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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