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Split Decision: Horror Remakes

Split Decision: Horror Remakes

Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on TwitterFacebook, or in the comments below!

This week’s question:

In honor of Halloween and Suspiria, what horror movie deserves a remake?

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I generally don't like remakes, but I loved Love LOVED Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead remake--what I saw of it; I had my hands over my face throughout much of the film. I'd love to see him remake Evil Dead 2.  - Gary Kramer

Dracula. We've been watching a few versions of the story for Shame Files and I think it's time to wrestle vampires from the grips of YA romance and HBO and bring it back to gothic basics. Btw, I am a HUGE fan of the aforementioned genres of vampire. I'm hear to talk about Twilight, True Blood, Being Human (UK and US versions), etc, anytime you want! But I'm struck by how far the vampire has slipped into the realm of sexual fantasy as to be completely unrecognizable from it's more sophisticated (Legosi) and grotesque (Nosferatu) beginnings. Can modern audiences really be afraid of vampires, since for the past few years we've wanted to either be them or bed them? I'm not sure. But I'd like to see someone try and pick up the reigns left by Coppola in 1992. It's been 25+ years. 

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Dracula. We've been watching a few versions of the story for Shame Files and I think it's time to wrestle vampires from the grips of YA romance and HBO and bring it back to gothic basics. Btw, I am a HUGE fan of the aforementioned genres of vampire. I'm hear to talk about Twilight, True Blood, Being Human (UK and US versions), etc, anytime you want! But I'm struck by how far the vampire has slipped into the realm of sexual fantasy as to be completely unrecognizable from it's more sophisticated (Legosi) and grotesque (Nosferatu) beginnings. Can modern audiences really be afraid of vampires, since for the past few years we've wanted to either be them or bed them? I'm not sure. But I'd like to see someone try and pick up the reigns left by Coppola in 1992. It's been 25+ years. 

Jill Malcolm

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The reason why horror is typically remake friendly is that, in the absence of an iconic killer, there's a heady concept which can be mined for different thematic uses. 

Yet, the movie I would like to see remade isn't really a horror movie at all... but it could be!

Drop Dead Fred isn't terribly great (although I am indeed a fan), but the concept would make for a GREAT horror movie! An imaginary friend manifests in reality and starts behaving uncontrollably, much to the chagrin of its conjurer? Yes please! I nominate Will Forte or Jimmy O. Yang. 
Dan Scully

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When it comes to the prospect of remaking a film, I believe the ideal candidate is one that wasn't entirely successful the first time around. Without wishing to enrage the original adaptation's small but impassioned fanbase (of which I consider myself a member), I long for a genuine talent to take another stab at F. Paul Wilson's novel, The Keep.

A WWII-set quasi-vampire story on the page, Michael Mann's 1983 adaptation jettisons the Gothic trappings for an approach that's best described as an "adult fairy tale", wherein a battalion of Nazi soldiers find themselves under attack by a supernatural force, materializing in the form of a Golem-like entity, liberated from a cavernous prison. Unfortunately, production woes (the film went overbudget and overschedule), the death of VFX wiz Wally Veevers (which led to the original climax being scrapped), and tumultuous re-editing by the studio left us with a 96-minute product that's but a fraction of what Michael Mann set out to achieve. (He has since disowned the film.) While one might question the admittedly dubious notion of marrying pulpy fantasy with the real-world horrors of the Holocaust, it cannot be denied that the spectacle of Nazis being decimated by a red-orbed superbeing conjures a rather perverse form of pleasure, equally euphoric and cathartic. On the downside, no individual musician or group could possibly compose a score as ethereal and mesmerizing as Tangerine Dream's work for the original, which might be their best movie soundtrack after Sorcerer.

 On a final note, a remake of The Keep would ultimately raise awareness of the 1983 version and, without sounding too foolishly optimistic, might very well inspire some viewers to give Michael Mann's flawed but sumptuous and quite stirring film a spin. Maybe it'll even influence him and Paramount to finally put it out on Blu-ray, warts and all. But that's a long shot.

--Dan Santelli

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I agree with Dan–remakes of horror can be more successful than remakes in other genres. Since horror is usually reflective of the anxieties of the time in which the film is made, the remakes can be pretty cool- it's a chance to take the premise and see how it works in a different era. They Live is John Carpenter's 1988 takedown of Reagan's America, but looking back was awfully ahead of its time. It seems to almost have predicted the way the internet and social media would lead to group-think and function as a sort of mind control, against the background of growing class inequality. A gifted satirist and visual stylist could take that premise and update it for Trump's America, especially in light of the fact that Carpenter had to personally remind the neo-nazis that this is movie is not fucking made for them to enjoy.  -Andy Elijah

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I think horror has a good history with remakes (to follow-up on Gary's answer, I haven't watched the original Evil Dead in years because the first chunk of Evil Dead 2 remakes it so well that I don't need to), so my instinct is to honor that legacy with a remake of a remake and pick Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I love Don Siegel's original, Philip Kaufman's remake and Abel Ferrara's dramatically underrated Body Snatchers. The only one that totally fails is the 2007 Nicole Kidman/Daniel Craig remake, simply called Invasion because you can't make a gray, mumbly movie that takes itself too seriously and put the phrase "body snatchers" in its title. Let's go for a hat trick and get a third remake in the works. The paranoia in these things always gets me, and, recently, nobody's done that better than David Robert Mitchell did with It Follows. Get him or Green Room's Jeremy Saulnier, or anybody who knows how to really ratchet up tension, and you've got a winner.

Alex Rudolph

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Dan Scully and I previously discussed this topic on an episode of our podcast, I Like To Movie Movie, about Fright Night and its remake. I will repeat two of my suggestions here, as they cover the two different angles I think horror remakes can take, those being something that NEEDS a remake and something that SHOULD be remade. In the category of SHOULD, I would love to see someone make a new Scanners movie. Cronenberg's original is a favorite of mine and it's the kind of thing that you could go in a lot of different directions with. You could be beholden to the source material and just try to clean up some of the storytelling and improve the pace, or you could use only the premise and a select few set pieces to otherwise build out the world and create something that feels fresh, but apiece with the original. Something tells me there's a new relevance in a story about a private security firm that rounds specific people up to use as pawns in a political war.


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My other suggestion for a movie that NEEDS a remake would be From Hell. This is a movie that I don't like very much and don't think is very successful, either as its own movie, or as an adaptation of one of the most brilliant comic books I've ever read, Alan Moore's From Hell. I would like to see someone attempt to adapt that book again, but to really dig into the book. The movie we already got only loosely uses the premise of the book and otherwise is nothing like it, choosing to make it a who-done-it story about Jack The Ripper, where the book is very explicit about who The Ripper is from the jump, which allows them to include The Ripper as a character in the story. There are some moments in the book that are inherently cinematic which I've always wanted to see on the big screen, not to mention ample opportunity for tense sequences of horror and a philosophical approach to the meaning of each and every death. Once again, we also have a story here that I think would be very fitting for the world in 2018 - about a patriarchal society and the lengths some men will go to to ensure it stays that way.

Garrett Smith

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I only briefly touched on Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge in my post about why this is the best horror franchise, but a remake of the second installment would be really interesting and effective. The film is (in)famous for its homophobic subtext, and bringing that to the forefront of this slasher movie would be a really fun twist. Or maybe updated for something as repressed right now as homosexuality was in the mid-1980s? There’s a lot of interesting ideas here around subconsciousness and identity to mine for a fresh take.

Ryan Silberstein

Cinema76 picks for the 2018 Philadelphia Film Festival

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