Shouting Match: Are Horror Remakes Good or Evil?

Horror movies have been being remade for four decades, but never with the fever of now. 2009 promises to have more than its share, from My Bloody Valentine 3D to Last House on the Left to the ultimate slasher, Friday the 13th. Are horror remakes a good thing? A terrible thing? Something to be celebrated or destroyed? Raging Robert Fure and Angry Adam Sweeney take up the gloves this week: Are horror remakes triumphant good or all consuming evil?

Opening Statements

Robert: Anytime a film is scheduled to be remade, there are undoubtedly jeers from the choir. I know, for at times I’ve lead them myself, but you can’t damn them all based on the piles that have given the remake a bad name. There have been many great remakes over the years, including films that many don’t even recognize as remakes. Of late, the horror industry has been inundated with dozens of remakes, from the well received The Grudge to the ill received, well, any other Japanese horror remake. But rather than give up the ghost and say remakes are always unnecessary and bad, I submit that remakes of horror movies are not only alright, but that they’ve given us some great horror and there are more fantastic remakes on the way. In the wake of My Bloody Valentine 3D and the face of Friday the 13th I say to you, sir – Bring on the losing argument.

Adam: Robert, I will concede that when it comes to knowledge of the horror genre, you have me out-manned. What you don’t have is an abundant amount of evidence to back your argument. For every impressive remake there are 10 pathetic wastes of time to pile on top it like bodies Jason Voorhees left behind. Psycho, The Omen, and Halloween are all perfect examples of classics that Hollywood couldn’t leave alone. Were any of the remakes superior? No. We’ve even had a Top 10 list of the worst horror remakes on the site, for crying out loud. The best argument one can make for the sake of horror remakes is that the writer and director would find a way to retell the story in an original way. My reply would be two-pronged. 1) Why aren’t we instead focusing on making any original stories? Would you try to repaint the Mona Lisa? and 2) the fact is that Hollywood isn’t making remakes of horror films to find new ways of telling them. They are making them because as Todd Farmer, co-writer of My Bloody Valentine 3-D, stated, it’s a recognizable name that they can cash in on. The industry is taking advantage of all of the fans of the classics and laughing all the way to bank as we try to pull up our pants and take the knife out of our back. We need to quit raping the classics and come up with new horror stories.

The Rebuttal

Jason Voorhees Can't SwimRobert: Of course I’m all for generating original ideas, but to be fair, tons of original ideas suck just as badly, if not more. The Omen wasn’t bad, it just was unnecessary, which I think is different. No one had to make it as they didn’t add anything and they didn’t do it better. For a horror remake to be alright in my book, it’s either got to be a little different or a lot better. The Thing from John Carpenter is a remake and its not only one of my favorite horror movies, its one of my favorite movies all time. Halloween from Zombie added in some gore and wasn’t terrible, and Dawn of the Dead from Snyder was totally kick ass. The reason I can stand behind horror remakes with a straight face is that bad horror flicks are nothing new. There are tons of movies from the last three decades that have awesome premises that just sucked. Or that don’t hold up well at all. Watch the original Last House on the Left and tell me it’s still good. It’s not. So remakes can take shitty movies or movies that haven’t held up and revitalize them and make them awesome.

Further, take a look at our current franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, et al. Those later sequels sucked hard balls. Real hard balls. Those movies are terrible, but the characters are not. If one way of saving my beloved slashers is to reboot them and do it hardcore and fun, then I’ll sign those papers in blood right now.

Adam: I think the majority of horror remakes fall under the categories of being either bad or unnecessary. That’s the problem. I had a feeling you’d bring Carpenter’s remake of The Thing, also one of my favorite films of all-time, into the picture. But you know that Carpenter also is responsible for the creation of Michael Myers and Halloween, one of the greatest original horror films. With Hollywood so focused on protecting their investments, in large part by rehashing stories we know, I wonder if a genius like Carpenter would have even been able to get the original Halloween the greenlight in this day and age. It’s time for Hollywood execs to come out from under the bed, grow some balls like Dr. Loomis and not make us tolerate the likes of a remake you’d say, “wasn’t terrible.” Yeah, a remake like My Bloody Valentine 3-D may be able to revitalize one film, but how many other disastrous entries do we have to spend our time and/or money on to get to a solid one?

The sequels to Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre aren’t really relevant in the conversation because it was the original idea that made all of those stories great. In fact, you pointing to sequels only makes my point. We need to stop expanding on the same idea. I want to be able to say my generation has new horror legends that can slash with the likes of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface. But it seems like that isn’t possible because some idiot in Hollywood thinks it’s safer and smarter to re-do When a Stranger Calls.

Closing Arguments

Robert: From the outset, I’m willing to cede the point that a lot of remakes are unnecessary or terrible. I’m totally against remaking films that are still good – but that is the clincher. They still have to be good. They have to stand the test of time. I have no problem remaking piles upon piles of bad horror. Nor do I have problems revitalizing franchises. I think sequels are entirely relevant. The movies survived to spawn an average of like 7 sequels each, and, like James Bond, we want them to continue. Would you argue that Casino Royale was a bad reboot? You want a list of good remakes? The Thing, Dawn of the Dead, My Bloody Valentine 3D, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Quarantine, The Hills Have Eyes, Night of the Living Dead, and The Fly. I’m almost positive we can add the upcoming Friday the 13th remake as well. Are all the bad remakes worth suffering through to get to these? Yes – because we don’t even have to suffer through them. We don’t have to watch them. There is no killing the remake trend – but there’s no need to if Hollywood can give us entertaining shit.

When a Stranger Calls Again, Don't AnswerAs for original ideas, Jason Voorhees, the most iconic slasher of all, didn’t even have a hockey mask until the third sequel. Freddy Krueger didn’t start cracking wise immediately either. And there is original horror out there. Yes, we need more of it. Hatchet was fantastic. I’m super excited for Midnight Movie and Trick r Treat and all sorts of other original horror movies. But most of these I have to wait for DVD for. So I guess what I’m really saying here is that horror remakes are okay, because they’re something we have to settle for in the mean time. Right now, horror is in a tough place. The “original” horror we get is all “torture porn.” That’s fine, I like a bit of that, but I need slashers. I need over the top fun kills. And if it takes having some people fuck up, then fine. But if we get a few great ones in the mix, I’m willing to settle. Like I mentioned, there are a lot of ideas out there that are great the were bungled or that have long gone stale – that’s no reason to let them fade away. So I say, bring on original horror. Bring it on hard! But let’s not forget that there is plenty of talent that can jumpstart existing horror, drag it out of the gutter and make it great again. Also, fuck any PG-13 remake that is a compromise. If you’re going to make it, you make it great and you make it right, otherwise, in any film, go fuck yourself.

Adam:
I believe Sir William Shakespeare once said, “You can’t polish a turd.” And that is what happens when you remake an already bad film. You’re putting blood red icing on a worm infested cake. Also, I’m not saying all sequels are pointless. However, not many horror sequels can match their predecessor. Truth be told, not many sequels in any genre can. Isn’t it enough to say, “Okay, that was a bad ass story. Let’s leave it alone?” And I have to pick a bit of a bone with some of the remakes you chose as quality reboots. Invasion of the Body Snatchers had not one, but two pointless remakes in 1993 and 2007. Neither the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Amityville Horror remake meant as much to me as the original. Unless seeing Van Wilder go crazy or Jessica Biel in a midriff shirt is enough reason to make a film. The latter might mean you’re okay with watching I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Now that’s a true horror film.

Where we differ is that you’re saying it’s okay to tolerate bad or good ones if it means we get a great remake every once in awhile. I contend that there aren’t enough great remakes to make me forget all the House of Waxes of the world.

However, I think we both are operating from similar mindsets. I thought Victor Crowley in Hatchet was a beast and can’t wait to see Trick R’ Treat. So why are we forced to wait to see these films on DVD? Is it because audiences don’t want to see original projects, or is it because Hollywood knows we will accept a remake of Black Christmas when they throw it at us? Sadly, horror films will continue to be remade because they are the cheapest genre to film, don’t require high priced talent and reach an audience that mainly wants to see one thing; lots of blood and people leaving in body bags. That doesn’t mean we have to take their shit when they shovel it at us. Call me the Barack Obama of the horror genre, Can we stand up to remakes and create a new set of horror icons? Yes we can! Tell you what, remakes can be made but will not be released nationally unless they get the Film School Rejects Horror Board seal of approval. We will be kind of like the anti-MPAA, giving thumbs up to only the slashers that bring a good story, fresh kills, nudity and fun. (fun not meaning torture. Got that Eli Roth?) Deal? Now let’s go jump on a machete for the sake of our horror film brethren.

The Final Verdict

Seeing Jessica Biel in a midriff shirt is reason enough to make a film, isn’t it? This long-winded argument can only be settled in the comment section below. What do you think? Should horror remakes be done away with or are they worth it in the long run?


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