Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Stance on Remakes Part I

As many of you already know, I am normally a person that loathes remakes, or at the very least, does not like them. I have contradicted myself many times before saying that there are some remakes that I like… and in fact, my top 2 favorite horror movies of all time are The Thing (1982) and The Blob (1988) but I want to shed some light on my remake hatred and possibly provide some kind of rational explanation.

Remakes are updated versions of previous films, essentially redoing and redistributing a film based on an original idea. It seems like now in the past 5 years we have been subjected to so many remakes of so many slasher and classic horror films that it’s gotten ridiculous. Although, remakes have been around since nearly the beginning of horror films themselves and a lot of them turned out be classics among the horror genre. I don’t want to get into a history of remakes but I will state this: remakes can be done right so long as the director/writer appreciate the original.

Now, I want to talk about why I hate remakes. Normally, I never used to have a problem with them and for the most part, back then, I welcomed them because they were a fresh new look at something and I hoped that they would reintroduce this generation to old horror. It wasn’t until about 2 or 3 years ago when it seemed like every other movie that came out was a horror remake. What pissed me off was when I saw movies that came out in the 80’s or 90’s being remade for no purpose other than money! They remade The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which did not need to be remade because you could not duplicate the power, magnitude and rawness the original one had. Then you have the remake of Psycho, which was really a shot-for-shot revision of the original, which brought nothing to the screen other than a new cast. Crap! When you remake old, original, classics like The Omen or Invasion of the Body Snatchers (In reference to Body Snatchers of 1993) then you are taking movies that have enough power on their own and pushing them down a notch. It’s insulting!!!!

Then producers took beloved iconic slashers and decided to remakes their films and therefore they butchered the original storylines, they turned things around and they all did it in no respect to the original. Halloween shat on the ’78 version. Friday the 13th was utterly pointless and wooden, Last House on the Left didn’t have that shock value and now they are remaking Nightmare on Elm Street and it looks like they aren’t giving Freddy his signature body movement. They are taking what made these icons so famous and redoing them in a completely shitty manner.

If that’s not enough, Hollywood then takes shitty slasher movies, which were shitty then and turning them into over glossy, teen-packed movies filled with stereotyped high-schoolers and pretty girls and boys. The only difference is, in the 80’s, shitty movies were better because at least the movie had heart and passion… but now, they only remake them because they can. I’m talking about movies like Prom Night, Sorority Row and The Stepfather. All bad movies then, but they somehow made them worse.

Now, rather then remaking American horror movies they have decided to go to the Asian horror movie industry and remake those. Honestly, Americans cannot replicate the haunting atmosphere, the cultural similarities, the metaphors and the original stories that the Japanese and the Chinese mastered. To me, the only good Asian remake is The Ring because it kept the amazing atmosphere and the acting really made the movie powerful. Other than that, there isn’t any other good Asian remake.

When I watch a remake, I normally try to compare them to their predecessors and a lot of people say that I shouldn’t because, honestly, I don’t know why I should. If the director is not going to have respect for the original, then they shouldn’t be allowed to remake the movie… or at the very least call the movie something else. If you don’t respect the original… then you have movies like Halloween and Halloween II or even Psycho. All disasters.

I haven’t really scratched the surface of all the remakes out there but honestly, ever since they greenlit the remakes of Scanners, The Exorcist, Jaws (possibly), Little Shop of Horrors, Hellraiser, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Child’s Play, THE ORPHANAGE, SCREAM, THE THING, fucking Poltergeist, Suspiria and They Live!!!! It’s pointless; it’s even pointless to remake a remake!!!! What the fuck gives?? They are tainting the horror genre… but, I digress, because there are some good remakes out there.


Andre said...

I sort of liked The Last House on the Left remake because I thought they really made some valid changes that forced a new outlook. I think nowawadays it's going to be extremely hard to get that shock value for any movie that has a theatrical release. I will always look to movies like Last House on the Left for that authentic rawness but again I found the remake to be a refreshing take on it- without losing sight of what the original intended to do.

The only thing that makes me really sad over remakes is envisioning that kids growing up today will hear the word Halloween and only think of Rob Zombie's version or even in a worser case, thinking that the Vince Vaughn Psycho was the first of it's kind. In many ways the remake fad is bringing about the death of the horror genre we hold so near and dear to us-as it get's replaced by "updated" versions that threaten a long history of fear and impact.

Oh and I was thinking of this idea today so let's see if it makes sense. Most of us saw John Carpenter's The Thing before we ventured off to the original. The same thing could be said for The Blob although I imagine less so- BUT could our perceptions on the greatness of those remakes be influenced by the fact that we hadn't been exposed to the original? Does that make sense? It's like currently we are living in a time where our favorite horror movies are the next line to incur the remake wrath- but kids growing up today may see Rob Zombie's Halloween (knowing there was an "older" remake but never seeing it) and base their fears and experiences on RZ's vision. Terrible example I know but I think it's pretty possible- especially when you think about what kids find scary today -gore and gore- as opposed to the suspense of the original. I don't know if I'm articulating this well enough but it makes sense in my head I Promise!

kruegerdude said...

I agree on most of the points that you made here. The thing that upsets me is that I know a lot of younger people who haven't seen the original films that are being remade and in the end they get a mediocre productthat will probably steer them away from the original film. To not know Englunds 'Freddy Krueger' or Perkins 'Norman Bates' is almost blasphemous. The same goes for many remakes. The original film-makers bled for those movies and breathed life into them. Now the studios have an endless amount of money and resources so they aren't working as passionately for the end product. Hopefully we will se a surge of original ideas sometime soon. It seems like direct to DVD is where horror fans have to look though. Great article!

kruegerdude said...

Sorry for the typos...I was going really fast.

Mr. Johnny Sandman said...

No problem man, but as I stated to Andre... I will be making my little rant about kids and horror soon. :) But I agree, indie horror and straight to DVD horror seems to be better than studio made horror.

Anonymous said...

I'm in two minds about remakes...

firstly, it has always been so and the whole purpose of genre cinema is to remake. Good remakes reframe the story in the context of the times, bad remakes do nothing but trade on a famous name (Friday 13th springs to mind). Also plenty of the slasher films have been remade via sequels numerous times so in the case of Friday 13th I have to say that the most recent one is merely yet another pointless retread.

Where the most recent glut of remakes are concerned I have two problems...

1 - they are too slick. the original slashers had a grimness that made them much more memorable. I recently rewatched Elm Street 3 and was struck by the fact that you don't see weirdness like that in US cinema at the moment.

2 - where are the modern icons? studios are flooding cinemas with photocopies - occasionally something breaks out but generally I'm just glad that I'm old enough to rememeber when things were new and bit more dangerous.

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