It represented the end of the ‘60s, a sour send off to the whole ‘peace and love’ vibe consuming the country. The Tate-LaBianca Murders in Southern California spawned hysteria in the region, the famous and the not so known cowering over who would be next in the sights of these the unknown spree killers. When it was finally discovered that a failed musician and his hippie commune “family” were behind the crimes, the press and pundits had a field day. They blamed everything on the leader, a diminutive demon called Charles Manson, (no matter who actually essayed the slaughter) and thus a legend was born.
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Like a lightning bolt striking an aging edifice, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs hit Hollywood…hard! It signaled the arrival of a new voice in cinema, one that would cement its import in 1994 with the arrival of the international smash Pulp Fiction. Since then, Tarantino has become a solid cinephile talking point, a love-him-or-hate-him example of originality or outright stealing, depending on your particular penchant. Most of this comes with success. You can’t have a resume that includes two Oscars, legions of rabid fans, and films like Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained and not experience a bit of the old jealous blowback.
They’re supposed to be the hip alternative to the Oscars and the Golden Globes, a better cultural gauge than the People’s Choice and a last man standing survivor amongst the many Spike/Blockbuster wannabes. It’s had categories like Most Desirable Male/Female, Best Dance Sequence, and Best Sandwich in a Movie. Currently, among all the mainstays, it addresses choices like Best Gut-Wrenching Performance, Best Scared as Shit Performance, and Best Kiss. Indeed, over its 21 years in existence, the MTV Movie Awards have argued that, more than any other mainstream celebration of cinema, they have their finger on the pulse of the under 30 populace.
It’s the same thing about remakes. You hear it over and over again. “Why bother…the original was perfect,” or “How dare they rape/sully/insult my childhood/geekdom/fanboy fascination with (insert name of movie here).” The answer, of course, is money. John Carpenter more or less mortgaged his mythos allowing people like Rob Zombie (Halloween) and Rupert Wainwright (The Fog) to revisit his massive back catalog. The same with George Romero (Dawn of the Dead), Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes) and Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist).
It was already poised to be a love/hate kind of experience. After all, the director, Harmony Korine, has been responsible for some of the most controversial (Kids, Ken Park) and head scratching (Trash Humpers) efforts in the last 20 years. As a screenwriter, he guided Larry Clark’s softcore slices of burned out youth culture, while his own directing duties have championed the outcasts and the unusual. Now comes his chance to cinematically ‘deflower’ a few of the teen idol babes from the House of Mouse/Nick at Nite school of celebrity. Spring Breakers, his artistically arresting view of the annual college ritual of excessive hedonism has made little impact at the box office ($5 million in less than 1000 theaters), but it’s definitely stirring some (often silly) debate.