They say “they don’t make them like they used to” and usually I’d be inclined to disagree. Usually I’d say that whatever art is being churned out today is better than what was being churned out by our ancestors, just because it’s contemporary and subsequently more relevant. But, when looking at the Horror genre, it seems that a stasis has been reached and that Horror films are being made exactly how they used to be.
I think it goes without saying that remakes of classic horror movies have a terrible track record. Almost every single one (and there are a lot) seem to up the gore and CGI quotients while lessening tension, personality and generally quality. From a brief Google search, I pulled up this lot:
- My Bloody Valentine 3D 2009 from 1981’s OG.
- Dawn of the Dead 2004 from 1978’s OG.
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 from 1974’s OG.
- The Amityville Horror 2005 from 1979’s OG.
- A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010 from 1984’s OG.
- The Omen 2006 from 1976’s OG.
- The Wolfman 2010 from 1941’s OG.
- Friday the 13th 2009 from 1980’s. OG
- The Thing 2011 from 1982’s OG. (Technically a prequel but everything from the story to the set up and the climax is almost verbatim. Also worth noting that the ’82 OG is itself a remake)
In every single case, the IMDb score is lower for the remake but Box Office receipts are higher. So, what possesses people to pay cinema prices for a worse movie when they could pick up the superior original on DVD for comparative peanuts? Are we locked in cycle driven by nostalgia and never stifled by Hollywood’s continued ineptitude? Is it reasonable to just give up? Can we all just stop going to see these films? Like a terrible boyfriend, always promising to never make the same mistake, to never make another terrible remake, Hollywood always does it and we, the forgiving girlfriend of an audience are always fooled.
The trend for these remakes seemingly is to take the story or at least the main villain of the story and subsequently take away any semblance of humour and personality from that original piece. Even if you strip away the fact that these movies are thirty years old in most cases, they are still non-ironically “of-the-time” humorous. So why are these remakes so bafflingly straight faced and boring?
Now I’ve left out 2013’s Evil Dead as a rare exception of a film that successfully balances “doing your own thing” and “preserving some semblance of respect for the original”. Like the others, it also strips away the deliberately over the top humour of it’s 1981 counterpart but only to cement an atmosphere completely of it’s own.
The same customary cabin in the woods set up is there but with a new, actually believable reason for the cliched good-looking-teen-gang’s visit to this dank shed – lead Mia (Jane Levy) has a coke addiction and this is a cold turkey intervention. This means, when the Necronomicon is uncovered and Mia gets possessed, no one notices.
It adds a contemporary feel to the proceedings, rather than picking up exactly where the original left off. The typical formula; 1X Villain (supplemented for a Demonic possession in ED’s case), 10X dim, pretty teens, 9X deaths is usually photocopied and here it is again. But ala 2009’s Star Trek, a few nifty narrative tricks and one sly story arrangements sets it apart just enough for it to be worthwhile as it’s own movie.
Why in this post-Scream world where Horror convention has been addressed head on and leap-frogged over do we keep trotting out films that remain so unaware of the 100 years of cinematic Horror preceding it? Why is it that Horror, a genre that needs to be predicated on fear and the unknown is so happy to take a trend and run with it? We have this constant slew of Remakes, in the mid-00’s we had the Saw/torture-porn thing, nowadays it’s the stream of shaky-cam “real-life” possession thing. Why can’t we break from these cycles?
Tomorrow; A chronological run-down of all the Vampire films ever filmed, what’s wrong with them and how my own Vampire film One For Sorrow is better than them all, answering the above question.
As always, stay tuned!
– Oliver Drew