|Art by Joshua Hoffine.|
First off, as something of a tangent, Evil Dead has already been remade. What, you might gasp?! Anyone who's a fan of the original trilogy has seen Evil Dead 2, which retcons the entirety of the first film within the supposed sequel's first twenty minutes. Rather than having a group of friends who go to the cabin for a weekend, this time around it's merely Ash and his girlfriend Linda who go to the cabin for a romantic get away, and then unwittingly unleash the Evil from the Necronomicon. After that the film does go into sequel mode with following the events of the first night in a plot that's much more comedic than the original, but the fact still stands: the first twenty minutes retcon the original film. If that's not taking the original material and remaking it, I don't know what is! On top of that, Evil Dead 2 was more of a box office success than the first, which for the studios, is a successful film all around, thus giving Sam Raimi more opportunities to make films.
But let's go back to the argument at hand. Don't fix what ain't broke - there are numerous horror films that have been remade and claimed higher box office returns as well as critical acclaim. The Fly, The Thing, Nosferatu: The Vampyre, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I could go on - this is just a taste. A lot of the time, it's better equipment and funding that allow directors and actors to really stretch the material and give it their all. Other times, it's merely coming at the material from a new direction. Often, I feel that this is the one thing that works the best: take this idea, and look at it in a new fashion. Take the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street; they toyed with the idea that it was only a vicious rumor that Freddy was a child molestor. Had they gone that route, it would have been a completely different Freddy, and a whole new twisted reason for why he comes back to haunt children in their dreams. But the thing is, we don't know what direction these remade films will go in if we don't give them a chance. We could be introduced to new concepts, different viewpoints, and a variety of other things that widen the playing field of the genre we all know and love.
And on top of that, why aren't adaptations of books and plays considered remakes? They are completely different mediums, but it's still taking the material and doing it over again! I personally tend to consider the different mediums as a different animal entirely, and find that the variety of conceptions often showcase what works and what doesn't within the story itself. Take my post comparing book and film versions of The Woman In Black for instance - sometimes showing works better than telling, and sometimes it's the reverse. Or the play Little Shop of Horrors; it was made into two different film adaptations, the second of which was critically and financially more successful than the first. It is a combination of actors, directors, the script, and who knows what else. You never really know what's going to happen until it happens. So my advice is still to be wary, but certainly not to reject the remake outrightly.
The second most often voiced complaint is the idea that this new adaptation will for some reason taint the original. I'm quite honestly baffled as to why people think like this at all. The new film will have absolutely no physical effect on the original film - it's still there, in its entirety, whether that's at the video store or at home on your shelf. It's there, it's been made, it's safe and sound! The idea is what's being reworked, and to that effect, it's not as though the new version of the idea will instantly erase your memories of the original. There are actually a lot of pros in terms of remakes - it introduces a new generation to an older film, some of which may seek out the original in order to compare the two. People who spend money on either film support the director, script writer, producer, and whoever else had a hand in the remake (or the original). More money means more work for these people, and that's a good thing! Because then our beloved directors and actors make more films for our entertainment! How can this be bad?
Sure, there's always the possibility that the remake won't do well and then the franchise won't ever see another dime, but that's what it takes. Risk. And most movie studios aren't willing to take a risk with newer material, because they aren't sure that people will spend money on it, and they won't recoup what they had to spend in order to make the film. It's far safer to just regurgitate what people spent money on before, so some kind of monetary gain is ensured. But this doesn't mean that remakes should written off entirely - I will agree that movie makers are in a sorry state when it comes to originality (especially with the remaking of so many foreign films, but that's a whole other can of worms) but thats why people need to talk to the studios with their wallets. Only spend money on films that you know you want to see (like Ti West's The Innkeepers and other indie films!), while holding off from going to the theater. Films are rated successes or failures through their financial intake, not by whether or not it is a good film. If you don't like something, don't see it!
But in the long run, remakes are not the horrible things that everyone makes them out to be. It's definitely a waiting game, to see how they come out, but I really wish that people would take a step back and consider what could be rather than outrightly condemning any attempts at all. Often, reworking older material is what helps jive the brain and aids in the creation of new material. Originality is often taking an older idea, or a couple of ideas, and arranging them in a fresh way. Originality is not coming up with a completely new idea, because that just doesn't happen anymore. Somewhere, sometime, someplace that idea has been used before. There's nothing wrong with giving older material a new spin, because we loved that idea the first time around! Why not give it another go?