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Horror Movie Remakes

on May 28, 2009 - 10:41am

Original Fright Night movie poster
The dreaded remake. A hot topic especially in horror and sci-fi circles. The question I am pondering today is when is a re-make acceptable, even welcomed?

Here's my thoughts on it.

I often find myself immediately turning my nose up at remakes of movies that were made from about 1975 onwards. I suppose that means a block of about 40 years should have past before people even consider a remake.

If the original movie was well made, or has a cult following, the only apparent reason for remaking it seems to be someone's notion they can make money off an already-existing fan base (which is sometimes a poor assumption to make).

For example, consider Fright Night and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both are classic, corny, kitschy goodness. They were made at the perfect time, in a style reflective of the period. Fans love them for those specific reasons. What could possibly be achieved by remaking them (and both are being remade)? How will you improve on it? If you make them scarier, with less corniness (like say, Paul Reuben's extended death scene in Buffy), it loses the original appeal. Or if you plan to re-create it exactly as is, there's no point to remaking it.

Then there's remakes of remakes. They are going to remake The Thing which I am completely against. You might argue that John Carpenter's version was a remake so all's fair. But I would point out a few things. The original was made in 1951 - black and white, and before Hollywood really had a grasp on special effects (in my opinion, I think horror film special effects started to find its feet in the 1970's). Carpenter's version has possibly the best creature/gore props I've ever seen. I still get creeped out by them to this day.

Also, Carpenter's version is more faithful to the original story that inspired the films.

So, is it ok to remake films as long you reveal more information about the original story? Or if you promise to improve on the special effects ten-fold? What about big budget remakes of Dawn of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? We'll let a pro answer:

I feel it's the worst thing that any filmmaker can do. I actually got a call from my agent and they asked me if I wanted to be involved with the remake of Chainsaw. I said no [expletive removed] way! Those movies are perfect - you're only going to make yourself look like an asshole by remaking them. Go remake something that's a piece of shit and make it good. Like with my movie I have elements of Chainsaw in it because I love that movie so much, but I wouldn't dare want to 'remake' it. It's like a band trying to be another band. You can sound like the Beatles but you can't be the Beatles"

Strong words against remakes. And who, pray tell, am I quoting? Well Rob Zombie of course (circa House of a Thousand Corpses, not present day Rob Zombie).

Right, Rob. Because the original Halloween was a piece of shit. Thank God you came along to make it better.

*Sigh*

To be fair, I did like the fact that Rob Zombie's version revealed more about a young Michael Myers than the original. However, on the whole, the remakes of Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre were just...ok. I'll never re-watch them, I'll never buy them, but I didn't completely hate them.

I simply didn't see any huge improvement from the originals.

Speaking of Zombies, I tend to think movies of the undead are a different animal altogether. For some reason, I don't get as upset when these are redone. Maybe it's because I've become numb to the fact that - with the rare exception (like 28 Days Later or Shaun of the Dead) - most zombie movies are exactly the same anyway (again, in my opinion).

So let's recap. I think remaking a horror film might be a good idea if a substantial amount of time (about 40 years) has past; if the original was made when special effects just didn't exist; if you're going to reveal more about the storyline than the original did.

Original Creature From the Black Lagoon movie posterThis might explain why I'm not upset regarding rumours of a remake of The Creature from the Black Lagoon - not to be confused with the musical production being put on at Universal Studios Hollywood. (Sidenote: I wish horror fans would read entire articles online before they jump in and post their comments. I can't count the amount of bandwagon bashers who post "Don't make this movie!" or "I'll never go to the movies to watch it" on articles talking about the stage production. But I digress).

According to my formula, CFTBL is ripe for a remake after almost 60 years. And while purists can lament that a vintage creature classic is untouchable, what makes the Creature From the Black Lagoon more untouchable than, say, Dracula? Think about the Dracula/Vampire movies we never would have had (admittedly, there's some I would not have missed, but many I've enjoyed). And what if we had stopped at the original Wolfman movies? I hate to think of a world without An American Werewolf in London (which checks all the boxes in my remake formula).

People are up in arms that the new version of Creature from the Black Lagoon might be in 3-D, and how that would be a terrible way to change it. But folks, the original was made in 3-D.

I say bring it on. Just make it better. For example, don't establish the female character as the Monster Alarm. 9 times out of 10, the only reason the rest of the crew knew the creature was there through the whole movie was because the leading lady saw it first and started screaming.

This is probably the longest blog post I've written. I needed to vent about the onslaught of horror movie remakes coming down Hollywood's pipeline. But I didn't want to make a blind rant. Because as much fun as it is to hate the remake, I'd rather get to the heart of why I'm against or for something.

Truth is, money would be better invested in celebrating new talent and telling stories we haven't heard.

Why not give me a zombie movie that takes all the knowledge we have about surviving a zombie attack and puts them into practise at new locations (one group holed up in a firehouse, another at a grocery store, maybe one at school)? Give me multiple locations not showcased in the past, and easily accessible locations zombie-heads argue would be best in an urban location. Highlight the flaws and strengths of each place in one film, cutting to each group periodically as they hunker down in their chosen spot.

That would be much more appreciated than a movie exactly like one I already have in my collection.

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