Some people say remakes are a sign of Hollywood’s lack of good ideas. However, film producers have been doing remakes since before there was even a Hollywood. And Hollywood began producing them since it was born. The important thing to retain here is that there is nothing extraordinary about great stories getting a second, third or fourth versions. It just means those stories are that great. Take a look at A STAR IS BORN. It was made three times (1937, 1954, 1976 and another version coming in 2018). Take a look at the cast and you’ll understand why: Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and soon Lady Gaga. It’s obvious that it’s not a creative problem driving those remakes. It’s the opportunity of bringing a great intellectual property to new audiences.
The horror genre did not arrive late to the party. Just look at DRACULA. It is such a great property that it has been remade (as a major film, that is) at least once every decade. And if you look at Lugosi’s classic of 1931, well, that version had a Spanish language remake as it was being made. DRACULA is a great example. Which version do people prefer? Ask people who grew in different decades and you’ll be surprised. Really, it is a matter of personal taste and affection.
The opportunity of a remake is clear: new (and more popular) stars, a more contemporary setting, better visual effects, better production values, etc. Of course fans of the original GHOSTBUSTERS, THE EVIL DEAD, HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13th and so many other great horror classics get a taste of disrespect in their mouths when they hear about a remake of the films they have loved all their lives. And that’s very understandable, after all, those films are forever linked to times when we solidified our love for the genre. We love them as part of our youth. They are a part of us. More than that, they are our family.
But even when we question the occasional heavy hand of stupid studio execs making decisions that clearly prove to be misguided (GHOSTBUSTERS comes to mind), it is also clear that the films we love always come up swinging. Remakes rarely touch the originals we love. Instead, they are (for us) an alternate reality we don’t even have to watch if we don’t feel like to. You like some, you hate others.
The version you love is always there on your shelf waiting for you to celebrate it. Pick it up. Admire it. Talk to it. Watch it again and soon you’ll both be laughing like old friends.
So you were – like me – a teen when GHOSTBUSTERS was released in 1984? Well, the version made in 2016 is not for you and me. The jokes are not the same, the visuals are not the same, the spirit is not the same, but here’s the truth: we’re not in 1984. I did not hate the new version. I understood it. And because it wasn’t for me, I was left kind of indifferent to it. Thank God I can enjoy on Blu-ray the version I love.
Some remakes, however, are so far from the original and, yet, made with so much care (for us who loved the original) that it’s hard to find the taste the disrespect. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) comes to mind: clearly a great film in its own right. In the horror genre, I like the new versions of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009) and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010). But since I love revenge stories, I could easily find myself in those remakes – while I still love the originals.
The landscape is diverse and we have to understand the films instead of judge them. Some remakes are for us. Some aren’t. The originals live forever.