Why do bad things happen to good fans? Whether it’s atrocious art, ridiculous writing or something else entirely – some crimes against fandom cannot go unanswered. When that happens, it’s time to say “BLAARGH!”
One of my favorite moments from the movie Jurassic Park is the scene in which Ian Malcolm basically tells John Hammond that just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. That pretty much sums up my feelings of remakes in general… Sure, they’re easy to make and profitable for the most part, but are they really necessary? For the past five years or so, horror films have been the remake du jour, with many an icon of terror being rehashed for 21st-century consumption. While the overall quality of these remakes is debatable, it’s a shame that these filmmakers aren’t spending their time and energy coming up with new ways to scare us.
The ’80s are remembered for its glut of slasher flicks, and the ’90s brought us the ironic, self-aware horror of Scream and its ilk. With this first decade of the 21st century mere months away from being over, its horror legacy will probably wind up being the remake. This decade brought us “torture porn” movies like Saw and Hostel, but the subgenre didn’t branch out much beyond those two franchises. For the past 10 years, the majority of major horror movie releases have been remakes or re-imaginings of past horror movies.
Some horror remakes managed to do something new and original with the pre-established storyline and have become classics in their own right. John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing and Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead are two excellent examples. Most modern horror remakes, like Gus Van Sant’s ill-fated remake of Psycho and last year’s rehashings of My Bloody Valentine and Friday the 13th, just gave us the same overall story with improved gore effects (or, in the case of Psycho, an implied masturbation scene). Rob Zombie’s Halloween seemed to straddle the line between these two types of remakes… It definitely upped the gore ante of the legendary original, but at the same time, it added a richer backstory behind Michael Meyers’ murderous rampage. Halloween was obviously a labor of love for Zombie, but he had already shown that he can create original horror films with House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Both of those films were modeled after older horror movies, but at least they didn’t capitalize on familiar titles to gain recognition.
Many more horror remakes are coming down the pipeline. New versions of The Wolf Man, The Evil Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street will be arriving in theaters within the next year. These movies will no doubt be popular and may turn out to be quite entertaining. It’s just a shame that these films are dominating the horror landscape instead of giving audiences more original stories and characters. For every original horror flick that comes out, like Cabin Fever or The Descent, there are at least three remakes (or sequels of remakes) that aren’t really contributing anything of value to the horror genre. Call me a snob, but I would prefer to see something new. Remakes are easy money for the studios, though, so we’ll be sure to see more in the years to come, and as long as people keep buying tickets, Hollywood will have no reason to invest in original horror stories.