Remakes, Reboots & Re-Imaginings: My Thoughts

How do you feel whenever you hear your favorite classic horror is being remade and updated? Do you rage over the internet in a fit of armchair angst? Do you root and cheer, hoping they add more meat to the slaughter stew? Personally, I do a little bit of both. It just seems too hard to stay on one side of the fence when it comes to these things. With talk of It, The Exorcist and Hellraiser (to name a few) being remade soon, I figured a rant on the subject couldn't hurt.

Truth be told, there are so many different reasons why some of our favorite horror movies are remade it's hard to feel the same way every time. When I initially heard about the Halloween remake of 2007, I was stoked. I love Rob Zombie, both for the music and the movies. When I finally saw Halloween, I felt betrayed. I mean, a part of me enjoyed it. The other part wanted to slit my wrists in the bathtub while hugging a toaster. It's not because it was a bad movie, per se, but because it was so different from the original. This led me to feel more negatively towards the Friday the 13th remake that came out a couple years later until I actually saw it. It was actually decent (at the time), although in the back of my mind there were still reservations brewing just for the sake of it.

In my opinion, I think the reason we get so riled over remakes is because not only do we really want something new, but we just don't want our favorite things screwed with just for the sake of reeling in a few new viewers for that particular franchise. But that being said, do you remember the Resident Evil Remake (REmake) for the Nintendo Gamecube? No matter how awesome the original was, REmake eats it alive. That's right, one of the greatest horror games of all-time was usurped by its own remake. That's because when Capcom redid it, they didn't completely re-do the storyline for the sake of adding bells and whistles; they took what was there and polished it...and then added some bells and whistles. And the end result was a game that kept up with the original in both style and atmosphere so as not to alienate its original fanbase, but gave old and new gamers alike something extra for coming back. That's what we like to see in horror remakes--that familiarity of the original to the extent that it doesn't piss all over what was already there.

For movie makers, this is a tighter rope to walk because it's hard enough recreating the original, but having a severely limited scope to be able to add new things tends to leave you, the viewer, feeling like you watched a totally different movie (again, Halloween) or that the new movie prides sensationalism over substance. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake of 2003 is a good example of the latter. While I personally actually liked this version, I can't help but agree with a lot of the panning this movie received. It really wasn't nearly as scary, objectively, as the original, but it was still watchable and had some decent atmosphere.

Now, despite the frothing at the mouth any of these movie (and game) remakes caused, the thing that made them enjoyable was the fact that care was taken by the (re-)creators to make something that the people could like, while making it their own vision. Unlike the likes of movies such as Day of the Dead or The Eye (both 2008) which took the original films and just shat all over them. Taking a quote from Rotten Tomatoes, reviewer Brian Orndoff had this to say about Day of the Dead:
It's a pageant of stupidity that hopes gushing wounds and deliberate fanboy-catnip slices of ultraviolent cheese will mask the reality that it's a worthless offering in an increasingly abused genre.
The Eye didn't fare too well, either. Another Rotten Tomatoes reviewer, Felix Vasquez, Jr. said:
Terrible direction, forgettable performances, and writers who are so faithful to the source material that they even pick up the original film's plot holes...
Ouch. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, right? Well, not really. What put these movies in the hurt box is the fact that they lacked consideration of the viewer. What was it about the originals that made them so good (yes, I know Day of the Dead was the lowest rated Romero zombie film, but it was still fantastic)? They had style. They had substance. They didn't pander to demographics or slog their way boringly through the story. They gripped the reigns and took the viewers by storm. And I'm not saying no effort was put into these movies, that would be ignorant. I'm just saying sometimes it's evident when the best foot wasn't put forward.

But that brings me to another point: no matter what is done in a remake, somebody is going to be pissed off about it. There are always those who consider themselves purists. These are the ones tend to be very hardcore about their love of the classics and are usually the hardest to please. Even with the recent Evil Dead remake, actor Bruce Campbell had to set the record straight as to why it wasn't going to suck and we see how that turned out.

So what does this have to do with my opinion of remakes, reboots & re-imaginings? Well, everything, really. What I'm saying is love 'em or hate 'em, remakes are going to happen. Some of the best movies we consider classics are remakes of older movies that were considered classics. It doesn't necessarily mean that movie makers have completely run out of ideas. You have to consider that sometimes, sometimes, the people behind the remakes were actual fans of the original and wanted to see it from a different angle and getting money from pissed off fanboys isn't exactly top priority.


How do you feel about remakes, reboots or re-imaginings? Have a favorite? Leave a comment and let me know what's on your mind.

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