The Birds Remake Gets The Last House on the Left Director


Some potentially distressing news this week for fans of Alfred Hitchcock. It looks like that long-rumoured remake of The Birds from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company is still happening, despite the fact that the previously attached director Martin Campbell has since left the project for Green Lantern pastures. According to Pajiba, a new director is settling into Campbell’s place, and that man is Dennis Iliades, who helmed this year’s remake of Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left.

Now, I actually didn’t mind the new version of The Last House on the Left, but the reason I find this news distressing (aside from the fact that they are remaking The Birds!) is the fact that Iliades reportedly wants to amp up the gore and turn the movie into an R-rated horror flick. It is also getting yet another rewrite, having already gone through Scott Derickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day The Earth Stood Still), Billy Ray (Flightplan, Volcano), and Peter Craig (Bad Boys 3). No word on whether or not Naomi Watts is still attached to star. This is one case where I think a PG-13 approach is probably a little more appropriate, although I suppose if you want to give it a different spin, adding more blood and guts is one way to do it. What do you think, is it possible to make a remake of The Birds that isn’t a disaster, and is Dennis Iliades the right guy to make it happen?

  • Jackson

    I’m sorry (and I know this is obvious) but Hitchcock cannot be touched. There are a handful of superior untouchable directors and Hitchcock is one of them.
    It’s like covering the Beatles.
    If Gus Van Sant can’t pull it off, how can anyone who is affiliated with hack Michael Bay do it?

  • I love Hitchcock films, but I think they can certainly be improved. Visual effects could be improved for one thing.

    I’ve always wondered if young people actually prefer Gus Van Sant’s Psycho to the original. Van Sant did a shot-for-shot remake, so what is it about his version that so many seem to hate? Is it the actors’ performances? It’s interesting that Van Sant actually “improved” some shots. For example, at the beginning of the movie, the long take towards the hotel window was actually achieved in one smooth shot, something that had to be faked for Hitchcock’s film.

  • Jackson

    Well a remake is one thing, but why make the exact same movie shot for shot? It’s pointless, if you’re going to do a remake at least put your own spin on it. And yes I just hated Vince Vaughn in it. The art direction was beautiful though.

  • Ranger Tom

    This makes me ill. I think a lot of blood and gore will actually remove some of the tension of the original. A better take would be along the thriller lines as opposed to gore-fest horror. I’d much rather see a take by someone like Fincher than using eyes pecked out visuals to give it weight.

  • Jbird

    This is like that SNL joke. This movie is “for people who LIKED THE ORIGINAL, but wish it sucked.”

  • aspioaokassodsøkasdkøl

    ***I love Hitchcock films, but I think they can certainly be improved. Visual effects could be improved for one thing.***

    Go fuck yourself you fucking moron. If you can’t appreciate older films, don’t see them. If these are your reasons for a remake, you can stop watching film, because you don’t deserve to enjoy it.

  • I agree with aspioaokassodsøkasdkøl.

  • see, here the up roar should be unleashed! not against the remake of THE KARATE KID!!!

  • Sorry I offended your artistic sensibilities, aspioaokassodsøkasdkøl (and Jay C).

    BTW, I appreciated Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake attempt as a postmodernist artistic exercise. How people reacted to the movie seemed more important to me than the actual movie itself.

  • you are confused Reed what Gus Vant Sant did isn’t postmodern because it is a direct copy. Also you should be more prepared when bring up examples as Gus has stated he did the remake to save it from being done wrongly by a hack. Now that response would be deemed postmodern!

  • rus in chicago, I hate to pull the intentional fallacy argument on you; that is, I don’t necessarily care what Van Sant says about why he did his remake the way he did. And I don’t really know why what he said would make my example inappropriate. I brought his Psycho up as an example of a remake that people don’t like and that I don’t understand why since it’s essentially the same with some “improvements” like the camera shot I mentioned.

    As to why I think Van Sant’s Psycho is a postmodernist artistic exercise, I think most people believe as a universal truth that in order to improve something, you have to change it. I think Van Sant’s unique remake is postmodern because its improvement has to do with making it palatable to modern audiences with things like colour, yet it keeps the shot-for-shot structure of the original intact, something that you wouldn’t expect a remake to do.

    However, I do see your point that Van Sant’s approach can be seen as not being postmodern if one takes the view that Psycho is a perfect movie that was tampered with as minimally as possible (that is, as you say, by making a direct copy).

  • I introduced Gus’s claim only as evidence he doesn’t consider the remake anything special, nor, a “postmodernist artistic exercise”

    Forgive me, but in all my years of art and design experience I never associated the word “improvement” with postmodern. Words that I do associate with postmodern are reinterpretation and irony, we must come from different circles because I always thought postmodern was about taking ideas and theroies from a previous period and codifying and reinterpreting them in a different period, therefore, allowing their original meanings to be appreciated in a new setting.

    How does Gus Van Sant Psycho do this with it being so strictly attached to the original!

  • swarez

    Gus’s mistake was to make a shot for shot remake. He said that one of the reasons he did it was to allow modern audiences to experience the film since far too many people now days don’t watch black and white films, sad but true. His mistake however was that audiences have changed, movies, especially horror movies have changed quite drastically since Psycho was originally made. People are expecting more in terms of pacing, tension and blood letting. If he wanted to make it for a modern audience he should have updated it, ramp up the violence and tension but keep the story basically the same. Younger audiences would have liked that more but purists would hate it none the less. It was a no win situation from the get go really.

  • rus in chicago, I guess I haven’t expressed the subtlety of my thought appropriately. I’m saying that the approach to the remake was postmodern. The idea is the approach to remakes being that you have to introduce changes. I’m not saying that the product itself, Van Sant’s Psycho, was postmodern.

    swarez, your statement that audiences have changed is used quite often to justify doing remakes. (aspioaokassodsøkasdkøl and Jay C, pay attention here. Ha ha.) As I think you imply, Van Sant’s Psycho is evidence that it’s simply not a matter of adding colour, but of changing other things that you mention. I wonder though if a small child introduced to Hitchcock’s Psycho would appreciate the film in his later years. Have movies like Paranormal Activity actually improved on Hitchcock’s techniques to build tension?

    Anyway, there’s too much to discuss here in a comments section.

  • I think you both need to expand the argument. We must remember that it was Psycho that changed film and audiences, therefore, helping establish the modern film thriller and the entire horror genre. I don’t need to remind you guys that the showing of Psycho had a strictly controlled policy of not allowing members of the audience in after the film started – in those days people would enter and leave films at odd times because film making wasn’t considered the developed art form and storytelling device it is now (time of the musical).

    Lets also not give the modern movie studio more credit than they deserve – none of these remakes are about improving older films or introducing the films to a new audience. The whole process is about “milking” a property and using built in branding that has develop over decades of the older films taking their proper place in the collective conscious of the public. It could be argued that these remakes are the “raping of” the original property when the motives are so questionable. In this way, arguing if the remake has other artistic qualities, such as, postmodern is folly and would be laughed at by the studios involved.

    The mere act of remaking a film I don’t think is a postmodern act. If you are going to make that argument a better example would be the remake of Scarface by De Palma. That is a valid postmodern type remake were the ideals and story of the original film are adapted to a different period in American society. The contrast between the two films, inherent in the second film, add to the quality of the second film.

  • Good points, rus in chicago.