As is the way with Hollywood and the film industry in general, remakes are here to stay. It is easier to redo something that has been done before as opposed to come up with new ideas. It is potentially easy money because you have the name recognition of the original. The issue however is that for the most part, remakes are inferior to the originals. The reasons vary but as said, they are generally not as good. But, why is this? This article will look into four movies that had been banned and their respective remakes, while deciding which is better between the two. To begin, let us journey into the woods…
One of the true titans of the Video Nasty era, Sam Raimi’s original classic The Evil Dead is a must for horror fans and also serves as an inspiration for anyone who wants to make a film on a limited budget. The filmmakers had no money but they managed to create one of the most viciously entertaining horror films ever made. One thing that it had running throughout was a streak of dark humour. The Evil Dead is consistently funny throughout, balancing out with the horror and the gore. Overall, it is an amazing film.
The remake, from 2013, is still a fairly good film. It uses the same plot and some of the same set pieces from the original, including one involving a tree. But there is one HUGE difference between the two films. The humour. The remake has none. It starts on a dark, depressing note and continues with that. It must be appreciated that the makers attempted a new direction, but it could be argued that some humour would have helped.
These are both good movies, but the winner between the two is clear. Score one for the originals.
Right off the bat, I Spit On Your Grave is a nasty, tough, hard film to watch. The story of a woman gaining revenge for a vicious gang-rape she is the victim of is a rough experience. It is most certainly one of the controversial films ever made and deserves its level of notoriety. It is a hard film to discuss. It is a rape and revenge film. You could argue that it is a pro-feminist call to arms, but that is down to personal opinion. But, what really aids the nasty feeling of this film is the scratchy, grainy, snuff-like video quality. It looks so degraded and cheap that it makes it feel more real and grimy.
That grimy scratchiness is one of the main problems with the 2010 remake. It is not there. It looks too clean. Thanks to the advances in camera technology, the remake looks too sharp and too clear. It still has all the violent nastiness that the original has, but without any of the potential subtext about feminism and with the clear, sharp images, this remake is perfunctory in the extreme.
Neither version of the film can really be recommended, but if you need to watch one, go with the original.
Talking about nasty, scratchy, rape and revenge films, we come to Last House On The Left, directed by the horror maestro Wes Craven, famous for creating the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. The story is about two teenage girls who are taken into the woods by a murderous group, who proceed to rape, torture and murder them. They end up at the home of one the girls parent’s, who manage to learn what they have done and exact bloody revenge. Last House is seen as one of the bigger movies to be banned in the past. It is nasty for all the reasons previously mentioned. But, it has some huge flaws. The biggest being that as the filmmakers didn’t really know what they were doing, so in the film, there are strange moments of slapstick comedy. Given the plot of the film, it feels so completely out of place.
The remake removes these comedic scenes but retains most of the other plot details, with some minor changes. Again, like I Spit On Your Grave, the remake looks too clean and lacking in grime. But, aside from a truly ridiculous moment at the end, this is a remake that actually works better than the original. The tone is more oppressive, it has some really solid performances and it deals with the parent’s psychology better. Also, at a time when most horror films were torture porn, this actually, for the most part, avoided it. It is not perfect, but it is far from a bad film.
This may get me some hate, but I prefer the remake. 2-1. Can our last film level the score?
No it can’t. Let us answer that question now. No surprises. The original here is far better. The original version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the finest horror films ever made. It is a surrealist nightmare where nothing is quite right and it is completely unnerving. It relies on tone and not on violence. It is a common misconception that it is gore filled splatter fest. Which it is not. There is almost no gore whatsoever. It does not need it. It achieves its aim by being so completely oppressive and suffocating in its style.
The remake can not compare. It is a typical gore filled, modern horror jump fest. But, it is not without merit. Some of the shots employed are inventive and R. Lee Ermey’s performance as the sheriff is fantastic. But the film is completely redundant and has no reason to exist. The director, Marcus Nispel, seems to have a niche in remakes, with this being the best one. But, when you consider he did the boring Conan remake and the so-bad-it-was-offensive remake of Friday The 13th, that is potentially faint praise.
There is no comparison. While the remake is not a bad film, the original is a masterpiece.
So, there we have it in our battle, and originals win 3-1. This is not to say that all remakes are bad. There are some decent ones. Special mention goes to the remakes of Dawn Of The Dead, The Crazies and Halloween, which are all decent enough. But the originals are still better in every case mentioned there.