Tuesday, April 8, 2008

When is it OK to remake a movie?

So, I stumbled across this from The Deadbolt today.

10 Horror Remakes That Should Be Made

I encourage you to read the article. Author, Brian Tallerico, sets out his own "rules" as to what should be remade before offering up his list and then defends his choices. Of course, lists such as this are created to be debated, argued and ridiculed.

In light of Ms. Alyrenee's Tuesday, April 1, 2008 post on Blood Radio, Sign of the Apocalypse: Michael Bay Remaking Rosemary's Baby, I thought this an appropriate conversation starter.

Now, Mr Tallerico says many things worthy of discussion. However, one jumped out at me. In general, I am against remakes. To the vast majority of remakes, I say BOO! And that is within and without of the horror genre. There are exceptions of course, and I agree with the author when he says remaking movies that were pretty bad in the first place is usually ok, and can in fact be a good thing. OK. Fair enough. I can think of some pretty good if not great remakes. David Cronenberg's The Fly leaps to mind. Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. Of course, he was remaking his own film, but, you know, whatever. . . .let us not forget one of my favorite remakes, Heaven Can Wait, which is a remake which has since been remade. . . which brings us back to Mr. Tallerico.

He says...

In the same way that issuing a song-by-song remake album of Exile on Main Street or Revolver would be a really bad idea, remaking Halloween, Psycho, or other already-perfect horror movies just feels like a waste of time. On that note, in the world of '80s movies, no one ever needs to remake Re-Animator, From Beyond, The Thing, Near Dark, The Howling, Poltergeist, or A Nightmare on Elm Street (which we know is happening but we’re choosing to remain in denial). No, they're not all equal, but they're all movies that should exist purely in their original form and are still being admired and introduced to a new generation every day (usually by a cruel older brother). As my grandpa used to say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Here is my issue. John Carpenters The Thing, one of my FAVORITE movies of all time, starring my hero Kurt Russell, is, in itself, a remake of the Howard Hawks 1951 movie The Thing from Another World.

So, how does this rule of remakes apply to a movie that is a remake? It simply does not exist purely in its original form. Is it OK to remake a remake?

Here is the Deadbolt list.

10. The Lady in White (1988)

9. Child's Play (1988)

8. The Hunger (1983)

7. Demons (1985)

6. Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

5. Basket Case (1982)

4. Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

3. The Dead Zone (1983)

2. Christine (Special Edition) (1983)

1. Fright Night (1985)

Any thoughts? Opinions? Are there movies on Mr. Tallerico's list that you find absurd? Are there glaring omissions that should be remade? And what about a remake of a remake?



Dr. AC, Fool for Blood said...

I'm sorry, I'm very much of the opinion that remakes on the whole are a bad, BAD idea. If you think that a film had a good idea but was poorly executed, then damn it, take that idea and run with it in the direction that you felt it should have gone. If you need to pay a few royalties, then do so, but have the courage to call your film something different. It's a wimpy approach to try to ride on the sentimental value that a certain title might have, especially if you're going to subvert it completely.

But looking at this list of proposed remakes, there's not a one on there that doesn't have a substantial amount of merit in its original state. In this day and age when these films are readily available and accessible, what's the point of remaking them? And to be frank, many of them border on heresy. Tallerico's criteria for remaking LADY IN WHITE is that not enough people saw the original? Um, why not then take a fraction of the money that would be required to create the remake and simply mount a campaign to bring awareness to this undiscovered gem? How about a 20th anniversary theatrical run? (Why do studios never think of this?? Surely it is the financially sound way to go...)There are others on his list that would benefit from the same.

These films aren't broke, they don't need fixing. Remakes are laziness in its purest form.

alyrenee said...

Fright Night???? Blasphemer...why remake fright night. I love that flick and my sister and I get the giggles just thinking about the totally 80s vampire fashions (bought at the Merry-Go-Round I bet). Plus I cannot imagine getting anyone better than Roddy Mcdowell to play that part.

pcfoster said...

quibble: Carpenter's "The Thing" was not a remake of the 50s "Thing From Another Planet".

Both are an adaptation of John W. Campbell's short story in "Astounding" published in 1938.

The earlier film took the antarctic setting and the alien in ice set up and from there went into a more traditional mad-scientist/monster movie. LOVE the "killer carrot" line. The "enemy who looks like us" theme resonated nicely for the time--think Red Scare.

Carpenter's film hewed closer to the original. With AWESOME live effects--better than any CG.

Shucks, you can find echoes of the "Who Goes There?" themes in "Alien", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," etc.

So maybe the conclusion is: you can go to the same well of inspiration many times and come up with different and worthy works (and should not be labeled "derivative" or "unimaginative"), but slavish remakes... it's hard to make a case for that ever being a good idea.

ninjaband said...

I concur with mr. foster - carpenter's "the thing" was amazingly faithful to the original campbell story (john campbell, by the way, who's considered one of the godfathers of modern science fiction and then went off and got all tangled up with l. ron hubbard) - the scene in the movie where they do the blood test is straight from the story - awesome flick.