Are Remakes Ruining Horror?
"Yes" Elwood Jones:
If there is anyone word in the English language, which brings up the bile to the back of your throat quicker than anything else, it has to be the word “Remake”. In-fact it currently seems like the last few years have been nothing but a constant bombardment of remakes with every coming soon list causing a little piece of horror loving soul to die each time I see, which horror classic is soon to receive the sterile reworking of a modern studio system.
Still why does any film honestly needs to be remade, especially when it has often been no longer than twenty years after it’s original release, especially when you consider that film making hasn’t really moved along that greatly in such time, apart moving further away from hands on effects to relying more on CGI effects. Still it does beg the question “if a film works the first time, why remake it?” After all if something isn’t broken in the first place why try and fix it? A question especially asked of the 1998 remake of “Psycho”, which was essentially a shot for shot remake of the original film, begging the question as to why Gus Van Sant, even choose to remake it. Is the prospect of watching a film in black and white really that daunting to a modern audience?
Still the Hollywood remake machine rumbles on, frequently adding to the increasingly sterile state of modern horror, with the current output often seeming like a GQ explosion on the screen, as god forbid the audience be exposed to realistic average looking people, which it could be argued was what was so great about the original films and something especially magnified by the recent series reboots for “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm St”.
Perhaps it is just that as an audience we are now to spoiled with the production quality of films that are being produced, or maybe it’s just the prospect of watching a film which is not in English that it makes it hard, for your average movie goer to watch some of these original films, especially those which are still in the same grainy prints of their original release, something that it seems the studio system feels is a justified reason for remakes, seeing how upon the release of “My Bloody Valentine” (2009) director Patrick Lussier could be found to be defending his film, by stating that it’s release had meant that the original had been given a DVD release which it wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Still this can hardly be argued as being a strong argument, for what is essentially fast cash for the studios.
Studios should be looking forward and trying to evolve on these previous films, by creating new horror legacies rather than trying to emulate and cash in on the legacy of the originals, after all “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken” and recreating a tested classic won’t always produce the same effect created by the original.
"No" Highly Caffeinated:
Are remakes ruining horror? Simply put, Hell No.
I was a late blooming horror fan, it wasn’t until my twenties when I dived headlong into the genre. A great part of that fandom was firmly cemented by the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
In fact the TCM remake inspired me to hire out the original, excited to see what genius it was a remake of. Unfortunately, I can't report back on that, as I slept through most of it. While for its time, the original TCM was groundbreaking and terrifying, watching it for the first time 30 years after it was made however, and it was pretty dull. (ducks throwing fruit) Yes, I said it. But what this does bring up is that the remake worked. It worked in drawing in a new fresh crowd of horror fans.
These new fans grew up with MTV edits, fast paced story telling and shorter run times. But, as we once all were, they are now horror fans that will seek out their new genre of choice, perhaps some will enjoy running through the giant back catalog of horror, but either way, there are new fans for the genre we all love.
New fans means a wider audience appeal for horror films, with more horror films being released to feed that market, where is the downside? Sure, not all horror is great, but that just makes the great ones so much better.
But why remake a film instead of producing new materials? For starters, it is now a brand name. People (like myself) who had never seen TCM knew the branding, knew the premise, and so went in watching expecting good things from such a strong brand. The other strong appeal of the remake for studios is the returns. Horror in general is considered a low budget medium as you don't need known actors to sell it, unlike say with a drama, and generally getting returns on such a lower budget is easier to achieve. Box Office Mojo shows the remake of the Ring grossed almost 130 million dollars in theatres alone, and a further eleven upwards of 50 million. Those are big bikkies for horror films, and easier to grab with a safe brand.
Even those that hate remakes have forked out money to see it, furthering the studio cycle, and if they’ve not, then their biases are without backing.
We live in very different times now, and our horror films need to reflect that. Horror has and always will be a great way to express our fear of the world around us. And while relevant during Cold War times, a relentless William Shatner mask wearing psycho killing teens for what seems no rhyme or reason, in this day and age we now need to know why he is wearing the mask and why he is killing them.
But Carpenter’s film is still better.
Regardless of your stance, we know that everyone has an opinion on this one, so be sure to throw in your two cents in the comments section below!