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There’s a bit in the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake where Katie Cassidy levitates above her bed, gets thrown violently around the room and eventually has her chest slashed open. Sound familiar? That’s because you saw the exact same scene in the original. Was it an homage? Was it a rip-off? Was it pointless? Well, we all know the answer to the last question at least – ‘err…Yes.’
This sense of déjà vu permeates the remake to such an extent that an overriding sense of ‘cash-in’ is impossible to ignore. Yes, well done Platinum Dunes – you’ll undoubtedly make a hefty profit, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be at the expense of the fans. Go sit in the corner, think about what you’ve done, and ask yourself – is making money what horror is all about?
It’s not just A Nightmare on Elm Street either. We’ve had Friday the 13th, Prom Night, The Hitcher, Day of the Dead, The Amityville Horror, When a Stranger Calls, Black Christmas…the list goes on. Even if there is the odd surprise (Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), most of these remakes (or ‘re-imaginings’, which seems to be the en vogue term to mask what they actually are) are simply rabid cash-cows with none of the valuable genre-milk that makes a good horror flick work.
So this recent viewing of A Rip-off on Let-Down Street got me thinking and reminiscing to a time when remakes were scarce – but often quite good. Think back to the ‘80s – a time of stupid trousers, great music and fantastic remakes like The Thing and The Fly. But one Chuck Russell-directed giant red monster-mash was king. And its name?
Yes, I believe that the 1988 remake of The Blob is the best horror remake ever made – I mean it’s even better than The Fog *cough*. So why is it the best? Let us count the ways:
1. It’s better than the original
The original Steve McQueen vehicle tasted particularly nice on toast with a bit of pickle, or topping a pizza, or grated over pasta – you get the idea (unless you like jam on your pasta). It was an average movie, but not one that could be remembered for anything other than its unique concept – it is quite hard to forget a film called The Blob. Chuck Russell’s version ups the ante in every way, and although there’s still a bit of cheese present – it’s in all the right areas (i.e not under the foreskin). It also manages to keep a little of the original feel too, without outright copying it – Samuel Bayer, I’m looking at you.
2. Chuck Russell is a great director
Unfortunately not many people have heard of Chuck/Charles, even though he’s made some ace films (The Scorpion King, The Mask) including one of the best entries into the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise (Dream Warriors) – so take note Michael Bay, because that’s how to make a Freddy Krueger movie. With The Blob, he lays out his considerable talents in every scene, crafting a rollicking ride that never once lets up and contains every needed ingredient to make the perfect horror-pie. It’s never over-complicated, there are no flashy music-video-style angles and there’s no ADD-riddled editing, it’s just simple yet effective direction on all fronts – which is why it works so well.
3. It has loads of great character actors in it, like:
You’ll probably know Shawnee from her role as Amanda in today’s most popular horror-franchise – the Saw series. So not only is she a scream-queen today (she even presented Scream-Queens – you can’t get any more scream-queenier than that), she was also one in the ‘80s – evidenced by her sexy and strong lead performance in this. She also plays a cheerleader – which will probably delight those of you that like that sort of thing. WHICH I DO.
You’ll probably recognise Kevin Dillon for his turn as the up-himself Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase in Entourage, but in The Blob he plays a much different type of role – the up-himself Brian Flagg. Ok, it’s pretty similar, but he’s a bit more of a bad boy here – complete with leather jacket, ‘hard’ mullet and fast motorcycle, which incidentally he crashes You’ve Been Framed – style during a hilariously ill-timed jump.
Bill is most recognisable for his roles in Rob Zombie’s shocktastic double-bill of The House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, and also as the insane ‘Chop-top’ in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 – but he’s been a jobbing horror-actor for pretty much his entire career, popping up in other genre-faves like Army of Darkness, Night of the Living Dead (1990) and ahem, Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! Here he plays the less distinguishable part of ‘Soldier #2’ – but the fact remains that he’s in it, and that’s good enough for some people. LIKE ME.
McCrane is best known as the bloke in Robocop who goes all Toxic Avenger on us, getting doused in radioactive waste before exploding in front of a speeding car. He’s been in ER as well, but he didn’t detonate into a steaming pile of shit in that – so we’ll ignore it.
He’s one of those ‘I’m sure I’ve seen that guy in something’ actors – the ones whose faces you know, but can’t quite pinpoint where exactly from. You’ll definitely have seen him in something; just don’t tell us it was in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr.
Steven Seagal’s favourite cake-filling – Erika Eleniak – goes on a romantic date here, only to realise to her dismay, that her partner neglected to inform her that he’d invited the Blob for a threesome. A few cherry colas later and she’s been sucked into her own face. I hate it when that happens.
Her potential boyfriend clearly ignored ‘Dating mistake no. 1’ – Do not invite giant red carnivorous organisms that enjoy eating humans to a first date if you want to get laid.
To be honest, the only thing I’ve seen him in was some old film with Steve McQueen – but the professional conviction that he brings to the role makes you wonder why he wasn’t a bigger star.
The fact that all of these talented actors star in this film elevates it even higher above the other B-movies with which it shares the DVD shelf. It’s clearly because the casting director – Johanna Ray – has an eye for this sort of thing – she sorted out the cast for other genre-ensembles like From Dusk Till Dawn, Starship Troopers, Kill Bill and the Chuck Russell-penned Dreamscape. Oh, and Showgirls.
4. Frank Darabont co-wrote it.
This can only be a sure-fire mark of quality for any film. Frank Darabont has given us some great horror in the past – The Fly II, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, The Mist – and thus this film benefits from his genre-pedigree. It’s also interesting to see that the director of what many people hold as the greatest film of all time – The Shawshank Redemption – once wrote a film about a giant lump of red slime that eats people – I suppose everyone has their weaknesses.
5. It doesn’t take itself too seriously
Compared to say, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Russell’s film is pure fun. Its haunted-house fairground ride style doesn’t let up until the closing credits, with constantly unexpected set-pieces assaulting on all levels and from all angles. It’s also not afraid to realise and accept the ludicrousness of its central concept – another reason why it is so fun to watch.
6. No-one has seen it.
Not only was it a flop on its release, but it’s still unavailable in the U.K. This instantly makes it good – as no matter how much we horror fans like to believe we’re not snobs, the fact still remains that the moment something we really like becomes mainstream it loses that precious element of personal quality – you know it’s true. Such is the case with The Blob, as its cult audience thrives on the fact that it isn’t that well-known. Until the shit-arse remake bloody fucking ruins everything.
7. The special effects are awesome.
Compared to the Play-Doh effects of the original – this blob packs a mean punch. The SFX are best early on in the film, as the blob is still relatively small, agile and far more frightening – so if you were ever afraid of a tiny Jellyfish at the beach, this snot-ball will have you quaking in your Speedos. The very talented Lyle Conway helped design this beast – fresh from his success with Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors – and his effects experience shines here, as this gunge-fiend really is a force to be reckoned with.
Suspension of disbelief is required towards the end though, as it does get a little hammy during the final rampage when the SFX limitations of the era become all too apparent. But take into account the lack of sophisticated CGI available at the time, and the miniatures and green screen effects don’t look too shabby – besides, it all adds to the fun of the show.
8. It’s really, really rank.
This time around the blob means business – R-Rated business, which is in stark contrast to many of the diet-horror remakes of late (Prom Night, The Omen) which seem averse to a little bit of old-fashioned blood-letting. This time around The Blob gives us what we want, as during the runtime we’re treated to the numerous blobifications of various supporting characters, and even the odd central character. Dispatches often come in the form of melting, but sometimes by way of getting pulled through a bookcase backwards, or face-sucked into oblivion – yes, this blob has his ‘ingenious death-scene hat’ on for sure. Which reminds me:
9. Someone gets pulled down a fucking plug-hole.
There’s a bit where an entire man is sucked down a fucking plug-hole.
**THIS IS THE GREATEST SCENE IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA**
10. There is also a character with a bar in the boot of his car.
Now tell me you don’t want a bar in the boot of your car.
11. It was made in the ‘80s.
It’s a well known fact that any film/song that was made in the ‘80s is automatically better than any film/song made in any other decade. The Blob was made in 1988 – which by a complicated series of calculations enables us to deduce that it is better than Goodfellas, which was made in 1990.
Referring to the above stone-set fact – as The Blob was made in the ‘80s, it is full of ‘80s music, which according to my computation, therefore means that the soundtrack is better than say, Almost Famous, which was made in 2000 and features songs from the ‘70s.
The Blob is also full of ‘80s fashion, which, well…umm…ok fine, my theory comes a bit unstuck at this point. But ‘80s haircuts are funny, so that’s got to be worth something.
12. It’s been around for a long time
Related to the above fact is that because it was made in the ‘80s, it’s been allowed to mature like a fine wine – or perhaps more suitably, a fine cheese. The fact that it still out-shocks, out-exhilarates and just generally out-does all modern remakes is a testament to just how good the film is. It also holds a great deal of nostalgic value to its fans – it reminds me of when I was a kid, being afraid to take baths for a fear of being sucked down the plug-hole. This fond reminiscence is what makes it better than any new, lifeless and uninspired crud, as well as any new film that’s actually good – for this feeling can’t be attached to a film until it’s been around for a few years.
13. Err…It’s not rubbish.
I think I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s true.
So there we have it. 13 arguments as to why The Blob is the best horror remake of all time. Now try to think of 13 reasons why A Nightmare on Elm Street is a better remake, or Friday the 13th, or Prom Night.
Can’t do it?
Well, you fucking can’t.
-Please give your thoughts and comments below-