Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let Me In... [Let The Right One In - Remake]

Nope, I haven't seen it yet droogies, but after seing yet another trailer I'm declaring it dead!



Sure it will probably work fine in the Unitedstates of Dumbasses as they obviously took the decicion to make it "horror for dummies" and have Abby explain that she needs blood to live.


"I Need blood... ...to live"
Way to go fools, stomp allover the unique reason the first one works so well.


The fact that they never declare what Eli is in the original - although people suspect it, and Oscar asks her in the scene recreated in that trailer - nobody ever confirms that it's a vampire.

Now don't get all worked up, I'm sure that the movie will do just fine, but it's not going to be the suave classic that the Alfredsson flick certainly is, and I'll most likely watch it due to the Hammer connection. Oh and because I like the original so much that I have to give the remake the benefit of the doubt. But as said, with that trailer in mind, I'm kinda questioning it allready.

Anyways, here's some stuff that I've written on the original previously and also a second chance to check out the interview I did with author John Ajvide Lindqvist about his books.

-On Children and Horror.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Directed by: John McNaughton
USA, 1986
Drama/Horror, 83min

I was checking out the premiere entry over at Jenny Spencer’s The Bloody Iris, and at the end of her entertaining piece on Bill Lustig’s classic Maniac 1980, Jenny recommends a bunch of other stuff. One title on her list is John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. And that alone made me go back and re-watch Henry, as I’ve been longing to get back to that one for a shit long time now… and it was well worth it.

Ok, so here’s a headfuck for your Sunday leisure – How John McNaughton registered death without taking sides.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer has been an important movie for me quite some time. It was during my film studies in the early nineties - when Laserdisc’s still where the preferred choice of cineastes - that I was grated some money by my tutors to purchase some titles within the horror field for the school library as they had none. As I was paying for the selection of second-hand discs I’d picked out, the guy who ran the shop, recognizing that I was into horror, asked if I had heard of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer? Well of course I knew it from the genre mags, but I still hadn’t seen it, so when he presented me with the disc fresh from the latest titles I had to pick it up. Back at the university, my tutor and I sat down to a double feature and discussion about Night of the Living Dead and Henry. After NoTLD we compared notes and talked at ease about the symbolism, metaphors and narrative. We carefully placed the next bigass disc on the tray and hit the play button.

But following those last lines “Yeah I killed my momma” I looked down at the sparse notes I had taken down and turned to my tutor for further discussion. He sat there with his hand to his mouth as to hold back his gagging, managing to blurt out that this was the most disturbing and vile movie he had ever seen. He also pointed out that he have no choice but to fail my paper if I chose to write about this movie, as he found that there was nothing positive to say about the movie what so ever. It was merely a showcased of depravity. I subjected an essay on the movie, and he obviously rejected it forcing me to write a second one on another movie instead. When I finished my studies some years later, I even took the Laserdisc with me as he still felt I had nothing to do in the library the university had assembled.

Needless to say Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer became my “you HAVE to see this” movie for some years and here’s a reminder of that horrible movie to refresh your memory – or lure you into seeing it for a first time in case you may have missed it.

Chicago, USA. Serial killer Henry shares an apartment with his jail buddy Otis. Becky, Otis sister, moves into their apartment after walking out on her “difficult” husband. At the age of fourteen Henry was incarcerated after murdering his mother, a disturbed prostitute who forced her son to wear women’s clothing and watch as she had sex with men. Henry persuades Otis to take part in his killing spree, and one night when Henry leaves Otis and Becky alone to go out and buy cigarettes, Otis rapes Becky. Henry walks in on them and in a fury kills Otis. Henry cuts up the body, and together with Becky throws them from a bridge, before checking into a motel. The next morning Henry checks out and leaves a bloody suitcase by the side of the road.

After revisiting the movie, it would be easy to use the description of realism film theoretic Louis Gianetti explains in his book Understanding Movies; "existing sound, central dominance within the frame, open and long takes, and synchronous sound" - all of them forms that John McNaughton has used in his debut feature Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

For this reason it would be easy to place the movie within the realistic film theory category, as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer almost comes off as an observing documentary, and for some odd reason the Mayles' brothers Salesman [1968] comes to mind several times as I watched the film. But then something starts to shift in my mind, I recognize the theory of realism as described by Gianetti - but they don’t quite add up in relationship to the language that the film talks, or the techniques used in it. Upon a second viewing the traits of the classical narrative are more obvious, deliberate zooms in and out of scenes as they start and come to an end. Edits are hidden away in sound, audio flashbacks, non diegetic sound and “fade-to-blacks” in-between acts – all characteristics that give the movie away as having a classical narrative.

It’s an easy mistake to make, taking the classical narrative as a piece of realism, which rings true for many of the movies in the “extreme” fringes of the horror genre. One of the few sincere tricks to expose a snuff movie is that there are edits. If you start cutting off someone’s arm, you are not going to be at the same spot after the edit to the close up. Real life atrocities are almost always shot in a wide master shot as there isn’t a though given to dramatizing the terrible events being shot. If you focus on the images and not on the “craft” you will fall for the tricks of the trade. In the case of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer I should mention that Allen and Gomrey point out “classical Hollywood narrative is passive” in their book Film History, Theory and Practice. This means that all we need to know is presented in front of us, but this is not the case with Henry, also there is no cause-chain effect that releases the events and wrath of Henry upon his victims. Neither is there a clear protagonist / antagonist pointed out which are common traits of the classical dramaturgy. Sure, in some scenes Henry comes off as “the hero” at certain moments compared to Otis who seems to be “the villain” in the same scenes. Within the classic narrative there is often an obvious hero/heroine to which the audience can identify and bond mentally with. McNaughton takes measures to make sure that we don’t bond with the characters in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and doesn’t let us identify with any of them. This evokes an almost drama/documentary mood as we are thrown into the lives of these people without any obvious start, nor a typical closure to the movie. Henry is a killer in the beginning and is still a killer at large at the end of the movie. The fraction observation of slice of life affects us in such a way that we experience the movie to be realistic.

After finally establishing that the film has a classic narrative, I still can’t get my head round that feeling that the movie is told with a realistic viewpoint. I’d like to claim that it’s all because of the way McNaughton showed the events happening in the film, from a distance and an objective stance. There are rarely any shots where he forces experience or opinion towards his audience by force feeding us deliberate shots; all he does is subtle zooms towards where we would be paying attention. Everything that we learn in this movie happens in the now, and that previously mentioned end scene proves that McNaughton leaves all conclusions and interpretations to us, the audience. This position, a registering one, is typical for the documentary genre, which adds to the difficulty of categorizing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, as it simultaneously with the registering stance, also has a classic narration. Together they both make up the realistic feeling of the movie, which is a major influence on the way the movie is experienced.

The cold disassociated emotional setting that among others the late Chas Balun commented in I Spit in Your Face: Films That Bite", The DEEP RED Horror Handbook confirms that the movies hold is definitely an emotion awoken by McNaughton’s deliberate distance to the narrative.

As McNaughton takes an objective point of view to the events unfolding on screen, he takes the registering position, as does the audience. This registering position makes the hideous crimes we see less emotional for us, as we don’t step into the victim’s character or suffering. We have no emotional bond to them and neither have we made an investment into their character. It’s quite unsettling when you think about it, because this makes us dismiss the seriousness of Henry’s killing spree easier, as we more or less accept them as his pastime activities. The second thing that builds up that uncomfortable feeling is that somewhere in out subconscious are still getting the signals that what he is doing is wrong. Unconsciously this scares us as we start to fear our own feelings and reactions, startled by our own indifference. The fear is all of a sudden much closer to us, among us. Consequently the registering position of the film contributes to a paradoxical self-examination within the audience. A third device is the way the movie moves forth, which also adds to the alienation. During the first part of the movie we never see the killings. Bodies pile up and Henry [Michael Rooker] keeps his back to the camera, always in motion, always keeping a distance as he keeps ahead of us at all times. Also McNaughton edits away in the midst of camera movement. The camera rarely lands at its steady destination before he cuts to the next image creating unease with the audience. Not to mention the six murders before the Otis [Tom Towles] and Becky [Tracy Arnold] story is presented.

But we are not completely passive against the position McNaughton forces us into as it also induces frustration with the audience. An example of this is the rape of Becky. Here McNaughton chooses to position the camera in the far corner of the room, and show the terrible episode from a wide master shot. We the audience want to act - help her - instead of just observe the action, but the camera won’t allow us to step in closer. We are held so afar that it’s impossible to help Becky, which is why our frustration engages us in her suffering.

It’s important in this context to note the difference between taking a registering position and not taking a standpoint. McNaughton was accused several times for not taking a standpoint towards the atrocities shown in the film. This critique is in my opinion somewhat naïve and shallow, because not speaking out on one’s standpoint does not mean that you don’t have one. By not speaking out is in its self actually a position. More than often we see serial killer movies that try to explain the events that lead up to the killers state of mind and raison d’être, and it’s always so unsatisfying that it starts to annoy instead of give some sort of sympathetic insight to the killers mind frame. In McNaughton’s case I feel that the choice of not exposing the back-story and just mentioning it briefly adds to the uneasy feeling that you get from the film. McNaughton indicates that a terrible childhood “might” be the reason behind Henry’s killings, but it’s a poor excuse. Again through not commenting on Henry’s reason for being Henry, which a film told with a classic narration would have done, the movie is accepted as realistic. So you shouldn’t confuse a registering position with not having a perspective on what you show.

Through the registering position we never make any close bonds with the characters in the story to identify with them. This has us instead of seeing “us” in them, just observe “them”. This enhances the “peeping tom” feeling that often is referred to as Voyeurism. Film Theorists like Metz argue that discourse disguises itself as story with in the classic narrative. This invites a voyeuristic approach to the movie as it becomes an object presented by a sender (McNaughton) who hides rather than confronting us. As we are only registering the events on screen and can’t emotionally interact with the characters, we subconsciously feel like peepers getting insights into things we shouldn’t be seeing. As the characters aren't aware of our presence while they go about their evil deeds, our interest into what they are doing is enhanced. At the same time there is no danger to us as we are hidden voyeurs.

In Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer we observe the darkest sides of humanity. But we never quite understand that, as we don’t relate to Henry or his victims. Yeah, we do recognise some of Henry’s emotions, but because of the positioning McNaughton has chosen – the objective – we never connect with Henry and his victims, which make the movie even more unnerving, as the unexplainable and non-identifiable scares us more than our personal traits that we easily recognize.

The observing gaze that we take on throughout the film almost makes us look upon the victims in the same way as Henry does. He does not know them, has no feeling for them and therefore sees them as items with no human value. What we instead react to is the graphic violence – the mutilated bodies and blood. As we rarely actually see Henry kill a victim in the movie, we neither get that emotional reaction, that empathy for human suffering.

The single time that we feel for one of the characters is in the horrific scene when Becky is raped by Otis, her own brother. To explain WHY we feel emotion first here, I need to backtrack over previous events. Becky is the only character to show any human emotions. She does what she thinks is the right thing, to give Henry the female love he never received from his mother as a child. As Henry tells her about his mothers death you will notice how the camera moves in closer and closer, on Becky and Henry as he opens up for the first time. We understand by the look on Becky’s face that she sympathizes with Henry. This single intimate moment is shattered and the camera quickly withdraws shoving us back into the objective spot, and we realize that off camera Becky has put her hand over Henry’s to show her compassion. Also note that in line with the registering position that McNaughton wants us to hold, he resists the urge to affect us or influence our emotions by laying down a romantic score, or giving the lighting and lenses a softer edge. But back to Becky; from this moment on she takes a more obvious feminine attitude, she wears dresses instead of pants, she changes her makeup, and accepts her womanliness. Not even here does McNaughton waste time to explain this transformation, he doesn’t explain that Becky loves Henry, he sticks to his registering camera position and never enters the characters minds. It’s the audience that are challenged to make the decisions, and what we don’t see on the screen we look for in other conventions, i.e. patterns we recognize from other movies. "...the memory of every film one has enjoyed acts as a model for the next one." as Metz states in his Story/discourse: Notes on two kinds of Voyeurism, (Movies and Methods Vol II 1985, ed Bill Nichols). In our knowledge of classic narrative we know that girl meets boy, feelings are responded to and we end up with a happy ending. So we associate to these conventions and subconsciously start hoping that Becky will have Henry and that’s why we understand, even though the camera is only a registering device, that Becky loves Henry.

This is also the first time we sympathize with a character, we want Becky to get her happy ending and that’s why we feel so strongly for her in the rape sequence, why we want to get in there and rescue her, and why we almost cheer Henry on as he slays Otis. Becky's the first sympathetic character on screen, and as a character playing on the audience’s sympathy she has to pay the ultimate price. She may have been saved for now, but she will not become emotional luggage to Henry, which is what the symbolism and metaphor of the suitcase is in that grim ending of the movie. As if you never understood what’s in there! Our sympathy means nothing in the context of the forced approach the movie is told under. This audience empathy means nothing in the world of Henry, and it has no effect on him either. Hence the darkness.

I just want to clarify that these emotions are not aroused by anything that McNaughton’s positioning does, but rather the opposite. By holding his registering position and not adding value to what we see, the audience is forced into certain situations as the lack of directorial comments make us fill in the blanks with our own associations. If he had used classic narration, I can assure you that there would have been a montage there to lead us by the hand into the emotional state wanted. McNaughton does nothing to manipulate his audience, it's all done by themselves.

The storytelling position of Henry chooses not to give any answers or explanation concerning the events of the plot. McNaughton unleashes Henry without taking a position. He neither condemns nor applauds Henry’s actions. It’s all cold and observing leaving that uneasy gut feeling with the viewers, as it’s us who have been passively watching the events unfold. Perversely feeding our voyeurism, as we aren’t let to engage in the discourse.

The narrative is non-passive and there is no obvious cause-chain-effect as mentioned earlier. This all adds up to making the movie live on longer in the audience, it almost becomes an unsolvable riddle, as you can’t quite let the movie go before figuring out the answers. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killerleaves the audience with a lot of unanswered questions. It evokes a mental inner space with the viewer where it lives on, feeding off the associations, experience and questions they have. Questions that they usually get the answers to within the classic narrative, which is why Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is such a gem of American independent horror cinema. One that without compromise still delivers a hard kick to the gut and shows no traces of aging in the twenty-four years passed since it was made. It’s a dark haunting timeless classic that could be one of the most provocative movies ever made.

Note that no human beings where harmed in the making of this movie, and if you where provoked by the graphic imagery in this piece, then you obviously didn't read the warning before entering the site - which leads me to believe that you where only here to look at the pictures in the first place.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two Orphan Vampires



Two Orphan Vampires
Original Title: Les deux orphelines vampires
Directed by: Jean Rollin
France, 1997
EuroGoth / Horror / Drama, 104min
Distributed by: Njuta Films



In my continuing rediscovery of the great movies of Jean Rollin, I felt that the natural step to go after the fascinating wonder Perdues dans New York (Lost in New York) 1989 was forward - to the stuff that was made after I initially saw those old Redemption videos. I’m certain that the themes and motifs in his catalogue of work all culminate in that splendid movie, and as I consider it somewhat of a bookend which marks an end to Rollin’s exploration of themes and motifs he had used since his 1968 debut Le viol du vampire (The Rape of the Vampire) I was curious to see where he went with these elements when he returned to filmmaking a few years further down the road.

Two young women Louise [Alexandra Pic] and Henriette [Isabelle Teboul], partially blinded reside at an orphanage run by nuns – of course - who know nothing of the two girls background as they where abandoned as children, and Sister Martha [Nathalie Perry] looks at the two women as her little angels. Doctor Dennary [Bernard Charnacé] takes an interest in them and decides that he can help them to regain their sight. Later that night the two girls reveal that they actually only are blind (or colour blind actually) at day, whilst they at night can see and are in fact vampires as they feed on a stray dog in the nocturnal cemetery.

Dr Dennary takes the two girls into his care, but they take off again and at a near by circus a lost woman [Brigitte Lahaie], fails to believe that they are real vampires and provides the two girls with that precious blood the thirst for. Dennary goes away for the weekend leaving the two girls alone, and they obviously hit the town again where their bloodlust get’s the better of them. This childlike night of adventure ends with them being chased by an elderly couple that they scare in the cemetery, forcing them to hide out in a crypt with Venus [Véronique Dajouti] the second of three other night dwellers that they encounter on their way.

A final series of events see the girls taking to hiding back in the orphanage where Sister Martha’s heart is broken as she makes a shocking discovery. Running from the orphanage the farmer they scared at the cemetery earlier returns, and the movie gently moves into a traditional and poetic Jean Rollin climax.

Returning to the Vampire genre after taking a twelve-year absence from it - Fascination 1979 being the last one - there certainly are many things that Rollin could have done here to make Two Orphan Vampires feel like a rehash of vampire clichés. But instead he avoids them and actually takes a complete different path. Normal vampire lore and the rules associated with it are discarded in favour of other strenghts and weaknesses. Where the girls are completely unaffected by the crucifix – they actually start off by living in that catholic orphanage surrounded by nuns, and hide out there when the real world proves to fearsome – they can also wander in the otherwise deadly ultraviolet rays cast down by the sun. But they do have one trait that keeps them somewhat restraint, they cannot see in the sunlight, which has them blind at day and in search of blood at night.

There’s plenty of religious imagery throughout the movie, and the way it holds no power over the girls, along with their disregard for their otherwise traditional values these symbols hold is shown in a neat little scene where Sister Martha kneels before a cross and prays for the two girls who she has just put to bed, then Rollin cuts to the two girls giggling, engaging in a brief pillow fight before they take to the night wandering into a nearby cemetery and feeding off a stray dog. Keep your eyes open for Rollin in a cameo as the cemetery caretaker who later buries the dog.

During the first scene in the cemetery – after we realise that they are vampires – the two girls hold a somewhat philosophical conversation about how they where killed at one point in time, but have come back in their current state. This works as a connection to the earlier vampire flicks of Rollin, linking it with that space created pre Lost in New York - or Fascination if you like, as that was his last vampire film. The two girls hear music playing and dance a waltz on top of a tomb; the music is Phillipe d’Aram’s La Valse Fascinante from the Fascination soundtrack. This is followed by a flashback where the two girls walk across Brooklyn Bridge followed by the first feed of the movie. They also run through the New York locations that the two women in Lost in New York ran though in a montage which att the same time mimics scenes seen in that movie. It's an intelligent montage obviously crafted to bond the movies, hence making them hold a colective place in the Jean Rollin universe. It's not to far fetched to asume that this is what happened to the two girs following the enigmatic climax of Lost in New York. As most of Rollin's movies are contextually linked in several ways, answers to questions posed in earliers films are answered in later entries.

Several of the familiar faces are back once again, and the typical Rollin imagery is here, the cemeteries, chateau's, New York, abandoned railway stations, the looming camerawork and several of his familiar themes. There may not be the persistent theme of “Longing” and “Searching” so commonly found in his work, but there is a strong element of not belonging, which also can be found in the earlier works.



Two Orphan Vampires undoubtedly deals with the theme of not belonging, or not having a place in what may be a reflection on a modern world. This is a theme in addition to "longing" and "searching" which I now see to be of importance in Rollin’s movies, as it reoccurs in several of his pieces. Lèvres du sang (Lips of Blood) 1975, Lost in New York and it’s definitely a core theme to La morte vivante (The Living Dead Girl) 1982 where Françoise Blanchard has serious issues finding her place in the world after returning from the dead as a bloodthirsty ghoul. During their nocturnal endeavours the two girls meet several other creatures of the night which interact with the girls and all make the same claims – they have no place in this world. There’s the She Wolf [Nathalie Karsenty], the Batwoman [Vèronique Djaouti] and finally the Ghoul [Tina Aumont], which you know is the original word for zombie. All of them are anguished characters that have their own stones to bear as they roam the nightly world looking for a peaceful place to be part of.

With the theme of not belonging or alienation in mind there’s an interesting recurrent of discussion whether the girls are in fact live or dead, life versus death that flows through the piece, as they talk several times about their last deaths in their last lives. They are also convinced that they are incarnations of Inca gods, which with a little ethnology understanding could be seen as a form or “not belonging” as the Inca culture only lasted some two hundred years where as the Mayan culture lasted for almost seven hundred years. Despite most of the cover art you will find for the movie, Two Orphan Vampires actually holds a more restrained approach to the nudity at times found in Rollin’s movies. Here he goes more for an emotion of the girls being childlike and naïve, which is noted in the scenes where they look at the book on Inca culture and decide which images in that book represent them. Later they change from claiming that they are goddesses and argue that they are magicians referring to a book of old magic show posters instead. They change their minds, just like children searching for a point of identification in their games.

Finally, Philipe d’Aram’s soundtrack. Like many of the earlier movies he composed scores to for Rollin this definitely has some splendid dreamy and suggestive parts – but at times it get’s very perky and almost too electronic to match the mood and feeling of some scenes, which unfortunately has parts of the score feeling somewhat dated. Although some parts are pure bliss, and it get's the job done.

Based on Rollin’s own pulp novellas – five of them all in all, (one, which I seem to recall being released by Redemption Books back in the nineties) - Two Orphan Vampires at times the films oozes classic Jean Rollin. There are moments evoking those superb movies that make up the wonderful Rollin universe, but at the same time there are parts that are very tedious and drag down the overall feeling of the movie – well at least the parts that get monotonous. This is a shame, as the movie with its whopping 103minute runtime also is the longest of any Rollin movie made and it could have done with a decent trim here and there. The only other movie close is his 1968 debut Le viol du vampire (The Rape of the Vampire) with its 100 min. Perhaps Rollin found the return to vampiric horror such a pleasure that he felt compelled to stay with the material.



Two Orphan Vampires is indeed a qualified entry into the Rollin universe, and despite lacking some of the traits of previous works, its still an entertaining piece that at times evokes the poetry and emotions from his previous works. Two Orphan Vampires is a meditative, tender and delicate piece of film which firmly finds it's place amongst Rollin's cannon, and is definitely worth checking out if you enjoy the older films of the great Jean Rollin.

Two Orphan Vampires is due for release on the 6th of October from Njuta Films.







Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Boogie Nights : "One Last Thing"

My piece for Moon in the Gutter's P.T. Anderson blogathon is up there now .

I take a peek at the magnificent Boogie Nights and share some thoughs on that climactic grand finale which wraps up the movie.

Go get some.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Paul Thomas Anderson Week...

..over at MOON IN THE GUTTER is rolling as of NOW!

A full week dedicated to the works of P.T. Anderson, there will be boogie, frogs from heaven, great images, splendid music and there will be blood.

Make sure to check this out, it will be awesome.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah the Explorer...


Godzilla took a step forward, then another one, then yet another one, and one more. He looked at King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah looked back. Then King Ghidorah also took a step forward. And another one. And one more. He looked at Godzilla. Then they began to fight.


Jack J. - the Danish Nihilistic one-man militia over at En lejemorder ser tilbage (roughly Bloke with bag on head) is a fucking riot. Pay him a visit, as he can take the piss with a talent unlike no other bloke with a bag on his head out there.

A Nightmare On Elm Street [Remake]



A Nightmare on Elm Street
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Horror, 2010
USA, 95 min

So what the heck where they gonna come up with the burst the bubble with this one? I’d read online reviews claiming that it was a more or less scene for scene remake. This was obviously bollocks, as it’s not a scene for scene remake, but a rather shallow thingy that simply walks in the shadow of that awesome 1984 original. I had high hopes for A Nightmare on Elm Street as I’ve actually enjoyed quite a few of the recent remakes – Marcus Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 was brilliant, it looked just as gritty and dark as it should have. Despite Michael Bay answering original cinematographer Daniel Pearl, back for a second shot at TCM almost fourty years later “Just make them fuckable!” when he questioned “How do you want me to shoot this movie?”, TCM still made an impression, so did Nispel and Pearl’s collaboration on Friday the 13th 2009, with it’s furious twenty minute opening rampage. Zack Snyder’s reworking of Dawn of the Dead 2008 was a great date flick as my wife squeezed bruises on my arm during that one. Breck Eisner’s The Crazies 2010 is also a neat remake, taking it to a darker ground than Romero’s original. Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eye’s 2006 picks up wonderfully when they get into that fucked up post atomic testing village, even if the main monster is a rip off of Chris Cunningham’s Rubber Johnny 2005.

Great original movies that spawned great remakes decades later, which is perhaps why the lesser entries into the original batch ended up being such shitty remakes… Bloody Valentine 3D, Prom Night, Boogeyman, blah, blah, blah… you know what I mean.

Anyway I was really hoping that A Nightmare on Elm Street would scare the damned pants off me once again, as this is one of my most favoured movies of my youth. I saw it as a teenager during a visit to my uncle in the UK. Yeah there has been some great movie moments in my family as we all had a tendency for watching horror and listening to cool music on family gatherings. Go figure. So my parents, my kid brother, my two uncles and their wives where all sat in that living room awaiting to see what is said to be the best scary movie of ages. The tape goes in and the shit kicks in. Playing the part of obnoxious nephew I made a point out of shocking my younger uncles wife on any given occasion. Obviously my scaring her ended up being the movie scaring me as it’s innovative storyline of a dream stalker killing off the kids on Elm Street took over. After the movie my aunt turned to me and said something along the lines of Right you little bastard, I wont tell you when, but sometime during tonight I’m going to come back down here and scare the shit out of you when you least expect it!” Haw haw haw yeah as if you could… but the longer the night went the more wound up I got as every sound heard could have been aunt on her way down to fulfil on her promise. Or Freddy Krueger – sleep deprivation plays sinister tricks on a tired teenage mind. Needless to say I was completely freaked out and scared shitless by the time day broke.

So the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street had a lot of anticipation ahead of it when I two decades later sliped the DVD into the machine… to be modest, it’s somewhat of a let down! I can’t really understand how you can go wrong with a classic movie like this. A classic movie with the shittiest ending of them all, something that really needed redoing right, and they didn’t even tidy that up did they!

As mentioned, it’s not a scene for scene remake, it does live it’s own life, but for some reason the filmmakers have decided to tip their hat’s at certain iconic moments of the original on more than one occasion which ends up being irritating more than fun references. The death of Tina, Tina in a body bag, the magnificent glove in the bathtub moment, Krueger coming out of the wall and the shitty shock ending. I have no time for repetitious in jokes when they bring fuck all to the narrative. But it’d make for a great drinking game if you were up for it.

The core of the story is never the less the same - parents torch peddobear, crispy peddobear comes back and kills their kids in their dreams. I feel that they missed a great opportunity to bring something new with them to the game if they only had followed up the indication that the parents killed Krueger without any hard evidence. It would have been a grimmer movie, because then it would have been about Freddy taking revenge for being murdered without actually being guilty. They don’t, and Freddy is still just a kiddie-molesting bastard. Unfortunately the remake holds nothing on the original, as the magic of the original lies in the fact that it takes a while to realise that Krueger only can get to them when they sleep and there’s an element of good confusion trying to figure out when they are dreaming and not. As usual the remake has to waste time explaining shit that we don’t need to know and even goes as far as telling the audience how sleep deprivation works which really shits on the question and effect of not knowing dream from reality, because from there on it’s just after cheap shock value as Kruger from then on pops up when ever the fuck he wants. It’s also kinda insulting when loud heartbeats rumble on the soundtrack flagging each Kruger attack and the CGI background shatters into his rusty boiler room set. (No Fred, I'm not bitching about CGI, just how they used it!:) )

Oh yeah and five second analysis: I say let’s blame Freud for this one, as the attacks started after one kid, Dean started in therapy and to quote him “some shit from my childhood started coming up!” That’ll teach you to stay out of therapy kids. Better to be fucked up than dead!

With the amount of brilliant and sharp music videos Samuel Beyer has directed, I’d have had expected a step up in the narrative department as he certainly knows how to create some great images, but you can’t do horror with images alone, you need some sort of shit in there to activate the audience or its all just surface and no content. If you can tell a story in four minutes, then why the hell can’t you tell one in ninety minutes while you have the time to explore your characters and stuff. Go figure! Most likely because the movie was rushed and it feels that way too.

Characters are shallower than a saucer of milk. I don’t give a toss about any of them what so ever. Not even Nancy manages to evoke any sympathy this time around. There’s no time what so ever spent on presenting these characters to us, they just roam around as drones and don’t have a chance in hell to stay ahead of Krueger, and I can't wait for the killings to begin. Which in consideration aren't to inventive either. Kyle Gallner's EMO boy with sad eyes and smudged eyeliner isn’t enough to engage me and the kids never really interact with each other either, so there’s no real bond between them. Mara Rooney’s Nancy isn’t much cop either. I never feel the same commitment to her as I did Heather Langenkamp’s incarnation, and her drawing skills stay don’t change much between her childhood doodles and the ones she draws as an adult which kind of sucks. There’s certainly no Johnny Depp’s in the bunch of actors, although Rooney’s career will probably take off after she’s done with David Fincher’s reamericaniamake of Stieg Larsons Millienum trilogy. At times she actually does look like Noomi Rapace, so I’m sure she’ll pull that of with no problems at all.

Another disappointment with the A Nightmare On Elm Street remake is that there’s none of the witty dialogue that made the original such a blast either, and I'm not talking about Kruger's jokes, but the stuff that brought life to the characters. Remember Johnny Depp's famous last words?

GLEN swings his legs over the edge of the bed and shakes his head to clear the cobwebs.


GLEN

Wasn't listening to the tube,

just watching. Miss Nude

America's supposed to be on

tonight.

MRS LANTZ

Well how you gonna hear what

she says?


GLEN

Who cares what she says?


The mother gives up.


To be fair, it’s not all bad. If I was a rookie to the horror genre and hadn’t seen the original flicks, or even just missed the first few and only seen stuff like Rachel Talalay’s Freddy’s Dead 1991 or Ronny Yu’s Freddy vs. Jason 2003, I would probably have been impressed a lot more. On the plus side the movie does look great – it is dark, murky and brooding, there are a few effective shock moments, even if you can see them coming a mile away, and there is at least some sentimental value to those nods at the original the first couple of times. Jackie Earl Healey does take Kruger back to the sinister character that he was in the initial movie, and it’s a relief that the gags and wise cracks are more or less gone. But anyone working with prosthetics and special effects should know that your nose is the first piece of soft flesh to go when your face is on fire I'd have lost the ears and nose if it was my job to pimp my monster - nothing says scary as a gaping hole in a blokes face! So Kruger is simply a creepy guy with a melty face who once again gets the job done, but I still say the story could have been improved with a “wrongfully murdered” theme instead of the same old freaky Freddy back for more guts. Empathetic monsters fuck your mind much more than someone who rightfully got punished even if it was by vigilante force, so that’s a major error in my book.

Oh look! My original movie seems to have been signed by Robert Englund and original cinematographer Jacques Haitkin!


Nevertheless, I’m forty and not the primary audience for horror flicks anymore, and the movie obviously did work as it was one of the highest grossing horror remakes these last years taking in almost 34million dollars at the opening weekend box office and a sequel has already been announced.