Rue Morgue Podcast


on February 29, 2012 | 16 Comments

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Last year, I subjected myself to a very strange cine-masochistic exercise by viddying George Sluizer’s haunting masterpiece THE VANISHING (1988) immediately followed by the director’s own 1993 Hollywood REMAKE.

It’s not a viddying experience I would quickly recommend. It was a disorienting and painful misadventure to travel from one extreme end of the cinematic spectrum to another, from divine inspiration to infernal desperation, from cinema as a dark art to cinema as a dog’s fart.

So on this episode of the RUE MORGUE PODCAST we try to dissect the implications of both versions and attempt to come to terms with the forces of evil that could’ve allowed such a cinematic travesty to have unfolded in our lifetime.

Andrea Subissati (a.k.a. Hellbat), author of When There’s No More Room In Hell: The Sociology of the Living Dead returns to the podcast for this treacherous voyage into the nether regions of cinephobic agony.

If you haven’t seen the original VANISHING then please watch it before you listen as it’s impossible to compare and contrast the two flicks without delving into fatal spoilers.

And if you haven’t seen Sluizer’s 1988 masterwork, you’re in for one of the most incredible and horrifying dark thrillers of the late 80′s. If you haven’t seen his 1993 Hollywood remake, then you’re lucky to have retained some lingering vestige of cinematic innocence by avoiding one of the most dilapidated movie-watching experiences possible.



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Tags: andrea subissati, rue morgue podcast, the vanishing

Responses to Episode 54: THE VANISHING VS. THE VANISHING

  1. FDBK says:

    Also, big thanks to SUSPECT VIDEO in Toronto for their help with this one.

  2. Andrea says:

    That clip of Nancy Travis’ soap opera shpiel… PAINFUL

  3. Robert Black says:

    There’s no denying Spoorloos was one of the best thrillers of the 1980s, a mesmerizing film up there with Anguish 1983. So I guess I’m the only one who considers Sluzier’s much maligned remake a guilty pleasure? It is a Hollywood remake of a European film with ALL the worst concessions one would expect prior to viewing. I haven’t seen it in years but Sutherland’s performance was decent and for me it was at least entertaining. Recommended to xenophobes who fear subtitles and hipsters who can’t stand films prior to 1990.

  4. Feedback says:

    Fair enough and who am I to argue with someone else’s guilty pleasure but I think if you revisit it, you’ll have a change of heart about Sutherland’s performance. It is categorically awful as are many of the other performances. In fact, going back to pull clips for this, I realize I was far too forgiving of Jeff Bridges in this role. His portrayal of that character is berserkly ham-fisted and that wonky accent is brutal.

    So when you have a movie filled with wall to wall terrible performances by actors who are all capable of being decent in other flicks, one has to wonder what happened here.

    I need a director’s commentary track or something (or an actors commentary track where Bridges, Travis and Sutherland team up to apologise for the movie.)

  5. Robert Black says:

    Perhaps the film reads less like camp now than it did in the 90s when I first saw it. I happened to recall reading a long interview with Sluzier when his remake was first released. It convinced me to eventually seek the film out thinking erroneously that it would be an improvement on some level over the original.The truth behind the final result onscreen might be more disturbing to you than assuming the studio took control of the production. He was well aware of the film he was making and the happy ending was his idea. He encouraged Bridges to imitate his accent which the actor started doing as a joke onset in order to create perceived gravitas for his character. Although many of the changes were most likely studio suggestions you can’t blame that ending on anyone but Sluzier himself. It would appear that a bag of money is all that’s required to leave one’s integrity at the door.

  6. Feedback says:

    I still can’t reconcile the two films. How could the same director make BOTH of them willingly? How could someone who made the VANISHING (1988) come up with that “COFFEE scene book deal” ending of the remake? Or maybe it was a private joke to Sluzier? Maybe he thought he was slyly making an absurd parody of American values using the American movie-goers as a convenient punchline?

  7. Ashley O says:

    When I watched the remake, my initial reaction was to feel offended. Obviously – and I think you and Andrea Subissati pointed this out very well – it is as if George Sluizer was trying to appeal to Americans by taking out any bit of suspense, honesty, or real emotion that existed in the original.
    It’s like he was saying, “Hey Americans, I knew you probably wouldn’t understand this movie, so I made another one especially for you! And don’t worry, no actual thinking is required in the process of viewing this film. Look, Jeff Bridges!”

  8. Andrea says:

    I love that clip of Ebert (or “Eggbert” as I called him) going off the rails about how much he hated the remake. Bad remakes have become a fact of life but some of them are just INFURIATING! I’d be hard pressed to think of a worse remake, and the fact that it’s the SAME DIRECTOR is just salt in the wound.

  9. FDBK says:

    Yeah, Eggbert is really beside himself on this one. But I love how frustrated he is with Siskel for pointing out some of the film’s relatively innocuous problems.

  10. Mike Tank says:

    I listned to this last night, and I’ve had Roger Ebert saying “George SLY-ZER” stuck in my head ever since.

    Anyaway, kudos to both of you for a great show. I agree with all points made.

    I will say 1 thing that was not mentioned, however- To the credit of American audiences, the remake failed miserably at the box office.

    Also, having been forced to listen to some of the clips you pulled from the remake, it painfully reminded me how Kiefer Sutherland, much like his Brat Pack brethren Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, was always much better in smaller, supporting roles than he was in lead roles.

    “George SLY-ZER”. Gaah! There it is again!

  11. Feedback says:

    I feel your pain, Tank. How do you think I felt being forced to manually insert that soundbite into this episode about a hundred times?

    Anyway, this will cure you of your Eggbert earworm.

  12. Mike Tank says:

    Haha! Wow. THANKS.

    And I thought you had peaked with “But it’s haaaard!”.

    Man, was I WRONG.

    I’m vogueing to the Ebert/Sly-zer remix as we speak.

  13. Feedback says:

    Here’s a link to the Ebert review:

  14. Curtis says:

    I usually don’t heed “pause this podcast now” warnings, but I did this time. I have ordered The Vanishing and will watch it before continuing my listening.

  15. Feedback says:

    I’m glad you heeded the warning, Curtis. When you see the film, you’ll thank me for being so emphatic on that point!

  16. Owen Garth says:

    You both beautifully outlined the reason I don’t (knowingly) see American remakes of foreign films. These days I usually can find the original before the remake, but I always keep my eye on American releases in case it is a remake so that I can trace it back to an original film that I might have missed.

    The funny thing about The Vanishing (1993) is that I remember seeing just the ending on television back then and even without seeing the rest of the movie deciding that Jeff Bridges, Nancy Travis and Keifer Sutherland fighting in a graveyard was “pretty stupid.”

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