I hate to say this, horror fiends, but the champagne's going flat. The parties are over and the harsh reality of 2014 is upon us. Lots of people think January is the perfect time to shape up, get focused, and reboot the system. Well, in honor of that mindset, we're taking a look at some of our all-time favorite horror franchise reboots. Whether they take something silly and make it serious, or vice versa, these filmmakers and screenwriters truly embrace the phrase "out with the old and in with the new!"
When Rob Zombie first released House of 1,000 Corpses people sat up and took notice. When he followed it up with the grisly The Devil's Rejects he was lauded as the freshest new voice in horror cinema. When he announced he'd begun work on a reboot of John Carpenter's Halloween series… he was called every dirty name you could think of. So how was Rob Zombie able to reboot this sacred cow and still gain the respect of the horror community? He did it by making an amazing film. Even though the film was panned by critics it still went on to please great swaths of the horror community and gross over $80 million worldwide. The film rebooted the series by providing tons of backstory. It explained a lot about how Michael Myers got to be so evil, and gave a new sense of depth to the character. We loved Halloween because it was filled to the brim with tension, terror, family drama, and respect for its predecessor.
The Addams Family (1991)
What, did you think this article was going to be all about slick, grimy remakes of eighties classics? Think again! What started as a small cartoon for the New Yorker soon blossomed into a wonderfully batty, gleefully macabre franchise about the world's first family of goths. When the first film adaptation of the franchise was released in 1991 it was a raucous romp through the world of the Addams'. The Addams Family was released to mixed reviews, but just look at that cast: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, and a young Christina Ricci just to name a few. It may be silly. It may be a bunch of slapstick gags and creepy, elaborate sets, but we've got a real soft spot for this goofy spook-out.
Funny Games (2007)
When I think of all the weird remakes and reboots in the history of horror the first movie that comes to mind is Funny Games. Michael Haneke directed the original film of the same name, in German and set in Austria, in 1997. Ten years later he returned with Funny Games, in English and set in the United States. Apart from that and a whole new cast, the film was a shot for shot remake of the original. Playing with themes of expectation and predictability, Haneke gave us a gory, terrifying film where nothing good happens and nothing ends up okay… just like in the original film. This movie is meta and it confronts the viewer time after time. It constantly challenges expectations. For that reason, this reboot, albeit totally weird, is one of our favorites.
The Thing (1982)
Perhaps one of the best remakes in horror history, John Carpenter's The Thing delivers everything a horror fan could want. There's plenty of suspense and terror, the special effects and practical make-up effects are some of the best of its time, and it stars Kurt Russell (that's usually good enough for us). Based on Howard Hawks' 1951 film The Thing From Another World (which was itself based off a 1938 novella titled 'Who Goes There?'), Carpenter updated the frozen horror tale with a new, lurking evil. Though it still takes place in subarctic temperatures, the original monster was a plant monster. This "thing" is a morphing, replicating alien species intent on assimilating all of humanity. How's that for a reworking?
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Some people don't think any classic movies should ever be remade. Before I saw Zack Snyder and James Gunn's wonderful remake, I thought the original Dawn of the Dead was one of the untouchable classics. It's got the perfect premise: a zombie outbreak at a mall. The original was so wonderfully gory, and said so much about consumerism, greed, and mall-culture, that there didn't seem to be any point in remaking it. But this reboot of Dawn had something the original didn't: speed. The zombies were fast and the action was pulse-pounding. Not that we didn't love the plodding, purposeful approach of the original movie, but if you've got to remake a movie, you may as well really remake it. Dawn of the Dead did just that. It brought the energy (and, yes, the attention deficit) of the aughts to a plot line made for 1978.