Horror Remakes: Better or Butchered?

The market for remakes in the Horror Flick industry has become more and more saturated in recent years.  New and talented filmmakers are taking on “the classics” and trying not to butcher them.  Some of these films turn out to be pretty good. In my view, films that include the original creators in the production process turn out to be the better remakes.

remakesAt some point, the producers of these remakes decided that the classics just weren’t good enough.  Obviously, motion graphics and other special effects technology have advanced since the 80’s (when most of these classics were being made), but who is to say that new technology is the missing piece to these classic films?

I can think of times when I have watched an old horror movie, and the special effects are unrealistic and even laughable at times, but in my opinion, that is part of what makes them so great.  Although these movies may receive a lot of criticism about whether or not it is necessarily to recreate them, they have typically done pretty well at the box office.

Evil Dead was probably the most fan-pleasing remake to come out in recent years.  The film did a great job of introducing a new angle to the story while using more modern filmmaking techniques and effects.  It is easy to add CGI to any film in order to spruce up production value, but the producers of Evil Dead chose to use minimal CGI for the new film, using mainly FX make-up and CGI where it was absolutely needed. The new film was directed by Fede Alvarez after Sam Raimi (the original creator) hand-selected him.

Sam Raimi and former star Bruce Campbell who played “Ash” in the original films had many conversations about the possibility of remaking The Evil Dead.  They wanted to make a film that would be genuinely scary that would spark new life into the franchise.  In an interview with Screen Rant, Bruce Campbell assured us, “You’re going to have some references [to the original] in there and there’s going to be things the fans will enjoy as far as familiar aspects, but it’s a whole new ball game.”  This is an example where the involvement of the past founders of this cult-classic clearly had a large influence on the crowd pleasing aspect of the new film.

Carrie is the latest horror remake to hit theaters.  Judging from the movie trailer, this movie is much more reliant on special effects when compared to the new Evil Dead.  The new Carrie is also supposed to be a more faithful adaption of the book.  This is an example, in my opinion, of a horror remake gone wrong.  There was only one studio behind this film (Misher Films) whereas Evil Dead had two different studios involved (Ghost House and FilmDistrict).

Carrie had a budget of $30 million and Evil Dead had a budget of $17 million.  Apparently it doesn’t take a large budget to make a great horror film.  Even with close to double the budget as Evil Dead, Carrie proves to be another classic example of a thoughtless and regurgitated fraction of the original film.

I’m not the only one that thinks this remake was unnecessary.  Stephan King himself said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “…why, when the original was so good?”  If the original writer of the book isn’t behind the film, that should be a pretty big red flag.  As suspected, Carrie has done poorly at the box office, and is very much just a visual revamping of the original film.  It brings nothing new to the table and at the same time, falls very short of the original.

In closing, I feel that there is definitely a market for horror remakes.  Every once in a while, if done correctly, a remake can add new life to one of your favorite franchises.  I see a definite correlation between the involvement of past creators in the production of remakes and how successful the remake ultimately is.  This is displayed rather nicely with the two examples I used.

Would I like to see more remakes in the future?  I suppose I wouldn’t mind, however, they need to feel like a necessary step in for a franchise, and they need to in some way ode to the classics.  It’s always nice to see Hollywood produce something completely original every once in a while.  There is definitely something annoying about the constant reproduction of movies that are already good.  In my opinion, I would like to see a remake (or re-imagining) of The Bride of Frankenstein.  How interesting would a modern take on the Frankenstein story be?  I think it has potential.

Alright, what do you think?

Do you enjoy remakes? What does it take for a remake to be truly great?

Should there be collaboration between the original and new creators when producing a remake?

Rob Bauer

3 thoughts on “Horror Remakes: Better or Butchered?

  1. When it comes to remakes I’m generally on the fence leaning towards “for remakes”. I think that remakes have their own place in the horror genre and are a welcome addition to the film industry. Typically horror films are cheaper to produce than other genres and the addition of the brand recognition because its a remake easily shows that it is a smart financial decision. It also allows a new director to show the audience their interpretation of the character and stories. Overall good for creativity (in a certain sense) and the market.

  2. I personally don’t like horror movies in general because I feel like they are always terrible movies, but with that being said I still watch them and based on what I have seen I personally think remakes are horrible. In other genres I like remakes sometimes but with horror I do not like them at all. The reason I say this is because I feel as though that their just as cheesy if not cheesier than the original; the difference is that the originals most likely were not cheesy at the time they came out. For a remake to be truly great all starts with a creative new original story and a lot of hard work to make it better than its predecessor. I think there should be collaboration; a perfect example of this is the new Star Wars movies, George Lucas wrote the story for the new movies, but J.J. Abrams is directing it. Lucas wrote and directed the originals, but is letting Abrams direct the new trilogy but working with him.

  3. I feel like if something’s being remade it should be in the spirit of the original but still be it’s own clearly defined entity. Like Bruce Campbell said, it’s good to have a few nods to the original just for the sake of fan service, but if you go overboard with them they loose all chance to be unique. I’d say that it’s completely up to the discretion of the new director and producers to say how much influence they want from the original. The original director can give input or say “this is how I did it, or would do it if I could do it over”, but again if this happens too much it looses it’s own identity. Especially for a horror film, especially in the realm of a franchise, it’s hard to have a unique trait to set you a part from most of the other movies in the horror genre, so I don’t see the need to stay too close to the original version.

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