A Forsley Feuilleton: the Hollywood Machine started feeding unoriginal ideas to unsuspecting movie-goers as a cheap alternative to risk[admin / June 7th, 2012 / Young Bright Things ]
Last Memorial Day weekend I went to Rasputin â€“ the music/movie store from Berkeley, not the â€˜Mad Monkâ€™ from Siberia â€“ to get a war flick, not a magic dick.Â I planned on honoring our countryâ€™s fallen soldiers by lying on the couch for days, smoking bowls of The Bayâ€™s finest buds, giving my pooch belly rubs, and watching Hollywoodâ€™s stars die in emulation of Washingtonâ€™s pawns.Â But I couldnâ€™t find a good war flick â€“ all the good war flicks are anti-war flicks â€“ so I got Straw Dogs.
The 1971 Straw Dogs is Sam Peckinpahâ€™s best flick and, though not a traditional war flick, it captures the violence and madness behind war. . . or at least behind the men behind war.Â As written in the Tao Te Ching, â€œHeaven and Earth are heartless / treating creatures like straw dogs.â€ In the spirit of Memorial Day, I wanted Peckinpah to illustrate how Heaven and Earth heartlessly treat us â€“ especially those who die in wars â€“ like straw dogs.Â But I got the wrong flick.Â Yes, it was titled Straw Dogs. . . but it was a 2011 remake.Â
And while lying there on the couch smoking bowls, rubbing my poochâ€™s belly, and watching this remake of Straw Dogs, all I could think was how the ghost of Peckinpah must want to go to war â€“ to get wasted, grab a six-shooter, and blow some faces off. Not only did the Hollywood Machine fuck him when he was alive, but itâ€™s fucking him as a dead man too.Â With the help of some well connected puppet named Rod Lurie, the Machine has remade Peckinpahâ€™s masterpiece and in the process eliminated the intensity, emotion, and style that made the original flick so memorable.Â This remake of Straw Dogs is exactly what some brain-damaged critics said the original was: a mindless, soulless, nihilistic, masochistic revenge thriller.
But what do you expect?Â Flicks are like steaks.Â They’re only good the first time, when they’re fresh off the grill.Â You canâ€™t reheat them.Â Theyâ€™ll get dried out and lose those juices that made their consumption the first time around such a unique and tasty experience.
Peckinpah had a habit of replacing the perfectly balanced oils that made the Hollywood Machine run smoothly with so much booze and sweat and blood that he slowed it down enough to give movie-goers of the 60s and 70s a chance to think, and Iâ€™d like to believe that the Machineâ€™s decision to remake a classic flick like Straw Dogs was just an attempt at getting even with that disrupter of its gears.Â But that isnâ€™t the case.
The Hollywood Machine is remaking every classic it gets its dirty hands on.Â It must be out of fresh meat, because itâ€™s reheating so much old meat and putting it up on the big screen at such an alarming rate that itâ€™s now almost impossible to go see a flick without getting salmonella poisoning.Â Thatâ€™s why you shit and puke before, during, and after wasting your hard earned money on the newest remake.Â And even if youâ€™re lucky enough to walk away from one of them without salmonella poisoning, I promise youâ€™ll leave with some other bacterial infection. . . probably of the intellectual strain, the kind that eats away at your brain, especially that part which thrives on new stories, ideas, characters, and emotions.
It started in 1998 when the Machine got Gus Van Sant to sell his soul and remake Hitchcockâ€™s flawless 1960 Psycho shot-for-shot with Vince Vaugh â€“ you know, that kind of funny guy with the bloated face â€“ playing Norman Bates, one of the darkest and most complex characters to ever appear in a flick.Â The Machine must have included a daily director blow-job clause â€“ â€œperformed by the leading actor of your choiceâ€ â€“ in the contract, because thatâ€™s the only way I could see a visionary like Gus Van Sant agreeing to not only remake such a flick but to make such a casting mistake as well.
And those blow-job clauses continued.Â In 2000 the Hollywood Machine remade Gone in 60 Seconds, replacing the raw, heart-pounding car chases of the original with heavily edited, MTV-style action sequences that look and taste like stale cotton candy.Â Then, in 2004, the Coen Brothers remade The Lady Killers, one of the best Ealing Comedies of the 50s, and tried to replace Alec Guinness with Tom Hanks and Peter fucking Sellers with. . . Marlon Wayans. Â Â I donâ€™t know who fulfilled the blow-job clause â€“ maybe Irma P. Hall â€“ but the Coen Brothers must have been horny as hell.
Then, in 2005, there was Tim Burtonâ€™s feeble attempt at remaking Gene Wilderâ€™s magical, psychedelic fantasy, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, by using a bunch of shitty CGI and a Johnny Depp who based his performance off one of his childhood night-terrors starring Michael Jackson.Â And I wonâ€™t even mention the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man â€“ not because itâ€™s the worst remake ever, but because I refuse to believe itâ€™s a remake at all.Â Thereâ€™s no way it was based off, or even influenced by, the 1973 British horror masterpiece of the same name.Â It has to be a parody of the original â€“ a humorless parody gone wrong.
Why are they remaking these great flicks?Â Where did all the fresh meat go?Â Iâ€™m not positive but I think the Hollywood Machine is facing the same problem that the Meat Industry has been facing since Upton Sinclair exposed it as a problem in his 1906 novel, The Jungle: unchecked greed and corruption is negatively impacting resources.
The Meat Industry has the Mad Cow Disease and the Hollywood Machine has. . . thereâ€™s no name for it yet, but itâ€™s definitely a disease and, like the Mad Cow Disease, itâ€™s a disease that makes fresh meat harder and harder to come by.Â And in both cases, these destructive diseases came about because the leaders of each industry started cutting corners to save a buck.Â The Meat Industry started feeding grandma cows to their grandchildren as a cheap alternative to grain, and the Hollywood Machine started feeding unoriginal ideas to unsuspecting movie-goers as a cheap alternative to risk.
Old Boy, Red Dawn, Dirty Dancing, Akira, Annie, All Quiet on the Western Front, Carrie, Childâ€™s Play, Evil Dead, House Party, Mad Max, Pet Sematary, Point Break, Robocop, Short Circuit, The Birds, The Crow, Barbarella, Starship Troopers, The Seven Samurai, Battle Royale, Time Bandits, American Psycho, An American Werewolf in London, Escape From New York, Lethal Weapon, Porkyâ€™s, The Warriors, The Wild Bunch â€“ these are just some of the flicks the Hollywood Machine is currently remaking.
Soon original, inspired flicks â€“ good flicks â€“ will be a thing of the past.Â The Hollywood Machine will only feed us old, bacteria ridden chunks of meat that have so many preservatives and antibiotics pumped into them that they wonâ€™t even taste like meat.Â Theyâ€™ll taste like the juiceless corpses they are.Â And although they may fulfill our hunger for entertainment, they wonâ€™t keep us full for long. . . and theyâ€™ll probably give us brain cancer.