Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Granted... After years of lame and rather forgettable Dracula adaptations, the, erm, Godfather of Directors Francis Ford Coppola decided to turn Bram Stoker's legendary book into a more faithful film adaptation with a stellar cast and a massive infusion of style. Well, when it comes to the movie's look, Coppola fully suceeded with an insanely awesome amount of fantastic settings, costumes, sceneries and special effects...
Dafuq? ...but when it comes to the rest, my goodness, did he misfire. As a youngster, I was pretty amazed by it, but, just like Imdb user Spikeopath said, it "gets worse on repeat viewings". The entire movie is about style, style, style, and nothing else. It's already awful that it's called "Bram Stoker's Dracula" because it essentially differs very strongly from the book, but that's nothing compared to how slow, dull and lifeless the pacing and parts of Coppola's direction are, as well as how unbelievably terrible the cast is, with Keanu Reeves delivering the second-worst performance in his career (his worst is obviously "Knock Knock"), and probably the worst fake accent in the entire movie history ("Byuuudapest!"), plus a completely miscast Winona Ryder, as well as highly underwhelming performances by Anthony Hopkins and Cary Elwes. Gary Oldman is great, but his tophat looks so fucking ridiculous, it's tough to take him for serious. It definitely says something when someone like weirdo-musician Tom Waits delivers the absolute best performance in this $40 million trainwreck.
In addition, it's all too overladen, with a way-too-pompous score, an overlong runtime, and... is it just me, or does the whole thing feel as if Coppola was just jerking off to himself and on the book? I said it before and I definitely say it again: Coppola's not-much-liked movies "Jack" (1996) and "Twixt" (2011) are both more satisfying than this Crap-ula.
To Quote... Tom Hibbert, Empire Magazine
"The film is a calamity, a muddle, a mishmash, nothing but blood spouting from the mouths of the undead. (...) Bram Stoker's Dracula is all style, no content (...), so if "horror" hokum is your particular cup of tea, might I direct you instead to The Abominable Dr. Phibes. You know where you are with Vincent Price.
Has a film ever promised so much yet delivered so little? There was so much potential, yet when it came down to it, Coppola made his Dracula too old to be menacing, gave Keanu Reeves a part and took out all the action. So all we're left with is an overly long bloated adaptation, instead of what might have been a gothic masterpiece."
Jennie Kermode, Eye on Film
"There's some really strong set design work and excellent costuming for the astute viewer to spot but its impact is smothered under the weight of the antique velvet and twee gothic trappings that saturate the film. Coppola's aesthetic is all about excess and lacks the self awareness that let Hammer Horror films get away with this. (...) It's shame to see such a mess made of a project with such a capable cast."
Better: You want a great "Dracula" film? Well, there's "Dracula" with Christopher Lee, "Nosferatu" with Max Schreck, and the fantastic "Nosferatu" remake with Klaus Kinski. There's obviously tons of other rather good adaptations, but if you want the creme de la creme, you should stick to these 3 masterpieces.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Director: Zack Snyder
Granted... Zack Snyder tried his best to revive the zombie genre with a fresh, modern remake of one of the genre's most beloved classics from the Father/Godfather/Grandfather/etc. of the Living Dead a.k.a George A. Romero.
Dafuq? Calling this movie "Dawn of the Dead" is blasphemy, since it offers absolutely nothing as remarkable or groundbreaking, as what Romero managed to do in 1978. I have a feeling that Snyder didn't like the original, maybe even didn't understood it (yes, I think he actually IS that stupid), and that's why he a) erased almost all of Romero's fabulous social satire, and b) updated the all-so-familiar premise with running zombies because... well, I guess the slow zombies reminded him too much of himself. It's tragic to see what became of Simon Pegg's favorite movie of all time: what once was a splendidly made piece of zombie extravaganza, is now just another turn-off-your-brain gorefest.
Aside from a neat cast and good gore effects, there's nothing worth of mentioning or remembering, which makes the insanely high RT score (75%!!) more than just baffling. Why did critics love it so much, for fuck's sake? Why? There's nothing original about it, music and cinematography are rather disappointing, the characters are cardboard cut-outs, the way they included the shopping center is insulting, and the zombie baby... ugh, no comment. Even Romero's disappointing "Survival of the Dead" is better than this.
Oh btw, even though I love "300" and "Watchmen", I'd say this rubbish as well as the rest of his filmography prove that Zack Snyder is quite a cunt.
To Quote... Brian Orndorf, FilmJerk.com
"I'm not even a George Romero enthusiast, and I can clearly see that the new Dawn of the Dead remake is a joke. A literal bitch-slap to everything that made Romero's 1978 original film such a sneaky, DIY gem of the genre, Dawn 2004 is devoid of crucial character development, in love with its action and violence, and lacks a true visionary behind the camera to deal with pesky things like spatial relationships and coherence.
(...) What makes the lack of respect even worse is that Snyder is armed with a budget bigger than the three Romero films (Night / Dawn / Day) combined, and still manages to create a hollow, bewildering, and unsatisfying motion picture, plagued by this incessant need to be as slick as possible. Dawn is all style, gore, and hyperactivity, lessening the dread inherent in the plot, and the social commentary Romero's Dawn was created to provoke. Dawn 2004 is a film for teenagers who know nothing about the 1978 original."
Willie Waffle, WaffleMovies.com
"When there's no more room in hell, the dead and dumb take over Hollywood and make movies like this. (...) Dawn of the Dead is not a movie. It's an exercise in gory makeup and showing off how many ways the special effects crew can blow up human heads."
Better: If you wanna see a good, intelligent zombie movie, ignore this and watch Romero's Living Dead Hexalogy ["Night of the Living Dead" (1968) / "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) / "Day of the Dead" (1985) / "Land of the Dead" (2005) / "Diary of the Dead" (2007) / "Survival of the Dead" (2009).]
If you want a movie with running zombies that's actually good, watch the mother of all fast zombies, Umberto Lenzi's still way-too-overlooked "Nightmare City" (1980), or the fabulous "28 Days / Weeks Later" double feature.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Director: Drew Goddard
Granted... With the name of an entire horror subgenre as movie title and a massive dose of meta-humor and self-awareness, two of the main driving forces behind "Lost" tried to revolutionize the teenagers-in-an-old-cabin-somewhere-in-the-woods-where-evil-lurks horror trope by turning it into some kinda "Scream" for the 21st century.
Dafuq? I'm not a fan of meta-humor (see #11), but I love, love, love "Scream". Even though it makes fun of the genre, it still takes horror seriously with all its flaws, clichés and hair-raising moments. "The Cabin in the Woods" is a completely different caliber. It makes fun of the genre, disrespects it, craps on it and doesn't give a single fuck. It's all about meta and shit, right? WRONG! Fuck you, Drew Goddard, and fuck you, Joss Whedon, for giving us one of the biggest piles of rubbish of the 00s. Ok, no, it's obviously not that bad; it's well-directed and well-written, has a neat cast, and some fun dialogue - but the way it was executed in this motherfucking self-aware, self-referential way is just a chore. All the mocking, all the smartassery, all the inside jokes, all the back-patting and self-praise, all the nerdy geekiness and geeky nerdiness... rrrrraaahh, it's sooo unbelievably unbearable!!!
Imagine being on a long flight, and next to you, there's a guy who tells you one dumb joke after the other, constantly giggling like he's retarded, constantly punching you in your sides with his elbow, and constantly asking you "Get it? Get it?". THAT'S how this movie felt and still feels to me. Yes, I've only seen it once. No, I won't watch it a second time. It wasn't that painful during watching, but the more I think about what I saw back then, the more painful it becomes. Did I mention the horrible CGI, the incredibly dull-looking zombies, the daft oh-so-clever plot twist ending, Sigourney Weaver doing her tiresome women-in-a-suit routine-schtick? The worst thing about it is that, for the bigger part, it just wasn't funny. Like Imdb user oldman007 said: "If you haven't laughed within the first 10 mins, then you better walk out right now, because the movie is exactly the same all through out."
"As I write this, The Cabin in the Woods has a 92% 'Fresh' rating over at RottenTomatoes which suggests to me most critics are smoking their fresh tomatoes rather than squeezing them. Seriously, are you kidding? 'It’s meta!' they say. More like meh-ta."
Mark Olsen, The Village Voice
"With Goddard and Whedon much more invested in their own clever storytelling and genre-nerd inside jokes than in human emotion and motivations, viewers can't be expected to care much, either.
More than anything else, Cabin feels like the endgame of so-called fanboy culture in the way in which it is first and foremost about itself, interested only in a fundamental adherence to rules of its own devising and fenced off from the world at large. Even the way in which the story dares the anger of the spoiler-sensitive feels like a bit of cute game-playing (...).
The Cabin in the Woods does pull off some neat tricks of narrative realignment (...) but a film created simply for the sake of regarding its own genre smarts is a hollow vessel. Without a human, emotional component, there actually isn't much to spoil."
Rob Humanick, The Projection Booth
"Pity that the film partakes in contrivances as egregious as the conventions it aims to deconstruct; the resulting double standard corrupts the initial appeal of the concept, and reveals The Cabin in the Woods as pretentiously self-serving lip service that assumes hateful mockery of the material it relies upon justifies its own one-note pandering. I'd like to forgive the have-its-cake-and-eat-it-too, excessively ironic self-awareness, but it's hard to overlook the transition from smart to smart-assed and the dispensation of credibility for a weightlessly nihilistic punchline."
Better: If you want a good and funny cabin-in-the-woods movie, watch "Cabin Fever" [look, it even has the word 'Cabin' in the title!], watch "The Evil Dead", watch "Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn" (even though it's overrated... ^^), maybe "Wrong Turn", "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil", "Dead Snow", or, heck, why not "Antichrist". All good, all non-meta, all non-frustrating.
Director: Mikael Håfström
Granted... So, the director of the terrific and much too unknown "Evil" (2003) turns one of Stephen King's best post-"Nightmares & Dreamscapes" short stories, the incredibly haunting and thought-provoking "1408", into a $25 million horror movie with John Cusack (back in the days when he was still bankable), Samuel L. Jackson and Tony Shalhoub - what could go wrong? Well, it actually starts out pretty neat...
Dafuq? ...but after a couple of minutes after Cusack entered the hotel room, the entire movie falls down and becomes an over-packed and over-the-top special effects disaster, packed to the ceiling with plot twists and jump scares and CGI crap and what not. "1408" has almost nothing to do with the slightly Lovecraftian story, with its gripping atmosphere, its basic essence, its shockingly eerie descriptions of 'normal' hotel-room-things suddenly going completely wrong. It's just shocks and stylish scares galore, all of them in-your-fucking-face-all-at-once. It's frustrating if you know the short story, and it's even more frustrating if you don't know it, or simply ignore it during watching. In both cases, you watch a movie that starts wonderfully creepy and ends up horribly annoying. In some kinda way, it really feels as if Håfström simply lost his mind during the shoot. Looking at all the nonsense he made afterwards ("Shanghai", "The Rite", "Escape Plan"), it just proves my theory ;-)
I never got why it got so effin' popular. Maybe because it was pretty different from other horror movies that came out in 2007... maybe people just loved the combination of the Stephen King nametag, an a-list cast and the fact that it takes place in an old hotel *cough* The Shining *cough cough*... or maybe people are just stupid and have an awful taste. Who knows? Imdb user reviews claiming that it's "The Shining for 2007" or "Best King Horror Adaptation since The Shining" may prove me right... ;-D
To Quote... Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central
"The horror of the room (...) must be the return of the repressed in the umpteenth rehash of King's The Woman in the Room drama. (...). 1408 is the world's best, most aggressive therapist and the horror is pop psychology's Satan: Belial...I mean, denial. Ah, closer to the truth, I think, because the whole thing feels like a platitude, from repeated reverse POV shots up proverbial rabbit holes to Mike's snaking through dank crawl-spaces as he's pursued by a dead ringer for 'Bone Machine'-era Tom Waits (Why there are physical bogeys in the picture at all is more evidence of a concerted lack of imagination, since the evil fucking room shouldn't need help, the evil fucking room is an evil fucking genius.) The picture doesn't have the balls to live up to the challenges posed by its closed-room premise, it doesn't have the balls to make its evil fucking room evil or fucking (the room is a Freud-box), period, though it has the balls to pick on little girls and old men. So it's a bully; and like most bullies, if you push back, it folds up like a day lily."
Jim Lane, Sacramento News & Review
"(...) The movie has few scares, fewer surprises, and an ending that's at once predictable and unsatisfying. The hit-'em-with-everything plot is pure King, but even when the movie is most off-the-wall, it feels somehow generic, routine - and exactly like a padded-out short story."
Dennis Schwartz, Okus' World Movie Reviews
"(An) old-fashioned King scary tale that only made me scream in agony on how hokey it was. (...) It's written in a cheesy style by (three screenwriters) who try to get every phony Hollywood version of a fright scene into their slight script and should get an A for providing a laundry list of creepy scares that would make any second-rate horror story filmmaker proud. It's the kind of garbage spook tale that calls for more than a little suspension of belief - it calls for the viewer to experience a lobotomy."
Better: Instead of watching this overbudgeted effects-rubbish, you should definitely read the "1408" short story, one of many, many examples why King's ideas (mostly) work so much better in short form than in novel form. "1408" is just scary as hell!
If you're not the reading type, but still need a dose of Stephen King hotel horror, watch either Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" [gives a crap about the book], or Mick Garris' 1997 made-for-TV mini series adaptation [follows the book religiously]. Both are lightyears better.