Tag Archives: Duel

Please Stop Remaking My Childhood…

220px-fridaythe13th2009The release this week of Pet Sematary is just the latest example of the lack of creativity in Hollywood today. Admittedly, it’s been getting great reviews, and the original was an average movie at best, but I don’t think there were many people screaming for it to be revisited in the first place. Well, perhaps Stephen King was on board with it, but he’s certainly not averse to the odd retake anyway.

ghostbusters_2016_film_posterI guess, if we must see things a second time, the very least a filmmaker can do is polish up something that wasn’t very good in the first place. The object of the exercise should be to improve upon the source material. If it isn’t, why are you wasting everyone’s time?

Point-Break-2015-Poster-Advance-Style-buy-original-movie-posters-at-starstillsOf course, there are some examples where the revision is better than the first try (Scarface, The Thing, The Fly), but for every smile there’s a frown. Does anyone think Jude Law’s version of Alfie is superior to Michael Caine’s effort? Or that the Poltergeist from 2015 is greater than the classic 1982 movie it’s based on? Hell, I didn’t even know that was a thing until recently.

MV5BN2ZiMDMzYWItNDllZC00ZmRmLWI1YzktM2M5M2ZmZDg1OGNlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDQ2MTMzODA@._V1_So, with all the remakes, reboots and reimaginings that have done the rounds over the last few years, here are ten properties (not exhaustive, by any means) that I never want to see redone, because I do not believe it is possible for them to be bettered:

  • Airplane!
  • Back to the Future
  • Die Hard
  • Duel
  • Dirty Harry
  • First Blood
  • The Goonies
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Jaws
  • Rocky

Let me be clear: these are not perfect movies. Some of them I wouldn’t even consider to be amongst my favourites. But every one of them is an example of how sometimes, the total package is greater than the sum of a production’s parts.

These movies are quite simply, lightning in a bottle – a confluence of facets and factors that cannot be repeated. They each have an intangible quality that is impossible to quantify, or to replicate a generation later, no matter how talented or dedicated the team working on it may be.

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Monday Movie Mentions #15…

Duel (1971)

duelDuel is a monster movie set on the highways of rural America, and is one of the most seventies movies ever made. It’s also possibly the first TV movie to achieve somewhat of a legendary status since its release.

Duel is based on a similarly fantastic short story by Richard Matheson and has the simplest premise: a truck driver chases a motorist through the American dust. Why? No reason. At least, no reason that the viewer ever knows. You may call that lazy writing, but it’s actually pretty inspired and shows a lot of restraint in a world where the well of exposition is visited far too often. Sometimes, motivation is not required: sometimes it’s enough that there’s a crazy guy in a big ass truck who just wants to get his kicks from harrassing you until you can’t take it anymore.

Truck-from-Movie-Duel

The monster – a 1955 Peterbilt 281.

Dennis Weaver plays David, the unfortunate soul who has to outwit the mysterious metal assassin, and he is perfectly cast, gradually progressing from mild annoyance to what could be considered outright insanity by the time the credits roll.

Sure, the simple effectiveness of the movie collapses under a modern microscope, because mobiles are ubiquitous nowadays, and internet access is never more than ten feet away, but the abandonment and loneliness felt by David here is palpable. It’s a lean movie – it barely tickles the ninety minute standard – and there’s nothing in here that doesn’t contribute to David’s paranoia in some way.

Duel is like a catchy song that you hear at breakfast and is still playing in your head when you go to bed at night, and it’s telling that whenever I’m driving and I see a big rig close in on my rear view, I invariably think of that Peterbilt 281… and wonder.