Remakes, reboots, requels, or whatever your chosen name is for them, are an often contested
topic amongst the horror community. Some people, like myself, have hope and faith whenever one is released. Others have instant hate the second one is announced, quoting lines like, “It will never be as good as the original,” or “Has Hollywood run out of original ideas?” and I get it. They are possibly remaking a movie that was a huge influence to them. That being said, if you are one of these people, I hope my article is about to change your mind (or at least give you some perspective as to why not everyone is dead against them).
While I understand the concern whenever a classic horror is remade or rebooted, to be fair, there
have been some appalling attempts on some of my personal favorite movies. A Nightmare on Elm
Street (2010) and Child's Play (2019) are both very good movies, but not true to their source material and missed the mark completely. Had either of these movies been billed as something else other than the franchise name, I think they could have been a success. Make the 2019 Chucky a cuddly AI toy that just goes nuts and it’s a hit. Also script tweaks could have made these movies rebirth a strong franchise; for example, make the 2010 Freddy innocent of the crimes he was accused of… Let that sink in! You now have a rebooted franchise where the evil dream demon is actually the protagonist and the teens are the villains.
That being said, fantastic remakes can and do happen, even without the need to look at what they
could have been if they'd been handled better! Evil Dead (2013) is as good as the original and in my personal opinion, the best example of the perfect remake. Taking elements of the original movie while adding new twists to the tale, keeps audiences guessing. Even Friday The 13th (2009), while not perfect, hit all the expected marks of a Jason Voorhees driven movie and is better than some of the original series. I will add, with Friday The 13th (2009), this movie works better if you don’t see it as a reboot but a sequel to Jason X based on Earth 2… Try that next time you watch it. Everything changes with this outlook on the movie!
Getting to my point on why I feel remakes are essential to the survival of horror as a whole: each
year we are treated to an abundance of new exciting horror movies, or so we are led to believe. In reality, these are old ideas rehashed and repackaged to appeal to the widest audience possible. For the most part they lack a good foundation, and furthermore, are a mess of special effects, cheap jump scares and over the top gore to stand out from the pack. My go to example of mass produced horror with no real substance is The Conjuring franchise. While it has some incredible elements and the first movie was exceptional, it now leans on heavy CGI, drawn out plots and lacks any kind of substance. It has also birthed more poor quality spin off movies than I care to mention, as that is a completely different can of worms I am not opening today.
With reboots as apposed to these type of movies, we know the story, we know the characters and
we know the narrative. This allows filmmakers to focus more on a quality movie drawing from our
nostalgia, all while introducing the franchise to a new generation. After the release of IT (2017), how many people then went and sought out the original two part mini-series? "A lot", is the answer… That reboot was not only fantastic, but also brought new younger audiences to Tim Curry’s original portrayal of Pennywise and new readers to the Stephen King novel. In the process, this beloved franchise and characters now have greater longevity, stopping them from drifting in to the obscurity of time as the original audience dwindle in numbers. This holds true for terrible remakes too.
How many new horror fans sat and watched Poltergeist (2015), and asked themselves why the
original was ever remade if it was this bad? I guarantee there is a large portion of these horror fans
who hadn’t seen the original then watched it. We all know what happened after they watched it:
they told friends and family, and shared their love of the original movie. So, a bad remake had a
positive impact on a horror fan (and potentially many horror fans). I wonder how many of these
people who did seek out the 1982 classic, would have done so without the shockingly bad remake?
Another point to consider is that the fact when we have a remake it does not magically wipe the
originals from the face of the earth. People who complain about remakes often seem to forget that
in no way does a remake take away from the enjoyment of the original movie or franchise. They are still there to be enjoyed over and over. Never has anyone watched the original 1973 Wicker Man, then watched the 2006 Nicholas Cage version and said, “I no longer enjoy the original. This remake ruined it for me.” If remakes aren’t for you, simply don’t watch them. Don’t drag down the excitement and potential enjoyment of others by going on the offensive as soon as one is
I stand by my statement that horror as a genre needs remakes to keep being made for a multitude of reasons. First and most importantly, to stop our favorite movies from dying and simply becoming a footnote in the genre. Without a remake, this does unfortunately happen to so many movies. When was the last time “Night of the Demon”, “C.H.U.D.” or even “Scanners” was discussed or featured in anything prominent? These are all fabulous horror movies that are slowly slipping from our memories and will not be seen by a new generation on any kind of wide spread scale again, unless they are remade or rebooted for a new audience.
This brings me back to my second point: the importance of bringing classic stories to new generations. We all know they did it best in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, and for younger generations these wonderful stories of Dream Demons, Chainsaw wielding maniacs and Ghostface killers would simply not be told unless they were remade. As a huge horror fan I want my children and their children to still be talking about these wonderful horror movies that made me fall in love with the genre.
My third and final point on why remakes are essential to the survival of the genre as a whole is this…
Hollywood is short on ideas and understandably so. With over exposure to horrific news and with
death, disease and famine only one click away on any news site, what have they got left to shock and scare us with? There are only so many times they can rebadge an exorcism movie before we
completely lose interest in it. This goes for slashers, monster movies, and even one of the newer
subgenres, found footage. If there are no remakes the genre will go stale and no longer hold a place in modern cinema. Crazy you say? It has happened… Film Noir and Expressionism horror have already been abandoned by studios and this is mainly because movies like “The Cabinet Of Dr Cagliari” and “Out of the Past” never received a well-deserved second stab at a new audience.
Studios working with brilliant stories that are tried and tested keeps bringing new audiences to the
genre and also retains the ones it has. Let’s be honest, we all go and watch remakes even if we know it's going to be a dumpster fire. Whether you like it or not, remakes are good for the film
industry as a whole, and more importantly my beloved horror genre.
In summary, I love remakes. Good, bad, or downright terrible, they are a good thing and I am pleased that they exist. There are currently remakes in the works for The Exorcist, The Thing, Hellraiser, and even the Craven Estate are welcoming scripts to bring Freddy back to the big screen. Do I have concerns about some of these movies? 100%! But I welcome them with open arms and optimism because good, even fantastic, remakes do exist and there is no reason that they won’t again!