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.
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.