Wednesday 21 July 2010

Remake, Rehash and Reboot

Article by Brad Harmer

The year 2010 will see – amongst others – remade, “re-imagined” and re-hashed versions of:

Clash of the Titans, The Crazies, Death at a Funeral, I Spit on Your Grave (don’t get me started), The Karate Kid, Night of the Demons, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Red Dawn and The Wolfman.

It’s easy to view re-makes with derision. After all, most people reading this will look at that list and facepalm, or suffer Vietnam style flash-backs of the ...Elm Street re-make. They send a very clear message (in this day and age, anyway) that those involved are shit out of ideas, and that all you’re going to be getting is watered down versions of those movies you absolutely loved throughout your teenage years. Hope you like them!

The feeling when confronted with a remake is very similar to the feeling that you get when you find yourself paying £2.50 for a bottle of coke at a concert or a festival. You know you’re being ripped off, the guy selling it to you knows he’s ripping you off – and he’s also aware that you’re not going to do anything about it. We can bitch and moan about how much we hate re-makes all you want. You can sneak your own drinks into the concert. It doesn’t matter: most people are buying, he’s making the money, and excuse him if he doesn’t seem to give a shit that you don’t want to see a re-make of
Yellow Submarine.

There have been good re-makes out there (yes, I’m aware
I gave the new Clash of the Titans 10/10 – it was a rare exception). But for the most part, the recent crop sucks balls. This is all to do with how re-makes are conceived these days. Good remakes come from a director deciding that he believes that he can improve on a movie from his childhood as a challenge, tribute or whatever other reason. They come from John Carpenter thinking “I’d really like to do a new version of The Thing from Another World, but base it more closely on the original short story this time...”. Or they come from David Cronenberg thinking “I loved The Fly as a kid. Think how many people I could scare and gross out with the special effects technology they have now.”.

Totally ball sucking re-makes come from a bunch of suits in a room saying:

“We should do a new version of I Spit on Your Grave.”


“Because people will go and see any old shit. And we haven’t made money off that title for a while.”

“I’ll get Steven Spielberg! He’d love that.”

“Stow that! Get a music video director to do it. And make sure you tone down all the sex and violence. We want teenagers to be able to see this thing, dammit. And get a nu-metal band to do the music over the credits at a painful volume.”

From a creative standpoint, the constant influx of re-makes continues to make things worse and worse. Remember five years ago or so when everyone noticed how the quality of The Simpsons was dipping significantly? The reason behind that was simple: The Simpsons had been running so long that the people who were now writing the show, had grown up watching The Simpsons. It’s virtually inbreeding for creativity. If you think things are bad now, give it five to ten years, and watch what happens when the re-make generation are the ones making the movies. My prediction is that they’ll start to remake things that haven’t actually been made yet.

It would be great if they stopped making re-makes sure, but the simple fact is that that isn’t going to happen. It’s virtually unheard of (in recent years for sure) for remakes to be anything by highly bankable. The Taking of Pelham 123 made $150m out of $100m. Friday the 13th turned a budget of $19m into $91m gross revenue. The Day the Earth Stood Still turned $80m into a staggering $230m. With those sorts of figures, the rantings of a disgruntled bunch of nerds don’t really count for much.

This trend will blow over, of course. These sorts of things always do. Unfortunately what hurts more than other irritating vampire-sparkling fads is that with re-makes there is this very real sense that they are intentionally raping your memories, and replacing them with crass, irritating botch jobs. People form emotional attachments to art, especially if it meant something to them in their formative years. And it’s this attachment that can lead to mild-mannered singers from skiffle bands climbing lampposts and screaming “You can take our Jason Voorheers, and I’ll even turn a blind eye to Get Carter, but if you touch Aliens, Commando or Zombie Flesh Eaters I’ll cut your fucking cock off.”.

Before their eventual arrest.

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