Re-Imaging: The Cosmetic Surgery of Horror Films

24 07 2008

Remember when movie re-dos were called remakes? At some point, some relatively smart person in Hollywood decided that term wasn’t sexy enough to lure hoards of people to high-priced cinemas for a new version of a movie they had already seen. Hence, the term re-imaging was born. Before some nerdy film student at UCLA chides me for not pointing out the supposed difference between remaking and re-imaging, let me include the official line that re-imaging is slightly different because it means the new film has at least some variance from the original film. There I wrote it. Hollywood is saying, “This one is DIFFERENT! I Promise! Come see it…twice.”

Now, let me point out that I am also relatively smart, and I call your bluff, Hollywood (and geeky Hollywood hopefuls who go to UCLA in the hopes of meeting Reese Witherspoon or Ryan Gosling some day). Re-imaging may sound really, really cool, but IT’S STILL A REMAKE. Remakes Re-imaged films are not necessarily a bad thing, but did we really need a new term? In some cases, re-imaging is good. For example, someone needs to tell A-Rod that he is (allegedly) dating an “original” in Madonna. Apparently he is unaware of re-imaged versions, like Shakira or Carrie Underwood. Then again, maybe he prefers old classic movies like 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon (which is scheduled to come out as a remake in 2009).

Fine, I won’t say remakes any more. Remakes. Oops. That was the last one; I promise. On to the point.

Horror films have always held a special, albeit deranged place in my heart. I loved them during my teen years. My wife tries to pretend this is not true, but sadly, it is. Many of these films have been or are in the process of being re-imaged. My “Big Three” from that era [Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)] are no exceptions. A part of me is excited to see new life breathed into the main characters who chased me in my childhood nightmares: Michael, Jason and Freddy. I recently viewed Rob Zombie’s re-imaging of Halloween. Overall, it was fun to see a new and more in-depth take on the past of Michael Myers and why he snapped. There were definitely some scares, and it was cool that Danielle Harris was cast in it. (She was great in Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 when she was a kid and single-handedly kept them from being crappy sequels). In the end, though, the new version had just a few too many white-trash characters in it to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Word on the street (that’s my cute way of saying I surfed the internet for information as there is no real “word” on the street in my little Midwestern town that isn’t about the weather or the price of gas) is that there are talks about re-imaging A Nightmare on Elm Street. On February 13, 2009, the re-imaged Friday the 13th is scheduled to hit the theaters. Talk about pressure to finish production on time. Can you imagine if this film’s opening had to be pushed back a couple weeks? Opening on Friday the 27th of February doesn’t quite pack the same punch. Interestingly, Jared Padalecki (yes, ladies, cute little Dean from The Gilmore Girls) is in it.

After new versions of the “Big Three” come out, what’s next? Sure, they could re-image Children of the Corn and have it take place in an experimental hybrid corn field. Or, they could re-do The Lost Boys with some brand new Coreys. (I’m pretty sure they won’t be re-imaging a terrible horror film originally from Spain I saw back then with the English title Edge of the Axe. There’s 99 cents I wish I had back from the video store…ouch.)

I have a different suggestion. I think they should take non-horror films of the 80s and re-image them into new, horror versions. That way, it really would be a whole new take on a old film. Crazy, you say? Stupid? Worse idea than a Chia toupee? Ah, you lack vision. Just think of this:

Field of Screams. Yes, Field of Dreams turned into a scary movie. Instead of Shoeless Joe coming out of the corn, it would be Skinless Joe. He’d fly out of the corn (hybrid corn, of course) to haunt you and to let you know that your dead father never really loved you and always thought you were a failure. Now that would cause some nightmares. Maybe Danielle Harris could play the wife of the sap who builds the baseball field. She’s cuter than the original actress. “If you build it, they will kill.”

How about Stand By Me turning into Stabbed By Me? Who would have blamed the fat kid if he’d gone nuts after seeing the dead body? Who wouldn’t have cheered him on if he’d donned a hockey mask and killed off Corey Feldman’s character?

Did you love E.T. as a child? Well, you might have different memories after seeing E.T.T. The Extra Terrifying Terrestrial. When his fingertip lights up, you know he’s going to kill. Don’t offer him any Reese’s Pieces unless you want to end up in Resting in Pieces. Yeah, he phones home all right…to tell them to send more chainsaws.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? More like, Ferris Bueller’s Head’s Off! What would be scarier than having Ben Stein reprise his role but this time as a teacher who has been pushed too far and loses it. Picture a dark alley at night, with Ferris trapped against a brick wall. Here comes Stein’s character with an axe, dully repeating: “Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?” Scary.

They could easily turn Raising Arizona into Maiming Arizona. A clueless couple in want of a child kidnaps a baby from a family who seems a little, shall we say, weird. The couple figures that family didn’t deserve a baby anyway. The problem: This child grows horns and is the spawn of Satan himself! He’s out to find and wreak havoc in the hottest states he can find, starting with Arizona. In one memorable scene, the child is accidentally left on a highway. By the time the clueless parents realize their mistake, the kid has telekinetically blown up several semi-trucks. Yeah, I know…pretty sweet.

In a way, the idea of re-imaging can make us all a little optimistic that things can be renewed. For those of you who have been following my swelling situation, I hope to be re-imaged myself in the near future through surgery. The St. Louis doctors just may have figured this thing out. Hopefully none of the surgeons are named Voorhees, Myers or Krueger. I’ll blog it when I have some specifics. In the meantime, rent the first four Friday the 13ths (the good ones) and watch them with the lights off. I double dare you. You’ll get to see a young Kevin Bacon bite the dust.

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15 responses

24 07 2008
alntv

Yeah. You are crazy. And that’s cool. Are they really remaking “Nightmare On Elm Street”? That’s just stupid. I’m liking your idea though! Take regular movies and add a touch of horror into the mix! Sounds like fun! But I think Field Of Screams might already be a porn flick. Dunno that for sure…but I think so. Better check into that…

24 07 2008
maleesha

Now THIS is an awesome idea. I’d like to see some John Cusack in “Slay Anything.” …Lloyd Dobler’s out for blood!…stabbing everyone in sight with that pen (Take this pen!), and crushing people’s heads with that boom box (ghetto blaster) while Peter Gabriel plays in the background…

24 07 2008
Matt

aln – you’re thinking of 1995’s “Field of Reams.”
Mal – “Slay Anything” – perfect!

25 07 2008
megan

“Remember when movie re-dos were called remakes?”
…Actually, I’m such a dork that I referred to movies the same way I do as music, as “covers.” … “Hey, did you see the cover of Halloween?”

Rarely have I been impressed with a redo of old horror movies, mainly because I love watching the originals. I’ve never understood why someone would take a perfectly good movie and try to remake it into something “original,” or, in the case of Gus Van Sant’s Psycho,, not so original. Most of the time these days, they take a delightfully scary mess-with-your-head psychotic thriller and turn it into a gory bloodbath. Or, they feel the need to remake something that was almost perfect in the first place; The Last Man on Earth is one of my all-time favorites, and Hollywood had to go and ruin it not once, but twice, with The Omega Man and Legend.

However, in the spirit of this post, which was quite amusing by the way, I would like to offer my suggestion:
Return to Me – I know, the title is the same, but picture it: Bob’s wife dies, her heart is transplanted into Grace, with whom he meets and falls in love. Then the wife comes back as a zombie who wants her heart and her husband back.

25 07 2008
dobeman

As long as they don’t recast Freddy as someone else, I’ll be OK. I’ve kinda gotten to like that little scamp!

How about:

If you liked “Risky Business” be sure and check out “Risking Life and Limb.” See what happens when the heads of Scientology all go on retreat leaving lone Theta, Tom Cruise, all by himself in a building full of slumbering aliens bent on destroying the world!

25 07 2008
Sarah

I agree with you about the horror movies. I wanted to cry when I heard that Halloween was being “re-imaged” by Rob Zombie. I went to the theater anyway, and I wasn’t disappointed but I didn’t love it either. It made me angry when I heard about Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, but we had to know that it would happen. I guess knowing it doens’t actually keep us from screaming, Why??

25 07 2008
Kym

Halloween the first time scared me so badly that I’m still reaching around corners to turn on lights without actually stepping into the room–there is no way I’m seeing a “re-imaging.” That first image is still burned into my brain.

25 07 2008
Matt

Megan, I could see James Belushi wielding an axe.
Dobe, you hit the nail on the head. Cruise has become a walking scary movie.
Sarah, anyone who wanted to cry about Halloween being remade is all right in my book. 🙂
Kym, that scene with Jamie Lee in the closet looking through the slats while hiding from Michael is horrifying!

25 07 2008
onegulpstories

How about one of John Hughes classic 80’s teen angst flicks “Pretty in Pigs Blood” instead of “Pretty in Pink.” It would be the same premise as “Carrie” but with Molly Ringwald finally getting revenge against James Spader.

27 07 2008
amandalinn

You are a genius.

The only horror movie I really like much is Sean of the Dead. But your suggestions have great potential.

“Here comes Stein’s character with an axe, dully repeating: “Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?””

Oh my god, that’s funny.

28 07 2008
Taoist Biker

I like Megan’s term “cover.” The thing about cover bands is that eventually you have to come up with something original if you want to be taken seriously.

Apparently the movie industry isn’t quite the same way. Sheesh. Where did all the originality go? Surely there aren’t fewer drugs in Hollywood nowadays – what’s the excuse?

28 07 2008
nathaliewithanh

Yet another very entertaining post. I’m not into horror movies but it would seem to me that the effect of surprise would be essential to their enjoyment. At least, they have not re-imaged The Shining yet!

Talking about re-imaging, I was playing at Borders the other day, and found “Brideshead Revisited” on the New Fiction table. I guess it had been “revisited”?

Loved the re-imagining of Children of the Corn “in the experimental hybrid cornfield.” You funny!

31 07 2008
Luke

They should re-image Edge of the Axe. More people need to waste 2 hours of their lives…

31 07 2008
Paperspoons

Cute little Dean. Oh, how I love cute little Dean!

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