ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jim Rex knows plenty about movies and is more than happy to share that knowledge with the world at large.
I been hanging around the Video City Drive-in for a while and although I wouldn’t boast that I’ve seen it all, I would say I seen my fair share. But still, some things surprise me and fans surprise me.
Before we start I want you to know I’m gonna be talking freely about the two films in question and if you haven’t put your eyes on them yet and don’t want them spoilt, then stop reading. I mean, one has been around for dang near forty years and if you haven’t seen it by now you probably ain’t never gonna get around to watching it but still, divert your eyes. Go watch some cat videos. But seriously, stop reading because I’m giving away main plot points and endings; the whole shooting match.
Ok, may the record show that I like remakes. Sure, maybe not every remake that comes down the pike. I find a lot of them to be kind of pointless, but when the higher power of the almighty greenback dictates what gets remade, no fan’s philosophical outlook on the matter, or their love for the original film, means much to the suits up there in Hollywood Town.
When we’re talking about remakes, there are a couple different flavors filmmakers can choose from. Because all remakes aren’t created the same, it stands to reason that some remakes slip by fans or they never realize a new film is a remake. This goes beyond knowing there have been four official film versions of Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers. It drives me nuts sometimes when fans don’t know their movie history. I don’t mean you have to know every movie ever made, but know some of your history. You need to be aware there’s a dumb little rubber Piranha remake stuck in between Joe Dante’s classic 70’s version and Alexandre Aja’s entertaining modern 3-D remake.
So, I’m about to shoot my mouth off and make a big fat statement some of you might be inclined to react to with a sour, “Jim Rex, you done flipped your lid, son. Your mouth-hole’s making one heck of a racket and you need to shore it up before you get popped.” I’m hoping you might be more inclined to say, “I never did consider that idea quite that way before, Jim Rex. Your mouth-hole’s making a little sense.”
Without further ado, the Video City Court of Law is now in session. In presenting my case I am going to try and use official, judicial sounding words and phrases, most of which I will be too lazy to look up to see if I’m using them correctly. (Abet I do it more than once, but I’m felon pretty good about stating my case today.)
No, ladies and gentlemen, technically I did not go to law school. To the best of my knowledge I never even have driven by a law school. But I did log a couple hundred intense hours watching Perry Mason and Matlock with my Maw-Maw Rex and her friends at the Abilene Convalescent Center, so if anything, I feel pretty good about wrapping all this up within an hour or so, less fifteen minutes for commercials.
Let’s first discuss about all the different types of remakes and figure out what kind we’re chin waggin’ about here. The traditional remake is by someone who loved and/or respected the old movie and then convinces a studio to let them remake it, and they try to add to the story in an attempt to make it better, or update it for modern viewers. Examples would be John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). Sometimes someone just wants to remake a movie they loved and/or respected, knowing full dang well it won’t be as good as the original but they hope it is at least fun and they do it anyway. These kinds are like Black Christmas (2006) and Sorority Row (2009).
Then, there’s the old sequel-remake, as in, “We made our first movie for seventeen dollars and thirty-three cents and it made millions at the box office. Let’s take all this money the studio gave us for a sequel and just remake it.” Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Phantasm II (1988) are examples of this kind of remake.
Then there’s the “Inspired by” kind of remake. Some people call these “Rip-off,” but these are really two different things. An “Inspired by” uses the nugget of an idea from an earlier film as a launching pad for a new film. Zero Hour! (1957) begat Airplane! (1980), Fantastic Voyage (1966) was the proud papa of Innerspace (1987) and IT! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) sired Alien (1979). “Inspired by” remakes are usually made with love and respect for the original film. It is not always blatantly obvious what older film the new film is inspired by.
A “Rip-off” remake is usually inspired only by the money an earlier film made. Great White (1982) is certainly a rip-off of Jaws (1975) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) is certainly a rip-off of Star Wars (1977). “Rip-off” remakes are usually made with love and respect only for money. It is always blatantly obvious what older film the new film is ripping-off.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I would now like to take the opportunity to convince you that I absolutely believe, beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt, that Tommy Lee Wallace’s 1982 classic trick or treat flick of witchcraft and robots, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, was remade, quite brilliantly with much respect, as an “Inspired by” type remake by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg with beer and robots as the chug-a-lug classic The World’s End (2013)!
It feels good to say it out loud. I mean, I been waiting for someone else to notice this forever and say something so I wouldn’t have to, but never once have I ever seen or heard it mentioned. I talk to other fans about it and when I sort of hint around it they look at me like I got gawl-dang lobsters crawling out my ears.
Okie-dokie, the hard part is over, now the easy part. Evidence. I have so much manipulating and speculative and circumstantial evidence it is going to make your head spin. What makes me think Halloween III: Season of the Witch was remade as The World’s End? Please look over at the ABC table of evidence.
- Both films take place in small rural towns; Santa Mira in Halloween III and Newton Haven in The World’s End.
- Silver Shamrock rules Santa Mira and The Network rules Newton Haven. In fact, these “corporations” coming to these small towns revitalized them.
- The Silver Shamrock logo is prominent throughout Santa Mira. The logo for The Network (five lines of varying heights) is prominent throughout Newton Haven.
- Both “corporations” resort to shady business practices. (Silver Shamrock mixes modern technology and ancient witchcraft for results while The Network depends on ever-advancing modern technology for results.)
- As soon as our heroes in both films roll into town, eyes are on them from everywhere.
- The “hero” in both films is a middle-aged alcoholic man. Dan Challis, in Halloween III, is a divorced doctor. Gary King, in The World’s End, is a ne’er-do-well who spends a lot of time with various doctors.
- Dan Challis has two kids. Gary King may have a French kid.
- Dan Challis learns about Silver Shamrock from the town drunk outside a liquor store. Gary King and his friends learn about The Network from town drunk Basil in a bar.
- Dan Challis likes to test his sexual prowess with young girls fresh from the shower. Gary King likes to test his sexual prowess with his friend’s sister in the public restroom.
- Dan Challis has a manly mustache. Gary King has a manly Sisters of Mercy tattoo.
- Most everyone in Santa Mira is an automaton under the rule of Silver Shamrock CEO Conal Cochran. Most everyone in Newton Haven is an automaton under the rule of The Network.
- In both films, the automatons break apart like action figures, with limbs snapping off easily.
- In both films, the automatons attack with a stiff arm thrust forward.
- In both films, the automatons have super strength, but it is never a match for middle-aged alcoholic heroes.
- In both films, the automatons try to act normal but always seem to stick out like a turd in a punchbowl.
- In both films, a major character is taken over by the evil “corporations” and transformed into an automaton.
- In both films, the major character has been transformed in an attempt to manipulate the actions of the hero. (Ellie tries to make Challis drive into a tree and Oliver tries to deliver Gary and the group to The Network.)
- In both films, the automatons squirt brightly colored juice for blood. (Orange in Halloween III and blue in The World’s End.)
- Throughout the film, Dan Challis is seen drinking in bars, carrying six-packs and leaving liquor stores. The nature of the pub crawl keeps Gary King drinking throughout the entire movie.
- There is a moment in both films where our hero makes a mad dash from one point to another. In neither case do they vomit or pass out with a gut full of alcohol swishing around in them.
- Both Halloween III and The World’s End were the third chapters in film trilogies.
- Both films include sidekick actors that appeared in all three films. Nancy Loomis was Annie Bracket in the first two Halloween films and then appeared as Linda, Dan’s killer shrew of a wife in Halloween III. Nick Frost was co-star opposite Pegg in the “Cornetto Trilogy,” appearing also in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
- Jamie Lee Curtis was in Halloween I and II as Laurie Strode and then “appeared” in Halloween III in voiceovers. She can be heard as a phone operator as well as the voice of the town’s curfew reminder. Bill Nighy was in both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz in supporting roles and then “appeared” in The World’s End as the voice of The Network. He can be heard first on the phone talking to a character and then as The Network in the climax.
- In both films, human characters meet their doom at the hands of automatons after revealing “secrets” about the “corporations.”
- In their final moments, both Conal Cochran and The Network give up when they realize they’ve been bested by their human opponents. (Cochran even applauds Challis’s ingenuity. The Network just throws in the towel at King’s stubborn ignorance.)
- Finally, the endings are basically identical, with the destruction of the world. I know, I know, it never really shows what happens to all the kiddos on Halloween night, but we know instinctively there is no way Challis saved anyone. You don’t save the world with a belly full of beer. (We also know Universal imposed a “happier” ending than the original cut, wherein the screams of children could be heard in Halloween III’s final fadeout.) The World’s End follows through with its end of the world wrap-up, showing the destruction of the world and what is left of mankind after The Network packs its bags and leaves.
In closing, I will say that Wright and Pegg have shown some serious genre savvy in everything they’ve ever done together, going way back to their Brit TV show Spaced. I don’t think it is too far off to see a connection between these two films and their appreciation for Halloween III.
When boiled down, both movies work as fantasies for middle-aged men everywhere, especially those stuck in a rut who would love the adventure of maybe having to save the world. For Dan Challis it is almost a James Bond scenario where he is escaping the disappointments of his ruined family life and getting to save the world while making it with a young woman who doesn’t seem to notice how long in the tooth old Dan really is. For Gary King, he is returning to a moment in his youth when everything was perfect, and no matter how wonky the night goes, he is able to re-capture and revitalize a part of that wild spirit he left behind when he got old.
Both of these men fought for their worlds bravely, both with bellies full of beer.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, you have the proof before you. It is time to decide for yourownself. I know what I believe.