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Remake vs Original: Episode Two

I come back with the second episode in our Remake vs Original series. This exists in attempt to learn more about the Horror films of our past that I have virgin eyes to. Watching the remake FIRST gives me better judgement and separation of each film. I’m able to go into each unbiased, provide spoiler-free thoughts on each individual film, and evaluate their relation to each other.

In the first episode Psychological Slasher: Maniac(2012) vs Maniac (1980) I learned a lot about the way filmmaking has changed over the years. If I had viewed either film five years ago, I’m certain my thoughts would be different. I’m extremely interested in revisiting all of the films in this series again in another five years to see how my thoughts have evolved.

Taken from K Period Media, Frenesy Film Company, Videa, Mythology Entertainment, First Sun, Memo Films (2018)/Suspiria

The basic premise of each are very similar, but both have their own style, grit, and excitements. We follow a young woman as she begins school at a prestigious dance academy. There’s definitely something going on with the staff that’s just not quite right. And there’s a big performance coming soon…We’ll follow this order:

  • Explore the 2018 remake directed by Luca Guadagnino
  • Dig into the 1977 original directed by Dario Argento
  • Discuss how the remake and original fit together
  • Recommendations

Suspiria (2018)

I have officially seen the most terrifying imagery of Body Horror known to man, thanks to the creators of Susperia (2018). Holy crap. This is staying with me for the rest of my life! Although lighting should be utilized more, the atmosphere leading up to this scene certainly boosts the experience. The audio adds to the slick style and format to create a film which seems very original and very well thought out and put together. Thom Yorke from Radiohead can lull me to sleep and make me feel like I’m being watched from behind, all at once.

Taken from K Period Media, Frenesy Film Company, Videa, Mythology Entertainment, First Sun, Memo Films (2018)/Suspiria

We get to see the former red-headed step-child of Antonio Banderas, Dakota Johnson. The sensuality she brings to the overall film could be provided by none other, assuming her role as Anastasia Steele 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey taught her a few things. Her overall acting isn’t anything special in Suspiria (2018), but it gets the job done. Now the ever gorgeous Tilda Swinton, she brings the BOOM!

Suspiria (2018) is available on Amazon Prime, but cost money just a few months ago, so if you get the chance, cut it on. Little ones should not be around for the viewing because of the crazy intense body scene, nudity and blood/gore. There’s some very intense scenes and you’ll find yourself confused to start, but trust that everything will come clear if you pay attention. Now I don’t know how the original can stack up to this borderline masterpiece, but I guess we’re gonna find out!

Suspiria (1977)

What a thrill ride Suspiria (1977) is! THRILL RIDE! The ins and outs of this Italian beauty weave us through the knot of uncertainty. The atmosphere is creepy and intense, the sound of crunching maggots will forever be stamped in my psyche. The use of lighting is very, very good and is definitely effective in setting and keeping the tone and feel of the movie. Even though the special effects tell me I am watching an older film, this storyline and situation is viable today.

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Taken from Seda Spettacoli (1977)/Suspiria

Jessica Harper plays our new student, and young actors will do good to study her performance. Her face looks good next to technicolor lighting. The believability of her role adds to the strength in relationships, whether positive or negative relationships, on screen. The characters are built well, many with their own wants and desires.

The creepy soundtrack stands out as a favorite. I hear many similarities to modern Horror soundtracks. In Susperia (1977) we listen to the start of music trends, the masterful pieces everyone else is trying to accomplish. Without this music the film would lay flat.

Suspiria (1977) is available on Tubi right now, free! And even though the ending is leaving me with a lot of questions and little satisfaction, I still think anyone who is interested in filmmaking or atmosphere studies should check it out.

How does Suspiria (2018) stack up to Suspiria (1977)?

I have to encourage anyone who has not seen either to watch the remake, and anyone who wants to grow experience with classic films to watch the original. They both have very good qualities, and they both have room to improve. As far as which film is better, I don’t want to choose. If shoved in a corner I would say the remake is better, but that we can’t forget the valuable lessons learned and experience gained from the first film.

Taken from Seda Spettacoli (1977)/ Suspiria

The two pieces follow the same character and situation, but approach the relevant issues very differently, leading the audience to two very different experiences. I’m certainly glad they both exist, but I’m even more happy that we have a decent remake, a remake worth making, a remake worth your time. I truly feel that if I watched the original first, my expectations for the remake would have damaged my overall experience.

Recommendations

Because I don’t know many vintage films, I will recommend films released in this millennia. I hope this changes as I continue with the series!

  • The Witch (2015)
  • Hereditary (2018)
  • Apostle (2018) (Netflix)
  • Eli (2019) (Netflix) See my full thoughts here
  • Midsommar (2019)

I’m extremely interested in your thoughts! Did you like either better than the other? Which Remake vs Original should I dive into for Episode Three? Let me know in the comments below!

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Movies n TV

Goosebumps, Go Eat Worms

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We’ve reached episode four of the 2023 show Goosebumps. This one is titled Go Eat Worms, based on the book released in July of 1994. And so far, it’s the story that has been furthest removed from the source material. However, I think it’s the story that got the biggest glow-up.

Cover for Goosebumps Go Eat Worms.

The story

This episode is the first that doesn’t jump back to Halloween night. And it largely focuses on Lucas having a really bad day.

He wants to perform a jump on his dirt bike. He gets everything set up, then chickens out at the last moment.

Unfortunately, that means he gets home just in time to catch Nora and Colin kissing in the car.

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Technically there’s nothing wrong with this. Nora’s husband is dead and Colin’s going through a separation. But there’s no reason to expect Lucas to feel this way. And he does not. He goes to school and decides the best thing to do is tell Margot.

That honestly makes sense. At least, more sense than anything else he does.

Seeing how upset Margot is at this realization, he wants to make her laugh. Being a child who should never see Jackass, he decides to eat a worm in front of her. Margot’s face says it all at that moment, as she realizes there’s a strong possibility this boy is going to be her stepbrother and he is eating worms.

Of course, those aren’t any worms. They came from the Biddle house. And they do the bidding of Harold Biddle.

What worked

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It’s pretty clear at this point that the only adult willing to listen to the kids is Nora. The only other one who might have listened was Margot’s mother, who appears to have vanished entirely.

And while this is horrible for the kids, it’s kind of what we should expect in a show for kids.

Content for children and young adults should have heroes who are children and young adults. That was one of the great things about the Goosebumps books, and most of the great stories meant for kids. Coraline, Stranger Things, Ms. Perrigrins School for Gifted Youngsters, Series of Unfortunate Events. These stories all have a young protagonist who has to face the monster without their parents and win. It reminds me of a wonderful quote by Neil Gaiman.

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

I also loved the action scenes in this episode. I didn’t know I wanted to see a giant worm monster chase someone on a dirt bike through the woods, but I’ve seen it now. And that was pretty great.

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Finally, this episode tackled some really difficult topics. Not the least of which was how suicide impacts the family left behind.

That’s a pretty heavy thing to talk about, and it was approached well. This is one of the things that horror does well. It allows us to discuss the things we’re afraid to discuss. To face our real fears. Not the fears of haunted masks, killer worms, or prophetic cameras. It lets us talk about divorce and death and mental health crises in a way that feels more approachable because it’s side by side with the monsters.

What didn’t work

Unfortunately, this was not a perfect episode. And a lot of my issues are about Luke.

Will Price in Goosebumps.

Now, this is not the fault of the actor, Will Price. But he does not look young enough for this role. Some people in their early twenties can look like teens still on TV. The rest of the ‘kids’ are adults. Miles McKenna, who plays James, is 28. But Price looks significantly too old. And it’s distracting.

I also hated the jumping from scene to scene when Luke took Margot to his house. They didn’t do anything there that couldn’t have been done at school. There was just no need for a scene cut. Scene cuts should be kept to a minimum if possible because it’s distracting and runs the risk of taking a viewer out of the story.

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All in all, though, this was a really good episode. It was touching, exciting, and still managed to be funny. So far, this has been a really solid season of horror television. And we have more than half a season yet to go.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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Movies n TV

Goosebumps, Cuckoo Clock of Doom

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Named for the 28th installment of the original book series, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom has the least in common so far with its source material.

Thankfully, the story isn’t negatively impacted by this. I can honestly say so far that these episodes just keep getting better.

The story

After the last episode’s explosive ending, I’m sure we were all more than a little worried about James. I for one was worried we were going to have an example of the Bury Your Gays trope on a kid’s show.

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Cover of R.L. Stine Cuckoo Clock of Doom

Thankfully, that’s not the case.

We go back in time again to Halloween night, and this time we see what James was up to.

Mostly he was up to trying to flirt with his crush. Everything seems to be going well until James lies about being interested in football.

He tries to leave the house, but instead finds himself back at the basement door when Isaiah is trapped and the cuckoo clock is going off. James then shows a remarkable amount of genre savvy and tries his best to escape the house. Each time he does, we see another version of him walking away.

Eventually, he devises a plan to break the clock at just the right moment, but not before he gets some intel on his crush’s favorite team so he can score a date.

Back in the real world free of the time loop though, James finds that he has far more worries. Every time he tried to escape the house, a duplicate version of him was created. And all of those duplicates are waiting for him.

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Back at the Biddle house, though, there’s a surprise waiting. One of the James duplicates has brought Harold Biddle a box. A ventriloquist dummy-sized box.

An empty box.

What worked

The effects of this show so far have been wonderful. When the other characters hit a James duplicate, it doesn’t just die. It explodes in a Nickelodeon-style wave of slime. This is just fun, and I’m kind of sad there doesn’t appear to be more of the duplicates around.

I mean, I wouldn’t rule it out.

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Ana Yi Puig in Goosebumps.

Did I mention that these duplicates appeared to smell like watermelon Jolly Ranchers when they exploded? That was a visceral detail that was both alarming and terrific. They could have smelled bad. They could have smelled like rotting plants or people. But no, they smell like candy.

Of course, the characters continue to steal the show. Margot and Isaiah could be said to be the main characters, but everyone comes into this with main character energy. They are all funny, all capable, all smart. And they all seem to care about each other.

I loved that James and Isaiah talked about how they were feeling. I think it’s important that we’re modeling that for young men. They talked about what was bothering them, and they made up.

Finally, though, we have to talk about Justin Long again. His acting in this just keeps stealing the show. He dances like a cartoon and jumps from joyful to violently furious at a moment’s notice. The character doesn’t know how to act, and watching him fail to act right in front of people never fails to make me laugh.

What didn’t work

I honestly can’t say that anything didn’t work in this episode. But there is something about the show that I, at least, don’t like.

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There’s no real blood or gore. There’s more blood when I eat an actual jolly rancher because I always cut my tongue on them.

Now, this show is pretty clearly not for kids and young adults so there’s probably not a lot of need for too much gore and violence. But if the bloody stuff is more your style, like me, the lack of it might disappoint you.

Fans of the Goosebumps books will know that everyone ended with a twist. And the show so far has been no different. And the ending of this episode has been the best so far. The tension of Margot’s mom’s impassioned reaction, blended with the revelation that Slappy is somewhere in town is just too much. I can’t believe we’re only three episodes in and I am this invested. I hope you are too.

Viewer beware, I suspect things are going to get a lot worse for our characters before they get better.

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4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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Movies n TV

Goosebumps, The Haunted Mask

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Episode two of Goosebumps was honestly more fun than the first. It was dark, funny, infuriating and wonderful. Best of all, it has a killer twist ending.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Based loosely on the 1993 story of the same name, The Haunted Mask begins sort of partway through the first episode.

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Cover of R.L. Stine's The Haunted Mask.

We’re introduced to a character we haven’t seen much of so far, named Isabella.

Isabella’s life doesn’t seem great. She’s all but invisible at school. She is responsible for taking care of her little brother. It seems like her only real joy is bullying people online. She was the person who tried to get Allison’s party canceled by sending the invite to her parents. Why? Because she is a very unhappy person.

Despite trying to get the party canceled, she decides to go anyway. At the Biddle house, a voice calls her down to the basement. There, she finds a mask.

The mask inspires her to do wild things. She wanders around the party, flirting with everyone. And she has a great time.

Several days later, after Isaiah breaks his arm, Isabella brings an expensive drone to school to get shots of the football team’s practice. Unfortunately, Lucas breaks it fooling around. And Isabella, tired of being ignored, says some awful things to him.

When her mother grounds her because she took the drone without asking, the mask compels her to do some awful things.

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What worked

I would first like to talk about the storytelling structure in this season. It appears that we’re going to be getting the events of Halloween night multiple times, from multiple points of view.

Ana Yi Puig in Goosebumps.

I love this structure. It’s unique, and it allows for more mystery in a shorter period. It’s also more complex, showing just how much madness was happening, while just showing one part of the story at a time.

Another thing I appreciated was the evolution of the character Lucas.

On one hand, it’s easy to be angry at Lucas. Even if he thought the drone belonged to the school, it’s still kind of a selfish move to break it.

But Lucas just lost his father. We don’t know how yet, but we know from Nora that his death caused Lucas to start doing things like jumping on drones and skateboarding off the roof from his bedroom window.

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We all mourn differently. Losing a parent as a teen is awful. So while we can all agree that he’s being a problem, he’s also being a sad kid working through something hard.

And the same can be said for Isabella.

Look, we still don’t know what the adults of this town did to make Harold Biddle haunt them. But we do know that these parents are messing up in all sorts of other ways. And Isabella is suffering from parentification. She’s being forced to play mom at home while being ignored by her classmates at school. Even without the mask, I could see her lashing out and trashing the house.

Finally, I love Justin Long in this series. His visual comedy was fantastic here, as he falls through the hallways. But he also manages to be scary as hell. His creepy smile and jerky movements are enough to make anyone’s skin crawl. I honestly can’t think of a living actor who could have played this better.

What didn’t work

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If I have one complaint about this episode, it’s the music. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. Every song seems like it’s just screaming what the characters are thinking. Which isn’t really what I’d consider the point of a soundtrack.

Maybe it’s just a curse on RL Stine. None of his projects can ever have good soundtracks aside from the theme song.

Unlike the original Goosebumps series, there were moments in this episode that did startle me and unnerve me. Which is wonderful. And while it’s still clearly for kids, it’s something anyone can sit down and enjoy. I’m very excited for the rest of the season. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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