Thursday, April 4, 2013

Can the new 'Evil Dead' avoid the horror remake curse?

In general, I abhor movie remakes

I think they’re usually trite, overdone, and never as great as the original.

The truth is, a remake usually can never live up to the pedigree of the first movie for two big reasons: Nostalgia and time.

When you look at recent remakes, the simple fact is that they are almost always subpar – and even if they’re not, nostalgia stands in the way of letting them crawl out of the dark basement where most of them dwell.

Take ‘Red Dawn,’ for example. That remake wasn’t as bad as everyone said it was. In fact, in some ways, it was better than the original. However, the remake was a bomb because of the sheer 1980s joy and cheese associated with the original – and the fact that it was completely unbelievable that we would be overrun  (as a country) that quickly.

Horror movies have the distinct achievement of being the genre that is mostly “updated” – while also being the genre that is mostly “updated” badly.

There have been a couple of instances where an Americanized version of a Japanese movie has been
“remade” – and the outcome has been pretty solid. Examples of this would be ‘The Grudge’ and ‘Ring.’
I can literally count on one hand the number of horror remakes from American movies, though, that are actually worth seeing:

Dawn of the Dead – Introduced us to running zombies while still keeping the heart of the first movie in tact.

The Hills Have Eyes – The first one is so cheesy it’s almost painful. The remake is sharp, scary and even manages to have a message. You can’t ask for much more.

House of Wax – I can hear people crying foul right now. Paris Hilton gets a rod shoved through her head. It’s a great moment. Plus, the ambiance works.

The Fly – Brundlefly was truly terrifying – and Jeff Goldblum was kind of hot (in a nerdy way, of course).

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Nice ambiance, appropriately creepy family, weird kid trying to help – there wasn’t a lot not to like about this flick.

That’s really it, though.

When you look at the other horror remakes, all you can think of is how bad they are.

‘Friday the 13th’ turned Jason Voorhees into a pot growing survivalist freak. Let's face it, Jason is not
going to be hanging around setting up traps to protect his pot field. It's just not in his nature.

Rob Zombie completely ruined the ‘Halloween’ franchise by turning Michael Myers into a white trash side show. Here’s a tip Rob, Michael Myers was scary because you had no idea why he did what he did. Trying to turn him into a victim was a big, fat fail.

That ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ remake didn’t have one decent scene in it. Not one.

So, given what I’ve said, you can see why I have my doubts about the ‘Evil Dead’ remake hitting theaters Friday.

‘Evil Dead’ is one of those movies that is actually not that good – but it has developed a cult following because it’s so bad it becomes good. I know, it’s a weird dichotomy.

At its heart, ‘Evil Dead’ is a simple story: Five friends go into the woods to go camping at a remote cabin and unwittingly summon demons. That’s the basic premise.

The cast is largely unknown. In fact, the only actor I remember seeing in anything else is Lou Taylor Pucci – and he was solid in ‘Carriers.’

I guess it’s fair to say that I’m cautiously optimistic about ‘Evil Dead’ – if only because the trailer is
so good.

Of course, I’ve seen many a bang up trailer that resulted in a terrible movie.

Still, I haven’t seen a good horror movie in a long time. Here’s hoping I finally get what I’m looking for. Here's hoping 'Evil Dead' avoids the remake curse.

What do you think? Are there any horror remakes that are better than the originals?


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