CLASSIC HORROR MOVIES VS. REBOOTS – DO THEY HOLD UP?

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Raeden Norris, Staffer

Plenty of old horror movies are regarded as classics and set the standard for what is a good horror movie, establishing plots that inspire horror movies to this day. Some of the best have even experienced 21st-century remakes. But, do these remakes hold up to the standards of their original versions, or do they fall short? Is it possible for a remake to have done better than its predecessor? To answer this question, I watched four sets of classic movies and their remakes and was a little surprised by some of the results.


THE EVIL DEAD – 1981

The Evil Dead is a gory horror movie from 1981, about a group of friends who rent a cabin in the woods. They find a tape, and as it’s played, the man speaking explains a demonic book, the “Necronomicon Ex-Mortis,” that was found in some ancient ruins. The man says an evil phrase that summons a demon from the book. The demon is summoned, and it begins to torture the cast. 

The movie is mostly filled with gore, with only a basic story. The gore is almost comedic, which led to the second film, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, in 1987, which is a more campy parody of the original. You come out of The Evil Dead barley remembering the main character’s name, let alone any of the other characters.

It ends on a cheap cliffhanger of the protagonist turning around and screaming as the camera rushes towards his face. The gore is only there for shock value and is poorly done. Overall, it’s quite bad, but that’s what got it the fans it has today. Even if its poor writing and execution got it a cult following, it can’t be saved from being objectively pretty bad.

 

EVIL DEAD – 2013

As a remake of the 1981 film, Evil Dead (2013) does a better job than the original. This time, it’s about a group of friends who rent a cabin in the woods to help their drug-addict friend to overcome her addiction without outside interference. 

They find the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, and one of them begins to rub a pencil over the indented paper to see what was written. He speaks it aloud, and the demon is summoned — cue cast torture. 

The gore is well done, the story is easy to follow and written relatively decent, and unlike the original, the gore doesn’t overshoot the story. The gore and story are balanced, but as a horror movie, it’s pretty average. 

However, it doesn’t live up to the comedic part of Evil Dead, which was the basis of Evil Dead’s cult following. Plenty of fans don’t like the 2013 remake because they like Evil Dead for its campy, pointless gore, and comedic outlook. However, Evil Dead is rather good compared to the original.

 

DAWN OF THE DEAD – 1978

Often seen as a masterpiece, Dawn Of The Dead is one of the earlier zombie movies, making it hard to criticize because it started trends that would today be seen as cheesy or cliche.

The movie follows a group of apocalypse survivors as they set up camp in the local shopping mall. The gore, acting, and makeup isn’t the best, and you can even catch a few zombies walking around with no makeup at all, but the film is enjoyable nonetheless. 

The characters are quite well written, and they don’t keep characters around just because they’re essential or people might like them. However, the movie was hardly engaging. It was very story-heavy, favoring the lives of the characters as they adjust to their new setting over zombie-killing action. Don’t get me wrong, there is action, but it was overrun with narration. Overall, it’s terrific, especially for the time it was made. 

 

DAWN OF THE DEAD – 2004 

The remake of Dawn Of The Dead feels much more like a tribute than it does a remake. The cast has been switched out, and more characters are added to the main cast. The action wasn’t overpowered by the story this time, and the zombies even got a little upgrade, now being able to run, unlike in the original, in which they could only walk. 

The new ability to run helps the scare factor of the zombies and allows for better action scenes. The only huge similarities between the two movies are that they are set in a zombie apocalypse and feature characters living in a shopping mall. 

The characters are realistic, and despite getting little screen time, you can tell what kind of people some of the minor cast are, and it’s effortless to be sad when they die. The actors do a reasonably good job of portraying their characters, and overall, it was an enjoyable movie to watch. It’s a close call, but it seems that the remake of Dawn of The Dead might have done a little better than the original.

 

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR – 1979

The Amityville Horror (1979) was a huge success when it first came out and is based on an allegedly true story. The movie follows a family of 5, the Lutz family, as they move into a new house in Amityville. The house was bought cheap due to a tragedy that took place there. 

A man murdered his whole family in the house, claiming he heard voices that told him to do it. As the movie goes on, George Lutz, the father in the family, is tormented by the evil in the house, and he begins to lose it, bit by bit over time. 

Now, right off the bat, it may seem hard to make a scary movie about a haunted house without having the characters ditch before the movie is over. Who would stay in a horrifying house for more than a week without even considering leaving, anyway? 

To solve this, you are introduced to a priest who is immediately tormented by the satanic energy of the house. While the Lutz family deals with minor spooks and scares, the priest deals with the heavy stuff to keep viewers engaged until its the Lutz family’s turn. 

The actors sell the fear, even when the technology available isn’t able to make the movie as scary as it could have been. The film is exceptionally well-done, and holds up as a scary movie today, even with the limits of its time. It was slightly hard to keep the focus on the film, but it was still a fun watch. The Amityville Horror was an excellent movie indeed, but does the remake hold up like the last two?

 

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR – 2005

The Amityville Horror (2005) can indeed be called horror, seeing as it is horrifically terrible. The movie follows the same plot as the 1979 version, but it is executed terribly, and small changes were made that make the movie hard to watch, such as the decision to kill the dog for no reason.

They use creepy, confusing imagery to make the movie seem scarier than it is, and it just comes across as cheesy and is only there to trick you into thinking you’re watching a good reboot.

 It almost seems like they want to make you feel bad for the little girl haunting the house. This kind of thing can work, but it’s hard to pull off when the little girl tries to kill the daughter so they can play together forever. 

Ah, yes, I feel so bad for this poor ghost, it doesn’t matter that she tried to trap another little girl in the house forever so they could be eternal playmates! Do you think people are not going to sympathize with a murderous ghost just because she’s a little lonely?

The movie also can’t seem to decide between the main character, George, going crazy or being possessed.

Jump scares are very popular in the horror genre because they can scare someone when done correctly. Of course, this movie did not fulfill the standards for good jump scares. They use them over and over until they aren’t scary anymore.

In the original, there were real-world consequences for George going crazy. His assistant at his company came down to his house to tell him about everything that’s been going on while George is losing his mind in an attempt to snap him out of it, but in the reboot, nothing else happens. What you see on the screen is the only thing happening.

Overall, if they had just stuck to the original, it would have been much better.

 

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – 1974

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was marketed as being a retelling of a real event; however, this was just a marketing ploy to get more people to watch the movie. When hearing this, it might lead to the conclusion that it was a lousy movie in need of profit, but that isn’t the case.

The movie follows five teens as they go to spend some vacation time at a family home in the middle of nowhere that belongs to two of them. When they get there, everything seems fine until two of them go missing after going off to go swim. 

The teens are attacked one by one by a chainsaw-wielding cannibalistic maniac until only one is left. She looks for help at the gas station, but the man working there is the father of the maniac, and drags her back to the same house where her friends were killed so that they can kill and eat her. 

The movie is undoubtedly terrifying and a little gross. Then again, the antagonists are cannibals; it’s reasonable to be grossed out by it. The characters are realistic and act appropriately to their given circumstances, and the actors do a great job of portraying them.  You can feel the terror through the characters, and it might even leave you a little paranoid. I for one, will not be stopping at any gas stations in the middle of nowhere in Texas any time soon

The jump scares are done well, and even the villains are well written. You can tell that the main villain, Leatherface, is not mentally sound, likely due to a lifetime of abuse, which is visibly still going on when you see scenes of him and his family. 

The movie is excellent, horrifying in just the right way to give you a good scare, and well written. It was a good watch, and could likely terrify most viewers, but of course, the remake has a high standard of living up to.

 

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – 2003

This remake is similar to The Amityville Horror remake, in that it just sucks. There’s no way around it; this is a terrible remake. They include new characters and a new reason for them to be in the middle of nowhere. This time it’s a group of five friends returning from a trip to Mexico with a pinata full of weed. 

They pick up a girl walking down the road, who is clearly in some mental distress. She ends up pulling out a gun and shooting herself. They stop at a gas station to call the police and are sent to a second location to talk to the sheriff. This was a trap, and they are picked off similarly to the original. The demise of the film lies in the villains.

Rather than a small family of cannibals, the whole town is there to encourage Leatherface to keep up the excellent work slaughtering people, and they’re all just isolated rednecks, which I guess makes them creepy. One girl was found to have stolen a baby, and the only purpose this posed was for the main character to take it from them as she escapes.  

The actors are good, but it does not live up to the original.

If you’re looking for a good horror movie to watch, this remake isn’t what you’re looking for.

 

CONCLUSION

Some remakes needed different people working on them, as only two out of four the remakes covered were well done. The other two were severely lacking and served no purpose other than to make money off of people who were fans of the originals. On the other side, the other two did better than their predecessors and provided well-done twists on the ideas of the originals. Would you have rated these differently? If you’ve seen any of the remakes here, what did you think? If you’re looking for some spooky movies to watch, the good movies on this list would be perfect picks.