Remake

Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013)

patrick

Patrick: Evil Awakens is a remake of a 1978 film about a comatose patient who develops telekinetic powers and an obsession with his nurse, Kathy played by Sharni Vinson (Bait, You’re Next). The film takes place in an old convent, now a private hospital for patients in a vegetative state. The hospital is run by the acerbic Doctor Roget, played by the inimitable Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Gosford Park) and his daughter Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths, Blow).

The film starts with the death of Kathy’s predecessor, who unlike Nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant, Iron Sky) an air headed nurse with zero curiosity and seemingly a lack of morals, got suspicious of the lengths Doctor Roget and Matron Cassidy were going through to ‘cure’ the patients. On Kathy’s arrival we are treated to a display of Roget’s treatment including electroshock therapy and large injections of luminous coloured fluids. After witnessing some of these traumatic displays Kathy begins to think that Patrick is not as comatose as he seems.

From his comatose state Patrick uses his telekinetic and mind control powers (mind control on the basis that all human brain activity depends on the firing of electrical impulses, a fact rammed down the viewer’s from the start) to contact and protect Kathy. Unfortunately for her and her two suitors, a local radio psychiatrist and her ex-husband who she took the job to move away from (who look very similar), Patrick’s version of protection is very dangerous for their health.

There are a lot of issues with this film, for example, why is the private hospital so dirty? Surely even privately run hospitals have to have a level of cleanliness. Also why are patients kept only in one room (apart from Patrick) in only boxers over the covers? The film is hampered by unnecessary and poorly executed CGI as well as a confused storyline. It is hinted at that Patrick’s powers are linked to electricity, if that is that case how can he control objects such as seat belts, surely they are not electrical?

There is very little to recommend this film to anyone, the only redeeming feature is the dry wit of Doctor Roget.

 

Rating: 1/5

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Carrie (1976, 2002 and 2013)

Carrie

Three takes on Stephen King’s first novel centred around the eponymous Carrie White, played by Sissy Spacek (In the Bedroom, The Help), Angela Bettis (Perfume) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) in the 1976, 2002 and 2013 movies respectively, a shy, unpopular high school student who discovers she has telekinetic powers. All three give interesting portrayals of the troubled teen, each very different both in looks and attitude, including how easily they discover and practice their new found powers. Spacek’s Carrie seems almost unaware of the powers until towards the climax of the film, with the emerging powers starting subtly, whereas in both the later films Carrie practices the powers in her room. In the 2002 movie we see that Carrie has had these powers for a long time, including a very strange and unrealistic scene in which she causes a meteor shower, however the ability to move things with her mind does not come easily, looking more like a fit than anything voluntary. Moretz’s Carrie, however is less downtrodden, which is particularly evident in her relationship with her extremely Christian mother, Margaret White played by Julieanne Moore (Magnolia, The Big Lebowski). In the 2013 film, Mrs White is portrayed as much more mentally unstable than the earlier films, with an emphasis on self-harm which was not present in the other films.

The first key scene in all three films is Carrie getting her period in the locker room and freaking out, leading to her classmates bullying her with tampons and in all three the PE teacher, (Betty Buckley 1978, Rena Sofer 2002 and Judy Greer 2013) to have to slap her out of it, which to me seems very unrealistic, especially in this day and age. Sue Snell, one of the perpetrators then feels guilty and convinces her boyfriend, Tommy, to take Carrie to the prom in apology. Sue’s motives are best expressed in the 2013 film, with her decision to ask Tommy in the oldest film never really explained. At the prom, one of horror cinema’s most famous scenes takes place.

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In which a bucket of pigs blood is dumped over her head, finally tipping Carrie over the edge, releasing her pent up rage on her classmates and teachers at the prom. The ensuing disaster portrayed very differently in all three, with the apparently high death toll not apparent in the 1976 film as in the later films and the special effects in the 2002 film giving it an air of being in a video game. Unlike both the 1976 and 2002 films, in the latest film, directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Carrie is fully aware and in control of the events, a feature I find does not fit with the feel of the film.

 

 

 

 

 

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The three films share many scenes in common (unlike Thirteen Ghosts), although updated to the era the film was made in, right down to the exact same dialogue, indeed most of the 1976 film (bar the ending) is replicated in the 2002 TV film, with a few added scenes accounting for the 34 minutes longer run time, however, saying this, the films have different endings with the 2002 departing completely from the book and the other films.

All three films have strong points and weak points, and any of the three is an enjoyable watch, I particularly like the 2002’s take on a film through police interviews and Bettis’s portrayal of Carrie however it lacks the polish of the other films, probably due to the much smaller budget of the TV movie. The 1976 film directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface) I feel has the best musical score by far but lacks the impact and full effect of the disaster that hits the town, which is best realised in the 2013 version.

I am not generally a fan of Steven King and Carrie does not sway me otherwise, I think the plot is thin and one dimensional and all the characters lack any nuances, because of this Carrie is a film you do not need your brain to be engaged with in order to understand what is going on. There is nothing to gain by watching all three films and unless you are a huge King fan I would recommend sticking to the original 70s version.

13 Ghosts (1960 and 2001)

13 ghosts

The 2001 remake directed by Steve Beck (Ghost Ship) bears very little resemblance to the 1960 original by William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler) other than there is a house haunted by twelve ghosts left to the central family by a creepy uncle with an obsession with the occult.

In the original, the house is left by Dr. Plato Zorba to his nephew and family; Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods), his wife Hilda (Rosemary DeCamp) and their two children Medea (Jo Morrow) a flirty young woman or indeterminate age, and Buck (Charles Herbert) a ghost obsessed ten year old.  In the 2001 remake, the names are changed, the creepy uncle becomes Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) and the nephew and family now consists of Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) and his two children Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby (Alec Roberts), Mrs. Kriticos having died in a house fire six months previously. In both films the family are having financial problems and the offer of a large house seems too good to be true (and it turns out is!)

In both there are two other characters (not counting the ghosts) common to both films, the lawyer after the hidden fortune – Benjamin Rush (Martin Milner) and Benjamin Moss (JR Bourne) in the 1960 and 2001 films respectively, and the housekeeper/nanny who changes from the inherited housekeeper ‘witch’ played by Margaret Hamilton (the wicked witch of the west in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz) to a nanny with an attitude played by Rah Digga. In the remake there are several additional characters including the psychic Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) and ghost hunter Kalina Oretzia (Embeth Davidtz).

In the 2001 film the house is a work of art, a giant glass jigsaw of sliding walls that release ghosts from the basement and in one memorable scene, cuts the lawyer in half. The house is controlled from a secret room at the top of the house from which the ghosts are released one by one by pulling levers on what looks like a giant old fashioned cash register. At the centre of this house, which turns out to be a machine is a series of concentric rings that begin to rotate from the centre as the film progresses. In contrast, the original house is the usual sprawling mansion and the only remarkable thing is a descending canopy on a bed that was used to smother people.

One thing the two films do have in common is that the ghosts can only be observed through a special pair of glasses. In the original this was used to great effect with Illusion-O, in which a ghost viewer being handed out to audience members featuring a blue and a red cellophane sections. To emulate the ghost viewer I used a handy pair of old fashioned 3D glasses but it is possible to view the film without it. William Castle appears at the start of the film and explains that when the screen turns blue (from the usual black and white) that, if you believe in ghosts to look through the red and if you don’t, to look through the blue section. The ghosts are shown in red with the rest of the scene in blue. The red filter intensifies the ghosts and the blue filter ‘removed’ them. It was very entertaining to play ghost-no-ghost by closing the relevant eye for each filter.

The ghosts in the two films are very different and play a greater role in the film’s plot in the remake. In the original the ghosts consist of four burning ghosts and a cartwheel of fire, a chef and his murdered wife and in-laws and a headless lion tamer and lion. In the remake the twelve ghosts make up the black zodiac and each has a back story. The ghosts range from the first born son (a child dressed as a cowboy with an arrow through his forehead) to the torn prince (a 1950’s jock with a baseball bat) to psychotic killers known as The Jackal and the Juggernaut.

These two films are both good films in their own right but I would not call the later film a remake of the 1960 film, rather that it was inspired by it. Neither film are particularly scary, but have different factors recommending them, the Illusion-O in the 1960 version and the amazing set design in the 2001 version.