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Five reboots that worked, in honor of “The Amazing Spider-Man” on Blu-ray

Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man

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The “reboot” has become the new go-to term for Hollywood to use when they decide to remake a film that’s either not really that old or they want audiences to believe they’re taking a fresh take on the material. Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it’s spin. Either way, movie fans have seen a whole slew of reboots in recent years as the number of wholly original films coming out of the dream factory gets smaller every year.

Perhaps this year’s most high-profile reboot is Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, a “fresh take” on the character and the films Sam Raimi established as canon only a few years back. While it’s certainly debatable that The Amazing Spider-Man actually “worked” as a reboot, it’s undeniable that the film includes some stunning visuals, a fantastic bit of chemistry between leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and a bend on Spidey’s origin that audiences hadn’t seen before. It also boasts a pretty astonishing Blu-ray (in stores now) with an exhaustive documentary crafted by Charles de Lauzirika. It’s a must-buy for any fan of the webslinger.

Feel free to argue yourself into oblivion about how well Webb’s film actually holds up but, if anything, it gives us the chance to delve into five reboots that did work. It’s like déjà vu all over again.


“Dawn of the Dead” (2004)

George A. Romero fans (myself included) are rabidly protective of the man’s work, and for good reason: he’s the Godfather of the modern zombie film. If it weren’t for Romero’s 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead” you probably wouldn’t be seeing the type of popularity that zombies are enjoying now. Things like “The Walking Dead” probably wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Romero’s work.

So fans were skeptical at best when they heard that Zack Snyder was planning to remake one of the master’s most loved films: “Dawn of the Dead.” Not only that, but he planned to employ fast-moving zombies. What? Yes, that’s right. Snyder’s zombies are quick little buggers hell-bent on eating brains and tearing flesh. It was a major change that hardcore zombie fans had a very hard time coming to grips with. Yet, despite all the misgivings and nervous Romero ‘shippers out there, Snyder’s 2004 “Dawn of the Dead” actually works. It’s certainly not the original, and it’s a wholly new take on the film’s zombies-in-a-mall concept where the social satire doesn’t quite hit as strongly as Romero’s take, but it’s a hell of an entertaining film and still stands up as one of the best zombie flicks of the last decade. Packed with a quality cast, tightly directed, and jammed with plenty of winks to Romero’s original, “Dawn of the Dead” is one reboot for which I’m happy to be a fan.


“21 Jump Street” (2012)

Nobody, and I mean nobody, except for the folks making 2012’s “21 Jump Street” thought this reboot was going to work. And I don’t blame them. The odds were certainly stacked against the film. The original TV series that it’s based on really wasn’t very good (aside from giving the world a glimpse into the mind of a very young Johnny Depp), the casting seemed off (who knew Channing Tatum could pull off comedy, right?), and concept itself seemed to be reaching. The final product, however, is completely badass and hilarious. Fans began to have hope when that first poster came out with the hilarious tagline (which I won’t repeat here) and early trailers backed up their suspicions that “21 Jump Street” just might have a chance at working. And work it does. The team of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum is way funnier than anyone expected, the fresh take on the concept is surprisingly adept, and the clever cameos and inside jokes turn “21 Jump Street” into one of the year’s best comedies and one that I’ll watch again on Blu-ray plenty of times. Who knew?


“The Fly” (1986)

When the master of flesh-based horror, David Cronenberg, decided to remake the 1958 Vincent Price-starring film of the same name he not only made the decision to reboot the original concept, but he actually took the film’s basic premise of a scientist merging with a housefly and blew it up in only the way Cronenberg knows how. The results are not only better than the original film, but they’re also astonishingly original, completely horrific, and totally Cronenberg. “The Fly” is often regarded as the director’s best film, but even that might be selling it short. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis both deliver career-best performances, the effects are just as effective two decades after the film’s release, and the subtext of “The Fly” holds up extremely well. If you’re looking for the definition of a true “reboot” look no further than Cronenberg’s film. Not only is it absolutely creeptastic, but it’s also smart, well made, and wholly original. Oh, and it’s also often pretty damn gross.


“Disturbia” (2007)

Now’s the time when all the Shia LaBeouf haters will take out their pitchforks and come running after me. Go ahead, folks. Bring it because I still watch “Disturbia” to this day and I still get a hell of a kick out of it every time. Based on Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film “Rear Window,” D.J. Caruso’s 2007 film might not be a true, full-on “reboot,” but it definitely has enough elements of the original film to call it one. There’s a guy (in this case LaBeouf) holed up inside his house and he can’t stop staring out the window watching life happen outside. Then he sees what he believes to be a murder occurring. From there, “Disturbia” strays quite a bit from Hitchcock’s film, but it’s the same basic premise with similar results. The film is clearly no “Rear Window” but it is a damn fine film with some truly suspenseful moments and excellent performances from Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer. “Disturbia” is one of those films that, if it pops up on TV, it’s nearly impossible to turn it off. That alone, in my opinion, is enough to call it a reboot that works.


“The Thing” (1982)

John Carpenter’s 1982 classic “The Thing” just might be the greatest reboot of all time. Based on the 1951 Howard Hawks-Christian Nyby film “The Thing from Another World” (and possibly more so John W. Campbell Jr.’s novella “Who Goes There?”), Carpenter’s film is an ice-cold slice of paranoid perfection. Similar to what Cronenberg does with “The Fly,” Carpenter takes the original premise and blows it up to create a wholly new film in the director’s signature style. Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Donald Moffat, and Charles Hallahan, “The Thing” is exactly what you’d expect it to be… until it isn’t. It’s a film that will have you questioning who you trust and why, who your friends and enemies really are, and just what might lurk under the surface of every conversation, action, and moment of solidarity. It’s also, arguably, Carpenter’s greatest film and that’s saying a whole lot. If you’ve only seen the 2011 prequel version of “The Thing” get your butt over to Amazon now and pick up the excellent Blu-ray version of Carpenter’s film. You won’t regret it. Trust me.

Warm Bodies

Bloody Valentines

10 Romantic Horror Movies for Valentine’s Day  

Catch My Bloody Valentine this Valentine's Day Sunday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Watching hapless victims running for their lives might not sound romantic, but a scary movie is perfect for a cozy night on the couch with someone special. (Unless you’re a character in a horror movie, as any romantic moment eventually turns into murderous mayhem.) Before you catch My Bloody Valentine this Valentine’s Day on IFC, check out some horror movies that will both warm your heart and chill your bones.

1. Let The Right One In

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A surprisingly touching tale of a bullied child and his vampire crush, the acclaimed 2008 Swedish horror film perfectly captures the feelings of being in the throes of naive first live. Pair it with the solid 2010 American remake, and be sure to have some tissues on hand to go with the blood red wine and dark chocolates.


2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 take on Bram Stoker’s classic tale upped the lavish romanticism with an ageless, yet alluring, Dracula driven by a centuries spanning love. For better or worse, we wouldn’t have Twilight without this sumptuous gothic romance.


3. The Fly

The Fly

One of the greatest body horror movies of all time centers on the most doomed relationship you’ve ever seen. If you find Jeff Goldblum as attractive as Geena Davis does, well, we advise you to make the most of it early on before Cronenberg’s masterpiece mutilates him.


4. Bride of Chucky

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Why can’t movie monsters find love? Because it’s literally horrifying. Luckily that’s the point in Bride of Chucky, where the murderous puppet finds a soulmate who shares his penchant for sharp objects. A high point in the series that spoofed its own silliness while still scaring the hell out of us.


5. Bride of Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein

Of course, there wouldn’t be a Bride of Chucky without the original movie monster romance. James Whale’s horror classic both introduced a new level of pathos to the Frankenstein story and gave us a lady monster for the ages.


6. Hellraiser

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Lemarchand’s box first broke the barriers between life and death as part of a (deeply unromantic) love story. An unfaithful wife seduces and murders men to resurrect her dead lover, and when her daughter finds out things get gorily complicated.


7. A Chinese Ghost Story

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A night in a haunted temple has a man falling in love with a beautiful ghost in this horror comedy from director Ching Siu-tung. Oh, and he has to save her spirit from an evil tree demon. We haven’t mentioned the swordsman or the gymnastic martial arts yet, but you’ll definitely enjoy them too.


8. Candyman

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The creepy Candyman is looking for love, which is a hard sell when you’ve got a hook for a hand and are usually covered in bees. Oh, and you’re a revenge-fuelled murderous specter. Helen Lyle must deal with his romantic intentions as well as an unfaithful boyfriend, and it really doesn’t go well for anyone. You’d think it’d be nice to have someone who always comes when you call…


9. Warm Bodies

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An unlikely love story between the living and the dead, Warm Bodies follows “R” as he grunts and groans his affection for the chief zombie-hunter’s daughter. No other story has ever so completely shown the healing power of love.


10. My Bloody Valentine

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My Bloody Valentine stars the Grinch of the holiday, the murderous miner who has sworn that a small town should never again host a dance on that day. Of course a gang of sexy teens decide to ignore him. And of course he comes back, with wonderfully horrific results.

Jamie Foxx in talks to play Electro in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″

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“The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ seems to have found its villain.

It was reported yesterday that Jamie Foxx is in talks to play Electro in the new movie, and director Marc Webb seemingly confirmed the news during a later press conference. Though Foxx isn’t locked down for the part, it seems as though the “Django Unchained” star is someone Webb is dying to work with.

“I think Jamie Foxx is electrifying,” Webb told reporters. “I think Jamie Foxx is one of the most brilliant actors that we have around today. He’s such a great character actor. He’s a really brilliant guy and I would love to work with him, so you’ll be hearing more on that shortly, I’m sure.”

In addition to Electro, we also know Webb is including Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn in the new “Spider-Man” film. “The Descendants” star Shailene Woodley is confirmed for the MJ role, but no far no actor’s name has been brought up for Osborn.

Meanwhile, “The Amazing Spider-Man” series will likely be losing one of its main stars: The introduction of Mary Jane likely heralds in the death of Gwen Stacy. Surprisingly, that’s not a plot point that Emma Stone is averse to.

“Apparently people unsubscribed to the comic book when that happened because they were just so flipped-out over it,” Stone said during an interview with Cameron Crowe in Interview magazine. “But, of course, I want to stay true to that. That’s the question you get the most when you’re part of that saga.”

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ swings into theaters on May 2, 2014. Andrew Garfield and director Marc Webb are both officially back for the sequel.

What do you think of Jamie Foxx as Electro? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Top 25 “Oh Shit!” Moments in Horror Movies (with video)

Alien-Chest-Burst

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Here are the jump scares, third-act revelations and just plain crazy moments in horror that made us exclaim “Oh shit!” (or perhaps something even a little bit stronger). Brace yourselves!


25. Alien chest burst in “Alien” (1979)

How great would it be to go back to a time before the world was intimately familiar with the “chest-bursting” of the “Alien” movies and see poor John Hurt ruin everyone’s dinner for the very first time? How amazing it must’ve been to be sitting in a movie theater on opening night of Ridley Scott’s now-classic sci-fi horror film and see this scene with a crowd that had absolutely no idea what was coming. Due to all of the “Alien” sequels (and the unfortunate “Alien vs. Predator” spin-offs), we now barely even flinch when a “chest-bursting” happens, but back in the summer of 1979, audiences were as speechless as the cast.


24. “I know who I am!” in “Angel Heart” (1986)

Sure, you knew that Robert De Niro was the devil the whole time, with or without Mickey Rourke’s groan-inducing “Lou Cypher. Lucifer” line. But what you probably didn’t know was that Johnny Favorite, the long-lost musician who owes his soul to Satan, and Harry Angel, the seedy private investigator hired by the Prince of Darkness himself to track Johnny down, were the same person. This final revelation forced a considerable re-evaluation of all the film’s previous events – and certainly made that crazy sex scene with Lisa Bonet even more gross and a lot less hot.


23. Ending of “The Blair Witch Project” (1999)

What is this house? Who lives in it? Why won’t Michael respond to Heather’s cries shortly after disappearing from her view? Oh my god – why is Michael facing the wall … kind of in the way described in that earlier story we heard? Oh my god, why did Heather fall down? HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD? So much for sleeping a wink during the second half the summer of ’99 … and, for some, beyond.


22. Sink kill in “The Blob” (1988)

“What is this?” It’s the Blob, you fool! The underrated 1988 remake of the ’50s B-movie creature feature had the benefit of being a product of the go-for-broke ’80s, a decade in which horror filmmakers didn’t let limited resources (no CGI yet) keep them from exploring the most over-the-top indulgences of their twisted imaginations. Because of “The Blob,” we all know that the best thing to do if a sink is clogged is to walk away … to the next town. Bonus bit: Kevin Dillon exclaiming “Don’t touch him!” upon witnessing the poor dude getting sucked down the drain. Don’t worry, fella – we won’t.


21. Basketball kill in “Deadly Friend” (1986)

Anne Ramsey’s gig in-between “The Goonies” (1985) and “Throw Momma From the Train” (1987) was Wes Craven’s hey-why-not B-movie that feels like one big decompression from the fact that his “Nightmare on Elm Street” has become a series dictated by box office success and not by his own creative control. “Deadly Friend” stars Kristy Swanson as the murdered girl next door brought back to life by via a computer brain that used to be inside a robot dog (yeah). Zombie robot girls can do lots of cool things, like throw basketballs really, really hard at people’s heads.

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