Awesome News! (and) Remakes vs. Reimaginings

1 Jun

I’m awful, just awful.  I’ve been so busy lately I completely neglected my BABY!!!(like… the blog)

I have happy fun news!!!  In addition to being invited into the Land of the Creeps podcast family (!SO EXCITED!), you can also see my article about Joshua Hoffine’s amazing work in next month’s issue (#334) of Fangoria magazine!  Some of you may know that the FIRST EVER interview I posted on this blog was with this amazing horror photographer and I am just so elated that I was able to speak with him again, and for my favourite magazine to boot!

AND, my feature on Kalen Davidson, circus performer and the man behind the wendigo creature on NBC’s hit series Hannibal is featured on Fangoria’s website here!

It’s been tense, guys.

BUT TO THE MATTER AT HAND.

Remakes vs. Reimaginings (Good and Bad)

Alright kids.  Time to get uncomfortable.

There are always going to be those people who’s availability to films is limited to those created in their generation.  People in their teens now maybe have only seen 2006’s (unfortunate) remake of 1974’s classic slasher BLACK CHRISTMAS.  But for those of us who obsess about these things, I’ve put them into two main categories.  (“NERD!” They screamed collectively from the peanut gallery.)…(Quit reading then, jerks.)

Also, I would like to be clear.  I am not against remakes, some of them are absolutely genius, but… just… read along.

The Carbon Copy 

Ugh.  Gross.  These one’s suck.
I get it filmmakers.  You want to take a classic film and make it more accessible to younger audiences.  CARRIE in the 1970’s was great for kids in the 1970’s, but what about kids in the 2010’s?  How are these kids going to UNDERSTAND this old film?  What if they never come into contact with people who loved the original enough to pass it along?
Most of my experience with horror films (which probably resulted in my obsession with them) is being introduced to them by my mom.  I may have told this story before, but when I turned eight years old, my mom thought, “What is the most awesome thing I can do for Jessie, my eight-year-old daughter?”  She decided, after much deliberation (I’m embellishing, I think) that she would read me Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon”.  

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A cautionary tale, “Tom Gordon” tells the story of a young girl who gets lost in the woods on the way to a baseball game and does everything WRONG and PAYS FOR IT in the process of trying to find civilization again.  From that moment, I became obsessed with Stephen King, and a few years later when I became the acceptable age to read ANY of Stephen King’s other books (Like what…  Sixteen?  Seventeen?) I collected them.  But it wasn’t just books.  My mom showed me CANDYMAN when I was probably twelve or thirteen, we bonded over films like CHRISTINE, and I shared a moment with her and my grandfather (clearly, this was passed down) when we all watched SALEM’S LOT together when I was about ten.
THE POINT IS, people are going to watch the original films.  The reason that they are classics is because they were smart enough then to cross generations, and be passed down from people that loved them enough to keep them alive.
The problem I have with carbon copies like CARRIE specifically is that not only did they copy the original almost VERBATIM, but they took the underlying theme of the film, the metaphor that the ’76 film gets across through symbolism, and literally SAYS IT OUT LOUD at the ending as if people watching the film now just aren’t going to get it like they did in ’76.  Not only was that painful to watch but should be absolutely insulting to newer generations watching the films back to back.  That being said, Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore were great.  Also, I refer to this film as “CARRIE With iPhones and CG”.

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She dropped her iPhone.

The Homage

Beautiful.  A remake that when perfectly executed, not only delights new generations but also fans of the original as well.  An homage takes the premise of the original film and sometimes the actual story and characters, but makes it into something new.  2013’s EVIL DEAD was a “breath holder” for sure, fans of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic were apprehensive at the idea of an “Ash-less” EVIL DEAD, but I would bet that the majority of the original fans came out of the theater cheering or at the very least breathing a sigh of relief.  Bringing a different batch of people to the cabin in the woods took a bit of the edge off to begin with, throwing in some little throw backs; the chainsaw, Delta ’88, the necklace, really held it together and paid serious homage to an “old” favourite without trying to BE Sam Raimi’s low budget masterpiece with iPhones.

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Other reimaginings include 2011’s FRIGHT NIGHT (mixed feelings in the horror fandom on this one, but I for one loved it…  And not just because I’m obsessed with David Tennant…), and as referenced above 2006’s BLACK XMAS which made me want to throw up.
The problem I have with BLACK XMAS is partly the same problem I have with CARRIE.  *Huge BLACK CHRISTMAS spoilers coming up*  BLACK CHRISTMAS ends with *seriously spoilers* nobody knowing the true identity of “Billy” the murderer and voice on the phone, the whole POINT of the film was that the identity was never discovered, that and the point that the ramblings and ravings during each of his disturbing phone calls had no apparent meaning was what made the film terrifying, then and now.  The REMAKE pretty well begins with a back story about the murderer (and oh look, his name IS Billy) and how he was abused and how he’s escaped from an institution and traveled back to his home (which, OH LOOK, is a sorority house now) and he would very much like to kill everyone inside of it.

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New audiences can’t be frightened by ambiguity, suspense, and a dark sense of the unknown, no.  New audiences must be force-fed stories of “escaped mental patients” and “Dawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.  (Please imagine me doing air quotes, saying those last bits in a sarcastic tone).

My ranting has come to its peak darlings.  Now you understand the inner struggle that goes on inside of me every time I see a classic is being remade.  The “Well, this could go one of two ways” disappointment mixed with excitement that I feel will be met with either applause and cheering like at the end (after the credits) of EVIL DEAD, or the shaking of my head, mixed with a rant to whoever I went with, and an angry Facebook status update later that night that accompanied my viewing of this year’s CARRIE.

But that’s just my opinion…  What do you guys think?

Stay scared, kids.
xo

2 Responses to “Awesome News! (and) Remakes vs. Reimaginings”

  1. Carl August 28, 2014 at 6:55 PM #

    Whenever I see a reboot of a classic I love, I get tense because I think it’s going to be an insult to the original story. What helps when seeing these movies, is realizing that the reboot is meant for a new audience, not the one that adored the first movie. And after watching a crap reboot, it makes me love the original movie more and more, and I don’t even recognize the new film’s affiliation with the original.

    • ashesandrashes September 16, 2014 at 7:41 PM #

      Well put, Carl! I feel the same way about crap remakes, it doesn’t make the original any worse, so just pretend it never happened ;) haha

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