Wednesday, 10 August 2011

From "Cobra" To "Pet Sematary"

A few months ago I was writing about French director Alexandra Aja's new project, an adaptation of Japanese 80's anime, Cobra, about a cocky and womanising space pirate called Cobra. He went to Cannes to drum up some interest however this project has been put on hold, due to lack of interest I can only guess. Instead, he is in talk to direct the Pet Sematary remake. Yes, he is making another remake yet again.

Pet Sematary is a novel by Stephen King that was first adapted into a film in 1989 by Mary Lambert. While not quite a classic, it is still quite high up in the list of best King adaptation (not a very crowded list you have to admit) even though Shining it ain't. The pet "sematary" in question is next to an isolated house where a young family moves in, isolated except for a very busy road nearby. Predictably, tragedy strikes and the father discovers another cemetery nearby, an old Indian burial ground (is there any other kind in films?) with supernatural properties.

I have fond memories of it, and it is notable for pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable to show in a fairly mainstream film, even a horror. Not so much because of the violence as it was mostly hidden despite a few shocking scenes, more because of the bold developments in the second half, all the way to a downbeat and horrifying final few scenes. I won't spoil it but let's just say nobody is safe and it does not end well. And everybody who was seen it still remembers to this day a traumatic flashback featuring the mum's elder sister, a disabled and deformed young girl, and all of her suffering and torments. The stuff of nightmare I am telling you!

Interestingly George Clooney was recently attached to star in the remake. It makes you wonder what would attract him to a cheap horror remake, aside from nostalgia perhaps. But then again you have to remember that, before E.R., he found one of his first starring role in Return of the Killer Tomatoes, which, confusingly, and unlike its predecessor Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, featured hardly any killing vegetables.

After a second and acclaimed film. High Tension, director Alexandre Aja moved to Hollywood where he proceeded to direct remake after remake. The Hills Have Eyes was a surprisingly successful update of the original, which, let's face it, is a little rubbish. Follow-up Mirrors was a letdown, but Piranha 3D was a surprise critical hit, peppered with loving references and nods to trashy horrors of the 80's.

He is obviously a cut above your average horror director. Yet there are some that are lamenting that, to this day, he has not quite delivered after the promising High Tension (Switchblade Romance in the UK). I guess I would rather see him direct this remake than some rent-a-job hack. I found a trailer of the original film, it is a little rubbish and rather spoilerific so watch it if you will but you are better off renting the film.

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