Original vs Remake:
Horror Icons Reborn
1960….We check in
1978….Evil returned home
1980….A legend was born
1984….The nightmares began…
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) gave audiences nightmares in 1984′s Nightmare On Elm Street. His crimes towards children had the parents of Springwood turning into a vigilante mob, burning Krueger alive. But to quote Krueger on his crimes, “When I was alive, I might have been a little naughty, but after they killed me, I became something much worse. The stuff nightmares are made of. The children still feared me and that fear gave me the power to invade their dreams. And that’s when the fun really began.”His horribly burnt face and the sound of his ‘razor’ fingers is still etched in the minds of movie goers to this day.
Jason Voorhees wasn’t even the original killer in Friday The 13th. In 1980, sending your children to summer camp became one of the worst ideas possible. But if Jason, whom we all associate with the Friday the 13th movies, wasn’t the killer then who was? His mother, Mrs. Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), was a camp leaders worst nightmare. Jason made a small appearance at the end of the original film, providing audiences with one last scare before becoming the ‘Big Bad’ for the rest of the series. An unstoppable force, Jason has scared audiences for thirty years and chalked up an impressive body count all the while looking like one really pissed off goalie.
In 1978 John Carpenter’s Halloween scared audiences by proving that the ‘bogeyman’ does indeed exist. Michael Myers, an ordinary six year old boy, murders his older sister, Judith, in a bloody rage on Halloween night in 1963. He spends the next fifteen years in an asylum while Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) fought tooth and nail to keep him locked up because Michael was “Purely and simply evil.”
Upon escaping the asylum on October 30th 1978, Michael returns to his home town of Haddonfield and proceeds to stalk Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends.
In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock gave movie goers something to really sink their teeth into. A run down motel that looked perfect harmless by day proves that looks can be deceiving. Run by young and handsome Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), The Bates Motel is no place any traveller wishes to stay, even for a night. Just ask Marion Crane (Janet Leigh).
Psycho was the first movie to feature a flushing toilet on film and the tag line for the movie was “This Is One Movie You Have To See From The Beginning Or Not At All. For No One … BUT NO ONE … Will Be Admitted To The Theatre After The Start Of Each Performance Of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.” Psycho is renown for it’s infamous shower sequence.
So what do all these films have in common? Yes, they are horror. Yes, they are classics in their own right. Yes, each of the ‘villains’ are now pop culture icons. But what I’m driving at is each of these films have been remade.
Remaking a film shows little to no imagination. It is a cheap ploy to capitalise on a successful franchise or a successful film. It also proves a point that there are no original ideas left in the Hollywood machine.
Psycho was the first to be remade of the above titles and was done in 1998. It’s cast, whist they are fantastic performers in their own right, couldn’t deliver on what Perkins and Leigh had done thirty-eight years earlier despite the movie being filmed shot for shot. Vince Vaughn was not as convincing as Perkins had been as the shy innkeeper, Norman Bates. If anything, his performance was laughable. Anne Heche played the role of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh’s character) and lacked the warmth that Leigh had been able to deliver. For me Psycho (1998) was a shot by shot massacre of one of the perennial classics. The colour was jarring especially when the original was filmed in black and white, and the performances were atrocious. For years, I dubbed this as the worst remake ever made. I felt like it took away the power of the original film. Fortunately, thanks to a little movie called Scream, we will always remember it was Anthony Perkins who said “We all go a little mad sometimes.”
Halloween was the next to follow in 2007. This film has mixed reviews so I would like you to remember that this article is based on my views. I’m not asking you to agree with them, but I am asking you to consider them.
On paper, a “Halloween” remake looked interesting. Rob Zombie tries to go back to the character’s origin and reinvent him and give audiences something that John Carpenter didn’t do, which is a proper back story for Michael. He tried to give us the answer to what made him snap and why is he one of horror’s most prolific serial killers.
While I can understand why Zombie did attempt the back story, it did conflict with the original movie creating a break in the fabric of the story. Some fans of the original (me included) were appalled by the clichéd ‘white trash’ back story. In the original, Michael came from a normal home, with loving parents, which made his crimes that much more heinous. Also, the ages changed. Michael first picked up his thirteen inch knife when he was just six years old. In the remake he was ten. After spending fifteen years locked up, Michael returns to Haddonfield at the age of twenty-one. In the remake he was locked away for seventeen years and returned home at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. Also, in the original, Michael never uttered a word. In the remake, Loomis couldn’t get him to shut up.
But that wasn’t the only inconstancies with this film. The other characters appeared to have gotten more stupid. Linda, for example, wasn’t much of a bright spark in the original film, (fun fact, P.J. Soles, who played Linda in the 1978 Halloween said the word ‘Totally’ eleven times) but in the remake she was so stupid that she didn’t notice her boyfriend, Bob, had grown another six-seven inches since he went outside to get her a beer. OK, so Michael did appear with a sheet over his head, but any idiot with half a brain would have realised that he was suddenly much taller and broader in the shoulders.
The language was another disconcerting factor in the remake. In the original there was minimal swearing. In the remake, it seemed like every second word was cussing. The characters were more crude and less likeable. Even veteran actors Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif (Chucky from Child’s Play) couldn’t save this film. The only bright spark was Danielle Harris’ return to Haddonfield. For non-Halloween fans, Danielle played Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 and 5. In this remake, she played Annie Brackett, the daughter of Sheriff Lee Brackett (Dourif).
Friday The 13th was the next to follow in 2009. Now, I will admit, that I’m not a Jason fan and personally couldn’t care less what happens to him. I saw it the day before my 23rd birthday with a girlfriend of mine.
I surprisingly enjoyed it, but that might have something to do with not giving a damn about the films that came before it. However, in saying that, I did find a lot of problems with the reboot.
You read that right. I said ‘Reboot’ because this ‘remake’ consisted of the first three Friday the 13th movies rolled into one. Mrs. Voorhees is killed in the first ten minutes and Jason takes over after that. He wears a burlap sack on his head (as reference to part 2) until he discovers the hockey mask (part 3) which is an iconic symbol with Jason. But that’s where the similarities end.
In the remake, Jason runs (which he did actually do in the first few movies – it wasn’t until the later films that he began to walk and stalk, so we won’t call this one an inaccurate fact). But suddenly he’s running through hidden tunnels under Camp Crystal Lake. Since when did Jason become smart enough to use tunnels to hide? Jason was all about confrontations and slicing and dicing and raking up the biggest body count in horror history.
Jason also kidnaps one of the first campers we see at the start and holds her hostage underground in one of the tunnels. Jason has never done this before – he’s been all about the kills. Never would he intentionally leave someone alive, let alone chain them up as his prisoner. So once again I ask, when did he develop a brain?
According to IMDB, Jason kidnapped Whitney because she bore a striking resemblance to his mother. (Fun fact: The photo in the locket that Whitney ends up taking from Jason’s cabin is actually of a young Betsy Palmer who played Mrs. Voorhees in the original Friday The 13th movie)
Now that got me thinking about the past Friday the 13th films. Ginny in Friday The 13th part 2 donned Mrs. Voorhees’ sweater in hopes of tricking Jason into believing that she was his mother and that he had done his job. For a while Jason did seemed fooled, and it was only when Ginny raised that infamous machete that Jason realised he was tricked. In Freddy Vs. Jason, Freddy tricks Jason into killing people on Elm Street by giving him the orders as Mrs. Voorhees ergo it’s safe to say that throughout the series Jason’s one weakness has been his mother so, it could be argued that, in his deranged mind, he sees Whitney as his mother. Either way, it’s creepy, it’s stupid, it’s un-Jason-like and takes away from the original concept of him being a mindless killing machine. I go to these films to see people get slice and diced. I don’t want to have to think about why someone is being held hostage when everyone around them is being brutally slaughtered.
Another problem with this remake was the characters dialogue. Never in my 26 years of life have I ever heard a guy say to a chick he’s sleeping with, “Your tits are stupendous.” Not too mention that all the characters seemed a little stereotypical. The leading male was hell bent on saving his sister when everyone else kept telling him she’s probably dead which lead to arrogance and stubbornness and later on, stupidity. The blond pretty boy (Trent played by Travis Van Winkle) was a spoilt rich brat who whined about everything until he got his own way. The blond girl was dumb as dog shit (and as a blond myself, I find this highly insulting), the Asian guy (played by Aaron Yoo) was super smart. The African-American male was cocky and constantly accused people of being racist because he was black (Prime example of this: Lawrence: “I got business I gotta do this weekend.” Chelsea: “What business?” Lawrence: “Music. I’m trying to start a label.” Chelsea: “Oh, yeah? Like what kind? Like rap?” Lawrence: “Why you gotta go racial? Look, don’t put me in a box, all right? What, because I’m black I can’t listen to Green Day?” Chelsea: “You’re right, that was dumb. So, what kind of music?” Lawrence: “Rap.”)
It seemed that the script really let this film fall. It seems as though there was more focus on humour (and poor humour at that) then actual scares and horror. For me, Aaron Yoo’s performance as Chewy stole the show and it was tragic to see him die. He provided us with laughs and seemed to be the only likeable character throughout this reboot. Snaps to Aaron Yoo for doing something worthwhile with a sub par script.
Picture the 1984 horror classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street. Now picture that film if it was produced by Michael Bay, director of Pearl Harbour and the Transformers films. Now picture all of the worst possible outcomes of that marriage. Better yet, don’t. You can see that for yourself with the 2010 remake of Nightmare On Elm Street. Actually, don’t even bother wasting your money on this.
Let’s begin with the travesties of replacing iconic Robert Englund with Jackie Earle Haley, changing Krueger’s appearance, the lack of originality, and adding a emo twist to our main characters.
This is the first Nightmare film that hasn’t starred Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. Now, I can understand Robert not wanting to come back. Age may be a factor as he is now in his early sixties. I also know that Rob has cursed a lot of the time he spent in the make-up chair being fitted with prosthetics to look like Krueger. But, in saying that, Freddy doesn’t wear a mask. Unlike Jason or Michael, Freddy is much more then a face. He has his own personality. Any actor or stuntman can play Jason or Michael. But to play Krueger you need to perfect not only a look, but a walk, a voice and a complete personality which Haley failed at. Being Freddy is much more then donning a red and green stripped sweater and a set of razor fingers. You have to live up to the legend that Englund created.
The only thing that Haley got right with his portrayal of Krueger was the leaning to the right. But that can’t really be helped when the glove (Freddy’s weapon of choice) is a lot heavier then it looks. Other then that he completely butchered (no pun intended) the role.
There was also too much focus on Freddy being a child molester in the remake. Yes, it was hinted at in the original that Freddy loved children “especially little girls” but it wasn’t rammed down your throat as facts. According to Wes Craven, the whole child molester story was dropped in ’84 because, before Nightmare’s release, a couple of students came forward accusing their teachers of molesting them which became a media storm. In saying that, it has always been an hidden part of Freddy’s back story. But for the most part, he was just a child killer.
Changing the man under the ‘Christmas’ sweater wasn’t the only difference Krueger went through. His face and his burned skin changed too. A combination of prosthetics and CGI were used to give Freddy his new look. At some points in the film you can actually see green screen where the CGI burns are suppose to be. No more does Krueger look like (to quote Englund) “a pizza topping gone wrong.” He does look more realistic however it takes more then make-up to bring Freddy back to life. The new make-up robbed Haley of any expressions. It didn’t make him any scarier. If anything, it made him uninteresting. At least under all the “pizza toppings” Englund could create facial expressions whether it be an unnerving grin, an arched eyebrow or a sinister smirk.
One would expect with a new Nightmare to see some fantastic ‘kills.’ Something completely original and wild, and seeing as Freddy is made up of dreams, the sky is the limit for slaying. However, this film lacks any creativity as it is. The only kills worth mention were directly ripped off from the original Nightmare On Elm Street. The only difference was a big budget and even then it didn’t help as the originals were still better.
Now let’s move onto the acting….if you could call it that. The highlights for me were Katie Cassidy playing the role of Kris (which is the modern take on Amanda Wyss character Tina) and of all the leads, only Kyle Gallner, who plays Quentin (a new character and Nancy’ boyfriend) manages to bring some desperately needed personality and humour to the proceedings. Gallner single-handedly makes the final act interesting, considering I wanted every other character dead from the opening minutes. Rooney Mara plays the leading role of Nancy, and is so abysmal and uninteresting that I’m just not going to waste any more time talking about her.
It was the Nightmare On Elm Street remake made me realise that there was something worse then Psycho’s remake.
So I ask, if there are no more ideas left in the Hollywood machine, why not pump out another sequel as opposed to a remake? Rather then making Jason Voorhees a over-repressed Mamma’s boy, why not send him back to what he does best; Kill without reason. That way, you won’t piss off the core audience and you’ll keep all the original fans. Hell, even Wes Craven realises that remakes tend to spell the end of a series. Rather then producing a remake of Scream, he pumped out another sequel. A sequel won’t damage what has come before it (simply because if it’s truly bad, it can be dismissed from the series like Halloween 4, 5, and 6 were dropped when H20 hit theaters). If anything, it will add to the bank balance and not piss of the original fan base. Win, win.
Classics are called classics for a reason. They can not be bettered by being turned into colour, or using expensive CGI techniques. They have stood the test of time thus far, and will continue to do so.