Last night I saw WATCHMEN at Union Square, a surreal and thoroughly fascist moviegoing experience, probably 4 hours from start to finish, beginning with the pre-previews: “Regal Cinema’s First Look”. One of the first looks is at the remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.
Now this is in itself a disturbing sign of the times: the horrific and sadistic exploitation “classic” that’s been known to clear rooms, becomes–through the veil of time–a WB Network very special episode of This Old Last House, toned way down for the “average” audience, with only a little implied brutality, just enough to fire the engines of revenge. Wes Craven lets us know the original was a political piece about America’s identity crisis in the wake of Vietnam, a low budget COMING HOME or THE DEER HUNTER, as we cut to slick MTV-in-the-rain clips and cute Greek-accented director voice-overs summing up the film’s message: “It’s about fighting for something you believe in.” With vaguely optimistic alternative mood rock arpeggios playing overhead, we learn that the move “will grab you by throat and never let go,” but Wes Craven says it in a way they might be talking about some new hyped up version of Space Mountain at Disney World. When he urges us to repeat “it’s only a movie… it’s only a movie” at the end of the piece, it’s with this lightness of voice that makes it a mantra ala “there’s no place like home” or “Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo.”
Am I the only one who thinks that studio nostalgia is not 20/20? What’s next, a colorful remake of I Spit on Your Grave, replete with an emo rock soundtrack and a Euro director waxing on about the importance of staying true to yourself? “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is about believing in yourself… no matter what the odds.” And what we really kill… is ourselves.
If it’s all gradually desensitizing us for a purpose (such as eventual televised executions) that’s fine, but I think it’s just that the makers of “Regal First Look” have never seen the original (I haven’t… yet), nor would it matter. Even torture porn needs a family friendly mold. But Jesus Christ, stop it with the claims that HOUSE is an American classic. TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1972) is a classic that reflects America’s post-Nam disillusionment, LAST HOUSE is just mean, mean, mean; even many horror fans don’t like it (or refuse to see it based on the disturbing content, like me). In other words, it’s a perfect monument to our time, when going to the movies feels like indoctrination into a Mail Lai massacree cavalry.
After the LAST HOUSE bit is a plug for reality TV’s AXE MEN, the story of macho guys risking their necks in the brave act of commercial deforestation, followed by the ubiquitous Kid Rock ‘guard shill, and there’s ads for the marines, hamster wheels on the highway compared to some new car, a guy with a model smelling his under-arms and swooning with rapture and CGI-mouthed babies urging everyone to get their money up on “e-trade” — wherein what they should have shown was not babies or hamsters, but lemmings twirling their way on a merry-go-round into the warm Arctic sea in pursuit of little gold money rings, the slightest tremor sending them all in a panic, crashing the whole merry-go-round the minute they sense what losers they still are and will always be no matter how much money they get — E-Trade!
What it is really, when all the blood is washed away, when we finally kill all the killers who killed our friends because we killed their family, is about faith, and fighting for something you believe in. As Kid Rock so aptly puts it: “Don’t tell me who’s wrong or right / when liberty starts slipping away.” Seee? Wrong or right doesn’t mean anything in these wars of ours, only “liberty slipping away.” Man, is that a relief. Kid, just tell me where to point my love gun.