SITA: Something, Something, Something, Remakes! Part V

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SITA: Something, Something, Something, Remakes! Part V

So over the weekend I’m flipping around the cable stations and come across the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still on Fox Movie Channel, I didn’t watch it mind you but it got me thinking.  At some point we the movie viewing public made the unanimous decision that the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake of Psycho never happened and would never be acknowledged outside of the rare discussion of “what the hell was he thinking in doing a shot for shot remake” and “why does Vince Vaughn still have a career?”  So why do we ignore Psycho ‘98 but still accept that the TDTESS2K10 is still a film with watchable value?  Is it the “shot-for-shot” part?  I don’t think so since Quarantine (2008) is a shot-for-shot remake of [Rec] (2007) and the filmmakers basically just ran the Spanish script through Google Translate for English speaking audiences and those movies are equal in their awesomeness.  Are people more accepting of the acting powerhouse that is Keanu Reeves?  I think his career speaks for itself on what the movie going public will and will not tolerate from his acting range.  Maybe it’s the simple fact that there was no good reason to remake either of these films, so for your amusement I offer up two more remakes that ask the question, “Why did you think that needed to be remade?”

And Soon the Darkness (1970)

  • Genre: Mystery – Thriller
  • Directed: Robert Fuest
  • Produced:
    • Brian Clemens 
    • Albert Fennell
  • Written:
    • Brian Clemens 
    • Terry Nation
  • Starring: Pamela Franklin, Michele Dotrice, Sandor Elès, John Nettleton, Clare Kelly, Hana Maria Pravda, John Franklyn, Claude Bertrand, Jean Carmet, André Maranne
  • Music: Laurie Johnson
  • Cinematography: Ian Wilson
  • Editing: Ann Chegwidden
  • Studio:
    • Associated British Picture Corporation  
    • EMI Films
  • Distributed:
    • Warner-Pathé Distributors  
    • Levitt-Pickman  
    • International Film Distributors  
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment  
    • Kinowelt Home Entertainment  
    • Thorn EMI/HBO Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 10 September 1970 (UK) 
    • 4 April 1971 (US)
  • Running Time: 94 minutes
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Language: English

And Soon the Darkness is a 1970 British thriller film.  Starring Pamela Franklin, Michele Dotrice and Sandor Elès, it tells the story of two young English women on a cycling holiday in France, who run into difficulties.

Jane and Cathy are two young nurses from Nottingham, taking a cycling holiday in rural France.  When they stop at a busy cafe, Jane wants to plan their route, but Cathy is more interested in a handsome man, whom she spies drinking alone at the next table.  Later, as Jane and Cathy make their way along a quiet country road, the man, who rides a Lambretta scooter, overtakes them, and they pass him a few minutes later, as he rests by a cemetery gate.  Cathy becomes intrigued by him.

Stopping for a rest, Cathy decides she wants to sunbathe for a while, but Jane wants to push on.  Eventually they argue, and Jane decides to carry on alone.

A short while later, at a lonely café, the owner tries to tell Jane, in poor English, that the area has a bad reputation. She begins to reconsider her decision, and heads back to the spot where she left Cathy earlier, unaware that something has already happened.

Unable to find her friend, and increasingly concerned about the presence of the scooter rider, Jane decides to look for the local police officer.  Jane becomes convinced that the Lambretta driver, who is called Paul, and who says he is a plain-clothes detective, is in fact Cathy's attacker.  She escapes from him – in the process discovering Cathy's dead body – and re-encounters the policeman, who is then revealed as Cathy's actual murderer.  He attacks Jane but is stopped by Paul, who knocks him unconscious.

And Soon the Darkness (2010)

  • Genre: Crime – Horror – Mystery
  • Directed: Marcos Efron
  • Produced:
    • Chris Clark 
    • Verónica Cura 
    • Flora Fernandez-Marengo 
    • Lizzie Friedman 
    • Augusto Greco 
    • Amber Heard 
    • Karen Lauder 
    • Deborah Marcus 
    • Cintia Micheletti
  • Written:
    • Jennifer Derwingson 
    • Marcos Efron
  • Starring: Amber Heard, Odette Annable, Karl Urban, Adriana Barraza, César Vianco, Michel Noher, Luis Sabatini, Daniel Figuereido, Jorge Booth, Gia Mantegna
  • Music: tomandandy
  • Cinematography: Gabriel Beristain
  • Editing: Todd E. Miller
  • Studio:
    • Abandon Pictures 
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment 
    • RedRum Films 
    • Sandbar Pictures 
    • StudioCanal 
    • Utópica Cine
  • Distributed:
    • Anchor Bay Films 
    • Optimum Home Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 17 December 2010 (US) 
    • 11 February 2011 (UK)
  • Running Time: 91 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Stephanie and Ellie, two young American women, decide to stay in a small hotel on their last night in Argentina.

After a drunken night at the local bar, where they encounter some of the local men, the two miss the bus that was supposed to take them to their destination.  Since the bus only comes once per day, they begin their trip and head down to the nearby river to relax and enjoy their extra day off.  The trip takes a turn for the worse when the two are separated after a heated argument, and Ellie is kidnapped.  While Stephanie desperately searches for her friend, she is joined by Michael, an American who claims to be looking for his girlfriend who disappeared months before.

The duo are assisted by the town's only police officer, who acts oddly suspicious.  Stephanie finds the hide-out where the kidnapper has taken Ellie and manages to rescue her, but Ellie is later killed in the escape by the man who kidnapped her.  The policeman appears and lures Stephanie in his car.  By finding her passport there, she understands that the lone police officer was behind all the missing girls.  Michael grabs the weapon of the policeman, who offers to make a trade for Michael's girlfriend, Camila, if he hands over Stephanie.  He agrees, but the policeman shoots Michael with a second weapon. 

Stephanie is taken by the policeman and the kidnapper to be sold.  This time she rescues herself by jumping off a boat and kills the kidnapper.  At the shore, she is caught by the buyer and the policeman, but escapes again.  She is eventually able to kill the policeman near the Paraguayan border.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)

  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed: John Newland
  • Produced:
    • Allen S. Epstein 
    • Neil T. Maffeo 
    • Lee Rich
  • Written: Nigel McKeand
  • Starring: Kim Darby, Jim Hutton, Barbara Anderson, William Demarest, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Lesley Woods, Robert Cleaves, Sterling Swanson, Joel Lawrence, William Sylvester, Don Mallon, Celia Milius
  • Music: Billy Goldenberg
  • Cinematography: Andrew Jackson
  • Editing: Michael McCroskey
  • Studio: Lorimar Productions
  • Distributed:
    • American Broadcasting Company  
    • USA Home Video  
    • BijouFlix Releasing  
    • Warner Home Video  
    • PolyGram Video
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 10 October 1973 (USA)
  • Running Time: 74 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is an American made-for-television dark fantasy film directed by John Newland and starring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton.  It was released by Lorimar Productions and was first telecast on ABC on Wednesday October 10, 1973.  It has since been shown many times in syndication and was distributed on home video and now on DVD.  It is known as Nightmare in certain countries in Europe.

The film focuses on a housewife who unleashes a band of goblin creatures from within a sealed fireplace in the Victorian mansion that she and her husband are restoring.  In later years, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark became something of a cult film.

Sally Farnham and her husband Alex inherit an old mansion from Sally's recently deceased grandmother.  Shortly after moving in, she discovers a bricked-up fireplace in the basement den, and asks the estate's handyman, Mr. Harris, about it.  He tells her that Sally's grandmother had him seal it up after her grandfather died and that it is better to leave it the way it is.  After he leaves for the day and Sally is alone in the room, she uses some of Mr. Harris' tools to try to remove the bricks herself.  She is unable to budge the bricks, but is able to pry open a small side door that Mr. Harris had said was used for removing ashes from the fireplace.  Inside is not a fireplace at all but a large, dark, deep sub-basement.  As Sally leaves the den, several whispering voices are heard coming from behind the fireplace, calling her name, and proclaiming that "she set us free".

Sally soon begins to feel unsettled in the house.  One night while sleeping, she is woken by voices whispering her name, and an ashtray mysteriously falls off her bedside cabinet.  However, Alex dismisses her concerns and believes she is suffering from nervous tension.  The next evening, when she is alone in the house, something grabs her dress as she is walking down the stairs and she hears voices whispering "We want you".  She manages to free herself and sees something scuttling away behind a curtain, which she believes was a small animal of some kind. Soon afterwards, she hears the same whispering coming from behind the fireplace in the basement den.  When Alex returns home, he remains unconvinced of her story, but makes sure the fireplace is bolted securely shut to reassure her.

The following night, Sally throws a dinner party for Alex's work colleagues as he is up for partnership at his law firm.  During the party, Sally sees a small, hideous goblin-like creature near her leg under the dinner table.  She screams, but nobody believes what she saw as the creature quickly vanishes.  Alex grows impatient with her and thinks she is becoming delusional.  Later, while Sally is in the shower, three of the goblin creatures make their way into the bathroom and turn out the lights so that they can attack her with a razor.  As Sally turns the light back on, the creatures shriek and retreat from the brightness into the bathroom cupboards where they disappear.  Sally then tells Alex that they should sell the house.

The following day, Alex goes away on business and Sally arranges to go and stay with her friend Joan.  However, before she goes, the creatures attempt to trip Sally down a flight of stairs, but they accidentally cause the death of her interior decorator instead.  Sally tries to confront the creatures and asks them what they want, to which they reply they want her spirit as whoever frees them (as Sally did by opening the fireplace) must become one of them.

That evening, Sally's doctor prescribes sedatives while her friend Joan stays with her.  Joan begins to believe Sally's story about supernatural creatures in the house.  Returning early from his trip, Alex, however, remains unconvinced.  Alex then leaves to speak with their handyman regarding the history of the house and the truth behind the bricked up fireplace and Sally's grandfather.  While Sally tries to stay awake after the creatures put the sedatives into her coffee, the electricity is cut by the creatures and Joan is locked outside by them while checking on the circuit breaker box.  Sally manages to walk downstairs, but the creatures trip her over in the dark.  As she is semi-conscious, they then drag her into the basement den and into the unsealed fireplace before Alex and Joan can reach her.  The film concludes with Sally and the creatures speaking to each other, patiently waiting for their next victim to move into the house, leaving the audience to assume that Sally has been turned into one of the creatures.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

  • Genre: Fantasy – Horror – Thriller
  • Directed: Troy Nixey
  • Produced:
    • Melanie Chryssochoides 
    • Guillermo del Toro 
    • William Horberg 
    • Mark Johnson 
    • Stephen Jones 
    • Nick Nunziata 
    • Tom Williams
  • Written:
    • Guillermo del Toro 
    • Matthew Robbins 
    • Nigel McKeand
  • Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Jack Thompson, Garry McDonald, Alan Dale, Julia Blake, Bruce Gleeson, Eddie Ritchard
  • Music:
    • Marco Beltrami  
    • Buck Sanders
  • Cinematography: Oliver Stapleton
  • Editing: Jill Bilcock
  • Studio:
    • Miramax Films 
    • FilmDistrict  
    • Necropia 
    • Gran Via 
    • Tequila Gang
  • Distributed:
    • Alliance Films 
    • FilmDistrict  
    • Optimum Releasing 
    • Film4  
    • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 26 August 2011 (USA)
  • Running Time: 99 minutes
  • Country:
    • United States 
    • Australia 
    • Mexico
  • Language: English

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a 2011 American dark fantasy horror film written by Matthew Robbins and Guillermo del Toro, directed by comic book artist Troy Nixey and filmed at the Drusilla Mansion in Mount Macedon, Victoria and Melbourne, Australia.  The film stars Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, and Bailee Madison, as a family moving into a 19th-century Rhode Island mansion, where the withdrawn daughter begins to witness malevolent creatures that emerge from a sealed ash pit in the basement of the house.

At Blackwood Manor in Providence County, Rhode Island, renowned wildlife painter Lord Blackwood summons his housekeeper into the basement where he reluctantly kills her with a hammer and chisel.  He removes her teeth, as well as his own, and offers them to mysterious creatures down an ash pit within an old fireplace; however, the creatures demand the teeth of children.  Blackwood begs for them to give back his kidnapped son, only to be dragged down the ash pit by the creatures.

In the present day, 8-year old Sally Hurst arrives in Rhode Island to live with her father Alex and his girlfriend Kim, both restoring Blackwood Manor to put it on the market for their client Mr. Jacoby.  Sally is depressed due to her mother forcefully putting her in Alex's care and giving her copious amounts of Adderall.  On the first night of her stay, the melodious tune from a carousel-styled nightlight awakens the creatures in the ash pit.  The next day, Sally wanders the grounds and finds the hidden basement's skylight.  One of the workmen restoring the house, Mr. Harris, warns her, Alex and Kim not to venture into the basement, although they do regardless.  Sally takes interest in the sealed fireplace where she hears the creatures calling her name and follows the mysterious voices.  "BE AFRAID" is written in runes above it.

Sally opens the fireplace to meet the creatures and finds one of the old housekeeper's teeth.  The creatures quickly prove to be hostile, stealing Alex's razor and shredding Kim's clothes.  Alex immediately blames Sally and finds a 19th-century silver coin in her possession, which she found under her pillow after the tooth disappeared. Alex and Kim head into town on a business trip and Sally sneaks to the basement to talk with the creatures, but Harris sends her away and tries to seal the fireplace.  The creatures emerge and brutally wound him with his own tools and he is hospitalized.  Sally's increasingly frightening encounters with the creatures prompt Alex to call a therapist to talk to Sally, who draws a sketch of one of the creatures that attacked her under her bedsheets.

Kim visits Harris in the hospital, who tells her to find the unpublished artwork of Lord Blackwood in the local library. The librarian reveals the artwork, one of which is of a creature whom he describes as being like tooth fairies, which every now and again turns a human into one of their own.  Kim races home as Sally is attacked again by the creatures while having a bath, the lead creature being a transformed Lord Blackwood who proclaims the creatures will make Sally one of their own.  Kim finds an undiscovered mural painted by Lord Blackwood in the basement, depicting his son being transformed by the creatures.  Kim confronts Alex who is more interested in hosting a dinner for Mr. Jacoby and friends.  However, he finally realizes what is happening when Sally is trapped in the library by the creatures, but she fends them off by using her camera flash to distract them.

Alex and Kim decide to flee the house with Sally, but both are ambushed by the creatures and knocked out, Sally tries to wake Kim up but also gets ambushed by the creatures and is knocked unconscious.  When Sally wakes up, her feet have been tied up with rope, and the creatures are starting to drag her to the basement for her transformation.  Kim awakens and goes to basement confronting the creatures, cutting the rope around Sally's feet but only to get herself in the ropes and her leg broken by it as she struggles to get free.  The creatures drag Kim into the fireplace, as a distraught Sally crushes the creature who used to be Lord Blackwood to death with a large flashlight.  Alex arrives just as Kim disappears, and the father and daughter mourn their loss.

Some time later, both return to the abandoned mansion to leave a drawing of Kim there, but a gust of wind blows the drawing into the creatures' lair, where the transformed Kim is heard convincing the creatures to stay where they are and just go deeper into the basement – for they will forget in time, and others will come – claiming they have "all the time in the world".

I learned two things: it takes a lot of people to make a mediocre remake and watching the remake of Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark made me much more angry than I expected it would.  The original was no masterpiece of modern horror but for some reason it felt like someone kicked my childhood in the gnards.

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