Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Horror And Horrible Horror

I have a firm belief that Horror is in many ways the perfect genre... when used correctly. But that’s a heavy concept, to use Horror correctly. 
Think of it like this. Horror consistently grosses well at the box office. Sometimes this is because it was a small budget picture and therefore did not need much to break even. But more interestingly it is because people are hoping to be thrilled. And they will gamble often to see if a film can actually force them to react. So we’ve created a system where the flick doesn’t have to be good in order to make money... it just needs a good trailer, or 
And that’s what I really wanna talk about.
Originals and the Dreaded Remake... Films that force viewers to compare them to something else. And if they fall short of the classic greatness, then that is death (with the exception of a few bucks). But if they jump the hurtle without misstep they will be praised for years to come.

My opinion is a film should not be remade simply “because”... or, sometimes people force their love for a classic work to cloud their judgement and make the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. A light example is Halloween. How and why was Rob Zombie allowed to touch this film at all? What about it actually needed remaking? But it made money.

Yet sometimes the remake is righteous. The filmmaker doesn’t make the movie just out of admiration but with a specific purpose... the ideal version of The Thing From Another World is John Carpenter’s The Thing. He gave the film meaning for a new generation by rationalizing what the scenario would actually be like. And it’s amazing how real this movie is considering the source material.

The reason I bring this up? I’m watching The Haunting. It is surprisingly brilliant. Though I’d be labelled a moron if I said the same about its purposeless remake. The original is layered and saturated with common perceptions of the 50s and 60s. An attempted rationalization of ghosts and their effect on the living. But the remake is just a Hollywood movie with no expectation at making you think... rather it hides behind cheap special effects and a body count. The original had almost no special effects and only one death to speak of (minus the prologue). But that was a horror movie. And a fantastic one at that.
“Suffer Little Children! Suffer Little Children! Suffer Little Children!”

Tell me that’s not creepy. Other examples are Carrie and Carrie... the later being absolutely pointless, boring, and lame. Or House Of Wax and House Of Wax. The original isn’t necessarily scary, but very fun and interesting. The remake is stupid... made for a generation used to cheap thrills that don’t effect them after they’ve left the theatre.

But then there’s The Fly and The Fly which are both great... funnily though, both films suffer from bad sequels, Return Of The Fly and The Fly II. Cronenberg’s version is great because it had a reason to be made... it changed the purpose of the film to suit a new generation... He collected his views on how obsession can lead men down the wrong path. A concept only quickly stated in the original.
This entry is more of a list I suppose, but I hope I’m at least making you think of how the studios view their investment in Horror as a genre. They often seem to say, “make a good trailer... if you can’t do that, find something cheap to remake. We should at least make bank.”

I ask, why can’t they shoot to make a Horror film worthy of winning an Oscar? And I hear a stupid answer about the genre being cheap. But if films like The Thing and The Shining can scare you without using cheap tricks... if they can also make you think and keep you grounded in a believable reality... why shouldn’t they be award winning pictures?


  1. Look, I like the House of Wax remake. I certainly prefer it to Halloween, as House of Wax just takes the title and the idea of wax museums and runs with this totally creepy, awesome idea that is executed quite well despite the obstacles against it. Also, it uses Baby Jane to creepy effect.

    I need to see the TV movie Carrie. Is it really awful? When I saw the original movie, I thought, "Man, Patty Clarkson would own in the Piper Laurie role..." And then I heard she was in the remake. So I need to find out.

  2. I think I used the word lame to describe it... and I believe that was apt. Think of the people in the original, then imagine casting actors who are too immature to understand the content... plus, no Travolta!

    I'll take your House Of Wax comment with some slight agreement, but the fact that the building its self is made out of wax makes less sense than Carrie Fisher saying she magically knew that Luke was her brother all along... despite the make out session.