Horror Classics: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!

March 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

Hollywood continues to recycle horror classics

horror-articleRemaking horror classics is nothing new in Hollywood. Each year you can expect to see a slew of them. The rationale is pretty simple. First, a formula already exists, which in the 21st century means that if re-imagined correctly, it will inevitably draw a new, younger audience–resulting in a guaranteed (but not always) payoff for studios. Second, die-hard fans of these horror staples may flock to the theaters just to see if the re-tooled versions of their beloved flicks pay homage to the original while simultaneously adding a bit of innovation. Personally, I think the trend has more to do with studios running out of original ideas.

Nevertheless, with the new version of Friday the 13th grossing $43 million (pretty impressive when you consider the $19 million budget!) last month in its opening weekend and igniting talks of renewing the Friday the 13th franchise, there are several more remakes of horror cult classics on the horizon. Here, a few remakes in the coming years that you may have already seen coming and some that may surprise you!

The Last House on the Left (1972)
Release Date: March 13, 2009
last-house-on-the-left-1974-poster5last_house_on_the_left_movie_poster_new1

If the 70s were before your time or you aren’t a horror junkie with a fixation on the cinema of the 70s, you may not be familiar with The Last House on the Left, Wes Craven’s 1972 directorial debut. The original film centers around two teenage girls who travel to the big city to score some pot before going to a concert and find themselves kidnapped and brutally murdered by a trio of escaped convicts. The irony comes later when the murderers stumble across “the last house on the left,” which is the home of one of their victims. It is then that a revenge tale is born, as the parents’ of the slain girl seek retribution in a grisly fashion. The film, inspired by the Academy Award-winning (relax…it was for Best Foreign Language Film) 1960 Swedish film, The Virgin Spring was criticized and even banned in some places for its shocking and gratuitous violence. I saw the original film awhile back and never dared to revisit it. The uneasiness of it all was too much, as if I myself were being violated. Although the remake is being produced by Craven, which will definitely give it its authenticity, I’m sure it will be have to be watered down a little to stay within the MPAA rating guidelines.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Release Date: 2010 a-nightmare-on-elm-street-poster

One…two….Freddy’s….I think we all know the rest. Another Wes Craven horror classic is set for a revival. The premise is the same: child murderer Freddy Krueger invades teens’ dreams blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Death tolls will climb as Freddy finds novel ways to slay his victims. Unfortunately, Robert Englund, who starred as Freddy in the original and sequels is rumored not to be surprising his role. Let’s hope whoever fills Freddy’s shoes (I’m hoping for Jackie Earle Haley) for this update will do the film justice. Nevertheless, one of the most celebrated horror franchises created, A Nightmare on Elm Street will be sure to frighten a new generation of moviegoers almost two decades later.

Child’s Play (1988)
Release Date: 2010 childs-play

Along with the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, there was another horror cult classic that was born in the 80s and continued well into the millennium, spawning four sequels, (Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3, The Bride of Chucky, and The Seed of Chucky) with the last three being questionable. Despite the missteps of the sequels, fans of the horror franchise have never stopped wanting to be afraid of Chucky, the red-haired Good Guy doll with a foul mouth and the soul of a crazed killer.

Hellraiser (1987)
Release Date: 2009 hellraiser

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, based on his novella, “The Hellbound Heart,” had a huge following, producing seven subsequent sequels. The British horror film tells the story of an unfaithful wife who tries to help her dead lover escape from Hell. Like Wes Craven, who has played a major role in the remakes of his horror films, Barker will also be influential in the remake of his own film. He is expected to produce and write the screenplay for the remake.

The Stepfather (1987)
Release Date: October 16, 2009 the-stepfather1

While this suspense thriller wasn’t as popular as some of the other films coming out of the 80s, it definitely had enough of a following to birth two sequels. In the film, a troubled teenage girl butts heads with her mother’s new husband (played by Terry O’Quinn, who brings sociopath to a whole new level–effortlessly), who she suspects is hiding something. Her suspicions are apparently accurate, as her stepfather is a lunatic who murdered his previous family and is now operating under a new identity to conceal his past. As she tries to convince her mother and anyone else who will listen (her psychiatrist included) that something is terribly wrong with her stepfather, the young teen does some sleuthing of her own to uncover the truth. I feel like there’s really no point in remaking this one because I feel like O’Quinn’s performance was the only thing that made the original watchable. And it’s not like he’s reprising his role–he’s too busy being John Locke on LOST. I wish this remake all the best sans O’Quinn (really, I do).

The Wolf Man (1941)
Release Date: November 6, 2009 the-wolf-man2

One of the older horror classics getting a reboot is The Wolf Man, which will feature Benicio Del Toro in the title role and Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt in supporting roles. While Universal Studios, which is distributing the film, is sticking to the film’s original story, the film will include additional characters and new plot points that will employ modern visual effects. Afterall, visual effects like CGI were unheard of in the 40s. The best part about this film will probably be how it is conveyed visually (especially the Wolf Man himself), which will make for one entertaining frightfest.

The Birds (1963)
Release Date: 2010 or 2011 the-birds

NOTE: Proceed with caution and absolutely NO expectations…you may be disappointed in the end.

Some classic suspense thrillers shouldn’t be touched. But that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from remaking the Hitchcock masterpiece, The Birds. Let’s hope that this remake, currently in production, will not make Hitchcock turn over in his grave. Moreover, let’s hope it pays homage to the original short story by Daphne du Maurier, of which the original film was based. It looks like the film is off to an “okay” start, including Naomi Watts in the lead role of Melanie Daniels and Michael Bay as a producer. The film is also rumored to star George Clooney as Mitch Brenner and could be in 3-D! As promising as this may all seem, I’m still convinced that Hitchcock classics should be left alone. They’re classics for a reason!

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