A few nights ago I sat down and rewatched the classic eighties horror ‘Re-animator‘, which is based on a story by one of the great horror writers H.P. Lovecraft. I enjoy most of Lovecraft’s work, but one who has read it would have to agree that his understanding of a normal conversation between two people is less than primitive. What’s more, his interactions within his stories are better left between monsters than humans, rather than person to person; Lovecraft lacks the subtle understandings of personal interactions and that’s okay, because Lovecraft is actually phenomenal when it comes to detail. The movie based on his story, Re-animator, has a way of pulling together the best of both worlds and I am grateful for this, as it is a gem of a B-movie. It’s good to see someone not want to take a story word for word, but want to add something to it, not his own creative twists, but something that he feels the story actually needs. It is important because we need to add a fresh perspective to everything we experience; we must allow new phenomenon in, while preserving the legacy of the old.
We can all remember a litany of movies we’ve seen that are supposed to be based on a few of our favorite books, but always pale in comparison. Such a sad thing when a writer’s work becomes a cliche, a bad story between friends, or his worst nightmare… a mockery of all he has worked towards. Here are just a few that I believe add to the stories, making them into classics.
5) Salem’s Lot
A chilling horror that makes the vampire apocalypse seem like a terrifying reality, and makes the ‘Twilight’ saga seem like nonsense, this novel by Stephen King brings out the overwhelming defeat of the human race by the darkness that is buried within. A horrifying evil infests the town and with every passing day the inhabitants fall further into a nightmarish desperation. Reading the book is like reading a modern day telling of ‘Revelations’, but to see it brought to the big screen is like having every nightmare come true.
The story of Herbert West, a doctor hellbent on defeating death and rewriting the destiny of mankind. The original story by H.P. Lovecraft leaves a horrifying image in one’s mind of the consequences of such tinkering, but the graphic nature of the movie helps to harden it into your psyche. The gory nature of the death scenes, mixed with the overall vlugarness that one must see for himself makes this movie a classic. It never demolishes the story, as so many movies so often do, but helps to bring the nightmare of humanities scientific overindulgence into a startling reality.
Though the original work was ‘Night of the Living Dead‘ a screenplay by George A. Romero, one cannot go on with writing about remakes and not mention this realization of the zombie nightmare. Night of the Living Dead was an independent film written and created on a budget that would never work on a horror film made in the present. They would make this back easily, as well as creating a genre of horror that would live on with the revision, ‘Dawn of the Dead’, where the normally slow moving zombies have exercised in more than a few marathons. The fact that a few million undead cannibals are chasing these remnants of humanity through a wartorn zombie oasis makes this a great remake worth noting. It is the idea behind the original that is not only preserved in this remake, but the extinction of mankind, as well as the ‘zombie apocalypse’ becomes a full blown reality.
2) The Stand
I don’t appreciate many of the movies that are based off of Stephen King’s books, because they so often fail to reach that subtle lining between what can be and what cannot; they fail to make me believe that they see the reality that we as the writer see. With that in mind, in the case of ‘The Stand’, I fear that nobody will ever make me fear the end of the world like Stephen King. This apocalyptic battle between good and evil is made all too believable and the story pulls you in and makes you invested in the outcome. Stephen King’s writing has very few weaknesses, none that I can criticize and that is why it is so difficult to adapt to a movie and satisfy his fanbase. The Stand is one of the great horror films, not just remakes and a classic apocalyptic story that will possess even the most wayward imagination.
1) The Thing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(1982_film)
John Carpenter… enough said? He helps create this epic masterpiece, which is usually recognized as a remake of the 1950’s horror ‘The Thing From Another World‘. It is actually a closer adaptation to a novella called ‘Who Goes There?’ The story was written in the thirties and though brought into the eighties it doesn’t lose its significance as a story that is ahead of its time. The horror of a meeting between man and a species ready to eradicate him from the planet is communicated well with both, but seeing the terrifying mutation manipulate our DNA, as well as the lunacy that ensues between the lost Antarctic expedition makes this one of my favorite horror films.