This week, I thought I’d chat about horror remakes that I love and why I like some even more than the originals.
Most of the time, I hate remakes. To me, it just seems like a cop-out, and way for someone to make a film (and money) without having to come up with an original idea. This is primarily because the new writers and directors and producers will follow the steps of the old film to the letter, only replacing it with a new cast and an updated look. No changes, just a refresh. The good remakes are the ones that will retrace some of the steps of the old film while making their own new footprints without completely going off the beaten path and getting everyone lost. Do you understanding what I’m saying? I hope so. This is especially important when it comes to horror films. You want a film that will scare as much as the original… and then some.
So without further ado, here’s some of my favorite horror remakes:1: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010). I wanna start off with my favorite remake, Nightmare. The original is one of my all-time favorite horror flicks with one of my all-time favorite horror villains, so for someone to remake this is a big deal to me. I was a little leery about this at first because Michael “Baysplosions” Bay was attached to produce it. Not to mention the director Samuel Bayer had only directed music videos prior to this. It’s quite a leap to jump from quick music videos to full-length major motion pictures. and making that jump on a horror classic such as Nightmare is a bit unnerving. However, Bay had done a great job with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes and Bayer had directed some pretty great music videos (i.e. Marilyn Manson’s “Coma White” and The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”), so I gave the team the benefit of the doubt. The result turned out better than expected. Jackie Earle Haley was an excellent casting choice for Freddy, adding depth and even more depravity to the character, as well as some much needed creepiness (Near the end of the original series of films, Robert Englund’s Freddy had become more comical than scary). If I can leave a film more scared than I was of the original, then it’s a successful remake.
2. Friday the 13th (2009). Once again, Michael Bay and a music video director (Marcus Nispel) team up. This time though, I wasn’t as worried. Jason Voorhies was never really a favorite of mine. I liked the look of him but that was about it. He was just a mindless killing machine, no flare, no panache. The remake changed that. It gave him a little something extra that got me to pay attention – Intelligence. I’m not saying he’s a brainiac or anything, but he’s not a mindless twit either. He sets up elaborate traps and alarms and underground tunnels all over the camp in order to snare unsuspecting visitors. And you know what else is great about “new” Jason… he runs! That’s right – he freakin’ runs! No longer does he move with a slow gait while you sit and wonder how the hell he managed to catch up to, and sometimes get ahead of, someone running faster than him. His new ability to run, along with the tunnels, made it completely feasible for him to “magically” appear in front of someone after they thought they lost him. Not sure why it took so long for someone to make Jason run, but someone needs to buy that person a beer. Thanks for bringing logic to work that day. And let me just say that when the ending came around, I was expecting it, but it still scared the crap out of me. That, added with making J. Voorhies interesting to me, AND skipping over the ridiculous “revenge-seeking, killer Momma Voorhies” storyline makes for a damn fine remake in my book.
3. Halloween (2007). I may or may not have mentioned this to you before, readers, but pretty much anything Rob Zombie does is golden to me. Music, movies, artwork, whatever – it’s all golden! Some of it may not be as shiny as the rest (Halloween II), but it’s still valuable. This film is no exception.
The original Halloween was already as scary as could be, how do you top that? Michael Myers: a deranged serial killer who grew up in a mental institution, escaped from said institution, and is hellbent on slaughtering his family, anyone who gets in his way, and anyone who goes into his old house. And he’s out-and-about on Halloween night, dressed in a mechanic’s jumpsuit and a mask, so you can’t tell if he’s a killer or an adult who really loves Halloween, until he kills you. As a kid, watching this, I’ll admit that I was a bit freaked out to go trick or treating when Halloween night rolled around. I kept a watchful eye on everyone.
So how exactly was Zombie going to make this film any more scarier? Well, for starters, he was gonna give us a little more backstory on Michael, show us what led him to become the way he was, and even show us his first kill. There is nothing more unsettling than watching a little kid slit a grown man’s throat. From there he explores his time in the mental institution and his downward spiral into madness. After that, he just makes him non-stop brutal. So brutal that you almost feel every hit or stab, you cringe even more at the sound of a skull cracking or a neck snapping, and when he pops out of nowhere or crashes through a wall in an attempt to murder someone, you jump higher than you ever have. Zombie made this new Halloween so brutal, so violent, that I was actually desensitized to the original. I watched the 1978 version months later and was actually bored by it. That’s how you make a remake better – make the original seem boring and safe.4. Fright Night (2011). Here’s what sold me on this film from the very beginning: David Tennant as Peter Vincent, the magician/vampire slayer. That’s it. The fact that the Tenth Doctor was in this film was enough for me. I mean, Colin Farrell (one of my favorite actors) as the vampire Jerry was a nice addition as well, but it didn’t compare to the Doctor being cast. With that being said, I’d also like to add that, like the Friday the 13th remake, I wasn’t really worried if they messed up this film. I wasn’t a big fan of the original. I had maybe only watched it once when I was younger, and it never really latched on as one of my favorites. It wasn’t a bad flick, just wasn’t a favorite. The actual reasons I wanted it to do well was because it would introduce more people to the greatness that is David Tennant, and it might usher in a new wave of quality vampire films that might save us from the crap that is Twilight. Honestly, I think it did more of the former and less of the latter, which is fine by me, but it would be nice to see less sparkly vampires and more slaughter-y vampires. I was starting to get bored with the vampire genre, but this film managed to rekindle a bit of the love for the bloodsuckers. It was scary (I jumped a few times), it was witty (Tennant is quite funny), and it was incredibly well done (vampires that kill and don’t sparkle). It managed to make itself one of my favorite horror films, which is more than I can say for it’s predecessor. High five for that. 5. The Amityville Horror (2005). This film is one of those “Wow, I really didn’t expect that!” type of films. By that I mean it was actually a good remake and Ryan Reynolds proved that he can do more than just act like a goof. He was legitimately scary, like frighteningly scary. At no point was I thinking “Oh Ryan, put that ax down and stop acting like an idiot,” it was more like “HOLY SHITE! He’s gonna kill them! He has lost his damn mind!” Don’t get me wrong, I like Ryan as an actor but he’s always been the funny guy. This film was the first time I had seen him in something where he wasn’t trying to be comical. And it worked. Since then, I’ve seen him do more than just comedy and the guy can actually act, he’s got range. This film was proof of it. The rest of the cast was solid too (Melissa George, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Philip Baker Hall, just to name a few). And the film itself was well written, suspenseful, and quite scary. Just as good as the original, if not better. I mean, it makes me not want to be a home owner. Well, that and high mortgage rates and interest on home loans, finding safe areas to live in with good schools, and the fact that my credit isn’t so great right now. But mostly possessed houses.
6. Dawn of the Dead (2004). I wanna just start by saying that I hate zombies, especially in film. I find them quite boring and pointless. In the gallery of movie monsters, they are the lamest, right there with possessed dolls and baked goods. By saying this, I hope you can assume that I have a great dislike for anything with zombies with the exception of Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead, and Dead Rising. Oh, and this movie. This is an excellent movie. The best thing about the zombies in this flick is the fact that they’re quick. They’re the “Carl Lewis”-type zombies, which in real life, you don’t want to encounter but in movie life, it makes things more exciting. Here are some other great things about Dawn: First off, it was Zack Snyder’s feature film debut (one of my favorite directors). Secondly, it’s a solid remake of an already classic zombie film (Ok, I enjoy the original too. Happy now?). Thirdly, it takes place in a mall, which is the perfect place for a zombie film because it allows for the zombies as well as the people to die in so many strange and incredible ways (especially in the food court). Fourthly, it has Ving Rhames. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be good (Day of the Dead) but then again, it could be (Pulp Fiction). Finally, and most importantly, I made me enjoy zombie films just a little bit more. That’s not an easy thing to do and if someone or something can do that, even just a little bit, than something great has been accomplished and praise is deserved.