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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 of the Worst Horror Sequels and Remakes of the Last Ten Years

This is a selection of ten remakes, sequels, and sequels to remakes of the last ten years included for their level of disappointment; or for the flogging of a title to the point where artistic integrity ends and making a quick buck begins. The opinions are strictly my own, of course; and are presented in no particular order.

1. THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 (2007) -- You may feel like gouging them out after watching this sequel, though.

Alexandre Aja's 2006 remake of THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) was warmly welcomed by horror fans after he wowed many with his 2003 splatter movie, HAUTE TENSION (HIGH TENSION; SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE). The HILLS sequel (to the remake) that came from the director of the grotesque GRIMM (2006) didn't receive the same level of adoration. It's another case of the ol' 'Sequel-to-a-remake-to-an-original-that-had-its-own-sequel' movie schtick that you can't really talk about without mentioning the history associated with it.

The original films director, Wes Craven (along with his son), wrote the insulting script that lazily tries to make an allegorical comparison to the Iraq war via its national guardsmen and mutants. It's even worse in that the characters we're supposed to root for are annoying assholes while the cannibalistic cretins are turned into little more than slasher characters -- much like Craven's own equally awful sequel from 1985 (see insert). History has definitely repeated itself. In its favor, the '07 picture starts out with one helluva mean streak, and has a couple other squirm-inducing moments, but otherwise it's a major disappointment. Amazingly, this nonsense played theaters when it's 'men with guns vs. monsters' scenario was better suited for the SyFy Channel.

2. FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009) -- It's bad luck to watch this movie any day of the week.

Platinum Dunes had already made a (bad) name for themselves by the time they got around to remaking FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) -- arguably the single most revered franchise among the genre cognoscenti. It starts out strong, but drowns about as quickly as little Jason did in the 1980 original. Judging by the look of this update, you'd think they were doing Hooper's iconic horror film all over again -- which is understandable considering Marcus Nispel, the director of that remake, returns; as does Daniel Pearl -- the DP for the original '73 picture, the '03 remake, and also this remake to the slasher classic.

Probably the biggest cardinal sin this flick commits is the veritable lack of 'Creati-Kills' -- the life's blood of this series. None of the kills really stand out. However, the filmmakers do squeeze in a lot of sex and nudity. The film also falls prey to the current trend of making all the characters as likable as a migraine; or so bland, you don't care what happens to them. Without a moderately strong central protagonist, and no stand-out gore effects, there's no reason to tune in for this.

3. THE FINAL DESTINATION (2009) -- Go somewhere else instead.

This fourth dance with the Reaper is an absolutely horrendous sequel for a franchise that was near death after the previous entry. A defibrillator couldn't save this lifeless, drearily acted movie that distinguishes itself by replacing a '4' with the article 'The' as if it was truly 'THE END'. Since it's the same movie all over again, you could skip it and not miss a thing save for an oddly comical aura; and some of the most arrogant, irritating, and stereotypical characters that represent the norm in today's horror movies. The special effects are among the worst, most absurd examples of CGI put up on screen. The only shocking aspect of it all is that the director of the vastly superior second picture returned for this lousy "last" date with death. This torturous experience didn't stop FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2012) from happening, though. Don't fear the Reaper, fear more sequels.

4. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010) -- One, two, another remake for you. Three, four, can't take it no more. Five, six, this movie is the pits. Seven, eight, screw this update. Nine, ten, never watch it again.

Michal Bay's Platinum Dunes company made its name by making new, flashy, soulless versions of much better older movies. Outsid of the TCM remake, most all of these have been worthless; and you throw this NIGHTMARE onto that pile, too. Lacking scares and unusually dull, this cinematic sleeping pill is another instance of a lot of noise with no sense of rhythm behind it. Jackie Earl Haley does what he can with the material given him, but the movie surrounding his character will do nothing but make fans long for a Robert Englund encore. If Freddy Krueger were real, watching this movie would be the death-knell for the viewer -- because it will most definitely put you to sleep. Personally, another slasher titan match-up ala FREDDY VS. JASON (2003) would have been more interesting, and welcome.

5. TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013) -- You'll want to throw things AT this movie.

Rarely had a horror film made me wanna kicks its ass more than this misguided, ill-conceived, sloppily written travesty that makes TEXAS CHAINSAW 4 seem like a step in the right direction. Boasting how fabulous a film they'd fashioned, the makers of this movie -- who removed the 'massacre' from the title -- ignored the previous installments and linked their movie as the true sequel to Tobe Hooper's original. With that said, it's ironic that Hooper would have his name attached as an Executive Producer on TCM 3D.

In all honesty, there are a few good moments here (and they mostly revolve around Alexandra Daddario's physical attributes), but nothing of lasting substance. More distasteful than the films violence is the filmmakers desperate attempt to make you feel sympathy for a man who wears human skin, tortures and dismembers his victims with a chainsaw. They push this by blaming THE TOWN for their psychosis. Mind you, the Sawyer clans cannibalistic past time is ignored altogether. In what amounts to a thinly veiled political statement, the oppressed hillbillies are the victims of small town greed. And the Leatherface mask looks like a hornets nest with a wig attached to it.

6. HALLOWEEN (2007) and HALLOWEEN 2 (2009) -- The night he came home to the trailer park. Followed by the night he became a vagrant. Evil has taken Shape. And it needs a shave and a shower.

For as much as Rob Zombie has a passion for horror and 70s exploitation, he seems equally impassioned at creating cinematic characters that appear to reside in some alternate universe where atrocious dialog is the law of the land. In this bizarre world, people use the word 'fuck' as if it's a language all its own -- kind of like an expletive version of Smurf speech.

Out of all the series sequels, Zombie's interpretation of The Shape is the only one to transform him from the manifestation of pure evil to a homeless person. It makes the plot device of Meyers as an assassin for the Druids palatable by comparison.

The sequel, while having some nice photographic touches and a mean streak a mile long, is just as big a sloppy ass cluster-fuck as Robbie Z's first stab at the material. It's also becoming increasingly difficult to find good things to say about the enigmatic musicians movies. Curiously, RZ has said au revoir to horror indefinitely and has recently directed a comedy special for Tom Papa. So the end result remains the same, just the laughs are supposed to be intentional this time.

7. SILENT NIGHT (2012) -- A seasonal schlocker from the Island of Misfit Movies.

The SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT franchise is among the lower tier within the slasher canon. The first film is infamous for its killer Santa Claus and controversial treatment of religious institutions. It was always an underrated movie in my opinion, so the announcement of a remake was among those I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, the filmmakers refuse to try and stir up some seasonal controversy of their own outside of what comes built in with the brand.

Our killer Saint Nick's costume is satisfyingly creepy, but it's giggle worthy moments ranging from the films evaporated logic, continuity errors, and scenes of the killer using a flamethrower that kill the holiday fear. The end result is an uncooked turkey with dry trimmings. The gifts you get in the form of poorly rendered CGI are the sort you wanna toss in the garbage as opposed to standing in line at the returns department. The scenes recreated from the original likewise lack any suspense, build-up, or impact. SILENT NIGHT makes little noise and is as unwanted as an elderly relatives Christmas fruitcake.

8. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012) -- This series is now ready for the Ghostbusters Eco-Containment Unit.

The creators of this series forge ahead, delivering a vapid fourth film which bears an apt tagline that succinctly sums up just how rotten this movie really is. Whereas the prior pictures dealt with incidents that took place before and during the hit first film, this sequel is the first to go forward with the storyline. Sadly, and surprisingly, it's the least engaging -- quickly running out of gas and remaining stagnant for 90 minutes. Apparently out of ideas, the filmmakers simply rehash what has come three times before, and rehashing badly; and this includes re-doing the far scarier finale that capped part 3. For PA4, you can not only count the number of scares on one hand even if you're missing a few fingers, but you will easily be able to say 'I ain't afraid of no ghosts'. In fact, you will be bored by them.

9. QUARANTINE (2009) -- WARNING! This remake is hazardous to your health.

Right up there with Gus Van Sant's unwanted, pointless PSYCHO (1998) do-over; and the equally unnecessary THE OMEN remake from 2006, resides this uninspired plagiarizing of Plaza and Balaguero's REC (2007). That film proposed some unique twists on the zombie mythos and its siege concept popularized by Romero's NOTLD (1968). The Spanish original capped its film with arguably the single most skin-crawling finale in years; and did so with an ambiguous cliffhanger that linked its zombieism to the Vatican.

If you're familiar with the original, QUARANTINE is especially idiotic for the fact that the damn poster gives the ending away! There are minor alterations spread out, and some sequences are dragged out (interminably), but this quick American cash-in never steps off the coattails of the higher quality foreign venture. Adding further insult to injury on the DVD extras, the filmmakers slyly try to pass off their movie as an original work with no mention of the original from the previous year. The constant back-patting is egregious since nearly the entire movie is a clone of the vastly superior, and far scarier REC. Watch that one instead and cordon off this toxic waste of time.

In their defense, this films director and writer were behind the unsettling, and still unreleased 'found footage' horror THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES (2007).

10. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D (2006) and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATION (2012) -- Another two-fer, and unlike Wrigley's Juicy Fruit, you do not double your pleasure.

The repeated rape of George Romero's groundbreaking classic continues in the form of two hopelessly moronic and immature movies from Jeff Broadstreet. Having been remade in 1990 in a respectful package from splatter effects wizard turned director Tom Savini, that version brought some interesting twists to the table. Prior to that, it suffered the indignity of being poorly colorized on VHS tape in the 1980s. So if you're looking for green zombies, seek that one out. In the late 90s, further humiliation came in the form of a 30th Anniversary George Lucas style "upgrade" with all new footage added, and new music cues replacing the far creepier music heard in the '68 original.

Flash forward to 2006 and Broadstreet tarnishes the property in his own inimitable way with an insipid 3D remake that has about as much finesse as a crowbar to the cranium. Cue an assholian level of characterization amidst some ill-conceived self-referential humor (the cast are actually watching Romero's NOTLD on television), pot farmers, and zombies texting. It's clear that the movie is only interested in consuming the last bits of flesh remaining on NIGHT's carcass. But it gets worse.

Sacrificing any attempt at making a decent product, the makers go for the jugular with an even more inept money grab with an excruciatingly awful prequel (to the remake). Bad CGI ensues. Whereas the 2006 version had the great Sid Haig, this one has Andrew Divoff (WISHMASTER series) and Jeffrey Combs (RE-ANIMATOR series); and that's where the good marks end. Seemingly not convinced he can make a decent movie, Broadstreet inserts more self-referencing humor (Romero's dead vs. modern runner zombies) while avoiding Romero's provocative approach to subtext. The more mannered social commentary of the '68 version is replaced with a PORKY'S style of political posturing. Broadstreet (who wrote this mess) opts for an in-your-face, toddler level lambastment towards the "evil villains" of liberals everywhere, Fox News and Sarah Palin. So if you love hate speech and political propaganda; and think SNL skits qualify as truth, than this infantile, abysmal dollar bin wonder blunder is for you.

Not to be outdone, yet another remake of NOTLD is in production at this moment. And it, too, is in 3D.


Greg Stuart Smith said...

"In this bizarre world, people use the word 'fuck' as if it's a language all its own -- kind of like an expletive version of Smurf speech." Hahahaha!

venoms5 said...

I didn't know how else to describe it, Greg. :D

Kaijinu said...

Out of the list, I enjoyed Silent Night the most. Personally, it's not a remake for me, guess that's how I find it bearable...

everything else is mixed for me, but yeah, hell to H2, Quarantine, Paranormal Activity 4 and both of the NOTLD remakes!

venoms5 said...

Taking out the few scenes they replicated from the original, I wouldn't have liked it any better. This was one of the more anticipated remakes for me, so I was pretty let down by it.

Carl Bachmann said...

I agree with Greg, that was a great line! I do agree with you about the Halloween remakes. It was a valiant effort to dive into MM's back story, and humanize him, but I think the mystery behind him made him a lot freakier. Wish I didn't see this movie.

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