Joe’s Blog

Remakes rant…

February 13, 2009 8:13 am

F13 header

Hooray! It’s Friday the 13th and that can only mean one thing. Yes, it’s the most pointless horror remake since… er… the last one, as Friday the 13th Redux hits screens to a chorus of shrugs from anyone over the age of 15.

This particular remake has irked me more than I thought it would. Whilst Rob Zombie’s ‘re-imagining’ of Halloween was completely futile, at least he cast Malcolm McDowell as Loomis (as fine a stand-in for Donald Pleasance as you could wish for), and at least Zombie knows his horror movies, even if I don’t particularly like what he does.

Friday the 13th Redux, by comparison, is pure studio money-grabbing bullshit. We know this because Paramount Pictures are having a piece of the pie. For those who don’t know, the studio giant sold most of its interest in Jason Vorhees following the less-than-stellar box office for F13 Part 8: Jason Takes Vancouver… sorry, Manhattan.

But when a ‘re-envisioning’ (where do they get these fucked up phrases from?) was mooted, suddenly Paramount want back in. And history shows us the studios only touch this kind of kind if they think there’s a fast buck in it.

Saying you hate remakes it a dangerous business. Some smartarse will always point out several brilliant films that you like that are remakes. I have fallen into this trap many times as John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my all-time faves. Factor in Cronenberg’s The Fly, Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (or for that matter North By NorthWest) and the list starts to look quite formidable. Christ, even the Bogart version of The Maltese Falcon was a remake.

So I think the issue isn’t remakes, per se, more the motives behind them. If a craftsman like Carpenter or Hitchcock takes on a project, they are doing it because they love the project and want to do justice to it (we’ll here ignore the Cohen Brothers’ Ladykillers, or Neil LaBute’s Wicker Man… please god, let me ignore that).

But what’s happening now is, seemingly, every horror film of the 70s and early 80s is being dredged up and handed over to anyone who’s directed a music video.

Did the world really need a new version of Prom Night? They completly re-wrote the plot, so why call it Prom Night? (The same observation could be made of The Italian Job, a fairly entertaining film in its own right, so why saddle it with a title garaunteed to make any right thinking Brit want to kick Paramount Pictures in the teeth?)

Black Christmas was particularly irksome. Barely known outside horror circles, this 1974 classic was probably as important in the conception of the slasher film as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. The remake rewrote the story… but kept, almost shot-for-shot, the trademark murder scenes!

What most of the recent remakes seem to get wrong is in understanding what made these films popular in the first place. Texas Chainsaw Massacre was not popular because of it’s gore (because their wasn’t any), it was popular because of it’s mood. The remake, whilst as grim, had none of the icky feeling of the original. It substituted atmosphere for severed limbs… a bit like the ill-fated original sequel (if that makes sense…!).

And that’s another thing. We’re now at the stage where we have competeing franchises of the same thing! Night of the Living Dead was always George Romero’s baby. Now his own sequels have to compete with sequels of the remake, which was released a decade before the current invasion of orror remakes. We had the confusing, for the average movie-goer, situation a few years back where within the space of a couple of weeks there was Land of the Dead (Romero’s official fourth ‘Dead’ film), the Dawn of the Dead remake and the wonderful Shaun of the Dead, which many Americans before its release, dismissed as a cheap knock off spoof of the Dawn of the Dead remake. A spoof of a remake… what fresh lunacy is this? Well, that’s happening too thanks to those ‘hilarious’ “Movie” movies (Epic Movie, Superhero Movie etc which I’m not even going to link to as I don’t want to give them anymore oxygen than they have already).

And so to Friday the 13th Redux, at last.

I’m going to assume if you’ve got this far that you’ve seen at least one F13 film (and if you only see one, make it part 2 or 4, and save yourself a lot of hassle), so I’ll probably be in full spoiler mode.

Friday the 13th Redux features Jason as the killer, he has a hockey mask, and he’s a grown man. None of these things happen in F13. The writers claim to have condensed the stories of the first three films (they have stories?) into a new re-imagining of the series. They haven’t. They’ve written a fucking sequel, that changes the origin story.

What’s wrong with making a sequel? Why not make this F13 part 12? Probably because that would sound ridiculous.

Well, guess what? Remaking F13 and changing the story is even more fucking ridiculous!

Think this is bad enough.

Rumours abound about The Evil Dead (which could lead to competing franchises again), The Thing, Driller Killer, Suspiria (please god no) and even Cannibal Holocaust(!).

All of these will be dreadful and worse than the original (except possibly Driller Killer which is extremely dull).

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