Friday, March 19, 2010

Convention Season 2010

I write this as I am finalizing my plans and stuff to head to my second horror convention in as many weeks. I realize that I'm sitting here in an almost faded Dawn of the Dead tshirt I got back in 1999 that has seen more miles then most people's cars. This is my 12th year of going to conventions since stumbling upon them back in 1999.

Of course it started out just like anything else, something new and exciting and I had to be at everyone. Well I couldn't be at everyone but I tried to make it to everyone on the East Coast. At first it was to meet celebrities and the icons I grew up watching in all those late night horror film marathons and VHS tapes sitting on my shelf. Getting star struck at some of the greats, Kane Hodder, Tom Savini, Ken Foree and of course the man himself George A. Romero. Some of my first encounters were very brief because I could barely find the words to express my utter fascination with their work and the fact that they were so approachable.

The people working in the horror genre know who they are and how the characters they have portrayed are held in such esteem by the fans but they don't let that get to them, at least when in front of the fans. Being able to walk up to some of the greats in the genre is an awe inspiring feeling and having them converse with you makes going to these conventions worth it.

After a year years I pretty much had met everyone I wanted to. Now I go to conventions to see the people that I have befriended from these events, celebrity and non-celebrity alike. I have made some of the best friends in the world over the last 12 years because of conventions. Two of them from Canada, Rob & Glena are 2 of the most fantastic people in the world and any chance to see them is jumped on. They're just like me, they've been to so many and have met just about everyone that conventions are a time for reconnecting and having fun.

If it weren't for them and alot of the other people I've gotten to known and befriend, Chris Roe, Ken Foree, Greg Nicotero to name a few I wouldn't have the memories to share with my son who I hope will appreciate these events as I have when he starts to get older. I also have to thank my wife who started out not understanding what these were or what the purpose was but has since grown to love them as most of the people signing autographs do so now for her and not me...makes ya wonder?!?!?!?

I love these things. Little sleep, forgetting to drink, too much alcohol and too much money spent are great ways to end a stressful work week and get recharged until the next convention that comes down the pike.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Remakes, Reboots & Reimaging, Oh My!

Ok I recently saw The Crazies, a remake of Romero's 1973 film of the same name. And that got me thinking about my stance on these remakes/boots/imaginings that is coming out of Hollywood.

First off, I hate a remake or whatever you want to call it for the sake of cashing in on a big name franchise or cult classic. For those of you who know me, refer to my thoughts on the Dawn of the Dead "remake."

If you're going to remake a film, then you best bring something to the franchise or film that wasn't possible or thought of before. So let me get on my soapbox and point out what I think are the differences in a good remake, reboot & reimaging and how they should be used:

The only true remake I can think of is Psycho 1998. That film is a shot for shot remake of Hitchcock's film. That is a true remake. A remake brings nothing new to the table but new actors and some new effects maybe but leaves everything else the same. The premise stays the same, the characters stay the same and nothing is changed. So you might as well stick with the original.

Batman Begins is a reboot. Its an origin story but also has provided something new that previous films didn't show us. We see Bruce train to become Batman and the path that took him there. We got a new villain, new supporting characters (whether they were good or bad is your opinion and another blog all together) as well as new effects. Rebooting a franchise is introducing a new generation to something new or taking a stale product and breathing new life into it. Spiderman is apparently going through a reboot just like the comics did 2 years ago with "One More Day" which effectively erased the last 22 years of continuity. Rebooting something isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means that someone has a fresh perspective and idea to bring to the franchise. Usually a franchise reboot is because it has not had a sequel or anything for quite sometime.

Some are saying that Terminator Salvation is a reboot. It is not a reboot. It is a sequel to the first 3 Terminator films, in essence Terminator 4. Its a new direction, not a reboot, a reboot would have been seeing the first Terminator film through the Terminator's POV instead of Sarah's.

Hollywood's newest term to cash in on a name.Reimaging is a studio handing over control of a franchise to a new director and saying "here ya go, have at it." If you're going to remake/reboot something this is the road you want to take. My favorite case in point: Rob Zombie's Halloween.

Like it or hate it, this blog is not about that but what Rob Zombie did with it.

The original Halloween is loved and revered by many and to "remake it" like it was at first touted by Rob Zombie many were appalled others were intrigued. I was part of the latter. My distaste for remakes is well known but I'll give someone the benefit of the doubt if its going to be something different. Zombie's Halloween didn't let me down.

In the original Halloween, John Carpenter used skillful camera work and story telling to make the boogeyman come to life and treated The Shape (Michael Myers for those who don't know) into a real life, babysitter stalking boogeyman. Rob Zombie took the opposite route and showed Michael Myers as a raving lunatic.

I will first differentiate the 2 films by calling Michael by his name because in Zombie's film he was Michael Myers and not so much the boogeyman as in Carpenters. Carpenter's film portrayed The Shape as an enigma, something lurking in the shadows waiting to strike. Carpenter's film, he is an idea, something people are afraid of. Zombie's film he is a man, totally devoid of humanity.

Carpenter's film begins with little Michael (who will become The Shape) killing his sister and cuts to 15 years alter. We only see a little boy with a 1000 yard stare on his face holding a bloody knife. This is very effective story telling, we don't know the why we just know he's going to trouble. Zombie takes a different road and to me, this is why his film stands alone and is a good "reimaging."

The Michael in Zombie's film seems to be a little boy in a troubled home, who loves his baby sister and lost in the shuffle and picked on by mom's boyfriend and older sister. We see Michael's savageness in that he kills and tortures animals and viciously beats a bully to death in the woods. The creep factor is in that not just the acts of violence but the look on Michael's face, its blank, void of emotion and humanity. We then see Michael's infamous murder rampage on the night of Halloween. Zombie then shows up Michael hold up in Smith's Grove and how he slowly, over time pulls back more and more into his own head and loses all contact with humanity. We see snippets of his life inside Smith's Grove, including the treatment of him by some of the orderlies. We also see that there is one person that actually cared for him and that Michael seemed to care enough for that he never wanted to hurt. But that turns out to be a rouse and when Michael kills him you realize that he is not a human being but has totally succumbed to his own madness.

Zombie took the basic premise and put his own spin on it and did some with some passion for the source material. But then again, Zombie was screwed either way. He is the type of director that you either love him or hate him. With him doing a remake of such a loved character he was destined to be vilified and people would pick apart the film, which they did.

Rob Zombie did what he was supposed to, put his own ideas into an established franchise run with it. People don't have to like the film but Zombie did what you're supposed to when reimaging something and I think if you're going to "reimagine" something, take a look at his take on Halloween and go from there