Essay: Coming to Grips with Remakes   

November 16, 2007 News that Marcus Nispel is directing the "Friday the 13th" remake makes this upcoming release more tangible. Yes, it's really happening. Just about every classic horror film I was obsessed in in 1980 is being remade in the 2000s: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Dawn of the Dead," "Halloween", "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Friday the 13th." Everytime a remake comes out, it slaughters the box office.

It's depressing in a way, because as fans of these original films, I liked to imagine they were canon. I wanted "Halloween 9" instead of "Halloween: The Remake." But it's forgiveable when the remake is actually good and changes things enough to make the film different. "Dawn of the Dead" is a good example. The DOTD remake is not so much a retelling as a totally separate and distinct zombie film that just happens to have the same title. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" comes across as a distinct adaptation of the same supposedly "true" story from Texas. That makes it work in a weird way. "The Hills Have Eyes" was actually closer to the original, but it also cranked things up considerably. A different movie to be sure.

So now the director of the TCM redo is doing the "Friday" redo -- and canon is being thrown completely to the wind. Well, I know all of us will be first in line to see it, but once again, I have to complain about the lack of originality of the studios. The "Halloween" remake, especially, was nightmarishly bad -- but it made lots and lots of money. "Friday" doesn't need a remake just like "Halloween" didn't need one. But since they're making it, it has to adhere to some principles:

- Gore. It can't wimp out here. What set the "Friday" series apart from the "Halloween" series in the beginning was the gore factor.

- Timeframe. Like TCM, which was set in the 1970s, this film should be set in the 1980s.

- Jason must not die.

- At least adhere to canon to a certain extent. "Freddy vs. Jason" only came out a few years ago for crying out loud.

In any case, we'll all be in line when it hit screens and, given the director, I'm sure it will be good. But I for one hope the studios can quit milking ancient trademarks by remaking iconic slasher films and do something original.

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