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A remake by any other name. . .
By Oren Kamara
July 24, 2006
Brian De Palma's SCARFACE.
© Universal Pictures
We all are probably sick to death of hearing people either love or complain about the remake craze. More than anything, the sheer amount of remakes is sickening. Amazingly, there have been a few good ones although few and far between. This raises the question: even if a remake is good, should it still be made?
It's no secret that every other movie has borrowed something from another. Like they say in film, good artists create, great artists steal. There really are only about twenty universal plots that make up most films out there, so similar ideas are bound to pop up. But are remakes ever okay or should they never even be considered?
The answer is that they should indeed be considered. Without remakes, we would never have heard Al Pacino screaming, "Say hello to my little friend!" in SCAREFACE
. One of my favorite horror films is John Carpenter's THE THING
, a brilliant film in its own right and an equally solid remake. Both the original and the remake each hold their own weight. Or how about CAPE FEAR
? Robert Mitchum is captivating in the original. The remake is just as brilliant (my opinion). I can still hear DeNiro chuckling in that movie theater as he smokes his stogie. One film does not detract from the other. However, take a look at HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
or HOUSE OF WAX
(Can someone tell this girl that money can't buy good acting?!). Vincent Price is rolling over in his grave because of what they've done to his classics. How about THE FOG
? Another horror gem butchered at the hands of Hollywood's hit-men. These remakes actually take away from the value of the original films by tarnishing their names and should have never been done. With the HALLOWEEN
remake on the way, we pray Carpenter's name does not go down without a fight.
I think my biggest problem with these remakes is that a whole generation of movie goers is growing up on these without ever knowing they are seeing a remake. These kids are getting their first impressions of legendary films by seeing the garbage first. What are we saying to those who follow us? What kind of standard are we setting by lowering the quality of the arts?
Do remakes have a right to be made? Yes. But not at the level we are currently seeing. The responsibility lies solely in the hands of the studios. Great filmmakers used to re-do movies to produce films of equal, if not greater, value. Today, the studios take advantage of a new generation who are wet-behind-the-ears to the classics. Knowing they can get away with pumping out cheap versions, the studios have thrown quality out the window. When film is done from the heart, the art benefits. When done from a financial standpoint, the art suffers and it suffers greatly. They don't call it show business for nothing. It's a business. But it is also an art form and because of that, we deserve more.
There are brilliant films out there that never see the light of day while this dreck keeps churning out. For example, how is it that re-hashing of THE OMEN
took in $115 Million worldwide while last year's HIGH TENSION
(liked it or not at least it was original) took in barely $4 Mill? Think of all the great sleepers out there that have come and gone over the years, under the radar, while big movie remakes flopped like Shamu.
I think the only crime bigger than remaking the American classics is the bulldozing of foreign films, namely the Asian market. As a huge fan of Asian cinema, I think it's a travesty that Hollywood cannot produce enough original material. The industry just cannot compete with the creativity and originality of the movies coming out overseas. These Asian films are easy targets. The majority of American moviegoers have never heard any of the titles that blow up the box office over there. We steal them, polish them up, take out any of that bothersome plot development, and release them as our own. Heaven forbid we actually try to release the original foreign films here on the big screen. But I forget. . .that would require our audiences to actually have to read subtitles. What a nuisance! The outright assault on foreign cinema has got to stop. Recently, I overheard some kids talking and one of them never even knew that THE RING
was a remake. It has been four years since that movie came out! And now the Asian film grave robbers are working overtime as we await THE EYE
, ONE MISSED CALL
, THE GHOST
, and BATTLE ROYAL
(this remake I consider an outrage! For those who don't know, it would kinda' be like remaking DIE HARD
Now, I know this is by no means an original topic. If anything it has become quite repetitive over the years. Every horror fan I talk to hates these remakes. They trash talk nearly every one of them. If the fans are the backbone of the movie business and none of them like these movies, then how the hell are they still being made?
The next two years will see the highest number of horror remakes than any other year. There are damn good scripts out there that will never get their shot. Why? Because they take risk. These new, original scripts do not appeal to the pre-set demographic that industry execs try to please. There is no built-in audience with money in hand to go see them, good or bad. In the end, that's what this all comes down to: numbers. It's a by-the-book game and the big wig coaches are calling the same play over and over...remake!
So is there an end in sight? Well, no. Look at how much material the industry has to work with. . .a hundred years of classic films that have been lying comfortably dormant, never thinking they would get their big break again. Who knows when we'll all be running out to catch GONE WITH THE WIND
staring Russell Crowe? Will you open the paper to find Ashton Krutcher and Paul Walker looking too cool for school in MIDNIGHT COWBOY
? How about ALIEN
staring one of the malnourished Olson twins? The truth may be scarier than you think. The gloves are off and nothing is sacred in the biz anymore. Our best weapon is to stop supporting and seeing these mind-numbing, shallow excuses for movies. Tell a friend: friends don't let friends see bad, rip-off remakes. If the numbers stop adding up. so will the numbers of these re-hashes. Support independent films. Voice your opinion and show those overpaid suits that you for one will not stand idly by and be taken advantage of. Take your money to the little guys and help support creative, original filmmaking however you can get it. The revolution may not be televised but if we're not careful it will certainly be remade next summer!