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Horror-ible Remakes: Why Horror Film Do Overs Often Fail

October 28th, 2008 10:27am EDT
Prom NightHollywood seemingly goes through the horror section of a video store to find films they can exploit for a quick profit. This year there was Prom Night, The Eye, Shutter, and One Missed Call, to name a few. Studios continue to produce remakes while attempting to best the originals, but they are not always concerned about quality. What makes these remakes so terrible? (Warning: possible spoilers ahead).

Failure to Change What Was Bad to Begin With

Not all remakes are bad, but there are select films that never were that original to begin with. The original Prom Night (1980) starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen could be considered enjoyable simply for its badness. The 2008 remake doesn't even seem qualified to be called a remake. It takes the title and setting only to veer off in a different direction.

Fixation with back story

In some films, it can be scarier to never know the moment that the killer snapped or why people decide to do such horrible things. Remakes have started to spend more time focusing on why their characters are in the middle of nowhere, as if that is the important part of the story. For example, in the 2006 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the back story about an almost engagement between the main girl and her dead boyfriend seems to pull away from the main event. Do we really care? Sometimes producers can lose sight of what made the original worthy of imitation.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning



Gore: Too Much or Not Enough

Upping the violence in remakes is sort of a failsafe. When the creepiness of films like Halloween (1978) and The Omen (1976) can't be recreated moment by moment, filmmakers try to spray fake blood and guts over everything. For example, in the original version of The Hitcher (1986), the titular character does something involving a truck that is much worse in your imagination. Unfortunately, the remake shows the moment, taking the shock value into the area of torture porn.

The Hitcher



Asian Horror Cultural Barriers

The laugh-out-loud moments of The Grudge made The Ring seem like a horror masterpiece. "Kairo," the film that was remade into Pulse, is about ghosts and the isolation that technology creates. The atmospheric elements needed to tell these stories aren't being included in the American knockoffs. In countries like Japan and Thailand, ghosts are believed in and highly respected. Hollywood has made many American nonbelievers of spirits, so it just doesn't translate.

The Eye



Too Many

Heard of too much of a good thing? Try too much of a bad one. 2009 remakes of My Bloody Valentine (1981) and Friday the 13th (1980) will come out in the first few weeks of the year. There are also several more Asian Cinema rip-offs in the future, with The Uninvited leading the way January 30.


Lauren Attaway
Story by Lauren Attaway

Starpulse contributing writer