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September 08, 2008

Hollywood Is Officially Out Of Ideas: Horror Movie Remakes

I started watching Asian horror films a few years before they caught on in the U. S. While I didn't catch this fun trend until after "The Ring" came out, I did discover it at a time when the only place I could find these movies was on eBay. I had to be careful that I bought Region 1 and Region 0 DVDS, since the Asian Region 3 DVDs aren't designed to play on American DVD players. That shows how obscure these movies were - it was hard to find some of them that could play on my DVD player.

I did see a few of the remakes, and I've vowed to never waste my time and rental money ever again. While the originals relied on atmosphere and creepy storylines and characters with little or no special effects, the remakes relied on bad acting and crappy special effects. The remakes didn't delve at all into a main issue in some of the Asian originals - the breakdown of the family. That is a core theme in the original "The Ring", "Dark Water", and "Uzumaki". "Uzumaki" is my favorite Asian horror film which thankfully has never been remade. Ever seen it? It's so bizarre I'm not surprised it hasn't been remade. I also have the graphic novels, which are even more weird than the movie.

Here are other classic horror films that have been remade into what are mostly a lot of oinkers. Even "Piranha" has been remade! I remember seeing that goofy thing on TV when I was a kid. Some of these remakes weren't bad. "The Shining" was okay, but it doesn't hold a candle to Kubrick. "The Thing" was phenomenal, but it was based much closer on the original story than the original movie was. I have the remake of "The Thing" on DVD. Jeff Goldblum made "The Fly" worth watching. That was a good movie.

I understand that a remake of "The Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes" is in the works. Oh, geez, I hope that's not serious!

Here's a list of some of the horror movie remakes. I've seen all of the originals.

The Hills Have Eyes 2
2,000 Maniacs
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Hills Have Eyes
Dawn of the Dead
When A Stranger Calls
Toolbox Murders
The Amityville Horror
Assault on Precinct 13
The Fog
Wicker Man
Day of the Dead
The Hitcher
Stephen King’s The Shining
House of Wax
The Haunting
Body Snatchers
The Blob
The Thing (1982)
The Fly
House On Haunted Hill
Return to House on Haunted Hill
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Night Of The Living Dead (1990)
13 Ghosts
The Haunting
Psycho (1998)
House on Haunted Hill
Village of the Damned (1995)
Stephen King’s Carrie

Posted on September 8, 2008 at 01:36 PM | Permalink


This reminds me of a line from the cartoon series "The Critic": If the movie's a remake of a classic, rent the classic!

Damn, I didn't realize just how many remakes there were. And I've seen very few of the originals. Indeed, I've never seen any of the Japanese movies. It looks like I'll be visiting the video store quite a bit soon.

As for the Japanese movies, I'd like to recommend one from the '60's called "Kwaidan" or "Kaidan". It's an anthology movie with four creepy stories. I only managed to see it because it was on TV a few years ago. If you can find the movie anywhere, you should definitely watch it.

Posted by: Joe Z. at Sep 9, 2008 2:27:49 PM

I don't think Hollywood is out of ideas so much as they don't like ideas.

Imagination is an uncontrolled, irrational thing. The people who makes the decisions in Hollywood are typical of Western culture, perfectly rational control freaks. So they are going to tend to reject imaginative ideas. They have no idea whether these ideas will 'work', that is, make them money. And they know they can't really control them.

This is why remakes are so popular. A remake is a 'sure thing'. The suits know it worked in the past so rationally it should work again.

Too bad for them the world isn't a rational place. ;)

Posted by: Rob Graham at Sep 10, 2008 9:10:58 AM

I first saw "Kwaidan" on the Independent Film Channel, and I later bought it. I know that those ghost stories are an old part of Japanese culture, and that there is a book called "Kwaidan", but I have been unable to find it. I do have a graphic novel called "Kwaidan", but I don't think it's quite the same thing.

Movies in general in the U. S. over the past few years haven't been all that exciting to me. I hope things turn around eventually.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 10, 2008 1:12:00 PM

You hit the nail on the head, Rob - it's about money. Unusual and imaginative ideas, including ideas that appeal to a smaller population rather than the Population At Large, are rejected because the studios fear losses at the box office. Is the main demographic still 16 - 26 year old men (that range, anyway?)?

There are also copycat shows. While I enjoy "Law & Order" and "CSI", how many variations do we need? I do enjoy the knock-offs (esp. SVU and "CSI: Miami"), but I would like some variety. How long before we see "CSI: Wasilla" and "Law & Order: Divorce Court"?

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 10, 2008 1:21:49 PM