Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #808: Random Drippings From My Brain Pain


You've probably missed the news, but Hollywood has remade Sam Peckinpah's domestic horror story
Straw Dogs. If you've spent the last 40 years in a cave in Kazakhstan I'll fill you in on all the gory details.

The original
Straw Dogs (1971) was adapted from the novel The Siege Of Trencher's Farm, and was about an American mathematician (Dustin Hoffman) and his young British wife (Susan George) move to a farm outside of her quaint home village in Cornwall. What starts off as snide teasing by some local yahoos quickly escalates to rape, and an orgy of violence where the normally pacifistic mathematician summons his inner barbarian and becomes a killing machine.

Now the original was shocking beyond its graphic portrayals of violence and rape. It was also shocking in setting. English villages, in the mind of American moviegoers, were places where quaint goes to die. They're where Bertie Wooster and Jeeves get tangled up in various romantic misunderstandings and the only violence that's supposed to happen in these places occur at Lord Autumnbottom's manor house and are promptly solved by either sharp-eyed little old ladies or nattily dressed Belgians on a country weekend.

The remake decided that instead of reversing expectations like Peckpinpah, they would reverse the reversed expectations. Instead of going for the shock of the unexpected, they went for the pretty exhausted cliche.

They changed the setting from where quaint goes to die, to the land where originality in screenwriting goes to die. They moved the setting from Cornwall to Mississippi, and instead of British thugs, its the classic cliched "Killer Southern Rednecks" rearing their nasty heads again, and some real Southern people and other folks aren't happy about it.

And let's not forget that they changed the lead from being a mousy mathematician, to a surprisingly handsome screenwriter from Hollywood. (Oh yeah, that's realistic.)

Now what really bugs me about these developments is that Hollywood has managed to make doing a remake even lazier than usual. It's nothing but rehashed cliches, and Hollywood self-aggrandizing itself at the expense of a good chunk of the movie going public.

What also bugs me is the simple fact that it's a gloriously missed opportunity for what could have been a side splitting comedy.

Picture it: A Hollywood screenwriter moves to a small town in Mississippi with his hot wife for some peace and quiet so he can write the sequel to
Bucky Larson. The locals try to make him feel welcome, but since he's lived his whole life in Hollywood, all he knows about Southern people are the cliches Hollywood dishes out on a regular basis. He sees their every attempt to be friendly as some sort of threat and grows increasingly paranoid. It all comes a head when the locals spot a rabid badger crawling under his house. They come to warn him about the vicious rabid animal in his house, but he assumes its a home invasion, and everything explodes into an orgy of slap-stick carnage. Sort of like if Sam Peckinpah made Home Alone. After slaughtering his neighbors, he cries out "I got them all!" only to be savaged to death by the rabid badger.

Now that has hit all over it.

Or something that rhymes with hit....


The Walt Disney Company are planning new additions to their parks based on James Cameron's movie Avatar.

Well, I have a few suggestions for rides....

IT'S A SMALL SCRIPT AFTER ALL: The visitors board a boat and float down a man-made river lined with singing animatronic figures from the movies that Avatar's script ripped off like Dancing With Wolves, and Ferngully.

JAMES CAMERON'S HAUNTED MANSION: Here the visitors get lectured about environmental awareness and how consumerism is bad by the digitally rendered ghosts of James Cameron's integrity as they're taken through a thrilling ride up and down the halls of Cameron's massive, carbon spewing, Malibu mega-mansion complex, ending with a terrifying visit to his collection of cars, SUVs and private jets.

MAD HATTER'S 3D TEA PARTY: An animatronic James Cameron tells you that 3D is the future of movie going, because it beats telling an original or interesting story.

If any of you have ideas for more rides, leave them in the comments so I can steal them and sell them to Disney for millions.



  1. After reading the last two articles, I am really getting morbid fear of a 3D remake of ZARDOZ or Deliverance with Justin Beiber in Ned Beatty's role.

  2. A remake of Straw Dogs set in England now would be boring realistic, unless the dim-witted assailants were college students. Who'd pay to see that?

    An American adaptation that would blend the rural setting and violent hicks could have been set in abandoned Detroit.

  3. "They're where Bertie Wooster and Jeeves get tangled up in various romantic misunderstandings."

    Um... there couldn't be a worse way to phrase this...

    Anyway. Sigh. That remake of Straw Dogs sounds so cliche and all-around ridiculous that it's hard to believe it actually exists.

    Then again, maybe it actually doesn't. Maybe the entirety of Hollywood these days is just here to yank D's chain...