Opinion: Foreign Horror Movies, Remade
I am one of those nutjobs that just loves movies, whether they are filmed in native English-speak or not. Especially of the horror themed variety. So, in other words, I love horror movies no matter what country they are from. True, it is very hard to remember quotes from a film that is in a foreign language but that is where story and originality come into play.
I used to go down to my local video store as a kid and rent movies based solely off their VHS slipcover, as there was no internet back in the day to give me insight into how good or crappy it was going to be. I would sometimes read the back of the cover, but it was more fun to watch something that had cool cover art (truth be told I bought a lot of music CD’s the same way, unfortunately) even if the movie turned out to be a real stinker.
As I got older I ventured into the foreign film section of video stores and saw that there was another world to explore, titles and topics that I had never seen from the mainstream domestic selections. I didn’t even hesitate to rent everything in sight, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and substance of the films I was introduced to. Some of those same movies were directed by people who have become big names in Hollywood now, such as Peter Jackson (Bad Taste, Dead-Alive), Guillermo del Toro (Cronos), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, City of Lost Children), Dario Argento (Suspiria, Inferno) and many, many others.
These films were so abstract and unique that I never forgot them. Once the internet became popular I had the tools necessary to look up info that had previously been unknown to me. I have been able to track down even more titles from these directors and even purchase DVD’s off eBay to add to my collection. My knowledge of useless movie trivia had been upgraded to “super nerd” status, but it made me happy. It was one of my hobbies.
In recent years Hollywood has picked up on the trend of remakes (well, they always have but now more than ever) and a lot of recent titles are being updated for American audiences within a few years of the release of the foreign original version. One example would be 2010′s ‘Let Me In’, the vampire movie directed by Matt Reeves (2007′s Cloverfield) which is a remake of the 2009 Swedish film ‘Let The Right One In’ and was basically identical to the remake. Obviously the original was a goldmine of originality and concept so it was Americanized (in a good way in this case) to much critical acclaim.
Prime examples of films that started this recent American remake trend in past years would be ‘The Ring‘ and ‘The Grudge’ films which originated in Japan years earlier. The US versions were very popular and spawned sequels that made a lot of money as the budget was rather small (horor movie tend to have small budgets and initial big box office returns) and having them rated PG-13 helped them reach a larger audience than if they were rated R.
I suppose most people don’t see the foreign counterparts that inspired the American studio remakes, and I guess that’s OK if the films are well done and respectful to the source material. But, if you haven’t already done so, go on Netflix and seek out the inspiration for a film that you know has been remade into something you have seen. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much you will appreciate and respect the original source material. You may even like the foreign film more.
I know plenty of people who refuse to read subtitles on a TV screen or in a movie theater, and there is a solution to that. DVD’s have selectable audio tracks in most cases so if you have to, you can switch the audio to English and enjoy. To you youngsters out there, VHS (video cassettes, by the way. That thing that kills you if you watch it in ‘The Ring‘) tapes did not have in interactive option, it was the way it was. Most of the time it was not in English, which is why it was in the foreign film section to begin with.
Hopefully I have broadened your mind a bit, there’s a whole world of culture out there to explore. You just have to go looking for it. Want to know of specific titles that pass are worth checking out? Drop me a line, I’ll help you out.