Last time around I bitched about the whole "torture-porn" sub-genre of the horror film genre, while making some small references to what may be the next biggest problem in horror films today, which is none other than shitty remakes of not only classic horror films, but remakes of horror flicks which weren't all that great in the first place.
Horror remakes are nothing new in the least, and on the ultra-rare occassion, can turn out to be pretty good. John Carpenter's early 80s gorefest "The Thing" was a remake of the classic "The Thing From Another World", and remains one of the director's finest efforts. Before Zack Snyder took on comic book adaptations "300" and "Watchmen", he directed the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead", which while it featured the much-maligned running zombies, was surprisingly and shockingly enjoyable. 2006's remake of Wes Craven's "The Hills Have Eyes" was visceral and shock-filled, and even last year's remake of "Friday the 13th" turned out to be kind of "so bad it's good" enjoyable trash.
At the other end of the spectrum however are the needless, lifeless remakes of classics and fan favorite horror flicks that wind up being so bad that it automatically kills the viewers' interest in ever checking out the original. In no particular order, over the past decade plus we have had remakes of "Psycho", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Halloween", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "The Fog", "My Bloody Valentine", "Prom Night", "The Stepfather", "Day of the Dead", "Willard", "The Last House on the Left", "April Fool's Day", "The Wicker Man", "The Omen", and "It's Alive" to name a handful. Not to mention the fact that there are a ton of remakes on the horizon as well, including retreads of "Fright Night", "Videodrome", "Scanners", "The Monster Squad", "Creepshow", "Basket Case", "Phantasm", "Hellraiser", "The Blob" (second time it's been remade), and another take on "Night of the Living Dead". Even my beloved "Near Dark" and "Evil Dead" aren't immune to the virus that is the remake, as both legendary cult films are seemingly headed down that route.
Now, when a remake takes something that made the original good in the first place and adds some new ideas to it, the end result can be good. As mentioned before, the remakes of "The Thing" and "Dawn of the Dead" took the basic outline of the original films of which they were based and added new dimensions to it. For "The Thing" it was cutting-edge makeup effects and upping the ante in terms of tension, while for "Dawn of the Dead" it was fast zombies and pitch-black humor. The other remakes that for the most part are shitty beyond shitty, not only don't add anything new, but more often than not either follow the exact same formula that we already know from the original, or just butcher the original's ideas in the first place. The original "The Fog" was a chilling ghost story that was remade as a non-sensical hack-job, while the new take on "A Nightmare on Elm Street" presented a lifeless and boring Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund will always be Freddy to me, but that's another story entirely) while recycling so many of Wes Craven's original shots that charges of plagerism should be filed.
Is there such a bankruptcy of ideas in the horror genre that all these remakes need to see the light of day? Granted that horror isn't the only genre where there are a hearty amount of remakes: the science-fiction and action genres get a ton of remakes themselves, so in all actuality, there is apparently a bankruptcy of ideas in the mainstream film making world as a whole. This is just so depressing to me that words just can't describe my thoughts on the matter. As an aspiring writer, I can vouch for the difficulty of attempting to come up with an original idea and actually move forward with it, let alone tackle something that has been done over and over again and try to add a level of freshness to it, but when neither is actually attempted, it just boggles my mind as to how the remake wheel keeps turning.
Such established franchises like "Halloween", "Friday the 13th", and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" have their names and iconic screen villains to rely on to rake in profits that the makers behind them don't really have to worry about making something old new again because it is a relatively trusted brand at this point. But was anyone clamoring for remakes of "Prom Night" or "The Stepfather"? Yeah, that's what I thought.
In the end, the horror film genre just recycles itself over and over again, with occasional glimmers of originality and hope shining through every so often. Sadly, those occasions are becoming all the more rare as the years go on, and I can only hope that by the time I'm in a wheelchair and shitting in adult diapers that the tenth reboot of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" isn't playing in the local multiplex.