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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

American Horror Fans, Hollywood Thinks You're Dumb

And I'll be perfectly honest--you haven't done much lately to dissuade them from that belief, first justifying the microscopic theatrical release of Diary of the Dead, then making the remake of Prom Night the number-one movie in the country.

But that's not why I'm writing today. I know that American horror fans aren't dumb--at least no moreso than the general public at large. I know that if given the proper marketing treatment, the Spanish zombie flick [REC] could be a major hit in the U.S.A. In my opinion the finest horror picture in years, yet American distributors just don't have confidence in a foreign language film. But even if they had to--gasp!--dub it into English, it would be worth it.

What got me thinking about this again was last Friday's premiere of [REC] in the United Kingdom, a nation which shares our own native tongue (you can read some reviews from U.K. filmgoers here). After its Spanish run last November, the movie hit Italy in February, Russia in March, and Portugal and Sweden last week. Later this week, it's the Netherlands and Finland. Later this month, France and Belgium. Next month, Germany and Austria. And in June, Japan. Distributors in all those countries have no problem exhibiting the film, yet the U.S. holds firm in perpetuating its cultural isolationism.

After all, why take a gamble on a foreign flick when we can churn out yet another Americanized remake? That's what's happening, in case you haven't heard. Called Quarantine, it looks like a nearly shot-for-shot redo, and it hits theaters in October. On the bright side, the movie will star Jennifer Carpenter, who is excellent on Showtime's Dexter as the sister of the title character.

Here's the trailer, for those curious:

I won't lie, I'll probably go see it. Guess that makes me a hypocrite, since the more successful Quarantine is, the more it will reinforce the notion that American audiences need their entertainment spoonfed to them.


Unknown said...

Im not against (the right) remakes and I love Jennifer Carpenter, but after seeing the trailer for Quarantine, I was overwhelmed with discontent. They even reveal the end of the movie in the trailer! I HAAAAAAATE IT when studios do that. [REC] was such an amazing movie for what it is (low budget pov) and the idea of americanizing it is sickening to me.

Back to the point of the post though, I dont believe horror fans alone can determine the success of a horror movie. I do believe that the rampant number of teens who are restricted by curfews, R ratings, and other activities with 18+ & 21+ age requirements can put a pg13 mediocre horror film over the top, though. None of my friends under 21 even know Prom Night is a remake! So, does that mean hollywood thinks horror fans are dumb, or does that mean they know where the easy money is?

B-Sol said...

You have to understand that by "horror fans", I mean anyone who gets a kick out of a decent horror movie, even casual moviegoers--in other words, not just horror hounds. So, basically, they're treating the entire moviegoing public as if they're dumb. Why on Earth couldn't [REC] be a success in the U.S., even dubbed? Basically, if movies like Godzilla, The Good the Bad and the Ugly or Enter the Dragon had been made today, they would've had to have been REMADE to get an American release, whereas in their own time, they got a US release and became classics.

Unknown said...

If by "horror fan", you're referring to the general public, then I cant really disagree with that other than state that I dont think thats entirely accurate... lol.

I agree with you about how wrong it is to remake a great movie for the sake of releasing it domestically, though.

Ive actually rewritten the rest of this comment several times, but without posting a full length essay, its hard to summarize everything I want to say. So, you've definitely struck a chord here.

Wonder Man said...

you have a great point here, but I think there's a difference between us and the average movie watchers

B-Sol said...

True. But what I'm saying is that there are casual horror movie fans, and hardcore horror movie fans, just like with anything else. Casual fans make up a much larger number, and are more than enough to make a movie profitable.

Mr. Karswell said...

>They even reveal the end of the movie in the trailer!

I know! That scene in the original version really ends the movie on a cool eerie seal of doom. Now we don't have to wait for it unless the remake tacks on something else at the end too.

Underwhelming in deed.

gord said...

I feel the same way you do, except with a the Asian horror flick, A Tale of Two Sisters. I'm not a huge fan of Asian horror, at least from the last 7 years since they all blend together now (thanks Ringu), but Two Sisters, is in my opinion a damn good movie, and one that is being remade before being brought over shores. I've yet to see [REC] (but I really want to) and it's a damn shame I won't get the chance to pay for the actual film, and will instead be left having to download it.

But I'm with wes on the issue, we know about horror movies because we love them, however, most of my friends are oblivious to the fact that most horror films are just half-assed remakes of classic films.

Dove said...

This is one thing that really annoys me about American film making when they take a perfectly fine foreign movie and remake it scene for scene.

Do Americans have such an aversion for subtitled films?

gord said...


From the people I've talked to, yes. And we all know how well dubbing goes over.

B-Sol said...

In America, subtitled films are traditionally relegated to arthouses, unfortunately. I always prefer subtitles to dubbing, but I do think dubbing could help these movies succeed with mainstream American audiences. Especially these days, when they're able to do a much better job than in decades past. One of these days, a distributor will have the guts to give it a try.

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