We’re only two days away from the highly anticipated release of the remake of DePalma’s classic horror film, CARRIE. While audiences are still scratching their heads trying to figure out why anyone would try to rehash such a classic movie, CARRIE will be yet another trip down remake lane for the Hollywood Horror Movie Machine. There’s a lot of debate surrounding the “epidemic” of horror movie remakes, and horror fans often complain that we’re the ONLY genre remaking movies. “They’re not remaking comedy classics like ANIMAL HOUSE, so why are we remaking A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET?” I understand the frustration, but I hate to break it to horror fans…we’re not special snowflakes catching the shaft from the Monopoly Man lookin’ producers.
Broadway musicals and pornography flicks are suffering the remake/rehash treatment just as intensely as we are. In the last few years, Broadway has been dominated by unoriginal musicals and instead is feeling either revival of classic shows like PIPPIN! or famous films getting the musical touch like FLASHDANCE. So-called “jukebox musicals” like ROCK OF AGES did rather well and it wasn’t until Trey Stone and Matt Parker cranked out THE BOOK OF MORMON and got people to shut up a little. Pornography on the other hand has never been known for original ideas, but more production companies are shelling out million dollar budgets to pay for the costumes and sets to make realistic porn parody videos like XXX MEN: WOLVERINE. Originality be damned! We’re making a porno that lets people live out the fantasies they had when they hit puberty! My question is this; what is it about musicals, horror movies, and pornos that keep the remakes (or films made out of existing content) coming?
My knee-jerk reaction is first to pay attention to how society as a whole views these three genres. Horror, musicals, and porn are undoubtedly the three genres of film viewed as the “lowest” of all art forms. Pornography is too sinful, horror movies are too gratuitous, and musicals are cheesy and campy. What does this mean? That no matter how good we are, the “Academies” will never deem these films worthy of anything more than a polite nod or a guilty pleasure. It only makes sense that a “bastard genre” is unworthy of taking risks with original content. Who cares about the integrity of the original film of CARRIE (which has been remade, turned into a musical, AND turned into a porn parody) when we can just remake it and have a fat paycheck to go along with it?
The second similarity is that these three genres all bank on nostalgia. Horror movies love their nostalgia, that’s no secret. Every movie seems to throw at least one homage to something at some point in their flicks. We’re a genre that holds tight to terrible sequels because we loved the original one so much. It’s just the nature of our genre. Musicals are the same way. Theatre kids LOOOOVE their Shakespeare, and it’s why WEST SIDE STORY was so successful. They LOOOOVE big company bows, which is why LES MISERABLES hit it so big. If you can pay tribute to a musical that came before it or turn something already beloved and throw in some jazz hands and belt numbers, you’re golden. (I’m looking at you, THE ADDAMS FAMILY musical…) and porn, well, porn lets us explore the fantasies we’ve had for years. Remember that teacher you wanted to bone in 6th grade when you discovered touching yourself felt awesome? Chances are, there’s a porno with an actress who sort of looks like your hot 6th grade teacher. Nostalgia fantasy, fulfilled. Ever wanted to know what it would look like if Velma and Daphne snuck off together instead of with Fred? BOOM. Bobbi Starr and Bree Olsen will show you exactly what that looks like in SCOOBY WILL DO.
Unfortunately, the third similarity between horror, musicals, and porn, is a sense of mindlessness. I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as a horror movie/musical/porno that doesn’t impact you emotionally and make you think. However, the overwhelming majority of productions that come out of these three genres are mindless fun that doesn’t require a REAL attention span. These three genres are painfully formulaic and the audience knows exactly what they’re getting and exactly how it’s being served. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and we tend to gravitate towards these exceptions for that reason. The sad majority, however, prove that these formulas work and that audiences are willing to shell out their hard earned money to watch them.
When it comes down to it, if we want to end this remake epidemic, we are going to have to do it with our pocket change. The more money we put towards original content, the more original content we’re going to receive. We have the power to end this remake craze, but it’s our responsibility to put our money where our mouths are.