved head, square jaw, and tiny-tight mouth make him look more like a second string UFC challenger than a Greek hero.  He’s capable of two emotions, rage and despair.  He shifts his feet, looks sad, shouts, and acts as though he has no common sense whatsoever.  He uses NO guile instead relying on just being mighty.  He is very mighty.  He cuts his way out of a big scorpion after all.  He refuses favors of gods trying to help him; instead he endangers his travelling companions because of his own pride and selfishness.  He is easily the most unlikable movie hero of the last 5 years.  His quest doesn’t even make sense.  Andromeda is no longer his love interest.  She’s just a princess who gave him water and will be sacrificed because the town her father rules has defied the gods.  It seems Perseus (especially the selfish brute they made him) could go on his quest to “kill” a deathless god without worrying about saving her since he has no plot-developed attachment to her.  Instead his love interest is Io, who is as unnecessary a character as has never existed in a movie.  She’s basically there to prod this mess of a plot along and explain things to Perseus (and the audience who are treated like imbeciles by the filmmakers).  They could’ve named her Expositiana and been more honest with everyone.  Then there is Perseus’ quest.  He wants to kill Hades?  What kind of sense does that make?  The gods can’t even kill each other…  Even Homeric hero Diomedes was only able send Ares back to Olympus after gutting him with a spear imbued with power by Athena herself.  Today’s Perseus’ quest can be described in real life as this: your family is killed in a drive by; so you collect the finest police officers in the city and your closest friends to go punch a Gambino in the face.  Well done, you’ve killed everyone with you and eventually yourself, even if you knock him out, break his nose, and put him in the hospital for a month.  Eventually, they will be coming for you, and they have the ability to take you out far better than you can take them out…  Even if you are friends with the Governor…

Breaking the Remake Rules: Insulting the Original

So that’s the plot.  It’s bad enough.  How can a remake be worse than just a bad movie?  Easily, it can insult, demean, and forever try to one-up the original.  As I said from the beginning, remakes owe the original their existence.  They should recognize this, accept it, and honor the source material as much as possible.  Crap breaks this rule and never misses an opportunity to declare itself bigger, better, and badder than Clash.  They achieved the last one at least… in all the wrong ways.

Early in the film Perseus finds the clockwork owl.  He is told to leave it behind, as it’s apparently nothing useful.   The filmmakers to the audience: take THAT beloved classic character!  When scorpions appear in the desert in Crap they start out about the same size as the ones Perseus fights in Clash, then they get bigger and bigger until the final scorpion is the size of Delta’s Pacific airline fleet welded together into some metallic art-school drop-out garbage collage.  The filmmakers to the audience: You see?!  Look how much bigger and menacing our monsters are!  In Crap, Perseus comes upon a herd of elegant white Pegasus (which were all killed but one in Clash), suddenly they scatter and run as a bigger, BLACK Pegasus stomps into scene.  Filmmakers to audience: Yeah, we scared off those piddly white ones you saw in the original.  Look at how much COOLER the menacing BLACK Pegasus is!  Aren’t we awesome?  In Crap, the Kraken finally shows up released from, I guess Hades.  And why a SEA beast, the Kraken, is controlled by the lord of the underworld I have NO idea… just another display of how absolutely poorly the film was written using the original ideas.  The Kraken is the size of Tokyo bay.  Filmmakers to audience: See what we said about the scorpions? Yeah, he’s bigger, slimier and looks like a video game end boss, phase II.

In the end of Clash, Perseus uses his guile to turn the Kraken to stone, save the day, and win his girl.  The end of Crap is the same thing, but Perseus of course doesn’t get Andromeda. Instead, a coda is added where Io, who has DIED, is brought back from the dead by a LITERAL deus ex machina, and they leave the opening for a sequel, which is now impending for next year.  Pat yourselves on the back everyone for appealing to the lowest common denominator…

Remakes and Reboots: Part 2

The Homage Remake

George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, though it’s not as widely respected in the mass-public as the films of Leone and Kurosawa, is a historic film in its own right.  Not only is it the film that launched the modern zombie genre of the walking dead who crave human flesh and can be dispatched with a shot to the head, but it blazed social trails by including a non-stereotypical African-American man as not only the lead, but a self-less hero.  It is in many ways as successful a story as Yojimbo and in its own way is as well made.  It too was made in black and white well into the color-film era, and it too launched a series of copy cats, parodies, and sequels.  The 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, made by special effects guru and Romero alum Tom Savini was a different kind of remake than Fistful; it was the exact same film with a new cast on updated film.  Savini had no desire to one-up the great Romero.  It was a gorier, little-more-rowdy version of the original and introduced the genre to an entire generation of kids who refused to watch black and white films strictly because they were black and white.  In many ways this 1990 remake renewed a waning interest in zombie horror.

The Premise Remake

When interest in new zombie horror films peaked again after 28 Days Later, a film that broke from Romero’s rules and created its own mythology became another remake of a Romero film that brought the genre back to its roots.  Dawn of the Dead (2004) is a new generation of remakes.  This film, unlike the previous two examples, took merely the premise of the original (people fleeing zombies barricade themselves into a mall) and wrapped an entirely new narrative around it.  In the original Dawn of the Dead (1974), Romero used the zombie genre to comment on social issues once again, this time mass-consumerism, as the people stuck in the mall are initially more concerned with stealing money, goods and enjoying living the good life in their castle-of-inexhaustible-delights.  The 2004 remake by Zack Snyder takes the premise of people fleeing the zombie apocalypse to a mall but says very little about consumerism (there is one line, “I don’t want you sneaking around and stealing shit.”).  Instead, it is more about how personalities respond when sequestered together, moral decisions, and survival.  While Snyder’s remake is not as culturally poignant, it is still a fun movie that maintains Romero’s mood of straight horror with some comedic undertones.  It too, is a successful remake as it takes the premise, builds a new story, and does it well.  It’s flashier, brighter, faster, and slicker than Romero’s film, but its rock video veneer matches its style and lends itself to the story.  It never insults the original or claims to be superior; it more or less ignores it and simply uses its premise to make a new, entertaining movie.

Remakes and Reboots: Part 1

There has been a trend in movies recently of remakes and reboots of franchises.  Some of these are venerable franchises that never really ended but whose sequels have reduced either in quality or earning power (such as the Friday 13th series or James Bond films).  Others are old forgotten relics, or classic but dated movies, producers feel need an upgrade or update in order to take an old idea and make it fresh, or to squeeze a little more cash without having to contract new stories from new writers and new creators.  The idea of the remake or films from books, plays, or other media is as old as film itself.  Recently, however there has been a rash of remakes and reboots of films, some good, some great, some better than the originals; some bad, some worse, some insults to already shaky reputations of cult classic films.

The Remake

For the purposes of this discussion a remake will be any film that takes the story of an original film, its characters, and its basic plot development and creates a newer version.  Sometimes with new plot twists, new dynamics, and almost always new actors, recent films have shown studios’ willingness to remake very old films as well as rather recent ones with sometimes shocking regularity.  The difference between a remake and a reboot can get muddied in modern cinema, but for our purposes we will try and stick to direct remakes in this section and analyze more obvious reboots in the next.

The Perfect Remake

There are effective ways to do a remake and still make a terrific film, sometimes building on the ideas of the original film, honoring it, or playing off of it.  A remake should never insult the original, demean it, or claim itself in any of its scenes or actions to be superior to it.  It should remember its place; it is not an original idea and owes its very existence to a film that preceded it.  One of the finest remakes in cinema history launched two of the most influential personalities in cinema: Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood.  Leone’s spaghetti western version of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, created the template for the perfect direct remake.  It took the story from the original, took most of the major characters, the plot, the tone, and the message, and created a whole new film for a whole new audience.  Though Yojimbo would find itself made and remade again in TV and in film (such as the MUCH less successful Bruce Willis remake Last Man Standing), only Fistful seemed to get it right.  Kurosawa’s original was a violent farce, mocking and revering the western genre as a whole.  It was darkly funny and delightfully cynical, containing broad caricatures of typical western stereotypes at the same time destroying the idea of the white-hat hero and single-handily creating the anti-hero for popular culture.  Leone’s version (made without the permission of Kurosawa but using the idea and much of the script whole cloth) embodies many of the same principles.  Eastwood is perfect as the laconic western gunslinger every bit as much as Toshiro Mifune was perfect as the jaded nameless samurai sword master.  Wild, operatic action takes place in both, the anti-hero’s only weakness is displayed when he helps others (the message seemingly conveyed: never help others…), and a climax between evil and not-so-evil leaves the audience satisfied with the conclusion.  Comparing the remakes, Fistful contained the same wry wit, delivered in Eastwood’s characteristic monotone.  Eastwood, like Mifune, was the ultimate good-bad-guy (or bad-good-guy, depending on one’s perspective); largely free of morality and selflessness, he is out to destroy the system as a whole by having it destroy itself rather than through direct action of his own.  His mind and wit are as deadly as his gun and he revels in watching the fools around him flounder like puppets on strings.  It honors the original’s feel and mood; it doesn’t simply take the premise and put it in a new location.  Last Man Standing plays it more straight.  It is hardly amusing, the lead character has none of the dark humor and plays more like an avenging angel of death than a wry, clever puppet master using his craftiness over his propensity for violence.  This change shows a trend in remakes as they get further and further from the original, or in more contemporary versions: simplification.  The characters in Yojimbo are complex and multifaceted.  Even when they are broad to the point of silliness, few of the characters are ever just one thing; the bold anti-hero who cares little for the world…still risks his entire plot to save a woman and return her to her family.  The wealthy sake brewer who runs one of the ruthless gangs is madly in love with the woman who was freed.  One of the characters idiotic younger brother is not only a vicious fighter but also has a fear of ghosts.  Little character pieces that make, even these cartoonish portrayals, alive and memorable.  The characters in Fistful of Dollars are just as memorable, as is the climax sequence displaying the lead character’s cleverness rather than just his ability to dispense violence.  Both were successful at telling the same story with the same mood and the remake honored the original by copying its mood, style, and characters.

Perhaps the Leone classic is an unfair remake to begin with as it is in many ways the perfect remake.  It had skilled performers and crews who knew exactly what would transfer over into the change in scenery and what wouldn’t, and it created its own mythology and branching stories.  In fact, it was so successful at retelling Kurosawa’s original film it spawned two sequels entirely unrelated to the source film, the second of which is widely considered to be the best, For a Few Dollars More and the legendary The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Clint Eastwood would go on to play the clever anti-hero character pioneered by Mifune not only in Man With No Name films of Leone, but also in other films like The Outlaw Josey Wales, High Plains Drifter, and even the farcical Two Mules for Sister Sara.  Few remakes can claim such a pedigree, and it shows the genius of not only the filmmakers involved in the remake, but the excellence of the source film’s creators and storytelling.