Monday, 16 July 2007
The (re)staging of US war pasts through contemporary American horror films - Part 1
The Visual Return of Agent Orange through Nuclear Memories
"Bringing Out the Dead: The hills are alive with distended craniums and shrill overacting in craven Craven remake"
"Still, why, one wonders, does [Wes] Craven's quite craven original film—made for nothing, tasteless as hell, and out for a few bucks—get to be read as a Zeitgeisty signification of subconscious cultural stress, while its go-for-broke remake, even more dedicated to its own mercenary greed and ardor for suffering, does not? Or will a next-generation theorist find signification in Aja's mess, perhaps even a Gallic assault on American conservatism and hubris? Hope not; from here, it's simply intended as a gross-out ordeal for teenagers, and as such it's not worth a fart in the wind."
"Duck and Cover"
"While recalling their work in Morocco with a multinational crew (members from some 18 countries), Aja, Levasseur, and Maddalena also explain the process of remaking of Craven’s 1977 first version. Following the scientists’ takedown by the mutants who live in those watchful hills, Aja says the montage of familiar images (late-1940s, American happy housewives and kids, atomic tests and misshapen bodies) helps to 'bring the movie in a kind of nostalgic way, but at the same time, you see some awful stuff coming like flashes.' While that particular nuclear testing is foreign to Aja and Levasseur, it brings up specific memories for Craven and Locke, who laugh about having to 'duck and cover' when they were kids in school. The fallout is both metaphorical and ongoing."
"Representations of the Modern Male in Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes"
"Although twenty-nine years have passed since its first release, the possible interpretations of Craven’s narrative are as relevant now as they were back then. Given this Aja and writer Grégory Levasseur choose not to drastically alter Craven’s original story for their recent remake. This adherence is in some ways a hindrance for they change very little in terms of narrative structure and so the critical readings of Aja’s film are, to some extent, as equally applicable to Craven’s original. But, to their credit, Aja and Levasseur do make minor alterations, most notably to Doug Wood’s narrative. In addition to changing his surname, they place Doug into more psychological and physically gruelling conditions and so amplifying his violent transgression. In a responsive balance to this, the mutant family is given a greater identity by living in a semblance of a normal home, a nuclear test site village. Both changes lend weight to the film’s critical readings, predominately making the growing similarities between the two families, as much as their initial difference, more obvious."