Remakes get a bad rap amongst filmgoers, and understandably so. Instead of attempting to fulfill the potential hinted at in failed or dated movie projects, Hollywood has proven time and time again that the sole purpose of most remakes is to cash in on the success of the near faultless original films. Occasionally though, there’s a glimmer of hope. A quick glance at two of the best horror films the genre has to offer—The Thing and The Fly—clearly demonstrates that technological advances in filmmaking can be used to more effectively convey an older film’s story. While those films were remakes of ’50s cinema, we’ve also seen a vast of array of ’70s remakes—Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left—that have proven to be worthy modern takes on dated (albeit classic) material.
The Crazies, due out September 25, is the latest remake to attempt to join the ranks of those films. Based on the cult classic directed and co-written by George Romero, the film tells the story of a small town struck by insanity when an unknown toxin starts turning its happy, law-abiding citizens into mindless killing machines. Trying desperately to survive both the infected populace and the subsequent military response, the town’s Sherrif (Timothy Olyphant), his pregnant wife (Radha Mitchell), his deputy (Joe Anderson), and an assistant at the medical center (Danielle Panabaker) find themselves forced to band together if they ever intend on getting out of the town alive.
Last week I was granted the opportunity to visit the film’s set at Peach County High School in Georgia, where the crew was getting prepped for a lengthy night shoot. Once there, we first spent some time speaking to director Breck Eisner (Sahara), who explained his stance on remaking the film.
Honestly, any time you do a remake or a reimagining, and this is definitely more of a reimagining than a remake, you want to have target aspects of the movie that they didn’t have access to when they first made it. My theory on remaking movies or reimagining movies is that there should be something that they weren’t able to do the first time around. That you can do differently. So it’s not like just redoing Psycho or redoing a perfect movie, it’s redoing something that had limitations. One of big limitations for [George] Romero was obviously budget. I think he had 200 grand or 275 grand to make the entire movie. We’re obviously spending more money than that—it’s not a big budget movie, but we have better assets so we can represent the government as the scale of the force that it needs to be in a movie like this that is oppressive and realistic for us.
We spent the rest of the evening having the end of that comment proven to us, as we ventured next to a massive field on the outskirts of the high school. Read More »
“Let’s dance, Tom.”
In the dizzying sinkhole of modern remakes, enough time has passed with 1954′s Creature from the Black Lagoon to dampen fanboy squabbles over a new studio effort. Of course, the sci-fi horror reboot still needs to impress, and that responsibility falls with its director. While I hoped to see John Landis or Rob Zombie strike up fresh chills and gills in exotic locales, director Breck Eisner (Sahara, son of Michael) tells ShockTilYouDrop that his planned remake is moving forward, complete with locations scoped out in South America, a fully created, newly envisioned creature, and less than two percent aspiration to be the next Mummy 1, 2, 3, 9.
Eisner didn’t draw comparisons to the tone of The Dark Knight (watch for an oncoming avalanche from countless PG-13 assigned directors), but did bring up fashionable parallels to The Wolf Man (the original) and Universal‘s other classic monsters (but not, you know, Sommers’s The Mummy).
“We debated tone a thousand times. For me tone is the most interesting thing a filmmaker has and so the Creature is a creature, it’s not a monster. That’s my number one thing about the movie. We’re not going to turn him into a monster. He’s still going to be empathetic, he’s still going to be deadly, he’s still going to have a misguided means of expressing his interests in a woman, but it’s uniquely the Creature. …It will deliver of action and excitement, but I want it to be scary. The Creature was scary when it first came out in ’54 – it’s not scary today – but that’s what updating means to me, updating the tone of the original.”
In other words, don’t worry too much, it won’t be Sahara with a man in
birthday suit. Intriguingly enough, Eisner references Werner Herog’s Fitzcarraldo for inspiration and says he’ll shoot partially in the Brazilian city of Manaus where Herzog and Klaus Kinski notoriously went nuts. The titular lagoon(s) has been chosen as well. When can we expect this then?
“I want to get [Eisner's remake of George Romero's The Crazies] done, get it into post-production then head to the Amazon for ‘Creature.’ Oddly, I’m waiting on the height of the Amazon river before we start shooting – it drops 50-feet in October and November. But we’ve got the boat set and everything ready to go.”
Eisner says he’s reworking the script by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) and confirms that Spectral Motion (Hellboy, Fantastic Four) is a lock for the SFX. I’m really curious to see any artwork or the script for this, so please leak them. Mixing studio-pleasing action with genuine scares is nearly as hard to pull off as horror comedy, but Eisner’s well liked and most in the know feel his best days and visions are in front of him. Creature > McConaughey’s spray-on tan adventure.
Discuss: Now that it’s picking up speed, what are your feelings on the remake based on Eisner’s quotes and notions above? And given the creature’s penchant for the ladies, do any of Slashfilm’s female readers find it attractive? In 3D?