Tinseltown goes back in time

Posted: October 25, 2010 in Entertainment
Tags: , , , ,

By Odette Kemp

If you turn on the television today, and you switch to a children’s channel, you might be surprised at the cartoons you’ll find. Far from what you’ve grown up with, these shows have gadgets and sometimes the content doesn’t seem all that child-like. Gone are the days of Heidi and Captain Planet. As the times have changed, so has entertainment

However, sometimes the old just needs to be tweaked a little. Nobody knows this better than the people from Tinseltown, who set out to bring back the old – with a few adjustments. Film remakes are not at all uncommon, and 2010 seems to be a year rife with the returns of old favourites.

Nightmare on Elm Street:

The year was 1984. As children were tucked into bed, their greatest concern was no longer the monster under the bed. Thanks to a man named Wes Craven, young boys and girls had a new fear: Freddy Krueger. Brought to life by Robert Englund, Krueger became a classic character in the world of horror films. 

Now, in 2010, the popular film has resurfaced, directed by Samuel Bayer.  Englund has also been replaced, by Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Shutter Island). Much like the original, the 2010 version of Nightmare on Elm Street depicts the story of a group of teenagers being tormented by a villain with razor-tipped gloves, who enters their dreams and kills them while they sleep.

Film critic Jeff Swindoll reckons that the remake lacks the “spirit” of the original. Certain scenes from the original have been replicated, such as the glove in the bathtub, but the filmmakers have combined it with new material. Whether this is successful is open to debate. While Swindoll feels that the remake was interesting in some parts, he prefers the original. 

Another critic, Andre Dellamorte, is of the opinion that the new parts of the film contain a certain “dour tone”, with the actors coming across as forced and ultimately resulting in flat characters.

Alice in Wonderland:

This story, penned by Lewis Carroll, is no stranger to the silver screen. From as early as 1903, versions of Alice and her companions have been entertaining film audiences in several languages. The most recent version, however, has taken a fresh approach.

Written by Linda Woolverton and under the direction of Tim Burton, the 2010 Alice in Wonderland follows the adventures of an older Alice. Eight years after her first visit to the mysterious and enchanting Wonderland, Alice finds herself falling down the rabbit hole yet again. This time, Wonderland’s inhabitants need Alice to slay the Jabberwocky and save them from the reign of the Red Queen. 

Mia Wasikowska, who portrays Alice, brings her character to life with remarkable conviction. The film also stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, who have become popular icons in Burton films. 

The film, which was released in March, grossed over $1 billion worldwide.  It is true enough to the original story, but adds a fresh look to the classic with live action and an all-star cast. All in all, it sells a well-known story in a surprising, new fashion which brings the mystical Wonderland to life in the minds of audiences.

The Last House on the Left:

In 1972, The Last House on the Left was released and received by stunned audiences. Wes Craven’s debut was rated number 8 on Big Hollywood’s Top 25 Greatest Halloween films. According to this list, the horror succeeds in shocking audiences by involving them emotionally – more so than the average horror film.

The plot, said to be based on true events, is rather simple. Mari Collingwood, a beautiful teenage girl, leaves her quiet life to celebrate her birthday in the city with a friend. These two meet a boy who agrees to supply them with drugs, and what seemed like a fairly typical teenage experience turns horrific quite speedily. 

The two girls are tortured and killed by the three “remorseless, sexually depraved killers” who live with the young boy. In an unfortunate twist of events, the killers seek shelter at a quiet house in the countryside – which belongs to Mari’s parents. 

Following the realization that their daughter’s attackers are the same people they are hosting, the Collingwood couple calmly exacts their retribution upon their bloodthirsty guests. And therein lies the true horror of the film – the cruelty of human nature in a suburban scenario. 

In terms of the remake, critics have varying opinions. Peter Hartlaub from the San Francisco Chronicle reckons that the remake has an original approach, using “bold camera angles, good actors and a script that heaps on just as much character development as carnage.”

Mike Mayo from the Washington Post disagrees with this view. He describes it as “polished and predictable”, and adds that it’s quite similar to “virtually every remake that has been released recently”.

As much as these remakes have entertained and shocked audiences, it seems the moviegoers who are old enough to remember the originals, remain skeptical of the modern adaptations. The choice between “old school” and “new school” is still an individual one. Then again, why choose when you can have the best of both?  At the very least, these new versions will bring back fond childhood memories that will always be a vivid part of your youth.


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