The Crazies
, directed by Breck Eisner, 2010

I often have a gut reaction to a movie wherein I fall in love with it upon first viewing only to find that love tempered after a few rewatches. That's not the case with The Crazies. The more I watch Breck Eisner's superior updating of George Romero's vintage film (I wouldn't exactly call it a classic), the more I'm convinced that it's one of the best remakes of the last decade. It's not up there with Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead redo, but I'd say it's certainly in league with the Last House on the Left remake as far as quality goes.

As with Last House, there are a few elements that nag me, but they're not enough to make me dislike the film as a whole. I don't think they're obnoxious per se, but I am a little disappointed at how many jump scares are in the movie. On the one hand they never feel cheap, unlike in The Wolfman, but the characters are so strong that there are plenty of instances where you're on edge without having to have something suddenly jut loudly into the screen. That and one too many 'in the nick of time' saves are really the only faults I have with The Crazies. And even those are minor.



Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, directed by Joe Lynch, 2007

I pretty much hated Wrong Turn 2 the first time I saw it. I know gratuitous gore and boobs is what a lot of people associate with horror, but it's one of the things I like least about our little genre, so movies like 2001 Maniacs and Wrong Turn 2 are simply not my bag. However, I had kept hearing from friends about how much they loved Lynch and how he had really done something special with this straight-to-video follow-up to a movie that really never needed a follow-up in the first place; a kind of better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be recommendation.

So I recently gave it a second watch and...nope, I still don't like it. However, instead of dismissing it flat out as just a bad movie, I can see the reasons people love it. There's an impressive amount of physical effects in the film and Lynch apparently has no qualms about playing the sexuality over the top, but that's just not enough for me. I need interesting characters and an interesting story and Wrong Turn 2 just lacks both, which renders the whole thing an ugly, do-not-want mess of body parts and bodily fluids. I "get" the affection for the flick, I just don't get the flick myself.


Resident Evil, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, 2002

Every time I watch Resident Evil I am reminded of two things. The first is that Paul W.S. Anderson is capable of making films that are legitimately good, not just guilty pleasure good. The second is the conditions under which I first saw RE. I was at a LAN party at the time with about 300 other nerds. A huge group of us decided to head over to the theater for the last showing on its opening night. Now, I can't imagine a group more primed to hate the movie than the kind of nerds who go to LAN parties: we're the target audience, we grew up with the games, and we were all delirious from lack of sleep. It's safe to say we were all surprised at how little we actually hated it.

As far as video game adaptations go, it's actually pretty crappy since it doesn't exactly capture the spirit of any of the RE games that had been released up to that point. It is interesting, though, how games subsequent to the movie gradually became more action-oriented and favored more expansive sets over the claustrophobic nature of the first few titles. Though, really, that could be due to the advancements in processing power and storage capabilities on game systems than it does emulating the movie, but I digress...

As for the movie itself, I still like it all these years later. It's got a good cast, a comprehensible plot (unlike the latter films) and some really outstanding production design (even if the rest of his movies suck, Anderson never fails to showcase great production designs). The creature CGI wasn't even all that good for its time, which makes it look even more dated in retrospect, but there are enough tangible gags with the (slow) zombies to compensate. Plus, I still get a huge kick out of that laser hallway sequence...