10/18/10

Cinema #13: Hollywood Horror Movies: Originality Goes Bye-Bye


Recycling is good when it’s saving the environment, bad when it’s an excuse for laziness. Hollywood seems to be incapable of coming up with an original idea for a horror movie – they are constantly either “re-imagining” classics from the 70s and 80s, or ripping off a foreign film. I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

A common excuse is that, since it costs so much to make a film, investors are more likely put their money in a “sure thing” versus something novel. In other words, the brilliant foreign horror movie [REC} (2007) cost just over a million to make; whereas, the shitty Hollywood remake called Quarantine (2009) cost 15 million. It’s a lot more expensive here – so we can’t take chances.

Well, I don’t buy it. Once upon a time, Hollywood made some damn good horror – ORIGINAL horror – and the same risks were involved. It’s a gamble, but every once and a while, if you’re willing to take the chance on something fresh and new, huge profits can be made. Movies like Halloween and The Sixth Sense far exceeded expectations, but wouldn’t exist if producers weren’t willing to take a chance on new ideas and new talent.

So, I’ll stop stating the obvious now, and proceed to the Retrospace rundown of recycled Hollywood horror. Read it and weep.



The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (70s recycled)
Jessica Biel looked good, but why make this movie? The grittiness that made the first one great (almost like a snuff film) was totally gone.

The Grudge (Asian recycled)
I thoroughly enjoyed this remake; however, it was identical to Ju-On without the subtitles. Americans hate to read.

The Ring (Asian recycled)
See comment above.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II (70s and 80s recycled)
Zombie took the Halloween movies and made them his own… so much so that it wasn’t Halloween anymore. So, why even call it Halloween in the first place?

The Omen 666 (70s recycled)
The definition of pointless remakes. Took out all the evil, and replaced it with lameness. Great job, Hollywood.

The Amityville Horror (70s recycled)
I guess if you’re planning on remaking every single good 70s horror film, this was going to get remade eventually. May as well get it over with.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (80s recycled)
Nice try at starting the franchise again. They were so busy seeing dollar signs, they forgot to actually make it good.

Friday the 13th (80s recycled)
Jason can run fast in this one… other than that, pretty much the same thing.

The Hills Have Eyes (70s recycled)
I actually enjoyed this one as much as the original, but it’s still just another remake.

Last House on the Left (70s recycled)
Wes Craven has remade nearly every movie he’s done – he’s going to run out soon. Waiting for The People Under the Stairs remake.

Let the Right One In (Scandinavia recycled)
At the time of this writing, it’s not been released. I’m sure it will be awful.

Quarantine (European recycled)
[REC] was one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long, long time. Butchered and ruined by our friends in Hollywood.

Prom Night (80s recycled)
This wasn’t that good the first time around – even worse the second.

Sorority Row (80s recycled)
See above

My Bloody Valentine (80s recycled)
Okay, like Piranha, the 3D element did add something to the film; however, it’s still a remake.

The Wicker Man (70s recycled)
I still have not forgiven Nicholas Cage for this godawful trainwreck.

Psycho (60s recycled)
Perhaps the biggest WTF remake in history.

Children of the Corn (80s recycled)
Dumb dialog, no scares, horrible direction, bad acting… need I go on?

The Fog (80s recycled)
I actually paid money to see this in a theater. I walked out, it was so boring. I should’ve known better.

April Fool’s Day (80s recycled)
They took a lame movie, added billions of dollars, copied I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Presto! Utter crap.

Dawn of the Dead (70s recycled)
Started out strong, but got kind of tiresome. Should’ve just left it alone, or (God forbid) try something original and see how it turns out.

The Woflman (1940s recycled)
(yawn)…

I could go on and on (i.e. The Crazies, The Hitcher, etc.), but I think you get my point.

17 comments:

  1. I kind of thought The Blob remake was decent although how can you replace Steve McQueen?

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  2. And now they're supposed to be doing a prequel to John Carpenter's "The Thing." With stupid CGI monsters, no less (groan).

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  3. The Blob remake was great fun but it was made in the 80s, along with the other two great horror remakes, The Fly and The Thing. I think the examples above are all fairly recent? I agree, they are all rubbish, especially when compared with the originals.

    Here's a link to some upcoming Hollywood remakes. Be warned it's a depressing read. http://www.nextmovie.com/blog/upcoming-movie-remakes/

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  4. I have to defend the Dawn of the Dead remake. I think it exceeds the original quite nicely (although perhaps it could have been a bit shorter). Day of the Dead is, IMO, the best of Romero's zombie films, but I'm generally underwhelmed by them. Horror sacrilege, I know.

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  5. The Let the Right One In remake has been released, they changed the name to Let Me In. I can kind of understand remaking an old movie, updating it, even though I still don't like it, but it's remaking foreign films that are barely a year old that drives me nuts. I agree with The Hills Have Eyes remake, I think I actually liked it better than the original. The Fly remains IMO the best remake so far.

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  6. Why all the hate for the 2008 Quarantine? We loved it, and rank it among the best horror movies in the last decade. As for the Let the Right One In remake, I too was upset, but then I saw who they got to play the girl and I have high hopes for it.

    I've become more lenient about remakes of foreign movies. Having watched many foreign films and having to read subtitles, I know from experience that you often miss important, subtle facial expressions that you'd normally see if you were watching the actor speak and emote rather than concentrating on reading and understanding subtitles. So when an American remake is good (The Grudge, The Ring, etc), I don't get all hot and bothered about it being a remake.

    BTW, there are a couple formatting issues in the post; look for [REC} and [REC].

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  7. In some cases, I think the producers genuinely think they can make a better film because they have better technology, but CGI and digital video does not automatically make a movie better. In many cases, it makes it too slick to be good horror. Other times, the studio executives just want to cash in on a familiar title and really don't care about the quality of the film. Either way, the "wild west" independent movie scene that bred some of the best old horror movies is long gone and with it, wide open creativity.

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  8. Oh God, I hope he doesn't remake People Under the Stairs. It ruled.
    Yeah, apparently the movie industry is undergoing something resembling the snake eating its tail. They realized not one but TOO wacky spy rom-coms during the spring/summer season and they both sucked and I still can't forgive them for released TWO wacky mall cop comedies IN A ROW. (either last year or a year before that)
    There ARE some remake miracle stories and maybe I can understand the notion of taking something old and making it new again but...I'm going to take the "I Spit on Your Grave" and "The Last House on the Left" remakes as examples. Those were grindhouse exploitation movies from the seventies and as you can tell me, it was a different time then and you could get away with things like that supposedly. Some properties just don't translate well to modern audiences, maybe because we're more jaded or maybe just more stupid. I don't know.
    I don't know who said it so don't quote me but a wise observer once said that to repeat an action and expect a varied reaction is surely a sign of madness.
    I have some more thoughts on it but my comment is probably long enough as is so I'll leave it at that.

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  9. *released
    *releasing

    Gah, I should really look over my comments before I post 'em D:

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  10. The only remake I'll go see in a theater is probably True Grit since the Coens are doing it. I love the original, too.
    I'll defend Quarantine. It was not awful. But it wasn't [REC].
    Dawn of the Dead had its moments, but had the usual lazy writing that is so common these days.

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  11. The most underrated remake I've seen is Night of the Living Dead 1990. Romero himself wrote the screenplay and it differs from the original in two ways - Barbara's not a catatonic wimp anymore (yay!) and the ending is completely different (but still ironic and satisfying).
    Worth a look.

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  12. For every "original" idea that makes money, there are a dozen that tank. Movies are VERY expensive to make. Even cheap, bad, made for SyFy channel movies run to ten million or more.

    Remakes have a ready market so you have a better chance of breaking even and making a profit so that you can keep the doors open for that "new" idea that will put you on the map.

    That bit of reality said, you are absolutely about the sad state of Hollywood and bad remakes of movies, some of which should not have been made in the first place.

    As for re-making foreign films, there I will disagree with you. In some cases the American re-make was far better than the foreign original. Is saw both versions of "The Grudge" and thought the U.S. version was far better.
    The sequel, however, well let's just say my grandmother's home movies had better pacing.

    "New" is not synonymous with "good." Also, while we remember all those great movies from our youth, we tend to forget all the horror bombs that we either sat through or never came close to attending. In a town that was lucky to have three theaters, the owners could be choosy.

    Barry, above, is correct with his thoughts of "Night of the Living Dead" (1990). This should have launched Patricia Tallman's career. However the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead" should have been prosecuted as a crime against humanity.

    Yes, "Once upon a time, Hollywood made some damn good horror – ORIGINAL horror -" But at the same time it made some real crap. Which is why Elvira had, and does have, a show. And this was also a time when T.V. was your only competition, and "adults" ran the movie industry.

    Now it is populated by accountants and CEOs who have barely even seen a movie, and "Entitlement" kids who get to play with toys their dads created.

    Why else would they keep hiring Paris "House of Wax" Hilton??

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  13. For every "original" idea that makes money, there are a dozen that tank. Movies are VERY expensive to make. Even cheap, bad, made for SyFy channel movies run to ten million or more.

    Remakes have a ready market so you have a better chance of breaking even and making a profit so that you can keep the doors open for that "new" idea that will put you on the map.

    That bit of reality said, you are absolutely about the sad state of Hollywood and bad remakes of movies, some of which should not have been made in the first place.

    "New" is not synonymous with "good." Also, while we remember all those great movies from our youth, we tend to forget all the horror bombs that we either sat through or never came close to attending. In a town that was lucky to have three theaters, the owners could be choosy.

    Barry, above, is correct with his thoughts of "Night of the Living Dead" (1990). This should have launched Patricia Tallman's career. However the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead" should have been prosecuted as a crime against humanity.

    Yes, "Once upon a time, Hollywood made some damn good horror – ORIGINAL horror -" But at the same time it made some real crap. Which is why Elvira had, and does have, a show. And this was also a time when T.V. was your only competition, and "adults" ran the movie industry.

    Now it is populated by accountants and CEOs who have barely even seen a movie, and "Entitlement" kids who get to play with toys their dads created.

    Why else would they keep hiring Paris "House of Wax" Hilton??

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  14. BTW,

    I KNOW that "bad" and "made for syfy" IS a synonymous term.

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  15. I realize there were plenty of duds back in the day; however, I'm still frustrated that all the originality is coming from other countries (Martyrs, Inside, REC, The Host, Let the Right One In, Dead Snow, Tale of Two Sisters, etc.). Meanwhile, we're busy working on the latest remake of Rosemary's Baby or something.

    And when someone asks "why", the answer is always that it's too expensive to make anything original.

    I'm just not buying it. Look at all the other genres of film (especially the so-called independent films) - there's a lot of remakes out there, but there's more than an equal measure of original material.

    It's a sad fact that American horror has a reputation of unoriginality, but it comes by it honestly.

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  16. why people from USA are so proud about Quarantine?
    another bad remake, agree with you gilligan.

    totally disagree with Dawn of the Dead (2004) was way better than original.

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  17. There's also a Rocky Horror remake in development

    http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/18622.html

    Ho hum...

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