Messing with Memories: ‘Fright Night’

 

Film: Fright Night
Original release date: August 2, 1985
Starring: William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowell, Stephen Geoffreys
Written and Directed by: Tom Holland
Remake release date: 2011

A vampire movie? In this day and age? It’ll never work. What is Hollywood thinking? Well, it turns out they don’t have to think much, for with ‘Fright Night,’ the story had already been written. Of course, that is not stopping the powers that be behind the second* remake, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The film is set for DreamWorks Studios and is being restructured by Marti Noxon, who has some experience with the toothsome legends, penning scripts for television’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as Mad Men, Private Practice and Brothers & Sisters.

Aussie director Craig Gillespie is set to direct, whose career has run from Lars and the Real Girl down to Mr. Woodcock. No cast has been set, but the film is set for a 2011 release. The 1985 original, starring William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall and Stephen Geoffreys, grossed about $25 million, and spawned a sequel, a comic and a video game. The director, Tom Holland went on to direct Child’s Play and is set to act in Adam Green’s Hatchet 2.

Wanna jumpstart memories of the original? Here it is…

It actually received the Bollywood treatment with a film called Wohi Bhayanak Raat released in 1989.

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Messing with Memories: ‘Police Academy’

When Marge joined the police academy, I thought it was going to be fun and exciting. Like that movie ‘Spaceballs.’ Instead, it was just sad and depressing, like that movie ‘Police Academy.‘ –Homer Simpson

Hightower, Tacklebery and That Voice Guy are on assignment yet again. For the first time. Actually, it is doubtful that Bubba and the gang will have little more than glorified cameos in the latest, which is next on the slate for a do-over.

Police Academy has been to Miami, Moscow and Under Seige (strangely, though, they did not meet up with Steven Segal), and a television series, both live-action and animated.

Certainly, you recall the immortal television show, right?

Don’t remember the animated show? Here ya ago:

Producer Paul Mazlansky is heading back to the basic training with the franchise, to be produced by New Line Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The first of the seemingly endless series was released in March of 1984 and made almost its 20 times its budget of $4 million.  A year later (almost to the date) the sequel, “Their First Assignment” introduced Bobcat Goldthwait to the cast, and grossed $55 million. The laws of diminishing returns (in many senses) applied to the remainder of the series: they went “Back in Training” in 1986 with $43 million; the “Citizens on Patrol” earned $28 million the following year; the remaining cast members headed on “Assignment: Miami Beach” in 1988, taking $19 million; 1989 found a “City Under Seige” with a total of $11 million; and finally it headed on a “Mission to Moscow,” yet went nowhere in theaters (grossing $127,000).

No word yet on production dates, as casting is just beginning.

‘Cocoon’ with screenwriter Tom Benedek

Film: Cocoon (1985)
Rated: PG
Written by:
Tom Benedek (screenplay)
David Saperstein (story)
Directed by:
Ron Howard
Starring:
Don Ameche – Art
Wilford Brimley – Ben
Hume Cronyn – Joe
Jack Gilford – Bernie
Steve Gutenberg – Jack
Maureen Stapleton – Mary
Jessica Tandy – Alma
Brian Dennehy – Walter
Tahnee Welch -Kitty

By E Dagger from CruJonesSociety

Pre-screening memories: Cocoon is one of those weird movies that you suspect couldn’t get made today. It’s a science fiction movie featuring a group of senior citizens as its protagonists that deals with facing your own mortality vis-à-vis a spaceship that promises eternal life and health in exchange for never seeing your family or your home planet ever again. And it’s a comedy! Sounds like the total package of hilarity and a license to print money at the box office, am I right?

The truth is that this movie is indeed quite funny, and while most of the sexual innuendo eluded me as a child when I watched it the first time, there’s no denying the gravitational pull of the wily charms of Steve Guttenberg that made him an 80s icon. Since I wasn’t but 7 years old when I saw this movie the first time (my parents had taped it off Showtime), he was the character I could latch onto. Everyone else was too old, too stoic, or too much of a freaky, glowing apparition that made me uncomfortable. It was his warm smile and laidback attitude that grounded me in an otherwise strange movie that saw a woman take her skin off to become a floating, yellow ball of light, a bunch of senior citizens swim in a pool full of giant alien rocks, and a spaceship take a kid’s grandparents away forever. I had issues with this movie as a wee Dagger.

Post-screening memories: From 2002 to 2006 I consumed most of my movies the same way: Hungover watching TBS (or whatever channel) on a Sunday. Usually nothing came of this, but an innocent conversation between me and my writing partner (Lee S. Hart of CJS http://crujonessociety.com) started as a simple question – Would you get on the spaceship at the end forsaking life on earth for eternal health? – blossomed into a deep philosophical meditation about our views on life, religion, and eternity. Usually we were just waiting out last night’s Jagerbombs giggling at the hilariously racist antics of Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles.

But this time Cocoon spun us into territory we hadn’t anticipated as the movie represents (perhaps unintentionally so) a referendum on Judeo-Christian ideology and submits for discussion the question of eternity. The aliens are basically God, but not in any traditional theological form. So the question of whether or not to get on the ship presents additional problems in that by saying yes you’re basically shunning your Christian god and rolling the dice with these aliens. Even if you’re an atheist, your definition of forever has irrevocably changed because the aliens have proven life outside the confines of Earth.

We rolled around these topics and a ton more. When we finally founded our own website in 2008, it wasn’t until more than a year later that we revisited this topic and put it to our readers. Unfortunately no one responded, and we suspected it was because the depth with which you’d have to go to explain your answer either way delved a little more deeply than most people are comfortable with. Turns out, most people just didn’t really understand what we were asking.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed Hart and myself to re-visit this movie and have this discussion one more time, http://crujonessociety.com/2009/04/27/monday-confessional-spaceship-ride/ which I encourage you to check to understand the depths to which I’ve thought about Cocoon before talking to our guest. I don’t think he knew what he was walking into when he agreed to do the podcast with us.

Cocoon works on several levels, and for that, it’s even better than I remember. It’s funny, it’s tender, it’s thought-provoking in unexpected ways, and it’s wholly unique. Rediscovering a movie in that way is a lot and realizing it’s way more than the weirdo alien movie you remember from your youth is a lot like finding a small piece of the eternal happiness the characters strive for when they get on the ship.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Cocoon’ podcast

or splash down to our on-screen player right here:

Our featured guest: Tom Benedek

Benedek has written and rewritten screenplays for Robert Zemeckis, Lawrence Kasdan, Lili Fini Zanuck & Richard Zanuck, David Brown, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Richard Rush, Harold Ramis, Lauren Schuler Donner & Richard Donner, Ray Stark, Brian Grazer, Working Title, Jersey Film, Chris Blackwell and many others. He wrote the screenplays for Cocoon, Free Willy and other films. He is a member of Writers Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  He also teaches screenwriting at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where he is a James Gindin Visiting Artist.

Benedek is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he received a Bachelors Degree with Individual Concentration in Film. He studied film at L’Institut de Formation Cinematographique in Paris and is a graduate of the Director’s Program at the American Film Institute.

A photographer and sculptor, Benedek has exhibited at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica and elsewhere. Take a look at his work at tombenedek.com

Messing with Memories: ‘I Spit on Your Grave’

Film: I Spit on Your Grave (aka Day of the Woman)
Year of original: 1978
Remake release: 2009, 2010

We usually ask why when it comes to remakes, but this one is perhaps more perplexing than the average do-over. Known only in infamy, the pseudo-revenge-fantasy film is resoundingly viewed as a shallow, misogynistic slice of cinematic sewage known for a couple of creative kills, an excruciatingly long rape scene, the fact that it starred Buster Keaton’s granddaughter, and the film often cited by Roger Ebert as “one of the worst films ever made.”

It’s known more for an extreme example of era grindhouse and usually viewed more as a test of endurance than in appreciation. That has not stopped director Steven Monroe (he of “Ice Twisters,” “Ogre” and who can forget “Sasquatch Mountain?”) and Anchor Bay films for dredging it back to the surface for a remake.

The completed film stars Sarah Butler as Jennifer, the ax-tossing protagonist who exacts revenge on a gang of brutes who brutalized her in her remote cabin. Anchor Bay Films has picked up the rights, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which reports that a fall release in the works, followed by a 2011 DVD release.

For those who care to see the trailer for the original vile heap of bottom-feeding titillation, here’s the trailer:

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