I'm really pushing it this month! I don't know how things got away from me so much, and even though I saw this last week I've been mulling over how to review this and so now here I am at the day before the deadline scrambling to get it reviewed.
Yup, I'm talking about my Blind Spot for the month!
You can catch up on my previous reviews here, or you can scroll down and dig in to this month's review.
This is kind of a double review, since I figured that I’d watch both the 1942 original and the 1982 remake back to back. Both films serve as interesting examples of the way that film has evolved, and the way that the eras in which these films were released were shaped. The 40’s, consumed with the effective atmosphere of the film noir, were all about lurking in the shadows, creating a feeling of intensity relying more on the power of suggestion than anything else. The 80’s were a different story altogether. The early 80’s in particular seemed really intent on creating a sweaty, soap operatic tone everywhere, basting each film with this pulpy sexuality, and it shows in how much they were willing to show to make this remake salacious.
What I find so fascinating is that, despite their vastly different approach, both films were equally dull.
Yup, I said dull.
|You and me, baby, ain't nothin' but mammals...|
The faux sense of dread attempted in Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 cult classic is shockingly ineffective. I was really dumbfounded as to how little these moments worked, especially when you consider the effectiveness of so many beautifully woven noirs of the same time period. The fact that this was, for all intents and purposes, a horror film also makes its overall feel and effect disappointing. I wanted to feel shivers, chills even, but instead the only chill I got was from the overhead fan accidentally being kicked on high. The moments (like the pool scene and the scene with the Dr.) all felt so staged and underdeveloped. The atmosphere was lost on a plot that just didn’t really come together.
I think that is an issue that both version share. The plot just feels so unremarkable. It is most obviously nonsensical and just plain stupid, but instead of taking that and running with it into the depths of absurdity, it’s almost not absurd enough to even be interesting. Paul Schrader’s 1982 remake tries to take it a few (a lot) steps further, but it pushes it into tacky, campy ridiculousness instead of making it feel exciting and grounded in anything more than carnal stupidity.
The 1982 version was like too many fetishes thrown into one romp.
|...so let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel!|
As camp classics, which let’s face it, they both are, I can see some value in the remake (since it’s campy and there’s some really bold themes like incest and bestiality floating around there) but the original is just a real bore from start to finish, which I didn’t expect. Simone Simon is so stale, as is Kent Smith. At least Nastassja Kinski and John Heard were engaging actors (and Malcolm McDowell is all sorts of sexually intense), even if the chemistry was hard to swallow (but a lot of that has to do with the ridiculous idea that these men are drawn to such a dull creature).
The 1982 remake utilizes the visual effects that made werewolves all the craze the year prior, while the 1942 original fails to make shadows an object of fear. The remake isn’t scary either, but at least it looks cool (sometimes).