It happens every single time. The press will get wind that someone might be thinking about remaking a horror movie. Within minutes, legions of enraged fans hop online to rant and bitch about how the source material is sacred and must never be touched. Every. Single. Time.
The hard cold fact is that we will ALWAYS have movie remakes. This is not some new trend, as people often believe. Hollywood has been consistently remaking horror films since the very beginning.
One of the earliest movies ever made was Thomas Edison’s FRANKENSTEIN in 1910, but yet someone remade it in 1915, and again in 1931, and so on. (I really wish I could hear the guy in 1915 saying “I can’t believe they are remaking Edison’s film. That’s total bullshit!”) And we are still remaking that same tale today.
Let’s also remember some of our most beloved horror films are in fact remakes. THE THING (1982), THE FLY (1986), INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)- these are all remakes. And yet we love them… often more than their originals.
The recent “surge” of remakes is nothing new and not really a surge at all. We have just become more aware of remakes and louder about them since the explosion of the Internet. Social networks allow each of us the opportunity to know the exact moment someone utters “C.H.U.D. remake” and all chime in with equal parts lamentation and hate-fueled venom about how the original is consecrated movie grounds and why James Franco shouldn’t be directing it. Before you google “James Franco’s C.H.U.D. remake”, I made that up. But I’m a little intrigued, and the point still stands. And why wouldn’t we go online to rant? It is fun to be opinionated and argue. Part of the appeal of the Internet (besides porn) is that everyone can be a critic!
Hollywood will always sprint towards remakes for a number of reasons. First, the audience is already built in.
Hey- you know who Freddy Kruger is! The majority of the population knows who Freddy Kruger is! Let’s bring him back AGAIN because half of our marketing job is done, and the movie is already going to sell plenty of tickets because everyone knows Freddy. James Franco’s C.H.U.D. remake is performing well, so let’s get him to direct.
It is easy money.
Remakes also lessen budgetary risk, and Hollywood is a business. Why would a movie studio dump millions of dollars on a new, unknown monster that may end up being a box office bomb, when they could just rehash an old monster? They know that even if the remake sucks big movie balls, people will still buy a ticket because it is related to the previously successful project. Even the angry people will buy tickets just to talk about how big of balls the movie sucked. 1998’s GODZILLA-sized balls.
It is also important to remember that Hollywood is comprised of artists who are themselves movie fans. Most filmmakers have a movie they are passionate about and would love to remake, something that touched them so much that they would do just about anything to become part of the title’s history. There is something beautiful and admirable about this. I will admit that sometimes remakes are quick and dirty plays for audience dollars, but often the people behind the remakes possess a deep love for the source material. They are not trying to crap on the original in a dash for a paycheck. They are, instead, looking to bring the mythos to a new audience and inspire someone the way the original film inspired them.
I know everyone has a sacred movie they want to remain pure, and I must confess that the first time I heard about the SUSPIRIA remake my stomach dropped. But…what if it is awesome? What if it makes me see the original in a whole new light? What if it reinvigorates an aging film and draws attention to the original?
Or…what if it is the worst horror movie ever? Who cares?! Regardless of any remake, sequel, re-imagining, or spin-off, the original movie is still intact, and we as fans can still enjoy it just the same as we always did.
In many cases, I find myself liking both interpretations. Sometimes I’m in the mood for the original THE BLOB and HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, and sometimes I want the 1988 and 1999 remakes. Occasionally, I want the classic Joe Dante PIRANHA, and sometimes only Aja’s self-aware remake quells my horror craving. This same duality occurs with the original and remake versions of CAT PEOPLE, SORORITY ROW, MANIAC, HOUSE OF WAX, THE TOOLBOX MURDERS, and endless others.
So let’s try to be a bit more Zen about remakes and come to terms with them. They are going to happen. They have always happened. And they will keep happening. But no one is destroying the original in the process. And most of all, no one is forcing you to watch it. You can hold on to your memory in any way you see fit. But also realize, sometimes new memories are nice too!