Wednesday, July 31, 2013

'90s Trash: Village of the Damned (1995)

I don't hate you, Mr. Carpenter- honest!  My track record with John Carpenter films on this site has been kind of bad.  Let it be said that Escape from New York, The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13 are all great- I just didn't review them.  The fact of the matter is that Escape from L.A. was a pointless and silly re-tread of a Classic.  He really shouldn't have done it.  That brings us to the 1995 Remake of Village of the Damned.  Fate works in mysterious ways sometimes.  I happen to find the original films cheap on DVD and, less than a week later, find the Remake also for very little.  The good thing is that there is absolutely NO way that this will be brought down by a forced Cold War sub-plot.  Instead, it finds new and sadder ways to be brought down.  I will say this: if you had no idea what the original film was like/never saw it, you wouldn't look at it the same way.  Is it wrong to judge a Remake based on how the Original film turned out?  No, of course not!  Right or wrong, people are going to judge your film this way.  It's in this comparison that Carpenter's film fails to deliver.  I won't necessarily place all of the blame on him as many things can happen to a film during and after Production.  If that's the case, I understand.  To see why I have many problems with this Remake, read on...
The Remake takes a bit longer to set up the characters before the black-out.  While it's not inherently-bad, it takes away from the sudden nature of the event.

Oh and the pointlessly-kill a guy that they just spent time setting up and never use him again.  No, really.
Like in the original, the women all suddenly get pregnant.  One change is that the lead Doctor (the late Christopher Reeve) is an actual Doctor- an Obstetrician.

Oh and they kiss in reversed poses.  Intentional homage?  Given that they credit both the Book AND the 1960 Screenplay, perhaps.
One thing that is changed is the effect used for the kid's eyes.  It's...sillier.

Seriously, I like the practical effect made 53 years ago more than the digital one done only 18 years ago.  Who would have guessed?!?
In a new bit added, the mothers have these weird 'dream/vision' things happen.  They are never mentioned and amount to nothing.  Yea?
Don't worry, there are still more repeated scenes.  Why the 'lady forced to put her hand in boiling water' bit was so important that it had to be redone is anyone's guess.
In place of the old men talking about what to do, we get Kirstie Alley talking to some old men about what to do.  That's...progressive?
Want to know where this film really 'screws the pooch' for me?  Are you ready?


Seriously?  Okay.  Here's what the Children really are.
Just take that all in for a moment.  All done now?  Okay.

After a bunch of pointless kill scenes (including a retread of the Guy Forced to Shoot Himself part- minus any set-up), we get...the same exact finale.
Seriously, that's it.  Nothing new.

Actually, they sort of do tease some sequel-bait, but don't deliver.  It's oddly-underwhelming.  The End.
This really makes me sad.  The film isn't terrible.  The problem is that it should be great.  Great story, great Director and even a pretty good Cast.  I'd say great, but I've never been a fan of Alley.  She's not that great here, honestly, showing a range from Gruff to Mildly-Emotional.  Even when she's making the closest thing to a heartfelt plea, she either sounds uninterested or upset.  Which emotion were you going for (if any)?  Reeves and the rest do a much better job, even if some of them get little to do.  Take Mark Hamill as a great example.  He has a couple of brief scenes early on, one where he questions whether or not the Children are safe and one after that.  In that scene, he has gotten to the point where he is going to shoot the kids with a high-powered rifle.  However, despite stalking them, he doesn't notice where FIVE OF THEM are and gets forced to kill himself.  That sure was almost no build-up for a seemingly-important character to die.  That is just one example, mind you.  I didn't mention the Janitor, Alley herself or even Reeves' wife.  On top of that, the gore is upped to silly degrees- e.c. the guy burned by passing out on the Grill-, the movie is padded with pointless flair- like the dream bit- and shows you scenes that worked just fine as being explained.  In the original film, they say that the Military tried to move the Children from another area and it was 'a bloodbath.'  In the Remake, it actually happens in the Town- which is now in America BTW- they actually have it happen on-screen, leading to a pointless shoot-out and explosion-fest.  This- sadly- signifies all that is wrong with the worst kind of Remakes out there.  It takes the basic idea, but ruins everything that made it good.  On the plus side, they kill Michael Pare (aka Oba Nobunaga, Vampire Slayer) in the opening 10 minutes, which should make one Reader of mine happy...
Next up, the sequel to a crazy, Kung-Fu film that I actually loved.  Will it be a second trip to the Buffet or did I just mix sauces?  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. jervaise brooke hamsterAugust 3, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Alec, i have to strongly disagree, I genuinely believe Carpenters 1995 remake to be infinitely better in every concievable respect than that ludicrously over-rated piece of British made garbage from 1960.

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