Can A Remake Be Better Than The Original?

I have been thinking about posting this ever since I did my review of Carrie last Halloween, when I compared the original with the remake and determined that the remake was superior to the original. I had several people upset about that, saying that remakes can never top the original, just on principle alone. I got to thinking about that, and thought it was a little funny to automatically dismiss a movie just because it’s a remake.

Let’s look at the example I’ve been giving for weeks now, as I’ve been preparing to write this. John Carpenter’s The Thing. This film is considered one of the greatest sci-fi horror films ever made, and for good reason. Even though it was made in 1982, the effects still hold up today and can still terrify. In 2011, another film was made also called The Thing, and every review of it I’ve read slammed it for being a remake of a classic. I doubt those people actually saw it, because it was clearly a prequel. But anyway, my point is… The “original” is actually a remake of a 1951 sci-fi horror film called The Thing From Another World.

So this means that a remake has be considered better than the original for over thirty years now. Most people don’t even know of the 1951 original, but the fact remains that The Thing is a remake that people love.

What about my review of Carrie that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, and which lead me to write this? Is it possible that the remake could be better than the original? I had a discussion about this with a movie buff fan the other day, someone who always has an open-mind, and got her to realize that story and character-wise, Carrie (2013) is far superior to the original.

Speaking of horror remakes, let’s talk about Halloween. On Halloween 2013, I sat down and watched every film in the series (except Halloween III, because it shouldn’t even count as one). From Halloween to Halloween: Resurrection, then Halloween and Halloween II. I’d heard so many negative things about the reboot movies that I nearly just stopped at Resurrection. But I’m glad I watched them, because it’s a fresh take on an old story. We know the story of Michael Myers. The reboot gave us a different look at his character. Not only that, they got Danielle Harris,  the little girl who played Jamie in Halloween 4 and 5, to play the lead in both, as a new character. It was brilliant, and an excellent easter egg for those paying attention (and as I had just watched all eight previous movies, I caught it right away). I actually might do a Casabloga over the reboot movies now that I think about it, because I love what they did with them. Michael isn’t some supernatural monster, he’s a human. He only wears his mask when he’s about to kill, and yet you still rarely see his face.

I should get off that movie before I go ahead and review it here.

Let’s change direction slightly. A remake doesn’t have to be better, but can it at least be good? My first thought is the Total Recall remake. On the surface it’s a good movie. Most people hated it because it’s a small-scale version of the original. The 1990 original has Schwarzenegger saving a whole planet. The 2012 remake has Colin Farrell saving a city. Much less at stake, and in the end all that happens is the bad guy is defeated. In the original, Mars has new life as it’s given breathable air. Much more satisfying ending. But does this make the remake bad? I don’t think so, because I still found it enjoyable. Even saw it in theater.

Part of the problem, I think, is comparing. Sure, the Psycho remake totally sucks, but we can’t help comparing it to the original. Especially since it’s meant to be a shot-for-shot remake. At least the director admitted it was just an experiment and that it failed. But it’s still a bad remake. Is it possible to remake Psycho and it be good? I’m sure that it is, but we’ve yet to see it happen. Who knows, maybe after they complete the series Bates Motel we’ll get a modern-day Psycho remake made in that version of the franchise. Based on how good that series is, I’d definitely love to see that.

So what about you? Are there any remakes you think outdo the original?

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About Trevor Boot

I’ve been officially writing since 2004, when I was 15, but I started writing for fun now and then in 2001, when I was 12. I mostly wrote short stories and poems, but then in 2008, I wrote my first novel, titled Xangsburgh. Before this, my writing never really had any direction. I would just write independent stories that had no connection with each other, so I always had to start over from scratch. With Xangsburgh, I had a fictional city I could base all my stories in, with the stories building on each other. For me, that made writing easier, because now I don’t have to start from scratch every time. I could use Sheriff Brock without having to introduce him every time. In 2011, I realized I really enjoyed taking pictures. Several of my friends would comment that my pictures were near-professional quality. So on top of my writing, I’m also an amateur photographer. In 2014, I published Xangsburgh, as well as a photo book with some of my favourite photos I have taken, and a book of poems I’ve written between 2001 and 2013.
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