I guess it’s time for me to weigh in on the issue of remakes.
As you can probably guess, I’m not a huge fan. Remaking a film is probably the laziest thing a studio can do. It’s one notch up from stealing the idea altogether, but at least we can assume that the original writers are getting paid.
However, I’m not going to make a blanket statement like “all remakes suck,” because that’s asinine. First of all, not every movie that gets remade was that great to begin with. Second, some films can actually benefit from an updated version. The best example of a good remake will probably always be John Carpenter‘s The Thing (1982). I can’t imagine a better remake ever being made. Hopefully history will prove me wrong. Because Pazuzu knows, they ain’t gonna stop churning them out.
But The Thing was a rarity. The original film, The Thing from Another World (1951), was based on a short story by John W. Campbell called Who Goes There?. So even that film was an adaptation. The remake was, according to some accounts, closer to the original story than the first film. On top of that, by 1981 special effects and cinematography had evolved to the point that they were able to convey ideas and images that would have been impossible to achieve in the 50s. It also didn’t hurt that John Carpenter was a fairly original filmmaker on a hot streak, not some hack hired by the studios to perpetuate a stock franchise. As good as the first film was, Carpenter’s version was a revelation.
Nowadays, the well appears to have dried up considerably. While horror movies continue to be a huge box office draw, the studios seem disinclined to take chances on original material. Thus, we have the Saw franchise and its variants, remakes of Japanese ghost stories, and remakes of North American horror films from the 70s and 80s.
Not all of these remakes are terrible. Some are admirably fearless and true to the source (The Hills Have Eyes, 2006). Some are so pointless that I refuse to even watch them (sorry Wicker Man 2006, not gonna do it). Most are generic retreads that fail to even capitalize on the best ideas of their source material.
Since we were on an 80s slasher kick, we felt it made sense to check out some of the remakes of these films. So in the past week, we watched both My Bloody Valentine (2009) and Friday the 13th (2009).