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My Plea For Original Horror Movies & Less Horror Remakes

Cineniche 12 Comments

My Plea For Original Horror Movies & Less Horror Remakes

As we all know, our beloved genre has been overrun by economically safe films. In the past decade we have been bombarded with remakes and sequels. Some of these are wins, while most are fails. It is up to us to champion the original ideas that fly under the radar and not give in to to another Michael Bay produced slap in the face.

We understand that the studios dole out larger budgets to these “safe” films, while many horror filmmakers are able to scrap funds together and create something brilliant. Today, the 10 million dollar horror extravaganza and the 1 million dollar personal horror film, can each become failures or triumphs. If we look at films like The Blair Witch Project or the first Paranormal Activity we see what can be done with a low budget. Both of these films rely on audience perception to create tension. Both films were fundamental to the found footage boom, and whether we like them or not they have opened the doors to more original concepts.

Low budget horror does not immediately summon thoughts of shaky cameras and non professional actors. In the early 2000’s a band of misfit directors proved what could be done with a minimal budget. Alexandre Aja, Darren Lynn Bousman, Neil Marshall, Greg McLean, Eli Roth, Robert Rodriguez, James Wan, Leigh Whannell, and Rob Zombie became collectively known as “The Splat Pack.” It is interesting to note that some of the members of the so-called Splat Pack seemed to loose their edge when given larger budgets. Alexandre Aja went from the intense French Extremism of High Tension to The Hills Have Eyes remake, the terrible Mirrors, and finally the gratuitous Piranha remake. In a similar fashion Rob Zombie went from House Of A 1,000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects to a Halloween remake and a poor sequel. The sequels to Saw directed by Bousman were not in the same inventive canon as the original. Neil Marshall’s military werewolf opus Dog Soldiers was followed by The Descent and then the chaotic Escape From New York homage Doomsday. The larger budgets required more interference from the studios which in the end created watered down horror.

Eli Roth may only have four features he has directed, but none of them show a decline in his aggressive vision. From the surrealism of Cabin Fever to the torture porn of Hostel and Hostel 2 and the cannibalism of the upcoming Green Inferno, Roth has remained true to his exploitative boundary pushing style.

James Wan has found a way to grab studio funding without having to do remakes. By creating Saw and propelling Lion’s Gate into a big business franchise company, Wan was able to write his own ticket. While Dead Silence and Death sentence are not great examples of original films, Insidious and The Conjuring are truly well crafted. Wan continues to create himself as an indirect homage filmmaker. It saddens me to hear that he is picking up the reigns of the upcoming Fast And Furious film.

The 2000’s saw the birth and death of Torture Porn and French Extremeties, both sub-genres filled with creativity and box office success. These sub-genres have time and time again been pushed further under the radar to make room for the overblown and hyped remakes. Scream IV parodies this when Ghostface asks Kirby: “Name the remake of the groundbreaking horror movie in which the vill…” To which Kirby provides an extensive list that doesn’t even come close to being complete.

Currently, horror may begin its transition back to the low budget bloodletting that started the genre more than a century ago. This year original horror has reigned. With The Conjuring, The Purge, You’re Next, ABC’s Of Death, V/H/S 2, John Dies At The End, Antiviral, Frankenstein’s Army, Mama, Warm Bodies, Lords Of Salem, and Aftershock we see a change occurring. Original concepts have finally began to outweigh the remakes and sequel cashgrabs.

As a community, horror fans everywhere can help to finance the careers of filmmakers with interesting ideas by not giving into the hype of the remake trend. I was let down by Evil Dead, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, Prom Night, Silent Night, Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street, Amityville, April Fools, The Crazies, The Fog, The Wizard Of Gore, The Wicker Man, When A Stranger Calls, Night Of The Demons, Last House On The Left, The Thing, I Spit On Your Grave, Sorority Row, House Of Wax, The Hitcher, and Piranha to name a few. I understand my own hypocracy, but I now write it off as a symptom of the 2000’s. Even if we collectively choose to wait for VOD, Itunes, Amazon, Nexflix, DVD/BLU to satisfy our curiosity about the remake we can affect change in the horror industry. Imagine a world where the Hellraier remake comes out the same weekend to Jeremy Gardner’s follow up to The Battery and it wins the box office against a non Doug Bradley Pinhead. I assure you a change would occur.

Even though a few of the remakes have been great it doesn’t justify the fact that there are so many that it can labeled as its own sub-genre. When horror scholars look back at the last decade they will mention French Extreme, Torture Porn, Found Footage, and Remakes. Their emphasis will be on the economic turmoil and the films that were made because of it.

I know it is difficult to fight the hype machine. Even after my personal vow to only support the underdogs of horror that I made this year. I still find myself drawn to viewing remakes sometimes just to be able to justify my hatred of them. Other times, I say to myself, “if it turns out to be terrible this will be the last time.” This is my feeling toward Carrie. “Maybe this one…” or “The original omitted parts from the book that this version may include.” Tell me if I’m alone here.

For those of us truly addicted to horror we need our fix and when Walter White isn’t around we end up buying Todd’s 76% purity. We are the reason the remake prevails. I know everyone has an opinion on the remake craze, lets open this up for debate in the comments section.

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      1. bob101910 September 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm

        From what I got out of this, we shouldn’t pay to watch movies with original ideas or the directors will make start making bad big budget movies.

        Coming up with an original idea for horror is hard. I’d rather have a bunch of horror movies a year with more remakes than originals, than only a couple horror movies a year with original ideas. There just are not enough originals ideas out there that belong to people that make movies to outweigh the remakes.

        • Cineniche September 23, 2013 at 5:56 pm

          I’m with you, I want a bunch of horror films a year to choose from. If they take the bloated budget of a remake and divide it into a few smaller projects waiting for a greenlight, we’d have tons to choose from.

      2. Tiago September 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

        I am with you. Sick of unnecessary remakes. I like the ones that bring new visions to the table, like the Zombies’s Halloween. They are not only unique Halloween movies, they are unique slasher movies.
        I think this is a symptom of a generation that doesn’t look back. It is a generation that can’t understand that Led Zeppelin is better than all modern rock bands put together. They are more focused on form, and not content. And have this stupid idea that what’s new is better.
        Brian de Palma’s version of Carrie is so good, that the only reason to remake, is that kids won’t look back to it, so they adapt it to the new movie language.

      3. Mike New September 23, 2013 at 7:09 pm

        I want to join the movement. Down with the remakes.

      4. Mike New September 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm

        I watch a lot of low budget horror movies on Netflix and DVD. They are very bad the special effects, makeup, etc. most of them come up with original ideas. That is why I prefer them over big budget horror movies with theatrical releases any day. I do agree James Wan keeps it original. Even though conjuring and insidious 2 are similiar. They are original.

      5. Rafizan September 24, 2013 at 3:07 am

        One thing that surprises with remakes is that the original filmmakers actually back these movies. For example, Sam Raimi with EVIL DEAD (though I have to admit, I dig this redo). I mean, don’t they think it’s blasphemous? So please do not touch THE EXORCIST! How can you top the masturbation scene?

        • Cineniche September 24, 2013 at 4:02 am

          You’re right it is odd when they are produced by the original filmmakers. Last House On The Left was another one.
          When David Gordon Green was trying to get Suspiria the greenlight, Argento was excited by the money and new publicity. Could that be part of it with Evil Dead and Last House?
          Evil Dead seems to be providing Raimi an opportunity to do Army Of Darkness 2.

      6. Christian Stella (@ChristianStella) September 24, 2013 at 10:42 am

        Wow, thank you for The Battery shout out in this article. I’m the director of photography. Your article is dead-on. Speaking from the (now) inside of the indie-horror world, I sadly understand why this is happening all too well. The buzz on our humble little movie has been incredible and even our iTunes sales ranking has looked impressive… but the real financials are shocking. 3 weeks ago, we released The Battery drm-free on our website to help keep piracy at bay. In those 3 weeks we made $205. We filmed The Battery for $6,000 over two years ago and we should break even in January. The issue with that is that no one on the film took any pay, and actually took a lot of time off of work at our real jobs. The idea of making another movie, for me, is very frightening. Working with a slightly larger budget and being able to comfortably take time off work to do it seems so out of reach. We never dreamed The Battery would be as buzzworthy as it is, so it is a huge success to us no matter what… we didn’t make it to make money. But now, we’ll obviously have to figure out how to work this into careers for us to keep going. We would have never thought of taking on a soulless Hollywood remake job before our release, but I’ll tell you that that would be a hard thing to pass up now, especially if it meant having the money to live and do our own movies in between. We’ll take a Tremors reboot please, though I would like to personally put my vote in for BasketCase. That’s not the real point of your article though… that if Hollywood would put their muscle behind more original ideas (say one by O. hannah Films, the team that brought you The Battery), they may be pleasantly surprised.

        • Herner Klenthur
          Herner Klenthur September 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

          Great comments. Candidly my biggest dissapointment was finding out about your movie by fluke. Reach out to blogs! Especially ones with a huge readership and milk the free press!

      7. Jeff Carson September 24, 2013 at 8:02 pm

        I couldnt agree more! Carrie seriously? Here’s an indie that got a nice writeup. http://www.horror-movies.ca/jug-face-movie-review-2013/

      8. Tany September 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

        Amen. I’ve been against remakes for a long time, because they tend to screw up the quality and actually tarnish the name of the original. Yes, most people think with current technology old classics can be redone with so much more that they couldn’t achieve back then.. but what I see now is just pure CGI.. too much of it. I hate CGI. I rather have animatronics or puppets or even stop motion animation rather than CGI unless it’s done in moderation.

        I was actually very disappointed with Evil Dead remake.. it was just pure gorefest and nothing else. It did not have any charm the original had. It barely had any resemblance to the original that it could easily become an entirely different movie.

        Insidious and The Conjuring avoided overusing CGI and cliche and went back to classic scare and it shows by how well people accepted it. Now all movies feel like they just remake them for the sake of remaking a horror classic and clinging to its already established fame and cult followers. Filmmakers back then are more creative than modern filmmakers…no it’s not that hard to make original horror movies, they just need to be creative, think outside the box and actually look at what scares people the most and put their heart into making the film.. like James Wan did.. not just for the sake of gaining profit. Need more indie horror filmmakers that aren’t scared to shock the audience and not succumb to the do’s and don’t’s from the studios.

      9. younghighanddead - Luke Brady September 25, 2013 at 8:09 am

        Interesting comments, I cannot stand re-makes in any genre either, especially Horror. So as an independent filmmaker I went and made my own horror, with an original story, characters etc. I spent 5 years making the film but when it came to selling the film, no-one was interested in it – they were only looking for bigger established products! Despite the film getting great reviews and people enjoying the film. Sales reps and distributions only want known franchises so that the fanbase is already in place, this secures sales.

        The main studios and production companies WILL NOT gamble on unknown projects or unknown filmmakers, so expect many more re-makes, sequels and for this to get worse. The barriers are firmly up for films like ‘Young, High and Dead’. We are in a similar position to the guys who did ‘The Battery’, there is a known saying amongst first time filmmakers that you never make a second film. Lot’s of talent gets wasted which is sad, people do not understand how important it is to support such projects. If you don’t support these smaller projects then you have to expect more re-makes!