Remakes: Enough Carping Already!

 Can we lay off carping about remakes? Seriously?

 Look, I understand the pain of seeing a beloved movie turned into some pulsating unnameable horror. I’ve seen The Fog (2005) which took something that was fourth and inches from a Horror Classic and turned it into something so stupid it couldn’t find its way out of a paper sack, no matter how many holes you cut into said sack. I’ve seen Godzilla (1998) which missed the point of the original so badly it had to of hurt itself in the process. I have even seen Octaman and The Flying Serpent (1946), of which enough has already been said on both.

 But come off it. Even if the above movies had been completely original, they still would have been bad movies. Why? Because they’re bad movies!

 Honesty. Forget the original. Does a single one of those films become magically good?

 Of course not.

 A remake is a film. No worse or no better than any other. The only thing that makes it different is that it has a film out there that can compete with it on its own terms far better than any other film.

 Every time I see someone carping on remakes, I want to scream at them. Because without remakes, film history would be so much poorer.

 Don’t believe me? Consider that without remakes, we wouldn’t have John Huston/Ray Bradbury’s adaptation of Moby Dick (1956) Instead, we’d just have the 1930 version. You know, the one where Ahab kills Moby Dick. The one that’s so faithful to the source book.

 Speaking of Huston, out would go Humphry Bogart’s masterful performance as detective Sam Spade. The Maltese Falcon (1941) is, of course, a remake of Satan Met a Lady. Never heard of it? There’s probably cause.

Let’s move back to the safety of Speculative Film; that’s what this site’s all about, right? Without remakes, there’d be no Hammer Horror. At all. Whether you’re talking about The Quatermass Xperment/The Creeping Unknown, Curse of Frankenstein or Dracula/Horror of Dracula, they are all remakes of earlier films. Hell’s teeth, if no remakes were allowed, we’d lose Boris Karloff. Frankenstein (1931), too, is a remake.

Writer Theodore Sturgeon once said that “90% of everything is crap” in defense of Science Fiction. If I might be so bold, the same thing applies to remakes. Most remakes are crap because most films are crap. To say “No more remakes” is to throw the baby out with the bath water, and, to be honest, to show just how little one knows about films.

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5 thoughts on “Remakes: Enough Carping Already!”

  1. It really is a pet peeve of mine. Sort of like saying all Horror flicks are crap. At least give them a chance.

    Well, sometimes.

    I might as well add here that the Moby Dick I reference and Satan Met a Lady are both remakes, too. I didn’t realize that at when I wrote this.

    Mainly because I’d never heard of either film.

    Which sort of proves my point, yes?

  2. A remake in itself is not bad, but it’s what is done that makes the film good or bad. John Carpenter went back to the source material (the story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell) in his remake “The Thing.” The same is being promoted for the upcoming version of “Total Recall” (though why they’re keeping the name of the original film is questionable). A new take on a book (especially if it’s a more accurate representation) is not objectionable, but a studio cashing in on an original movie by doing it again with no regard to what the first one tried to do is reprehensible.

    With a risk of sounding like I’m self-promoting, I wrote an article about classic movies that most people don’t realize are remakes (http://filmverse.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/classic-movies-most-people-dont-realize-are-remakes/) and one where I propose movies from the ’80s that should be remade (http://filmverse.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/10-movies-from-the-80s-that-should-be-remade/).

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