Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

13 May 2008

Scary Movie Night #2 & #3

In 2005, a guy named David Lee Fisher decided to remake the 1920 German film Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. Fisher's remake used all the Expressionistic sets from the original silent, but recast the film with English-speaking actors and reshot the film with a script that he penned himself. Now, I have never seen the original film in its entirety, but I suspect I would like it a lot. Not just because of the cool set and lighting effects, but--I imagine--because of the very intriguing plot twists and psychological drama. For 1920, I am sure this was all extremely cool. The 2005 remake, however, is terrible. The dialogue is stilted and awkward. The characters are far prettier (very Los Angeles) than they ought to be. The pacing is too slow. And there is a serious disconnect between the (admittedly, very cool) old two-dimensional set behind the actors, and the bad acting and false emotion in the three-dimensional world we're asked to focus on. All that to say: stick to the original movie. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 2005 edition, is a total mess.

Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist, however, still works like gangbusters. The effects are not as cool as we're all used to in 2008, but this film from 1982 boasts some great performances, a fantastic, troubling score by Jerry Goldsmith, and some disgusting, really awesome sequences. There were plenty of times when I was completely, totally creeped out, and at least three or four times where I was scared out of my wits. I really liked it.

Last night, I missed the first film from Scary Movie Night #3 because of rehearsal, but all signs point to its having been really bad, anyway, so I'm not too sad about it.


But after the bad movie, we all sat down to watch Alejandro Amenábar's The Others, which I had never seen. It's a spooky film set in the early half of the twentieth century in a house where Nicole Kidman lives with her two kids, who have some kind of photo-sensitivity where they can't be in the light or they will get really sick. So all the curtains have to be shut all the time. It's creepy and it works for the most part, but it's not quite as scary as it could be. I expected to really jump a bunch of times, but there are only one or two big jumps, and the film ends up being more of a mystery that the audience needs to figure out à la The Sixth Sense. Amenábar's film is not so much a rip-off, but it has similar elements and it seems to welcome comparisons. Anyway, The Others was alright.