One of the running themes of this blog since its inception has been my on-again, off-again relationship with the approach to film criticism. In some cases I have argued that works should be seen as windows into the writer’s mind, in other places I’ve been happy to cast it into the dustbin of history on the grounds that a) if you buy into auteur theory then you really need to know quite a bit about the auteur before writing about their works and b) a lot of films become more interesting if you completely ignore what it was the director was trying to achieve.
Another reason for rejecting auteur theory is that it seems to be the case, in American cinema at least, that the clock has been turned back on the director/auteur in favour of a return to the days of the all-powerful producer. The poster boy for this development is, of course, J. J. Abrams.
But I see it elsewhere too…
While on my daily perambulations I came across this saucy fellow :
From the people that brought us Friday The 13th and The Hills Have Eyes? Wow… those are two of the defining works of the first wave of slasher films. And they’re collaborating on the remake of The Last House On The Left? Well… kind of.
The original Last House On The Left (1972) was directed by Wes Craven and produced by Sean S. Cunningham, who went on to produce and direct his own slasher film Friday the 13th (1980). The Hills Have Eyes was (1977) was also directed by Wes Craven, who returned as a producer for the 2006 remake directed by Alexandre Aja. Friday the 13th was also remade but this time it was produced by Michael Bay amongst others. The new version of The Last House on the Left is neither written, nor directed by either Craven or Cunningham.
So when the poster says it is “from the people who brought you The Hills Have Eyes and Friday the 13th“, they mean that the makers of those two films are now producing a remake of their original collaboration. Is this what “from” means in cinema nowadays? Is the remake of Last House on the Left not “from” Dennis Iliadis the relatively inexperienced Greek director who is actually directing the film? How about Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth, the credited screen-writers. Is the film not “from” them either?
Auteur theory attempts to place sole agency for a film’s character with its director, which is of couse ridiculous if you consider quite how huge the crews are on some Hollywood films. But apparently auteur theory is incorrect. It is not the director who is responsible for shaping the nature and character of the film, but two of the film’s eight producers, executive producers and co-producers. Readers are invited to speculate as to the reasons why the remake of Last House of the Left should be ‘from’ Craven or Cunningham as opposed to executive producer Ray Haboush whose previous gig as a producer was making a short film about the on-set catering for Mission Impossible III.