I’ve been called a purist—you know, one of those people who think movie remakes, by and large, should never happen and that most book to movie adaptations are for shit. Examples of each of these are abundant.
Bad movie remakes, just to name a few:
- Fright Night
- I Spit on Your Grave
- The Bad News Bears
Book to movie shithouses are even more common:
- I am Legend*
- Harry Potter 3-7
- Thor (movie title is Bad Moon)
- The Relic
- Conan the Barbarian (new)*
I can go on and on and on. I’m sure you have some you can add to the list as well. Feel free.
The asterisks above mean that at least these books had decent movies made based on the source material. Matheson’s seminal vampire work was adapted to “The Last Man on Earth” with Vincent Price, which is a great movie. And the original “Conan the Barbarian” with Governor Schwarzenegger was also a decent adaptation. While both movies altered the source material some, they still stayed true to the characters and the themes that were prevalent in the literature they were based on. But these are certainly the exception to the rule and the rule is that adaptations fucking suck.
So, let’s get to the actual title of the post, which concerns the Evil Dead remake that hits theatres in a little more than ten days. I’m worried, people. Really, really worried.
I know there’s a camp out there who thinks it’s stupid to worry about the whole remake thing. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, etc. and yeah, I get that, but when it comes to movies like Fright Night, the original Elm Street, and Evil Dead, I can’t. These movies helped shape me as a writer. It wasn’t all books and stories and plays, you know. I grew up in this blossoming visual world and I’m not afraid to admit it. When I was fifteen, I hadn’t read Hemingway or Vonnegut or Faulkner, or Fitzgerald. I’ve read them all now and their work is, frankly, amazing, but back then they weren’t what lit my fire. It was the movies and works by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and F. Paul Wilson (among others) that did it.
You just can’t up and change (or, as these people call it “reimagining”) something as influential as genre-defining movies and books. They are classified as such for a reason. So when some Hollywood studio greenlights a remake of something that impressed the shit out of me twenty years ago, it’s like telling me my parents really aren’t my parents, that they were free-range hippies back in my youth and now, with some reimagined medication, we have a new version of your mom and dad. Hope you like them, hope they do the same things for you as the hippies did, and good luck, Chris, because we all know they’re not going to cut it.
You can’t give me the whole “new generation” excuse, either. The new generation can go watch the old fucking movies. The stories are generally better, the acting is most certainly superior, and the only thing improved (and keep in mind this isn’t always the case) are the special effects. And let’s face it, if your movie relies on special effects to be scary or pertinent, you don’t have a good movie, and updating the FX is not going to change that.
All that being said, I will still go plop down my $9.00 to go see Evil Dead when it releases. This after missing The Hobbit, the new Die Hard, and other movies at the theatre, I will not miss Evil Dead. Why? Because it’s horror. Because it’s special. Because it’s the Evil Dead. It’s the same reason why I shelled out the money to see Will Smith’s version of “I am Legend” at the theatres, and the remakes of both “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” To say I was disappointed in all of those would be an understatement. I’ll take the originals, thank you very much. Every time.
But, it’s also why—if they ever get made—I’ll spend my money on the remakes of “An American Werewolf in London,” “The Crow,” and “Escape from New York.” And yes, I’ve read articles about remakes on all of these projects, so I’m not just blowing smoke out my ass. Whether or not they ever come to production remains to be seen, and really, I hope not. Hell, they’re even planning on remaking “Westworld” with fucking Russell Crowe. Yul Brynner and Michael Crichton are probably rolling over in their graves.
So what’s your take on remakes and adaptations in general?