Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Last remake on the left.

It's probably time to stop bemoaning the plague of horror-movie remakes, but between the new Last House on the Left opening Friday and the recent releases of Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine it's hard to get away from the subject..

The argument for remakes is that today's audience know the old titles, but either haven't seen them (because they're old) or saw them but were underwhelmed (because they're, you know, old).

For the most part I don't buy it, for two reasons. First, the bulk of the movies that have been remade or are slated for remaking date back to the 1970s and '80s, which weren't the reticent shadows-and-suggestion '40s. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and its progeny were dubbed "meat movies" because they brought on the gore and gristle. And second, most of them are good movies, and they hold up just fine.

I'm the first to stand up for the 2009 remake of My Bloody Valentine on the grounds that, frankly, the original is an hour of lackadaisical build up before something finally happens and it's dull. At least the remake hits the ground running. And I stand by my contention that the Amityville Horror remake is no worse than the original, which isn't exactly a recommendation but which acknowledges that "made in the '70s" doesn't inherently mean good. But Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Last House on the Left? No do-overs required. Yeah, the Dawn of the Dead remake was fine, but it doesn't improve on the original in any significant way. I know the bottom line is money, but come on… real horror buffs love nothing more than a new scare.

So bring some on!


Rob said...

You left out one remake which I am so mad I actually went to see: Halloween. How completely unnecessary was that film? You don't need to explain WHY Michael is what he is. He's scarier that as a kid he just flipped and killed his sister. I don't buy into the whole broken home/bullied kid which is essentially just a cliche. I can only think my lapse in judgment was due to either wanting to see Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis (casting idea I liked although Donald Pleasance owned that role) or getting the chance to sit in a theater and hear the Halloween theme on the speakers.

miss flickchick said...

I can't say I disagree. Like the Dawn of the Dead remake, it wasn't bad: Rob Zombie really knows and loves the horror genre, and I think The Devil's Rejects is the greatest 1975 horror film ever made in 2005.

It was simply totally, utterly unnecessary.

And like you, I felt compelled to see it... I couldn't even tell you why. I saw the original Halloween the day it opened (and went back to my Manhattan apartment as spooked as anyone with a scary cellar or a back door no one ever remembered to lock), so it wasn't that I specifically needed a Halloween theatrical experience.

Maybe it's that I know in my gut that the future of horror is VOD/direct to DVD and some part of me figures I should savor the theatrical experience, no matter how depressing and debased, while I can.

Even when the movie is a remake of something I saw under the best (which is often to say the worst) conditions possible: In a scary pit of a theater wreathed in pot smoke, withthe house lights perpetually half on and filled with people who had nothing in common except the desire to see Last House on Dead End Street or House of Psychotic Women.

achyfakey said...

Good to great remakes:
The Ring
The Fly
The Thing
Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Not just bad, but evil remakes...

The Hitcher
The Wicker Man
Black Christmas
House of Wax
The Fog
The Hills Have Eyes

So while it can be done, it's not likely to meet or surpass the original. That's such a rarity.

As for Zombie, well, for me, grimy cinematography and ripped flesh is no substitute for truly disturbing the psyche.

miss flickchick said...

Wicker Man — my nominee for worst of the worst, remakes division!