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DISSECTING THE DIRECTOR: Marcus Nispel

03.06.2012by: Marcey Papandrea

"MARCUS NISPEL"

Marcus Nispel is a student of commercials and music videos, he dropped into our genre almost 10 years ago and hasn’t really looked back since. He has become known as a man of remakes with the audience reaction being quite mixed. But no matter how you feel, you can’t deny the man has a great eye for some pretty impressive visuals. His career thus far has been rather interesting with his films being quite different from each other. Let’s take a look at Mr. Nispel …

BEST WORK


Get The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on DVD here
Get The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Blu-ray here

Naming Nispel’s best work is a no brainer; it’s his remake of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The remake isn’t as good as the original; however it does remain one of the better recent remakes. The key here is that it paid respect to the original, brought something fresh to it and updated the feel. The film isn’t a remake in name only, it follows the basics of the original but adds a few different bits and pieces and it does become its own film.

Now when I first saw this back in the theatre, I hated it. Much like with the original, I had no love whatsoever for the film. Once it came out on DVD, I decided to purchase the limited edition one and give it another shot. I am glad I did, as re-watching it several times over really made me appreciate the film. It isn’t anything spectacular but it is an entertaining and visually fantastic film.

The story doesn’t differ too much, the characters aren’t overly developed and much like the original there was indifference as to whether I cared about them. Jessica Biel was a fine lead, and fine to look at no doubt, but she was missing the ‘it’ factor that Marilyn Burns had. Out of the group, I thought that perhaps Jonathan Tucker did the best job. I didn’t feel they were necessarily bad, the actors tried and that was obvious. The characters were quite thin, so it was hard to really care.

Nispel managed some solid direction though, each scene was cleverly thought out and the camera angles used for certain scenes fit and were just great. The visuals here are the winner, it looks fantastic and I love the way the colour was removed to give it a much grittier look. Daniel Pearl did a great job as cinematographer, who also did the same job on the original. Between Nispel and Pearl, you can’t go wrong with how it looks.

The film is entertaining, it is gory and bloody and the Leatherface family are once again a bunch of messed up people. The film took some chances and most of them paid off, I am glad I gave it that second chance as I do quite like this one and this made me a Nispel fan.

WORST WORK


Get Friday the 13th on DVD here
Get Friday the 13th on Blu-ray here

From one horror remake to another, his worst work for me is FRIDAY THE 13th. Now I don’t think the film itself is terrible, I actually own the DVD (I’ll be honest, I own it for Julianna Guill and as a heterosexual female I am comfortable in saying that) and don’t mind watching it from time to time. The problem is the film is bland and dull, it didn’t take any risks and it just fell flat by the end.

It combines the first few FRIDAY THE 13th entries and the start is actually quite quick as Jason goes from sack to mask. That was fine but once he got his mask it was standard remake territory. He kills the teens, they act like idiots and I just don’t care. I wanted to see him slice and dice them and aside from maybe 1 kill, they just weren’t inventive. The series became known for its inventive kills, and crazy ways to kill people, but there was none of that here.

The direction by Nispel wasn’t as solid as it was with THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or even PATHFINDER for that matter. I didn’t feel anything from him; there was no sense of caring or any attempt to bring more to the table. It felt like a job and he delivered it in the dullest way possible. On the plus side, there are a lot of lovely and naked women but again I only really cared for Ms Guill.

Jason wasn’t too bad, Derek Meers did a decent job, but even Jason felt bored with it all. It was an attempt to reboot the franchise but it didn’t work. For all I cared, this could have been another sequel; it didn’t really feel any different to be honest. There are a few things that work but mostly this is a fail and a disappointment.

TRADEMARKS


Get Conan The Barbarian on DVD here
Get Conan The Barbarian on Blu-ray here

Nispel’s biggest trademark would be his visual style, it is unique and he does know how to tell a story using it. You’ll usually find that washed out look in his work (as mentioned above with THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE), and this goes back to his commercial and music video days. He uses interesting and different camera angles, nothing is ever straight laced and he does like the occasional slow motion spot. The man also has a great eye for showing off the female form, not a bad trademark or gift to have, especially with the genre. As of this date, none of his feature length work has been based on anything original! Oh and let us not forget about his relationship with Daniel Pearl, the cinematographer with whom he frequently works, and they work well together.

HIDDEN GEM


Get Frankenstein on DVD here

Marcus Nispel doesn’t have a huge film resume, but there is certainly one thing on it that most people probably haven’t even heard of. Now I know that you all were hoping I’d pick his Spice Girls music video, but alas I decided to go with something else.

The telemovie (or failed pilot) from 2004 called FRANKENSTEIN is the very definition of hidden gem. I hadn’t even heard of it until this dissection came out and what an interesting and pleasant surprise it turned out to be. Its only fault really is that it was meant for TV and the ending doesn’t resolve much, it was left open but that never happened.

The story is a modern take on the Frankenstein story with a mad Doctor having made several creations. This actually leads a detective duo to investigate what they believe is a serial killer and they soon find out about the mad Doctor and the monsters.

In Nispel fashion it is visually a delight, using that washed out look affectively. The story itself is interesting and Nispel really crafted a suspenseful piece, I was impressed. The cast are all pretty solid too with Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, Michael Madsen, Thomas Kretschmann and Vincent Perez. It is well worth checking out, it is a shame it didn’t get a follow up or turn into a TV series, because I think there was a lot of potential for something special.

NEXT PROJECT


Get Hack/Slash Omnibus Vol.1 here

The latest news for what Nispel is up to as of January is that he had boarded Relativity Media’s HACK/SLASH project as its director. The project is an adaptation of the on-going comic series. It has been in-development for years; perhaps with Nispel on board it might see the light of day. This is again, something that is not original and if this does happen I’d love to see him direct an entirely original film.

Synopsis: HACK/SLASH tells the ongoing adventures of Cassie Hack (daughter of the evil slasher known as The Lunch Lady), who rejected her mother's murderous ways and instead devoted her life to hunting down slashers with her partner Vlad.

OVERALL


Get Pathfinder on DVD here
Get Pathfinder on Blu-ray here

I think Marcus Nispel is an interesting director, whose best days are still ahead of him. I don’t think we’ve seen his masterpiece yet, and here’s hoping he is given the opportunity to do so. He’s a visual guy, and I do enjoy those directors with a keen eye for it. His films for the most part are watchable and fun, I don’t mind sitting down with one on a rainy day. He is a talented guy in my opinion and I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with.

Is there a director you hope to see Dissected? Feel free to send Marcey your suggestions to marcey@joblo.com

Extra Tidbit: Marcus Nispel has directed music videos for a number of artists including Spice Girls, Lil' Kim, No Doubt, George Michael, Janet Jackson, Billy Joel and Elton John!
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