Horror Remakes That Stand Up to the Original, Part I

I’m a bit of a snob about some things. A purist if you will. I like the original versions of songs to the their (usually) less-than-stellar remakes. And when it comes to film classics, WHY would you want to tamper with greatness? ESPECIALLY where horror films are concerned.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

There have been some exceptions to that rule in both music and in film. Let’s take for example The Man in Black, Mr. Johnny Cash. He recorded a heart-wrenching, true-to-life cover of the Nine Inch Nails classic, “Hurt.” In his voice and in his delivery of that tune you not only heard, but felt the weight and the truth behind the lyrics. “You could have it all; My empire of dirt. I will let you down; I will make you hurt.” Garth Brooks (and Adele) put his spin and the Boy Dylan classic, “To Make You Feel My Love,” and it was great, filled with melancholy and a haunting loneliness that tugged at your heartstrings. And let’s not forgot the incomparable Ms. Aretha Franklin’s version of the Otis Redding song, “RESPECT!” What was once a song about a man seeking his woman’s support and respect became a call to arms for women all over the planet when Aretha sang it. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T; Find out what it means to me.”

The instances when remakes/reboots of classic movies are just as good as the original is a rare occurrence, but there are few worth watching:

In 2007, musician/artist/screenwriter/director Rob Zombie made one of those remakes worth watching. He put his spin on the 1978 classic Halloween. The story focused on Michael Myers, the disturbed boy who stabbed his older sister to death one Halloween night and was institutionalized until he escapes from custody and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, IL and goes on a murderous rampage. The 1978 version is blood curdling and downright creepy. The silent and stoic Myers shows not emotion and kills with efficiency. We never hear his voice. We never see him run after a victim and this lends to the terror that he strikes in our hearts.

Halloween 1978

In Zombie’s rendition we hear Michael speak for the first time. We see the adolescent Michael going to school, being bullied, and interacting with his family. We see the once human side of this killer and it adds a depth to the story and character that was not there before. Rob Zombie humanizes the killer. It was an interesting and gutsy move by the director to tackle a part of Myer’s adolescence to illustrate a sliver of how he became such a menacing creature. Was it his early tendency to kill birds and other animals in his youth? Or, was it the death of his mother that finally drove him over the edge? A little Nature vs. Nurture. Brilliant!

Halloween 2007

 

While it has plentiful blood and gore, Rob Zombie doesn’t make it into a Halloween/House of 1000 Corpses mash-up. It stands on its own. Malcolm McDowell (he’s no stranger to ultra violence) adds a quirky neurosis and ego to Dr. Loomis that wasn’t there before. Scout Taylor-Compton added an edge to Laurie Strode, but only in the sequel; that edge didn’t exist completely until Jamie Lee Curtis portrayed her in later sequels. Zombie’s vision of “Halloween” is chilling and effective. Perhaps we should call this a rendition instead of a remake.

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Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah "Cookie" Beyah hails from North Carolina. She is a pop culture nut and loves all things Nathan Fillion. Ms. Beyah has a passion for the macabre and the horror genre. She serves on the "Nevermore Film Festival" selection committee in Durham, NC and attends several comic and horror conventions each year. She holds an MA from Duke University, but is a dyed in the wool North Carolina Tar Heel fan! She also enjoys writing and reading creative non-fiction.

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