FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Nov 2, 2013

fun-o-rama

My coffee doesn't seem to be kicking in very hard this morning, so I figured I'd wake myself up with a little bit of rage by watching the trailer for the 1999 remake of The Haunting.

I know some people like the remake, so I thought, "I've only seen it the one time. It does have a good cast...I will check out the trailer- perhaps I've judged it too harsh--" and then the trailer began and OH MY GAHD, they get it all so SO wrong with the very first line! By the time 15 seconds have passed, you realize that this movie will poop all over the legacy of the original film. Check it out:


"There once was a house...a bright, happy home. Something bad happened...now it sits all alone."

Forget for a moment how poorly written that is, how absolutely unterrifying it is. Calling Hill House a "bright, happy home"? What kind of fuckery is that? Hill House was never a bright, happy home. Hill House was different from all the other cinematic (and literary) haunted houses that came before because it was an evil place, "born bad". It's not the Overlook Hotel, full of the ghosts borne of misdeeds past; it's "vile", an abomination. While "the dead are not quiet" there, it's not so much that it's "haunted" by ghosts as it is the haunt itself.

To get that very concept wrong...I guess this remake was doomed from the start. As I said, I know folks out there like it and that's great! Like what you like. Liking things is good. If it were up to me, though, every copy of it would be placed in a big pile, and then the pile would be burned down, and then the ground would be sown with salt.

I know that you know that I really love The Haunting. Like, really. But look, I just watched the new Blu Ray and it was beautiful and it's one of my favorite films and it's so good and sad and sorry I just love it OKAY (although geez, it's the film's 50th Anniversary and Warner Brothers really dropped the ball with this bare-bones release).







12 comments:

L. Rob Hubb said...

One possible reason for no extras could be that most of the principals are now dead. That said, it couldn't be that hard to put something together about the film's legacy and Shirley Jackson.

Stacie Ponder said...

I'm surprised they didn't at least include some kind of essay/liner notes...but 3 of the 4 lead actors are still alive. There's more footage out there that could have been included. Filmmakers that have been influenced by this movie could have been interviewed, there could have been alternate commentary tracks, a location visit...heck, they should have let me produce all the extra features :)

Funhouse Design said...

Elliot Scott, the production designer, for the original did an incredible job with the interior sets. I've watched that movie just to see the detail and care that went into them. I've worked on on so many crappy films and would've loved to have had the chance to build just one of those rooms.

CashBailey said...

At some point someone must have said: "You know what's really scary? CGI..."

They were wrong.

Funhouse Design said...

I agree. The breathing door in the original was amazing. I started watching the remake and couldn't get past the terrible script and cartoon house (so clean and shiny). It was difficult watching excellent actors drown in unimaginative dialogue and terrible direction. I felt like I was watching an episode of Scooby Doo.

Katy Rochelle said...

Nice post! I have to admit that The Haunting remake is one of my favorite movies - just because it's SO terrible it cracks me up. I haven't seen the original in years so it might be time to revisit it again. :)

Chris Otto said...

Gee, it's not like you had THE BEST OPENING PARAGRAPH OF A HORROR NOVEL EVER to plagiarize for your trailer if you wanted, or anything. Why re-invent the wheel? Just get someone with a great voice to read that passage over creepy images of a house ... and DONE. Remember back to the first teaser trailer for LOTR? Tolkien's "one ring" passage wasn't reinvented, because it invokes chills and instant understanding. ... Peter Jackson didn't rewrite. "Once there was a good ring. But then it wasn't a good ring. In fact, it became kind of bad. And darkness ensued."

Stacie Ponder said...

I think I found it pooped SO HARD on the original that I can't even look at it as a delightfully bad (and therefore fun) movie...although I see how people could.

And Chris, I agree. I'm re-reading the book for the billionth time, and even early in the second chapter, Jackson writes:

"It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. Exorcism cannot alter the countenance of a house; Hill House would stay as it was until it was destroyed."

I mean, HOW WRONG can the people behind the remake get it??

Antaeus Feldspar said...

Hmm, phrasing it that way puts it in an interesting light. A concept I've seen mentioned by many horror scholars is the idea that every horror story lies somewhere on a particular spectrum. At one end of the spectrum are those tales where the plot resolves with the source of horror banished or destroyed, and normality restored. At the other end of the spectrum are those tales where not only is normality not restored, it's often shown that it was just an illusion to begin with.

Perhaps the makers of the remake didn't think the modern audience could deal with the "downer" that Hill House could not be rehabilitated back to a place of goodness, that it never had been and never would be? Doesn't make the movie any better, but it's maybe a little comforting to think there was some logic, even wrong logic, behind the choice...

Alexander Merrill said...

Basically, Jan DeBont is a great action film cinematographer, a very solid action film director, and should have a restraining order issued against him that does not allow him within 100 yards of a horror film. Come to think of it, the box office returns for the 1999 "Haunting" could very well have served as such a restraining order...

Connor Walsh said...

i have read, in more than one place, that there was a scene involving Theo and her girlfriend that was filmed but not used. i wish they had put this scene on the latest DVD set, if it still exists. i don't want to see it added to the movie, the movie is as close to perfect as can ever be done, but it would be a great extra.

Stacie Ponder said...

Yes! I've heard the scenes do exist, BFI or someone shows them every once in a while. Can't believe they've never been put on a DVD or BR!