By Stevie Kopas, author of The Breadwinner Trilogy
The last decade or so has seen a whole slew of horror movie remakes. Some that enraged lovers of the originals and some that made their marks on a new generation of horror lovers.
Love them or hate them, remakes are important in keeping classic horror stories relevant as new generations grow up and start falling in love with the genre. Some might argue that films such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween are timeless, and yes, I agree to a point… but what happens when these movies become so dated that they’re no longer enjoyed by the next generation? (And trust me, as a reviewer, I’ve heard my share of complaints about classic films from today’s youth.)
If you look at a few of the better received remakes (or “reimaginings” as I like to call them) such as 2004’s Dawn of The Dead, 2007’s Halloween, or 2003’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you’ll see that while they take certain elements from the originals, they are in fact entirely new movies. And that’s one of a few questions that I find popular amongst reviewers before they’ll watch a remake. “Why is this relevant?”
In the case of Dawn of The Dead, when you take into consideration the deep-rooted political undertones that the 1979 film had, do you think that a zombie-lover of today’s generation is going to really care or take notice? It’s an unfortunate fact, but no. Like an old Mustang, sometimes you need to restore that bad boy. 2004’s remake gives that old feeling of “this scary thing could happen” new meaning as scenery, dialogue, and current events come in to play.
With something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the same timeframe had to be kept because of how solid and important the original concept was to the overall aspect of the film. But with a bit of tweaking, the film was repackaged and introduced to a brand new audience that probably wouldn’t have watched the fabulous original had it not been for the remake. When you take into consideration a film like The Hills Have Eyes, you’re then considering the fact that things can be taken to the next level in a way that’s appealing to wider audiences and let’s face it, nowadays you can get away with a lot more on screen than you could back in the day.
In the case of Rob Zombie’s Halloween, the film was extremely important in giving Michael Myers a voice and an identity. In most cases, people probably don’t give a crap about the murderous ultra-creepy Myers’ history or some might feel that a meaning behind the monster was unnecessary, but I’m part of the crowd that feels his past is significant, especially when you consider the importance of his relationship with his sister. (We shall not talk about Zombie’s Halloween 2 though, we shall pretend it doesn’t exist.)
I could go on all day about why these movies rocked my socks but what kind of blog post would this be if I didn’t speak from both sides of the fence?
If all a horror remake becomes is a cheapened, B-Rate Cashcow, then it has destroyed the relevance of its role in modern day horror. I’m looking at you Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). Oh, and let’s not forget Friday The 13th (2009). I honestly believe the sole purpose of the release of these two films (amidst a myriad of others that aren’t even worth discussing) was to piggy-back off the success of the originals. There was nothing new brought to the table with these two films, and as an author friend of mine said, “I’m proud of myself for remembering that the Friday the 13th remake even existed.” That sentence sums up perfectly the overall point I’m trying to make: if you can’t reintroduce something classic to an audience that is fresh and original in itself, then it is simply recycled garbage you’re trying to bank off of.
All in all, with the jumbled mess of remakes, prequels, sequels, and reimaginings over the last several years, there are a few that have made their mark, in both good ways and bad. But it’s crucial to remember that regardless of what anyone thinks of the new versions, we can’t forget the ever-important reason behind why we need them. Remakes play an essential role in allowing old gems to resurface and be kept alive with each new generation. As much as well love those classics, kids today can’t relate, and remaking them preserves the story for the future.
Even if this year’s Poltergeist sinks like the Titanic, it will have opened the door back up to the original, and thousands upon thousands of noobs will fall in love with the 80s classic just as we all did.
Stevie Kopas was born and raised in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. She is a gamer, a writer, and an apocalypse enthusiast. She currently resides in Panama City Beach, Florida, and is the author of the Breadwinner Trilogy.