Originals and remakes thrill on DVD this week

Colleen Stein

Colleen Stein

Ju-On RLions Gate and Vitagraph Films Directed by Takashi Shimizu (Tomie: Rebirth, The Grudge)

Now that Sam Raimi’s The Grudge has hit theaters, distributors saw this week as the perfect opportunity to introduce fans to the Grudge’s foreign film original.

Released in 2000, Ju-on: The Grudge was quickly followed with a sequel Ju-On: The Grudge 2 and then final addition to the trilogy, Tomie: Rebirth, in 2001.

The movie, praised for its unique use of scare tactics and eerie sounds, includes nearly everything the Americanized version has and more, delving deeper into the life of the main character once she is exposed to house and its curse.

Final Verdict: Although I am a big fan of oddball foreign films like this one, the movie dragged and I quickly lost track of the details. The characters are hard to tell apart and the subtitles flash across quickly leaving one to rely on the scary parts to keep the movie going.

A few parts, including the girl crawling down the stairs croaking like a frog, outshined the scenes in the remake, but otherwise, Raimi’s version offers more bang for your buck.

The Stepford Wives PG-13Paramount PicturesDirected by Frank Oz (The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horror 1986, The Score)

Based on the sci-fi/suspense novel by Ira Levin, The Stepford Wives was first made into a movie in 1975. In Oz’s version the tale is modernized and brought to life by a cast of well-seasoned actors.

Nicole Kidman stars as a career and family woman who competes with her husband for everything. After losing her job as a big shot executive for a major television network, Kidman and her family pack up and leave the big city for a neighborhood in the suburbs.

The place they find is perfect – too perfect. The houses are huge and immaculate and the families couldn’t be friendlier. But Joanna notices that all of the women are gorgeous well-mannered mothers and housewives whose sole purpose is to fulfill their husband’s every whim.

The movie also includes Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken and Faith Hill.

Final Verdict: Rather than a remake, this film is more of an amendment to the original. Since the secret is out as to what a “Stepford” wife really is, the new version has fun modernizing the characters and plotline while mocking today’s concepts of gender roles and synthetic beauty, and ends on a much happier note than the original.

I still prefer the 1975 version.