Horror, Op-Ed

Horror Movie Remakes Need To Stop

Horror movies are constantly being made. It’s a great money making genre, and horror movie fans are pretty devoted. However, lately the trend has been fewer original horror movies and more reboots or remakes. It seems to have really kicked off with Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween (some did exist before then), and has continued to go from there. Now while there have been a few good ones, for the most part this has meant a market bogged down in mediocre or just plain bad horror movie remakes. Here is a list of reasons why it needs to stop.

WARNING THIS WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS

The reboot/remake often forgets what makes the first so great in the first place: biggest offender Friday the 13th

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One of the problems with the remakes/reboots is that often ignore what made people love the orginal. A perfect example of this is Friday the 13th remake from 2009. What really made the original Friday the 13th stand out is the identity of the killer. Since the creation of the final girl horror movies we’ve seen tons of them. Friday the 13th series, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween… the list goes on. What Friday the 13th had was the fact that the masked killer was not in fact who you thought it was. It was not Jason, but rather Jason’s mother. It was surprising, clever, and actually made this movie stand out in it’s genre.

Along comes the remake and aside from being mediocre in every other way it decides to skip the grand reveal that the killer is Jason’s mom and just make it Jason. It’s boring, predictable, completely bypassed the one moment of “wow that’s pretty unique” that the original had. Maybe the excuse is we all know that Jason’s mom is the killer, but then again wasn’t this remake supposed to be for a new generation? Not only that, but even knowing that Jason’s mom is the killer doesn’t completely ruin the experience of the original Friday the 13th. The fact is the unique killer is arguably one of the most important things about Friday the 13th so why ignore that?

The changes to the killers are usually not successful: biggest offenders Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street

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Rob Zombie, as mentioned, really kicked off this trend with Halloween. He took a unique approach to his remake and really wanted to look at that character of Michael Meyers. I give Rob Zombie credit for thinking outside the box, but the end result is just not that good. Part of what made John Carpenter’s Halloween so brilliant was that Meyers was this unknown killer. He was some random kid that seemed to live a normal life until he killed his sister. He is then sent away and described as pure evil. Meyer’s doesn’t have much of a reason for stalking and killing the teens that night. The biggest connection he seems to have is that Laurie just happens to stroll up to his house while he’s in there. He kills because he can, it’s as simple as that.

Zombie takes the time to really go into Meyer’s past. Shows him as an abused and troubled boy that doesn’t just snap, but snaps because of all the hardship he faces. The thing is the numerous Halloween sequels that came before this remake already tried that. They desperately tried to give a connection between Meyers and Laurie. It wasn’t needed then, and it’s not needed now. Zombie simply repeats what has already been done, he desperately tries to make Meyers into a complex character. Meyers was never more scary than when he was just a faceless killer with no motivation. Just like the sequels seemed to miss that, Zombie did too. I give Zombie credit for trying, but the end result is rather dull.

Wes Craven was a pro at bringing a macabre sense of humor to his movies. Freddy is the perfect example of that. He is a scary villain, one that was horrible in life, and can now channel the power of dreams to torture in death. Yet despite all this Freddy is really rather hilarious. He is one bad pun after another which really challenges the viewer to laugh while watching something horrific. It’s more than a little twisted, but it’s ultimately successful. It keeps the Nightmare on Elm Street series from being the same as the other slasher flicks.

The remake once again suffers from the desperate need for more backstory and character development for Freddy. You get a closer look at what makes Freddy, Freddy, but in the process the charm of the original character is completely lost. Freddy as a villain might be a little more twisted, but then he’s just as forgettable as the next guy because he’s been done before. The movie totally ignored what made Freddy popular, I mean the new guy makes all of one pun. Honestly Freddy’s new development is forgettable, and I find myself just wanting the old Freddy.

They think more gore is really the solution: biggest offenders, pretty much all of them

The true problem with many of the remakes is how lazy they seem. Little effort is put into making it something that still honors the classic but has it’s own voice. It’s not like remakes like The Thing (1982) where the overall theme is used but a new and wonderful plot is brought to it. No, instead they find the basic plot and then just cover it in more gore. The Hills Have Eyes focused a lot less on the emotional trauma to the characters, but had a lot more gore. Carrie doesn’t really look into the emotional break down of this girl with a slow build up to a climax, but there is a lot more gore. The Last House on the Left lost all the complex reflection but…, well you get the point.

It’s a system built on being able to make a lot of the movies quickly, and easily. Friday the 13th is the final girl movie on a lake, killer with a hockey mask, buckets of blood. Replace lake with suburbia, and the mask and you have Halloween. The fact of the matter is though gore does not make a movie scary it makes it gory. But making a movie gory with jump scares is a lot easier than really trying to work out the plot. At the end of the day it’s a sad system that just leaves classics covered in fake blood.

One of the best possible reboots wasn’t really a reboot, and others that have tried the same have failed

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As I mentioned in the introduction I won’t say that all remakes are bad. In fact one of the best exists in a world of remake/reboot/sequel, and that is shockingly Scream 4. The confused nature of what this movie is probably lends itself to the success. Instead of being a straight up reboot it’s kind of a sequel that follows reboot rules. Doing this keeps it close enough to the original while still giving it room to breath. It manages to do what Scream did all those years before. It breaks down the rules of horror (now changed for the new generation), has an interesting cast of characters, and the killer reveal that is a little shocking. The movie works so well because it hangs between a sequel and reboot, pull out the sequel aspects and it would have been a failure. It would have been a boring remake of a movie that we didn’t need.

This sort of blend between sequel and reboot was attempted with Texas Chainsaw 3D. It fails because it’s less of a sequel and more of a lazy reboot. First while being a pretty much direct sequel to Texas Chainsaw Massacre (or so it claims) the amount of time that has gone by completely breaks the timeline. More than 20 years have actually gone by, and yet the movie tries to make you believe it’s just been a few. Aside from that horrible oversight the whole plot is turned on it’s head. Leatherface is not the abused killer from a messed up family. No, the people outside the family were really the bad guys and Leatherface is a hero of sorts? I mean there is more to it than that, but it’s not worth analyzing. It attempts to find the success of blending sequel and reboot, but fails. When attempting to mimic the success of other movies it’s important to pay attention to all the aspects that created that success.

Bottomline:

At the end of the day we get a few gems of remakes/reboots. We even have a few passable ones. With the world so bogged down with so many remakes however it’s hard to sort through them to find the ones worth watching. So unless a movie is going to really actually try to honor the source material but still find it’s own voice, it just needs to not happen.

Horror

Thou Shalt Not: Horror Movie Sins

Horror is a long running genre, that through the years has seen many highs and lows. It’s a delicate balance to make a movie that manages to hit all the right aspect of terror. A few simple mistakes can really shift the overall feel of a movie. Here are some of the biggest horror movie “sins” that many movies make the mistake of making.

Having a Climax that is Less Intense Than the Rest of the Movie

Notable Sinners: The Veil

A good climax can really solidify a horror movie. The right climax can take what seems to be an average film and push it over. The wrong climax though? If you are going to build to one certain moment (or series of moments) make sure that it’s worth it. Films like The Veil manage to build a lot of tension and suspense, then fail to deliver where it matters the most. The last few moments of The Veil are rather stale and unimaginative in comparison to what we already witnessed. It leaves the viewer with a slightly dissatisfied feeling, and prevents this movie from achieving something more.

Having a Fake Final Girl

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Notable Sinners: I Know What You Did Last Summer

Now let me explain, I don’t think that all slasher movies need to be final girl movies, in fact there is plenty of room for other types of slasher films. That being said if you are going to build up your movie to be a final girl movie, then it better be a final girl movie. I Know What You Did Last Summer really wants Julie James to be the final girl. They force her into the role in many awkward and unbelievable ways. The problem is they don’t want to actually kill off the rest of the cast to achieve this. What’s left is a movie that feels a bit confused.

Having Endless Sequels

Notable Sinners: Hellraiser

In fairness you can actually take your pick with this category, there are a lot of movies that have way too many sequels. I chose Hellraiser because I can’t actually honestly say I believe it has any good ones. Hellraiser 2 could be considered passable, but after that the series desperately needed to stop. In fact at one point the studio made a sequel that they KNEW was bad just to keep the rights over the movies. Sometimes when you love something you have to let it go.

Making Sequels that Miss the Point

Notable Sinners: Friday the 13th

I actually like the Friday the 13th series, they are the kind of dumb but fun horror movies I enjoy on occasion. The problem is they just miss the point completely. Friday the 13th stands out for a slasher flick because of the choice of killer. It’s unexpected, unique, and more than a little sad. Jason is a victim completely, so much so that even though we THINK he’s getting his revenge the truth is of course not, he’s just dead. Friday the 13th 2 (and on) lost that when they made Jason the killer. It’s no longer unexpected, and it loses a lot of what made the first movie shine. Maybe the first didn’t allow for endless sequels, but it did bring something a little more to the genre.

Being to Afraid to Stand on Your Own

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Notable Sinners: Halloween 3: Season of the Witch

This movie is frankly underrated. It’s underrated because it shouldn’t have been a Halloween movie to begin with. The movie was set to release around Halloween, and the studio was afraid that after doing two movies, if they didn’t put “Halloween” in the title that it wouldn’t fly. The problem is this movie has nothing to do with the rest of the series, and it set expectations that the movie would never be able to live up to. The movie is doomed not because it’s so bad, but because of a really bad choice.

Remaking a Movie with Gore and No Substance

Notable Sinners: House of Wax, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street

The problem with a lot of remakes is that they seem to start from the stand point that the movie it’s based on has no real value. In truth you could make arguments against the horror genre, but I feel it’s a bit unfair. I digress, my point is, so many remakes just throw buckets of fake blood at the basic plot and completely miss any real substance that the original had. Friday the 13th doesn’t even bother with Jason not being the killer, House of Wax is gore porn with no suspense, Nightmare on Elm Street lost it’s balance between comedy and horror. How much the original movies actually offer is debatable, but they did offer more than shallow, forgettable, blood spattered remakes.

Being a Found Footage Film When Not Needed

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Notable Sinners: The Visit

Found footage films have become the big thing. In fact even though people are largely starting to complain about the subgenre the movies keep getting cranked out. The reality is there are some horror movies with a base line plot doesn’t seem that bad, but they are then shoe horned into a found footage film. The Visit is about kids go to visit their grandparents, who start exhibit strange behavior. The resulting movie is strangely put together because of the need to make it “found footage”. It’s not a bad movie when you look at the basics, but there was no call to make it found footage. So the resulting movie is odd and simply doesn’t work.

News, Video Games

Friday the 13th Teaser Trailer

Gun Media is not slowing down on the hype for Friday the 13th. Since they reached their kickstarter goal (as well as a few stretch goals) they have been consistently updating people on what to expect from the project. Their latest video takes “teaser” to the extreme. While it might one of the least informative videos they’ve released, it is in line with the overall message their media campaign has been about. It reflects the experience of watching a horror movie, while giving players a look at what parts of gameplay should be like. The game is still set to release in October of this year, and we will bring more news as it unfolds.

Horror, News

Two New Friday the 13th Videos

Honestly we are super excited for Friday the 13th. As fans of the horror genre we are excited to see a (hopefully) good take on the horror Franchise, Friday the 13th. Helping our excitement is the unique, and down right fun looking gameplay. Gun Media has released more new videos of the game. The first is another tip video.

The second gives a look at the motion capture used for the game. Not only is it interesting to watch the behind the scenes look, but it also revealed something for horror fans to get hype about. Kane Hodder, who played Jason Voorhees in mulitple Friday the 13th films, did motion capture for the game. Hodder has been in multiple horror films, but it is nice to see such an iconic Jason actor help with the game. While it was announced awhile ago that Hodder would be involved, it’s nice to see the actual involvement unfold.