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Bloody Remakes!

Christians and the horror genre, both film and literature, have a skittish relationship. killer tomatoes.jpgBack in the early 80’s, the late Walter Martin, to the dismay of many in the evangelical community, promoted the film version of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. How could a secular film, much less a secular horror film, have something to say to a Christian audience? Nevertheless, one would be remiss to discount the religious elements of films like The Exorcist, The Stand, The Omen or The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Sure, their theology may be inexact, but they are still broaching holy ground. In fact, standard “horror classics” like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, all have a moral makeup.

In this sense, I’ve always been a horror fan — not the Halloween, Hostel, Hills Have Eyes splatter-pics — but the creepy, cerebral, morally-grounded, classic stuff whose shock is in its substance not its special effects. It’s one reason why I’m so excited about Coach’s Midnight Diner and the ground Coach Culbertson is attempting to reclaim. Christians should be involved in the horror genre. And according to the following piece, Hollywood can use some new blood.

Jay A. Fernandez, in an article entitled Attack of the Horror Movie Remakes, forewarns us about the upcoming slew of celluloid replicants:

“Prom Night,” in theaters Friday, is the latest remake to stir from its slumber. But right now writers are also working on updated versions of “Friday the 13th,” “The Last House on the Left,” “The Birds,” “Near Dark,” “Hellraiser,” “Piranha,” “My Bloody Valentine” (in 3-D!), “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “TheTexasChainsawMassacre1.jpg Crazies” and “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!”

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? Good grief! But even more appalling, is the redux of one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen (okay, I was 11 and home alone) — Rosemary’s Baby. What’s so chilling about the potential remake of Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film is that super-producer Michael Bay is in the mix (think Armageddon meets Little Nicky).

Fernandez speculates on why this trend toward horror remakes is so prolific:

These remakes have preexisting brand recognition, relatively low budgets and a reliable youthful audience for the studio to bank on. And even if the work is less than gratifying, the writer-filmmaker benefits from the greater likelihood that these lower-risk scripts will be greenlighted as well as from the income provided by an ever-regenerating genre. (And look at “The Ruins,” an original premise that opened to disappointing box office.)

So this is what’s driving the Hollywood horror flick remake extravaganza:

  • preexisting brand recognition
  • relatively low budgets
  • reliable youthful audience

Hey, why gamble on new material when you can regurgitate the same stuff, add a few Jack.jpgmore entrails, and rest assured that a “reliable youthful audience” will foot the bill?

I can’t help but wonder how much of this is the result of a genuine lack of original material. Has the “horror industry” really drained its creative swamp? Have horror writers auctioned originality for formulaic scripts. Or has Hollywood simply assembled the necessary parts and, like Dr. Frankenstein, summoned lightning?

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Nicole April 10, 2008, 2:29 PM

    (Rosemary’s Baby was scary! And I wasn’t 11.)

    I think you’ve made a great point, Mike. And it’s one that can be applied equally well to fiction writing. We all can quote Solomon’s “There’s nothing new under the sun” and be correct. However, there are hopefully new ways to tell the multiple old stories of human behavior throughout the centuries without becoming stagnant.
    Most of us meet new people and although we notice their unique qualities and characteristics, we experience something new and original in them. They aren’t clones just because they might remind us of someone else. Shouldn’t it be the same with any genre of film and fiction? Isn’t there at least one thing to capture and put to script or tale that will generate interest for both the same and a new audience at every age level? How many times do we replicate what has worked without growing weary of seeing it with new actors or characters in a worn out way? The successful remakes, and I understand there are few, add that certain something to set it apart from the previous effort(s).

  • Scathe meic Beorh June 8, 2012, 7:51 AM

    It’s all about making money, not about telling a story.

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