Hollywood cinema is running out of ideas. More and more we are seeing remakes and sequels instead of originals. Most of them fail miserably- like War of the Worlds and I am Legend (or, more recently, The Hangover 2)- but some of them are able to pull it off (think Funny Games). While most remakes will never be as good as the original, we have to remember that remaking a movie allows the director to make changes to the plot and characters as they see fit. The remake shouldn’t be identical to the original- after all, if we wanted to watch the exact same movie as the original, we’d just watch the original. It should be as close to it as possible with the notion that some changes are acceptable. Essentially, it becomes its own piece of art, and should be reviewed and criticized as such, with less emphasis to how closely it replicates the original. True, we want something that closely resembles the original, staying true to plot and characterization, but we are allowed to indulge ourselves in the newness of a remake, despite how dramatically it differs from the original.
John Carpenter’s Halloween is a prime example of an original that will always outshine its remake(s). Halloween is a classic that will never die (much like Michael himself). Despite it’s age and lack of quality acting- it may have Jamie Lee Curtis, but let’s be honest, she isn’t very good in it- the original always holds some precedence over the remake, regardless of it’s quality. The 1978 thriller may be dated, but it’s just as terrifying now as it was when it was first released. The eerie silence of Michael’s nature and the effortless stealth he possesses throughout the film make him a horrifyingly silent killer, one who lurks around every dark corner. The modest special effects don’t take away from the horror but rather add to it. The old saying “less is more” holds true for this movie; without the use of gory graphics, the fear remains instilled in the character himself, not necessarily just his actions of murder. The movie doesn’t need it. Most modern horror films rely on blood and gore to carry the fear. Halloween manages to capture true terror in the character of Michael Myers, without the need for elaborate filler.
But, surprisingly, Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake succeeds in adding the gore factor while keeping the story line (basically) intact. Zombie is notorious for making over-the-top gore flicks laden with overwhelmingly sadistic characters, sickening amounts of blood and heavily x-rated scenes (think House of 1000 Corpses). But he’s able to add his personal touch to the remake without losing the true purpose of the Halloween thriller. True, he takes artistic license and stretches the backstory a bit (okay, a lot), fleshing out the character of Michael Myers more than the original. Some will argue this takes away from the mystery of Michael’s character, but Zombie adds an interesting twist by modifying the character of Laurie Strode. Instead of a random teenage girl Michael decides to stalk and kill-like the original accomplishes- Zombie complicates the plot by making Strode the younger sister to the insane Myers. Though there’s serious speculation on whether Carpenter intended Strode to be Myers’s sister, it was never explicit until the sequels. By being straightforward about this detail, Zombie’s is able to create a new scare, one exclusive to the remake. Zombie’s remake will never compare to Carpenter’s, but at least it’s worth spending two hours watching.
On this most hallowed evening, force yourself to watch (alone, in the dark) one of the most well-known, tricky-treatiest Halloween movies to date: Halloween. The only question remains: which to watch? The original or the remake?