To Remake or Not to Remake…

…That is the question movie executives have been asking themselves, seemingly since the creation of the industry. But while some remakes are significant improvements over the originals – Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man versus Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (or at least Spider-Man 3), for example – there are some classics (in my mind) that shouldn’t be messed with. 

Take 1982’s Poltergeist, for instance. The movie itself was plenty spooky back in its day, and continues to be an excellent horror flick. I mean, come on… Carol Anne sitting in front of the staticky television saying, “They’re here” – it gives me shivers just thinking about it! Plus the “curse” that seemed to surround the cast added to the creepiness of it all. And yet, for some reason, the film is being redone this year.

As soon as C and I saw the preview for the upcoming remake, we looked at each other and said, “Why?!” To be fair, there are certain parts (like that clown!) that look pretty hair-raising, but I’m still finding myself asking the question.

When it comes to remakes, it sometimes seems like people want to redo the films because the technology today is better than it was before, so the special effects will be bigger and flashier. Last year’s Godzilla was a good example of this, though there is still a certain charm to the 1956 Raymond Burr version with poor voice dubbing.

Other times, it seems that a movie is given a second life because one cinematic take wasn’t so well received. Take Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. While I’ve never seen it, I know it was roundly panned for the acting, the directing, and the writing – really, I can’t find anything good written about it! Yet, in just about a week, the blind crime fighter will take to the small screen on Netflix, and early buzz has been nothing but positive. Indeed, television might actually be a better medium for such a story.

More than anything though, it seems like Hollywood has just run out of original ideas and studios are relying more heavily on sequels and remakes each year. On television too, media companies are thinking about revamping some old classics, including Coach, Full House, and The X-Files. While The X-Files seems like it will be fun, the other two prompt a similar “Whaa?” reaction from both me and C.

Ultimately, special effects should be used to enhance a story, not cover up the lack of one. But too often these days, it seems like producers and directors are hoping the aliens, explosions, and ghosts will keep us distracted from the weaknesses in the plots. I hope that isn’t the case for Poltergeist, but only time will tell if it is a worthy retelling of Steven Spielberg’s classic or a bright, colorful letdown.

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