The original is often regarded as, more than Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, the greatest horror film of all-time. More than just a cringe-inducer (it was that too) and a slasher flick (while really only one, super-famous slashing occurs), it is chocked full of symbolism, Oedipus complexes, and literary-style thematic undertones that add real substance and meat to clattering bones (don't forget that chocolate syrup blood!). Of course, in all its consensual high regard, that Hershey bottle would be squeezed dry with subsequent sequels, and a remake starring Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates.
Try as they might to replicate the original (like the pod people they are), nothing matches the intrigue and suspense, not to mention cultural relevance of the black and white original from 1956. Every 20 years or so, it seems this movie needs to be cloned, starting with the 1978 Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy (a.k.a. Spock)-starring version, with another in 1993, and most recently 2007's The Invasion starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, that attempts to contemporize the original (making commentary on a society dependant on anti-depressants and artificially-inseminated happiness, rather than McCarthyism).
It seems that there is little to no sacred ground when it comes to horror movies, which is why no one seems to mind when another blood-and-guts franchise is remade over and over again, as if the films themselves were representive of the number of dagger wounds any given victim was forced to endure. One of the most sequeled/remade/reimagined slasher franchises of them all, however, has to be the Halloween films, which are simply too topical not to crank out every other October 31st. To date, starting with the 1978, Jamie Lee Curtis-starring original, there have been 10 films in the series. This includes the 5 original, H20, Ressurection, and two (with a third on the way) as envisioned by Rob Zombie, who--as a film-maker-- seems to fancy all things crude and explicit, as set to a personally-curated, and equally brutal soundtrack.
The 1968 original is brilliant, a well-thought-out depiction of how society would react to a world infested with zombies. This brilliance would be inspiring enough to give life (or un-life) to countless '_____ of the Dead' successors, as well as a number of spoofs ('Return of the Living Dead,' and its pizza-eating party-zombies), and a few remakes of the original, one forthcoming (and in 3D). Apparently since the original wasn't properly copyrighted, it is part of public domain, so you can do whatever you want with it and not get sued, that is as long as you don't use it as an accessory in the appropriation of brains.
The problem with the most recent adaptation, a self-proclaimed 'prequel' to the 1973 classic, is not in it's shameless attempts to pull more story lengths from a novel fully accounted for in an already alarming number of sequels--but in how the possessed girl in this story is incredibly attractive in everyway but her goulish demon-face. It's as if she were only being tormented from the neck up by the devil, meanwhile the rest of her body was purely that of an angel. Which can be confusing, depending on where your eyes drift. Also confusing: what about being possessed by a demon/Satan makes your face become all covered in scratches (and ugliness), which seem to heal up immediately after a successful exorcism?
The original was great, even if it was underwhelming in the special effects department, and kind of racist (though moreso a commentary of the zeitgeist of the day). But back in the day, the thought of an oversized modeling-clay gorilla was surely just as terrifying as the idea of interracial love. This commentary is lost, however, on the subsequent versions that focus a little too much on the giant gorilla side of things (with still mediocre effects at best). And then there's Peter Jackson's 18-hour-long, CGI-smothered romp of a remake (that sort of makes you long for the modeling clay).
Dracula has been haunting the big screen since the bald-headed, tiny-toothed, and litigiously-sound Count Orlok took a bite at the character, played by actor Max Schrek in the 1922 silent film Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau. Subsequently Bela Legosi has played Dracula in the first direct adaptation, as have innumerable actors in the countless renditions to come. The quintessential, most artfully directed version, however, has to be Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 version. Every other take of Bram Stoker's namesake has been on the decline ever since, as surely any movie starring Coolio and taking place in outer space is born inherently with doubt.
Ironic that America should be so receptive to a Japanese film that depicts it as no less than an unfeeling destruction-bent monster. Yes, Godzilla ('Gojira' in Japanese) was an allegory for the A-Bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII, Godzilla with his 'atomic breath' and rampage through Tokyo. As potent an image is he was, it's no wonder he's seen 28 Japanese films (alongside other famed monsters, representing other world superpower no doubt), a mediocre American version with Matthew Broderick (of course only America could fail to see how terrible its own self-portrait is), and is soon to appear in yet another American remake.
Granted the namesake is based on the comic, he really became a film icon when Tim Burton directed him via Michael Keaton, with Jack Nicholson as the most unforgettable, best-performed Joker (although Ledger's take gives him a run, for his money). Yes there was the Adam West-starring, TV-serial-based film prior, but never was Batman the box office powerhouse as he was from the late eighties on. Since Keaton, Hollywood big shots have claimed a chiseled-rubber suit with the same air of importance as whoever plays Bond in any given installment. The latest franchise, the one currently dominating the big screen, is the most successful/best-directed since Burton's original.
The original movie had obviously rubber monkey masks and a mostly-naked Charleston Heston damning dirty apes. And yet no amount of visual flair on Tim Burton's behalf or CGI on the behalf of the most recent ape-sploitation can come close to matching the awesomeness and charm of the former. Perhaps it's because the original counted the Twilight Zone's own Rod Serling amongst its writing credits, or perhaps because it's already been done before (and successfully the first time, as well as by myriad sequels and a short-lived T.V. series), this film (and planet) can never get any better than that inhabited by the former NRA chairman--and why reviews will always be intolerant of any to follow.