HORROR TEN SPOT: Horror Films That Should Never Be Remade

You needn't look any further than this week's release of SILENT HOUSE to see how rampant horror remakes continue to be in Hollywood. Movie studios are not only devoid of filming original ideas, it seems they're damn near out of American titles to pilfer as well. SILENT HOUSE is a remake of a Uruguayan thriller...just one of the ever increasing examples of American re-appropriation.

But remakes are not a new phenomenon. Hitchcock remade himself in the 50s, THE FLY is one example of a superior remake, as is Carpenter's THE THING. No, the new fad is to prequelize/sequelize remakes...foreign ones at that, a la [REC] and QUARANTINE. But enough already. We dedicated horror heads not only starve for original material, we loath the sullied namesake horror remakes often inveigh on their inspiration. I can't even hear the phrase THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE without thinking of all the lame ass spinoffs and rehashes the original paved. Which is why we've compiled the following list: studios take f*ckin' note...here are ten genre movies that should never be remade. Ever!

1. THE SHINING (1980) - Stanley Kubrick

Yes it was remade for TV, but I am talking big screen here. Go ahead studios, try recapturing the utter alchemy of one Stanley Kubrick. I double dog dare your asses! Somehow I want to believe that Kubrick's ironclad contract included a no remake clause...I mean, dude had final cut on nearly all of his films...he should have had final say on the posthumous appropriation of them as well (then again, LOLITA was remade, so). But what if Stephen King, who famously denounced Kubrick's adaptation, wanted yet another person to take a crack at it? Or, if not actively seeking another, at least allowed another to remake it. Would that person even care to oblige? How could they? Rich subtext aside, the technical aspects of THE SHINING are inimitable, intimidatingly so...even 33 years later. Sure, Nicholson and Duvall ascend to a stratosphere of over-the-top histrionics, but such a meticulously crafted film is THE SHINING...so grand yet so assured, there's no doubt the film hasn't been remade more out of a daunting respect than anything else.

2. ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968) - Roman Polanski

Almost 45 years after initial release, it's a flat out miracle that Roman Polanski's masterwork in psychological terror has yet to be tinkered with...either through remake or sequenced continuation. Not for a lack of want, again, as Platinum Dunes was in talks to rehash the flick a few years ago. Still, for whatever reason, the film has remained utterly untouchable...both artistically and economically, and should forever stay that way. My question is, who would even want to remake ROSEMARY'S BABY? If you're a director, is that really something of a dream project for you? Hell, even Gus Van Sant only remade PSYCHO so that no one else would or could...I'd imagine that'd be the only circumstance that would even drive a filmmaker to take the gig. And even if you took it...how the hell could you expect to mine such fine performances? How could you expect to conjure such palpable fear and unease, sans any real blood, guts, ghosts, knives, guns, CG monsters, twisted psychotics and the like? Not even worth trying!

3. THE HOST (2006) - Bong-joon Ho

Has any monster-movie garnered more international acclaim in the last half decade than Bong-joon Ho's THE HOST? Doubtful, which is why it's pretty damn shocking to think U.S. studios have yet to remake it. Not for lack of desire though...in 2008 Gore Verbinski announced he was producing a remake of the flick for Universal. For whatever reason, that shite has fallen apart, or is stuck in development hell somewhere (where it should stay for eternity). THE HOST is that rare breed of horror with a comedic tone done well, pitch perfect, complimented by the proportional blend of CG and practical FX. Trying to replicate that magic would just seem lofty and hubristic, not to mention truncated. THE HOST is a two hour monster-movie, a runtime that would probably be slashed by a quarter in an American remake, as to ensure more theatrical screening times throughout a given day. Seriously, what's the last 2-hour American horror movie you saw? THE MIST? Notice the similarities in time, title and theme. Perhaps both films should remain untapped.

4. THE ENTITY (1982) - Sidney J. Furie

Ghost rape...how's that for a plotline worth bringing back to the masses? Fat f*ckin' chance! Sidney J. Furie's 1982 tutorial in supernatural horror not only has a subject matter that would probably never be green-lit today, but because it's based on a real life account, it's handled so delicately that it transcends mere trash cinema. There's an intimacy, a sadness, a length even (125 minutes) that allows you to really, truly sympathize with the lead character. Not that you need more than a single scene of a chick being sexually assaulted by an invisible specter to feel awful. Shite's rugged! Trivia via IMDB: The real-life Carla Moran's teenage son described a particularly vicious attack in which Carla was thrown by the malevolent force and hit her head. He tried to intervene, but he was also thrown, breaking his arm. In the filming of the movie, the actor playing the son broke his arm in that scene, and the curtains tore from top to bottom without explanation.

5. EATEN ALIVE (1977) - Tobe Hooper

A pair of films in Tobe Hooper's early canon have been turned into franchise moneymakers (TCM, POLTEREIST), but the other two of his personal apogee, EATEN ALIVE and THE FUNHOUSE, have thankfully remained unfettered. THE FUNHOUSE has been cribbed many times in what's become the carnie-horror subgenre, and even had Eli Roth at one point interested in a remake. While that sucks balls and all, it's really EATEN ALIVE that should, and perhaps could, never be retold. So seedy, so grimy, the filth seemingly ingrained in the film stock...aptly mirrored in the foul and heinous characters. The film also mixes tropes of a backwoods psychotic with those of a monster movie...as a sleazy redneck with a rusty scythe gorily fells strangers, feeding the bodies to his chummy gator out back. I love the setup, I love the look and feel of the flick, I love the pre-Freddy performance of Bob Englund...but more than anything....I'd love for EATEN ALIVE to never be remade.

6. DON'T LOOK NOW (1973) - Nicolas Roeg

Yeah, somehow I don't think malefic dwarves in red rain-slickers would pass muster these days...not unless the shite was setup at HBO (what up Warwick, what up Dinklage). Even so, can anybody say they'd really want to see...and even expect superiority from... a remake of Nicolas Roeg's elegant 1973 chiller DON'T LOOK NOW? Not likely. Thing is, as with the best of 70s horror, the film plays more like a straight forward drama for a good bulk of the runtime. It's a slow-building character piece as much as anything, one that just so happens to bludgeon your skull with the serpentine finale. But perhaps more than that, it's the mysterious, ominous tone that Roeg is able to maintain throughout the picture that would no doubt get lost in translation upon remake, a la the atrocious WICKER MAN redo. And what about the real-life porn scene between Sutherland and Christie...you think that shite would go down on a film shoot today? Only in San Fernando Valley baby.

7. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) - Ruggero Deodato

Ruggero Deodato's CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST - accurately redubbed ANIMAL HOLOCAUST around these parts - could only ever be remade in name, as the bouts of animal cruelty in the film would get you arrested in today's activism climate. Rightly so...the shite's just wrong! But that's not the reason Deodato faced criminal charges. Dude made such a real looking faux-documentary authorities thought real people died on camera. When Ruggero was able to prove the opposite, he was let free to go. But aside from the legal and logistic, the real reason I'd personally never want to see a remake of the film? Come on now, Riz Ortolani's deathblow of a film score. No lie, I want this shit played at my funeral. The beauty, the simplicity...set against the raw, harsh horrors of a tribal cannibalism...the score is breathtaking on its own, but when contextualized, the shite jumbles your senses in the most unnerving way possible. Trying to recapture that would just be embarrassing.

8. BURNT OFFERINGS (1976) - Dan Curtis

Obscurity may be the name of the game here folks. In my eyes, remakes should be reserved for BAD movies that deserve being reshaped. However, studios simply remake shit people are familiar with, as to bank on the built-in fan-base...doesn't matter if the film NEEDS to be remade or not. If there's any credence to this model, Dan Curtis' slow-burning '70s creeper BURNT OFFERINGS should remain safe as f*ckin' kittens. And even if it weren't, the shockingly dour finale Curtis wrote would never be kept intact today. It would likely be rewritten with a pat ending, completely insulting and platitudinous. Fuck that! Now I won't spoil too much, but suffice it to say BURNT OFFERINGS, starring Oliver Reed and Karen Black, has quite a novel twist on the age old haunted house yarn. Shot entirely on location, with support from Burgess Meredith and Bette Davis, the flick has a haunting lingering effect that I've been unable to shake all these years later. A rarity not to be duplicated!

9. THE BURNING (1981) - Tony Maylam

Of all the flicks on our list, I'm most surprised that the 1981 slasher flick THE BURNING has yet to be remade. Maybe Costanza and Holly Hunter's cameo fees are too lofty, know what I'm sayin'? Either way, if there's one FRIDAY THE 13TH offshoot that has found its own legs in the last 30 years, so much so that it deserves to be never tampered with, it's my man Cropsey running around a teenage campground offing motherfuckers with giant pair of pruning shears. Great opening sequence, great closing sequence, and one of the best pieces of Tom Savini FX work...choreographed beautifully and balefully on a canoe of all things. I think that's what most of these list entries have in common...great practical FX that would likely be ruined by a bloated green-screen remake, or if not ruined, certainly unmatched. THE BURNING feels that way, despite being made for a mere $1.5 million.

10. AUDITION (1999) - Takashi Miike

If ever there was an award for the grand-build-up-to-pay-off ratio, Takashi Miike's AUDTION takes the fucking cake. This film's one giant set of blue-balls for the first 80 minutes, isn't it...but the finale is so satisfying, so relieving, so gratifying...Miike jerks you off to completion without you even knowing it. Dude's a Zen master. Seriously though, can you imagine the American remake...cut to PG-13, no doubt starring Bradley Cooper and Rooney Mara. What a damn travesty. Gratefully we've yet to hear such an absurd notion, and even though Miike has found great success with the film, he obviously doesn't feel the need to pander with a prequel or sequel, his own or an ersatz American version. Much respect for that. Besides, how do you pitch a bitch vomiting in a bowl and feeding it to her captor? You think that meeting with Hollywood brass would tide over well? It should, as their product is essentially the equivalent of.
Tags: Hollywood

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