In an age where Hollywood is saturated with remakes, reboots and really recycable mundanity, anger and frustration can sometimes blind us from the fact that there are some great remakes. A few that even surpass their originals. The problem with many contemprary rehashes is that A) There’s too many 2) They’re remade too fast and D) there is no real aesthetic or technical attribute to do so. It does become depressing to see the lack of creativity and money whoring that comes with these Hollywood remakes, so here’s five movie remakes that are culturallu significant.

5) Scarface (1983; De Palma)

Nowadays you only have to wait all but five minutes before some Hollywood studio decides to remake a film (Spiderman). But for Howard Hawk’s 1932 gangster classic, the movie goers had a good half a century to get ready for some reinvention. In step a filmmaker who doesn’t flinch at the sight of blood. Brian De Palma had already been the centre of controvesy for his Hitchcockian erotic-thriller, Dressed to Kill, in 1980. He came under attack from the censorship board, feminists and critics who labelled him a misogynist and Hitchcock rip-off. De Palma’s response? Create a political-thriller masterpiece (Blow Out) followed by an ultraviolent remake of Scarface. Teaming up with Oliver Stone and Al Pacino, De Palma was gleeful with excitement on the set and pushed the excess to the ante. The cult status of the flamboyant crime film grew over the years, almost to an annoying amount, but no one can deny its unashamed visceral action.

4) The Thing (1982; Carpenter)

Although not an official “remake” (both films took from the same source novel), one should never pass up an opportunity to talk about John Carpenter’s The Thing. Hawks is up again, proving how much this incredible director delved into different genres. He was a true auteur of genre cinema. A professional. After John Carpenter’s huge success with the watershed slasher Halloween in 1978, he decided to focus his attention on the fear within rather than the fear out there. The best reason for the 1982 remake was the innovative practical effects. Rob Bottin and his team showed audiences what wonderfully disgusting and terrifying things you can create with rubbery synthetics and that shit that’s in Twinkis. Ennio Morricone’s score evoked a sense of dread that was only reinforced by the film’s nihilistic ending. The movie is paranoia personofied, made by a true craftsman of horror cinema.

3) The Departed (2006; Scorsese)

In recent years any Hollywood remake of an international film is in general inferior to the original. However, there’s always Scorsese. His remake of Hong Kong crime movie, Internal Affairs, is one of the few exceptions of that rule. The Departed, with its ensemble cast, might be one of the most quotable films of all time. It doesn’t possess the same raw vitality and grittiness of Mean Streets or Taxi Driver, but it proved that the director could still master the crime genre in the best way he knows how. Wondefully cast and acted with a electric soundtrack. It was an exciting release for Scorsese buffs that were too young to catch Goofellas or Casino in cinemas.

2) Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1978; Kaufman)

The walls close in slowly in Philip Kaufman’s remake of Don Siegel’s classic horror, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956). Donad Sutherland is was Hollywood’s secret weapon during the 1970s. A funny looking fellow, who can delve into any genre and nail it (like a modern day John C. Reilly). The slow rising tension and inescapable paranoia make this reamke all the more terrifying. One by one your friends and loved ones become soulless pods until you’re all alone. The 1956 version evoked themes of paranoia through metaphors for the Communist threat, while Kaufman and screewriter WD Richter gave subtle nods towards Watergate. Possibly the greatest example of a horror movie using sound effectively, while creating excellent chase sequences. You will notice its influences on future sci-fi and body horror films from The Fly to Shaun of the Dead. 

1) Sorcerer (1977; Friedkin)

Universally panned by critics and bombing at the box office, William Friedkin’s remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot 1953 drama, Wages of Fear, is recognized by many to be the beginning of the end of the New Hollywood era. For years this film was torn apart. The huge success of Friedkin’s The French Connection and The Exorcist, put a lot of expectation and pressure on his next feature. Sorcerer’s ridiculously large budget, extreme shooting conditions and misleading marketing campaign, sentenced the film for failure. On top of that, its release was simultaneous with a little juggurnaut known as Star Wars. It didn’t stand a chance. However, after many years passed, critics got a little older, little wiser, and began to realise the greatness of this tense thriller. The sheer scope and ambition of the movie, along with its on-set conflicts and problems must be respected. The electrifying tension and suspense portrayed in the film is literally like a rope about to snap. The movie’s brooding atmosphere is only enhanced by Tangerine Dream’s synthy sublime score. Sorcerer is not only one of the greatest remakes of all time, but one of the greatest thrillers ever filmed. 

 

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