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New PJs, Same Nightmare

October 23, 2009

I recently saw a trailer for a movie set to release in 2010. It’s a brand new idea, never been done before. See, there’s this serial killer whose all burned and scarred, and he wears this creepy glove with blades on the fingers, and instead of killing you in reality, he kills you in your dreams. Pretty freaky right? Wait, what? You say they already made that movie? Oh, well maybe it’s just close. This one is called A Nightmare on Elm Street. Wow, that one was called A Nightmare on Elm Street too, huh? Well, that certainly is terrifying.

Yes, it’s true; Hollywood has finally gotten so lazy that making bad movies just won’t cut it, they have to make bad movies that are remakes of bad movies. Oh I know, “but Nightmare is a horror classic,” you’re saying. Yes, yes it is. And like most horror classics, it’s just not that good as far as being a movie. The plot is the same, the characters are predictably two-dimensional, and the

Let's hope there isn't a sequel... Oops

Let's hope there isn't a sequel... Oops

teenagers always split up and go into a dark room even though they know the killer has just murdered all of their friends. Now, to be fair, this “new” Nightmare is less of a remake and more of a “re-imagining” according to director Samuel Bayer. He’s the famous director who has made… absolutely nothing you’ve ever heard of. He did direct a bunch of music videos, though (just like McG, the guy who directed Charlie’s Angels, and we all know how well that worked out).

The trailer is absolutely ridiculous, by the way. It starts with Kruger, before he’s a dream-invading killer, being chased by angry citizens and he’s screaming “Whatever you think I did, I didn’t do it!” A word of advice, if you don’t want to look ridiculously guilty, don’t deny doing whatever it is you didn’t do. You may think they think you did what they think you think you didn’t do, which is why you would tell them to not think you did what you… see how confusing you denying it makes everything! Secondly, if they’re willing to burn you alive in an old warehouse, chances are you did exactly what they think you did. I’m willing to bet it’s something worth murdering someone for – like forgetting to separate you recyclables from the trash before it gets picked up. Kruger then dons his trademark glove and proceeds, in the trailer, to let you watch as he kills all his victims. Thank you Mr. Bayer for maintaining the curiosity of how this film will be different than the original. Long story short, it’s not.

My biggest issue is that this recreation of Elm Street is typical of Hollywood’s business model: either milk an idea for as much as it’s worth by making it into a trilogy or milk an idea for as much as it’s worth by remaking it even though it was a classic the first time. It seems that the studios just can’t leave well enough alone. For that matter, where have all the original ideas gone?

Turn your head and cough, Herr Jones

Turn your head and cough, Herr Jones

The “trilogy terror”, as I call it – the notion that a sequel isn’t enough, so a third installment is ultimately produced and ends up being absolutely horrendous – is a problem that has plagued Hollywood for far too long. It got the Godfather, Spider-Man, Superman, Ninja Turtles, Indiana Jones, Terminator, and the list goes on and on. To be fair, Indy didn’t fall pray until he got abducted by aliens in Peru in 2008, but the fact remains that Doctah Jones never would have gotten probed if Hollywood hadn’t needed to squeeze every dime out of him. But now the studios are remaking films that were fine the first time. Actually, in most cases they’re making remakes of remakes.

You’ve heard of Fame haven’t you? It’s a blockbuster smash musical in theaters now. Except it was a TV show before that and before the TV show, it was a movie. Not just any movie: an Oscar-winning film. At this rate, I’m waiting to see the remake of Titanic, Gandhi, and Gone with the Wind. Maybe they’ll combine them into a heartwarming love story about fighting British colonial rule on a sinking plantation in the Civil War era South.

Frankly, my dear, I'm king of the world!

Frankly, my dear, I'm king of the world!

Gone with the Titanic Gandhi. Sounds like a winner to me. But really, where will it end? If even Oscar-winning films aren’t safe, if moves that helped define a genre aren’t off-limits, then what is?

The really great films, the original stories that make you sit in a theater and forget how long you’ve been there, are becoming more and more rare. Every year it seems more and more difficult to find serious contenders for the illustrious title of Best Original Screenplay. Even the winners in that category in recent years haven’t won because of original ideas. Milk won in 2009, Juno in 2008, and Little Miss Sunshine in 2007. These were all films that won because of the way they told their story, not the story they told. These wonderful films received the award because of crisp dialogue and strong character development, not because they presented especially unique ideas.

Where have the original ideas gone? Where are the The Stings or the Chinatowns or the The Usual Suspects? Hell, I’d even settle for a Memento and who could follow that backwards piece of junk? Have we drained the well of original thought? Are we cursed to forever relive the same tired plots again and again until we prey for Freddy Kruger to end our torture, whether he be original or remake edition? Is it really that there’s nothing new to be made or is it just that Hollywood wants to ring every penny out of an idea before they throw it to the side, ultimately ruining it forever? Honestly, the whole thing just seems like one giant nightmare.

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