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The State of Remakes (Jan.05) by MikeC.

I really wanted to write this article and truly stand up and defend the slew of recent horror remakes and those that are about to be made. I really did. I was going to start by writing, "Sometimes a horror remake can work really well, for example, David Cronenberg’s 'The Fly'. Yes, it was a remake, but it took the basic idea of the original and expanded on it in ways for the modern 80's audience. It played on the fear of the AIDS crisis, fear of science. It manages to be a work of art, not just a horror film". I was going to write that, but, er, see, as it turns out "The Fly" is the one of the only horror remakes I can remember being any good.

Now there is a lot of controversy among horror fans brewing about the upcoming remakes of "The Fog" and "The Evil Dead". Now, let’s be fair to the "The Fog" remake: John Carpenter and Debra Hill have both just given their approval of "Stigmata" director Rupert Wainwright to helm the project. And let’s face it... that John Carpenter does know a thing or two about making a decent remake (wink, wink). And Sam Raimi is also producing the "Evil Dead" remake and is rumored to be searching out a Japanese horror director to give his own spin on the story. Both of these projects certainly sound like they’re off to a proper start.
Also, I know that Rob G., and myself have honestly enjoyed a couple of recent "big" remakes. Rob is fan of the "Texas Chainsaw" remake.* I didn’t care for it, but I didn’t think it was all that awful. It’s not like they had a CGI Leatherface running around in bullet-time (I’m giving out bad ideas, aren’t I?). When we saw the "Dawn of the Dead" remake I thought the first 20 minutes of it were as intense as anything I could remember seeing in recent years. The movie opens under a thick, intense feeling of dread and then bursts into such kinetic violence that my doubts about the scare-worthiness of fast zombies was immediately put to rest.
The middle and end – well, I found the mall citizens a little cartoonish to really grab onto. Yet, both remakes delivered some good scares, but you know, I really don’t feel like I need to ever see either of those movies again. They’re nice – but, there really isn’t much to either of them except the "boo" factor.

* (editor's note: Robg thought the new Texas was ok. But no where near as classic as the original.)


So, what is the point of all this remaking? Is horror dead again and flat out of ideas? Of course not. It’s less about "running out of ideas" than it is about "afraid to take some risks". Why would a studio or distributor want risk their millions and millions of dollars on an unproven idea when they could just remake "Friday the 13th", tack a new Nickleback song onto the end credits, and call it day?

I mean, where have the mavericks and risk takers gone in Hollyw–Wait a second, what the hell am I talking about? Ok, so Sam Raimi and John Carpenter are remaking "Evil Dead" and "The Fog" probably with big studio money, fancy CGI effects and a soundtrack featuring whatever big-pants wearing metal band has the fanciest facial hair that month, so what? Will the movies be any good? We know that they will probably look very good–well produced, sufficiently budgeted, the cast will be attractive young actors (probably from some WB drama).

But what will these movies mean to anyone? "Evil Dead" and it’s sequel was a unique and revolutionary blend of great comedy and ferocious, energetic horror. Will the remake be that? "The Fog" is one of the most beautifully shot mood pieces in modern horror – will the remake be just as creepy to look at? What, exactly, is the impact of these films going to be, other than, in most cases, to make the original films look even richer? Look at the remakes of "Texas Chainsaw" and "Dawn" again: Tobe Hooper’s "Texas Chainsaw" was a reaction to the violent, restless times of the late 60's and early 70's. Romero’s "Dawn" was a cleverly disguised commentary on the consumer mentality. We are living in violent, restless, uncertain times again.
Do the remakes of these films take the opportunity to comment on that, really? Hardly. Instead, we look back to the originals and think to ourselves, "Man, these guys were really ahead of their time". -mikec.


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