Remakes can be many different things. Despite all the energy spent complaining about them, we wouldn’t probably have what we know as horror if it weren’t for remakes, and we certainly wouldn’t have many of the films that we now consider classics. I’m not as opposed to the idea of horror remakes are many others for this very reason, and just like every other film that has ever existed, there’s so much more that goes into whether a film is good or bad than just being based on a pre-existing property.
Still, if you’re going to remake a film – especially a famous one – you should probably go about having something different to say. Whether that be simply looking at an old text through new eyes that shine something new upon it, revamping it through new technology and advanced filmmaking skills, or contextualising it with the modern world. One of my favourite remakes is Marcus Nispel’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre of 2003 for those very reasons. Whatever you make of the Tobe Hooper undeniably classic original being given the remake treatment, it was ultimately a new take on the material. It exists as its own creature – for better or worse. Likewise Dawn of the Dead (for better) and Halloween (for worse).
Many far less inspired remakes have been made in the years since. Films by makers that seemingly had far less on their mind both thematically or visually than simply rehashing their original products. Films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Carrie, The Fog and The Stepfather that were as uninspiring as recreations can get. Given the riches inherent in a property such as Tobe Hooper’s (or Steven Spielberg’s, let’s be honest) Poltergeist, one would have hoped that something slightly more invigorating than the final product would have wound up in cinemas. Instead of a reboot that takes advances in technology, the ever-expanding suburban sprawl or a clear audience desire for haunted houses, we’re left with little more than a faded photocopy.