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It’s a Wonderful Remake!

February 9th, 2012 by unkle lancifer · 15 Comments

Remember how we were just talking about how crummy the world would be without sequels? Well, I think it would be even worse without the even more maligned remake. Sorry, but some of my very best friends are remakes! There are many opportunities with remakes to expand upon ideas and to accomplish things previously impossible and, contrary to popular opinion, remakes do not have the power to jump in a time machine and assassinate the films they are based on and then steal their positions in the universe. So again, here comes a magic meteor to erase all remakes from existence! What a lesser world we’d be living in without the films below! (Feel free to add your favorites.)

THE THING (1982)

This one here is a no-brainer of course and please excuse me for stating the obvious. Sure, when this now beloved classic hit theaters most people were either not interested or saw is as a special effects laden insult to the longer titled, 1951 film based on JOHN W. CAMPBELL’s “Who Goes There?” This movie is a fine example of why you should never take any critic’s opinion as gospel. Sometimes greatness is particularly hard to identify because it walks so far ahead of the pack.

THE FLY (1986)

The original THE FLY (1958) will always be creepy fun but DAVID CRONENBERG was able to take a semi-hokey premise and graft upon it adult themes that would have never flown decades before. 1986’s THE FLY oozes with visuals that the previous incarnation wouldn’t dare imagine but it’s also one the best relationship movies of any genre if you ask me.

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)

Movies don’t get much more brilliant than this and no it does not step on the toes of the 1956 predecessor in any way, shape or form. Those worried that substandard rehashes will mar the memory of superior source material take heart, nobody much recalls the 2007 pod people attack on NICOLE KIDMAN called INVASION.

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003)

In my brain, TOBE HOOPER’s TCM may be more of an absolute masterpiece than any of the films I’ve mentioned thus far. I don’t think a film could capture horror in any purer form unless you could somehow get the Devil himself behind the camera. The 2003 version is nowhere near the same ballpark but for a mainstream flick sporting an attractive cast, it threw down the gauntlet and brought the ugly back. Over stylized though it may be, after years of clean-cut mall horror, its successful celebration of the sick, depraved and undoubtedly stinky hacked a path that allowed more aggressive horror to be made. Sure I could probably live without this one but could I live without all the films that were green-lit because of it? Nope.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009)

Did this really happen? I’m still pinching myself. The original is one of my favorite slashers. I never dared dream that it would be remade or even remembered outside of nerdy horror circles. Not only was it made but it also stars TOM ATKINS and it’s in 3-D. It even spurred a re-release of the original film on DVD with all of the deleted gore that I only ever fantasized about seeing returned. Oh yeah, it’s a good movie too and I’ve watched it more times than I can count now. So let me make sure I’ve got the math right; this film brought back a favorite horror character (Harry Warden), actor (ATKINS) format (3-D sorry, haters) and resurrected the original film in its complete and intended form and it’s entertaining as hell to boot. Yep, lots to bitch about here.

BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006)

A couple of years I ago I would have told you to stick this remake in a rocket and shoot it towards the sun but only after dousing it in turpentine first. Now I’m all obsessed with it. If I told you I watched it twice this past holiday season I lied. It was three times. Maybe I developed a sense of humor or maybe I realized that remaking BLACK CHRISTMAS (’74) wasn’t quite the same thing as wallpapering over the Sistine Chapel. Who knew that when I searched my heart I would find that I had enough faith in the value of the original to believe it strong enough to withstand whatever was thrown at it? My childhood memories are not damaged, my life goes on as it did, except now I have this other really funny version of BLACK CHRISTMAS to enjoy every year along with the first.

THE RING/THE BLOB (2002/1988)

I like both these remakes better than the originals. I mean c’mon, among other things, the first RING has no NAOMI WATTS and the first BLOB is ruefully SHAWNEE SMITH-free. Nuff’ said.

PSYCHO (1998)

I agree that this is a terrible, wretched remake but I do not agree that it should have never been made. What person interested in film would not want to at least try to sit through this failed experiment at least once? Watching a shot-for-shot remake with none of the original film’s soul present or accounted for makes one appreciate the wondrous artistry that made the first film so dynamic. Plus if you want to fully grasp just what an incredible actor ANTHONY PERKINS was then, you need only observe a moment of VINCE VAUGHN. Sure it’s torture but suffering leads to knowledge! Actually, I just had to put this up here to mortify those who might only be scanning the titles.

DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)

I admit the holed up people in the mall are absolute morons for allowing that obvious zombie woman in the wheelbarrow into the place but that goof aside, this remake is non-stop cool from beginning to end. Truly, it leaves most zombie movies in the dust in its first fifteen minutes.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

I wonder if there were die hard fans of the 1910 take on FRANK L. BAUM’s book that balked and cried when they heard there was going to be a fancy new fangled 1925 version. Did madly passionate fans of the 1925 version cringe and spew bile when they read on the Internet that a new version was being made in 1939? (Please, if you are now thinking of leaving a comment explaining to me that the Internet did not exist in 1925- don’t do it, I beg you!)

It’s a nice thing that fans are so passionate about their favorite films and it’s a real shame that sometimes remakes don’t turn out as good as they might. Still, I think people are a little nutso with how close-minded they can be and I wonder if maybe having their identity too wrapped up in stuff that they can’t claim ownership of in the first place is the real problem. These movies belong to all of us and I don’t mind my share being explored in new and different ways before I croak. You never know which ones are going to be excel and really nobody has the right to say there’s no place like home until they’re brave enough to journey somewhere else.

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Tags: General Horror




15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

    You are always so freaking right on, Unk!

    One thing that drives me nutzo is people bitching about how “zombies don’t run” or “vampires don’t glisten in the sun” or whatever when all this shit is made up anyway!! WTF? I think it’s cool when people come up with new ways of expressing old ideas.

    One that you didn’t mention – and I think I may be in the minority for liking it – is the Fright Night remake. I have to admit that I wasn’t crazy about the original (and yes, I saw it when it came out) and even watched it again before seeing the remake and I have to say that I just found the remake more interesting to watch. Plus I preferred CF’s dark, sexy vampire over CS’s debonaire vampire – although I know I’m prob gonna get some heat for saying that!

    Anyway – great post!!

  • 2 tistheseasontvNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you for mentioning the “Psycho” remake. I talk about this movie ALOT when party conversations turn to movie remakes. I’m with you on this–it’s a failed experiment but a wonderful opportunity to see exactly why Hitchcock’s version is superior. It’s totally worth watching!

    People that poo-poo remakes don’t know the history of Hollywood. Old school Hollywood was built on remakes–how many movie versions of Somerset Maugham’s short story “Miss Thompson” have been popular and profitable? all three of them (there might even be more of them!?) My fav is with Joan Crawford–but the Rita Hayworth one….has Rita Hayworth, for god’s sake! Yes, 1939′s Wizard of freakin’ Oz is a remake–perfect point to drive home that we all need to stop generalizing that all remakes are crap.

    Again, you are right on, Unk!

  • 3 ApocalypsejunkieNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I agree with all of these too and would like to add The Crazies. I thought it was better than the original.
    The thing I liked about the Psycho remake was the quick glimpse you got of Marion and Mr. Arbogast’s spooky last visions before they died.

  • 4 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Is the 1910 version of WOO you have there the one that’s pretty much just a pornographic version? I admit I haven’t clicked play yet. But I do remember reading somewhere that one of the original WOO films was basically pornography. Dorthy made into an adult character and all that.

    As for remakes – Red Dragon. Yes, it’s a prequel to Silence Of The Lambs. It’s also a remake of Manhunter. A movie so bad I can’t even get through it. Granted, I might be biased because Hopkins does a sexy psycho cannibal so damn well.

  • 5 Ben SherNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Your openness to the widely condemned (from sequels to remakes to the occasional CGI ghost) is a real inspiration to me. I agree that these remakes are all great or, at least, highly worthy. I actually really liked the remake of FRIDAY THE 13TH when I saw it in the theater, which always shocks people. At least they got Jason back in the woods! (Which is not to say that I didn’t also *adore* JASON X!) The granny-bitter-at-change in me still would have preferred a final girl to a final straight white dude, though.

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    cmcmcmcm,

    Haha, Yea, it blows my mind how many experts there are out there in the field of non reality! I was hearing a bunch of comments like that in regards to 2011′s The Thing. “The Thing doesn’t act like that!!!” In the first film he was a giant carrot so I guess you learn more about make believe entities the more you get to know them.

    I wasn’t crazy about the way the young folks were handled in the Fright Night remake but I thought Colin Farrell was really good in it. It’s worth checking out just for him imho. I can’t choose between him & CS thoughso I’ll just take both.

    Tiistheseason,

    Man, I want to go to the same parties that you do! How are people not fascinated by comparing the two Psycho movies? It’s a once in a life time opportunity! It’s cool just seeing a different cast! I think people approach movies with a consumer attitude of I better get my money’s worth but most the time you get what you put into things. I’ve seen the same play performed by different casts and some are better than others and it’s fun to talk about what works and doesn’t. You’d never say, “That play must never be performed again!” after you see a good one. I don’t think that Psycho remake worked but that doesn’t make it less interesting to me.

    Apocalypsejunkie,

    “The Crazies” was great!!! That’s a good one. I agree it is better than the original. I also think Hills Have Eyes really needed to be updated and a good job was done with that.

    I know what you mean about those weird cut in visions in Psycho. I liked where you just see an image of a goat for no reason. What was that about. I don’t think either Psycho has a good enough corprse representing Ma Bates.

    JJR,

    Nope! That is not a porn version of WOO! I never heard of that. Thanks for bringing up Manhunter! Does that make Silence of the Lambs a sequel?? And if not how come?

    Ben S,

    Thanks Ben! Nothing gets my goat more than film snobbery! I wonder if people think that there is an infinite amount of wonderful original stories out there just waiting to be easily plucked from the sky? I think my next list should be “Highly original movies that are worse than any remake you will ever see.” I too adore Jason X!

    I was not crazy about the Friday remake though! (My granny bitter in charge says:) How dare they short change Pamela Voorhees? It must be part of the new moonie movement against backstories. I love me some backstories!

  • 7 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Technically SOTL is a sequel to Manhunter, though of course totally different actor for Dr. Lecter. However, they then went and remade Manhunter as Red Dragon (title of the book that comes before SOTL) – so it’s like it’s in it’s own weird universe.

    It’s a sequel, but then it has a prequel which is a remake of the first movie…. but the first movie has totally different actors for the same characters that are in SOTL….

    I think we need The Doctor to explain this one.

    I’ve been trying to find the article where I read the thing about WOO. If I remember correctly it might’ve even been Baum’s grandson who filmed it.

    Obviously it wouldn’t be porn as we know it. More suggestive than anything.

    Wish I was better at Google so I could find that article.

  • 8 godmonsterNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    The Crazies is right on. That was better than the original in my opinion. The new Chainsaw Massacres don’t get the love they deserve. The hitchhiker scene in the first one really freaked me out. I liked the second one as well. I’m skeptical about the next one. Didn’t care for the new Friday the 13th, but I never really liked the old ones either. Jason X is easily my favorite of the series. Didn’t bother with Fright Night, couldn’t bear to look at the new Nightmare on Elm St. I will watch the new Thing, I’m a sucker for monsters.

  • 9 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    JJR-

    I mean can you imagine if people decided that SOTL should not be made because manhunter did not perform well? That would stink! I also love that because SOTL is so great people like to refer to it as a “psychological thriller” rather than horror. In my book if you have a scene where somebody uses a cut off face as a mask you are automatically horror! :)

    Godmonster,

    That hitchhiker scene in TCM is incredible. I remember seeing that in the theater and the audience was thrown for a serious loop. I don’t think I heard any screen dialogue for 20 minutes after that they were so loud!
    The new NOES was really sad in my opinion, just zero fun but I now sorta LOVE the new THING. I get that it is not perfect but it’s still exactly my kind of movie. I actually preordered it on Amazon and I’ve never done that before- I usually wait to get stuff used. I’ve watched it several times now and I just love being in that place and dealing with that creature. I’m thinking about doing a blu-ray review just so I can talk about it again. I’m a sucker for monsters too.

  • 10 Erin LashleyNo Gravatar // Feb 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I enjoyed the remakes of 2001 Maniacs and The Amityville Horror, and non-horror movies Kiss Me Goodbye , The Birdcage, and Black Caesar. The thing that bugs me most about remakes is when a foreign film gets remade in English, rather than just being released in America with subtitles. I wouldn’t care as much about those remakes if I just had the _option_ of seeing the original foreign films in the theater, but I don’t live in a huge city and even the somewhat large city I live near doesn’t get many foreign movies. I will give a pass to The Ring and also to Dark Water.

  • 11 knobgobblerNo Gravatar // Feb 10, 2012 at 2:36 am

    The only thing that really bugs me about remakes is when I bring up something great, like The Haunting or Black Christmas, and have to take care to mention I’m NOT referring to the crappy remake… forcing me to remember, once again, that said crappy remake exists.

  • 12 boliverNo Gravatar // Feb 10, 2012 at 4:52 am

    I have to chime in and give a bit of love to Night of the Living Dead 1990. That remake was panned by critics and shunned by audiences when it came out for Halloween of that year. I watched it a couple years ago with zero expectations and was surprised at how good it was.

    Casting Tony Todd as Ben and Tom Towles as Cooper could not have been more perfect. The zombies by KNB looked great. And Romero’s screenplay differed from the original in two very cool ways. Barbara was no longer a whimpering catatonic wuss and the ending was totally different. For the last 10 minutes, I sat riveted. I had NO idea how Romero was gonna end it, but that final ironic twist was so fitting and satisfying. Good job.

  • 13 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Erin L,

    Yeah the remake into English thing is a bit harder to defend. I thought the redo of “Let The Right One In” was well done but I didn’t need it. I ended up thinking if it turned somebody on to the book or the original film though then that’s a good thing.

    Knobgobbler,

    Ha! That always happens with “The Haunting”! I always wonder how anyone could confuse those two!

    Boliver,

    I really enjoyed the 1990 NOTLD too. That one really gets a bad rap. I’m going to defend original Barb though and say if the dead ever did come back to life most people will loose it instantly and I’ll be one of them!

    Also: I hope nobody gets the impression that I love all remakes. That’s far from the truth. I just think the blanket statement that they all “suck” and the judging of something that you have not seen yet is unfair. I think the one remake that really irked me was Prom Night because they dropped a very good story in my opinion and just appropriated the title. I’m not sure I’d even call it a remake. It’s more like a title abduction!

  • 14 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 10, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Oh and of course The Fog remake still makes me see red but only because it was terribly done. I would have loved for that one to have been good!

  • 15 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Feb 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Okay, I’m starting to think the 1910 one is the one that’s considered a porno because of Dorthy being all grown up. And it was seen as bad for it’s time because she was flirting with the farmhands. Therefore it was seen as porn.

    It might’ve just been a whole perspective thing. I once met a woman who insisted Tod Browning’s Freaks is a porno. I wanted to start preaching to her what an amazing movie it is and how it’s really about not judging people by their looks.

    I LOVE Freaks, in case you didn’t know.

    LOVE! IT!

    If that movie was a man I’d have babies with it. Or I would if I wasn’t barren.

    I shall go crawl into my corner now.

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