The Case for Horror Remakes

Happy Sunday, Friends! 

It feels like this month is just flying by; soon it’ll be mid-September, then before we know it, October will be here. I admit, I am one of those people who celebrates Halloween all month long (is anyone really surprised by this?) so I am pretty pumped for the arrival of October. It’s the one month of the year when horror and horror-related things are everywhere, not just tucked into a corner of the internet where horror fans dwell and I am 100% okay with this. 

the-thing

One of the greatest remakes in history 

So I’ve been working on this post for a while because it’s something that’s on my mind a lot and even more so now that Michael has me looking at some of my favorite horror through a social justice lens. Today, I want to talk about remakes and re-imaginings of our favorite  horror movies and why I think it’s not only a good thing but a necessary thing to re-tell these stories from time to time. As always, this is simply MY personal opinion and those who disagree with me are not inherently wrong; people have valid reasons for not being pro-remake. Like all forms of consumable media, horror is subjective  and different people will get different things out of it (one of my arguments for re-makes, but we’ll get to that in a minute). So I encourage every horror fan to join in on the discussion, especially if you have a different opinion than me. 

With that being said, I have three main reasons for remake love:

Remakes allow for sometimes much needed updates

When a film gets remade, more often than not there’s a good ten to twenty year age gap between the original and the remake (excluding foreign horror remakes; I am not sure how I feel about the practice of remaking a relatively new, easily accessible movies simply because the people in it are speaking a different language or with an accent). Sadly, not all films age the same and sometimes a movie just doesn’t hold up well to the test of time. When that happens, a remake can breathe fresh life into a story that has becomes outdated. The Fly, The Thing, Cape Fear, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers are all amazing remakes that injected incredible new concepts into the stories they’re based on; in fact, The Fly and The Thing are both considered horror darlings and very few people prefer the original to the remakes (some people don’t even realize these films are based on 1950’s sci fi movies). Remakes also allow a new generation of horror fans to experience these amazing stories anew.  

Remakes widen the horror audience 

Like I said earlier, whether or not someone likes a movie is incredibly subjective, with some things being more subjective than others (most people can agree on good dialogue, cinematography, costumes, FX ect). When a movie gets remade, there are going to be some people who love it who didn’t see or care for the original. For example, I have friends who absolutely love the Black Christmas remake who thought the original was too dated and slow. Whereas I thought the remake was a pile of smelly garbage and didn’t hold a candle to the original, a movie I thought was a brilliant masterpiece of tense twists and social commentary. There’s no right way to feel about a movie; I am not more right than my friends who love the Black Christmas remake and visa versa. Whatever my personal opinion of the film was, many people loved it and that’s a good thing. Not everything is made for you personally. 

Remakes allow for correction of problematic elements

I’ve talked a little bit about how some movies, given the culture or time they were made, contain some very problematic elements, such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, and good old fashioned misogyny. A remake can take the meat of the story and take the problematic elements out, which can make the plot more engaging and richer (because, for example, a director can’t rely on the titillation of gratuitous rape or sexual assault; they have to be more creative to keep their audience engaged). But, most importantly, taking out these problematic elements means these movies can be safely enjoyed by everyone, not just white dudes. Can you imagine if High Tension was remade without the unnecessary ableism? It would add a layer of mystery to the killer and, in my opinion, add to the incredible suspense of the movie. 

These three reasons are mine and mine alone, but they are why I always will give a remake a chance. I fully acknowledge not all remakes are good, and in fact some are pure, unadulterated junk, a boil on the ass of the horror genre. Just because I enjoy remakes does not mean I enjoy ALL remakes; Michael and I literally watched two scenes from the 2016 Cabin Fever before we gave up. The 2006 Black Christmas was laughable. There are going to be some bad ones. That’s true of every genre and sub-genre out there. But without remakes, we wouldn’t have John Carpenter’s The Thing. We wouldn’t have the 2013 Evil Dead, a film that brings the Evil Dead franchise full circle; to me, there will never be a more perfect combination than Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and 2013 Evil Dead (Army of Darkness was good on its own but too campy for me). Yes, we have to slog through a lot of rubbish remakes to find the gems, but that’s true of horror as a whole. 

So I will continue to champion remakes as a valid sub-genre. I am prepared for The Uninvited but hopeful for The Fly. 

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