Once upon a time – back when Hollywood still came up with original ideas and wasn’t run almost exclusively by marketing departments – remakes were a rare bird. Once upon a time, audiences were treated to primarily original fare they hadn’t already seen in another guise. Once upon a time, a trip to the cinema was fresh and new; a wonderland brimming with thoughts, ideas and concepts perhaps viewers had never before imagined.
These, however, are not those times, particularly in the horror genre.
For fans over the age of 35 or so, it’s tough to remember any films from the '70s and '80s that haven’t yet made the list of do-overs. Thing is, for every quality redo (think 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers or 1986’s The Fly) comes seemingly dozens more of absolute inferior (if not outright offensive) quality. Here are five of the most odoriferous.
Fright Night (2011)
Whereas the first Fright Night (1985) featured a nostalgic late-night horror host as protagonist, the remake opted for a sleazy Vegas magician. Bad choice. Roddy McDowall was sympathetic in his role. David Tennant was just greasy. Just not as fun as the first.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Torture-porn at its finest, this remake featured none of the social commentary of the first about the industrialization of American society. Instead, it substituted basic blood and guts simply for the sake of blood and guts (something lacking in the original which relied almost solely on atmosphere).
The Wicker Man (2006)
Go ahead. You know you’re thinking it. Me, too. Cue the truly horrific Nicolas Cage performance. Subtlety thy name is Coppola.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
No one but Robert Englund will ever be known as Freddy Krueger – so, even if execs were hell-bent on a remake, why cast another actor in the role? Of course Jackie Earle Haley wasn’t as good, and of course, this remake was a shadow of its original self.
The absolute poster child for pointless remakes – this one done in a shot-for-shot fashion, no less. It’s almost as if director Gus Van Sant lost a bet. How else to explain the Xeroxing of this Alfred Hitchcock classic? You tell me.
Listen up, brother! It looks as though Hulk Hogan – now 60-years-old with an artificial hip, bad back and shot knees – won't be climbing back into a WWE ring after all (and maybe fans truly are the better for it). According to reports, World Wrestling Entertainment officials were interested in bringing back the former champ in time for Wrestlemania XXX this coming April in New Orleans. Hogan, whose contract with the much-smaller TNA Wrestling recently expired, was rumored to possibly be in line for one more mega-match - maybe against John Cena. However, it now appears Hogan has re-upped with TNA after being offered far, far less from the WWE than he had hoped. Still, the WWE has other options, if a trip down memory lane is what it seeks to boost buyrates.
Jake the Snake Roberts
Jake’s well-chronicled battles with substance abuse appear to be in check these days and he’s looking to get back into the WWE. Could Mania provide that stage? He’s also back in fighting shape thanks to DDP yoga.
Rowdy Roddy Piper
Although in nearly as bad of shape physically as Hogan, Piper has always been able to pop a crowd with his mouth alone. Could the man who was rowdy before rowdy was cool give the fans one more memorable match?
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Arguably the biggest star of the '90s in all of wrestling, Austin says he’s physically fine to go 100 percent inside the squared circle again – he just chooses not to. The WWE would surely love to have the Texas Rattlesnake back (even once more) as would the fans.
Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff
Political correctness be darned – the site of Sheik and Volkoff inside a WWE ring one last time (if for nothing else than to sing the Soviet National Anthem) would surely be a Wrestlemania moment for the ages.
Honky Tonk Man
Do you wanna hear see the Honky Tonk Man sing? Do you wanna see the Honky Tonk Man dance? Heck yes! HTM’s farewell tour should be on a WWE stage – not some bingo hall in the middle of nowhere.
Aruna Gilbert/ WENN
Whoever said that the best things in life are free must've been jamming to a mixtape. The joy of trying to save cassette tape from being eaten up by a 1988 stereo may have passed us by, but digital mixtapes still have the best components of their predecessors: free samples of new music from our favorite artists. There’s only a few months left of the year and artists releasing new mixtapes will have a lot to live up to, since 2013 saw the release of tons of great new music in the hip hop world. The latest mixtape to hit the web waves is Lil Wayne’s Dedication 5, finally released on September 1 after a 36-hour delay. Though it’s too soon to say how well Lil Wayne’s newest effort will hold up against other releases slated to come out this year, here’s a rundown of some of 2013’s best mixtapes thus far.
Yelawolf: Trunk Muzik Returns After his 2011 debut album Radioactive, Yelawolf came back with a vengeance (and a killer beard). Produced entirely by WillPower, Trunk Muzik Returns features Yelawolf’s trademark polished, 100mph flow set against some of the most refreshing beats that have been heard in rap lately. With contributions from A$AP Rocky, Raekwon, Paul Wall, and more, it’s safe to say Trunk Muzik has most definitely made its return.
Standouts: “Firestarter,” “F.A.S.T. Ride,” “Catfish Billy”
Harry Fraud: Adrift After working with French Montana for the infectious “New York Minute,” wonderboy producer Harry Fraud quickly rose to become one of the most sought-after producers in the hip hop scene. He released Adrift in March 2013 as a prequel to his High Tide EP, which was released a month later. The mixtape is a diverse compilation of songs that Fraud produced over the last year, showing his prowess as a producer and his knack for putting a NYC stamp on everything he does. Adrift features unreleased tracks from numerous rappers, including Chinx Drugz, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, and tons more.
Standouts: French Montana – “Lay Low,” Young Roddy – “4 The Money,” Adrian Lau – “Sunday”
Big K.R.I.T.: King Remembered In Time Who knew electric guitars and crying babies could make for a kickass album intro? Big K.R.I.T., that’s who. The Southern rapper dropped King Remembered In Time earlier this year to rave reviews and is continuing to carve out place for himself in the rap world. Big K.R.I.T. has already proven that he’s rather ambitious when it comes to sampling and King Remembered In Time is no different: the mixtape has samples from everyone from James Blake to Cody ChestnuTT working seamlessly against his skillful spits. King Remembered In Time features the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Trinidad Jame$, Ashton Jones, and Future.
Standouts: “REM,” “Serve This Royalty,” “Life Is A Gamble”
Chance the Rapper: Acid Rap At only 20 years old, Chance the Rapper has already made an impressive mark in the rap world. The former suspended-from-high-school student turned Chi-town rapper has a uniquely chameleon vocal delivery that changes as quickly as a teenager’s mood. Chance sounds like a nervous first-timer at open mic night, a Tiny Toons character with an overabundant helium supply, and a matter-of-fact raconteur all within the thirteen-song mixtape. Including kickass collabs with Action Bronson, Nate Fox, and Noname Gypsy, Acid Rap is definitely one of the mixtapes of the year.
Standouts: “Juice,” “Acid Rain”
The Underachievers: Indigoism Repping the Beast Coast movement strong is Issa Dash and AK, aka The Underachievers. The Brooklyn duo started to drop tracks in 2012 on YouTube and signed with Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder record label not too long after. Their debut mixtape, Indigoism, was released in February of this year and firmly put The Underachievers on map of new NYC talent to look out for. The lauded Indigoism is full of conscious, spiritual, and hard rhymes, all spat out at 500 words per minute (because really, who needs breathing?).
Standouts: “So Devilish,” “Herb Shuttles,” “Land of Lords”
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.