A good horror remake is hard to find. For every success, like 1978's 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' and 1986's 'The Fly,' there are at least a dozen misfires that serve only to tarnish the legacy of their predecessors. So with 'Fright Night' opening this Friday, 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark' (remade from a 1973 made-for-TV movie) due on August 26, and 'The Thing' prequel (which looks awfully similar to the 1982 version) just two months away, Moviefone has a few words of advice for all the filmmakers out there who have given us the good, the bad, and 'The Fog.' Here are 10 simple rules for successfully remaking a horror classic.
10. Choose a Horror Movie That Could Actually Use a Remake.
If a movie is dated or under-appreciated, or if it never quite cashed in on its potential, consider giving it another go. But if it falls into none of these categories, you probably won't find any more blood in that particular stone.
Worst Culprits: 'When a Stranger Calls' (2006), 'The Invasion' (2007), 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (2003).
Movies That Could Use a Remake: 'Basket Case' (1982), 'The Strangers' (2008), 'Hellraiser' (1987), 'C.H.U.D.' (1984).
9. Make it Relevant.
Justify your remake's existence by clearly conveying to the audience its pertinence to a new generation. The horror movies we love have substance behind the screams. Vampires and zombies are mighty popular these days, but if you want yours to stand out from the crowd, you need to say something about the way we live now.
Best Examples: 'Dawn of the Dead' (2004), 'Fright Night' (2011).
8. Honor the Original.
Whether it's by recycling memorable quotes, including cameos from original cast members, or just sticking to the story, you can generate a lot of goodwill by refusing to fix what isn't broken.
Best Examples: 'Let Me In' (2010), 'Funny Games' (2007).
Worst Culprits: 'House of Wax' (2005), 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein' (1994).
7. No. Carbon. Copies.
Some movies just don't need improving upon. If your plan of attack is to make a shot-for-shot duplicate of a successful film, don't be surprised when you fail miserably. If we wanted to see the original, we'd watch it. Simple as that.
Worst Culprits: 'Psycho' (1998), 'The Omen' (2006).
Perfect Horror Movies That Should Never Be Remade: 'Poltergeist' (1982), 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968), 'Jaws' (1975), 'An American Werewolf in London' (1981).
6. Up the Ante, but Don't Overdo it.
People have been making horror movies for a long time, and a lot of devices that were once scary as hell are now common clichés. You have to give the audience something they haven't seen before, without getting altogether ridiculous.
Best Examples: 'The Thing' (1982), 'The Blob' (1988).
Worst Culprits: 'The Wicker Man' (2006), 'Thir13een Ghosts' (2001).
5. Stay Away from Torture Porn.
If mindless blood orgies are your thing, please keep your Karo-encrusted gloves off the classics. The gag reflex can only be tested for so long, and there are already too many gore fests out there to please the bloodthirsty masses.
Worst Culprits: 'Halloween' (2007), 'I Spit on Your Grave' (2010), 'The Last House on the Left' (2009).
4. A Good Cast Doesn't Make Up for a Bad Script.
The filmmaking rule of thumb applies to horror movies too. Even the most talented actors can't make chicken salad out of chickenfeed.
Worst Culprits: 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (2010), 'The Haunting' (1999).
3. Play to the Original's Strengths.
You don't shoot a vampire with a silver bullet and you don't replace suspense with gore. If a horror movie is worth being remade, there must be something good about it. Make the story your own without carving out the heart of the enterprise.
Best Examples: 'The Crazies' (2010), 'The Ring' (2002), 'The Hills Have Eyes' (2006).
Worst Culprits: 'The Hitcher' (2007), 'The Amityville Horror' (2005).
2. Just Because it was Good in Japanese Doesn't Mean it'll be Good in English.
It worked wonders with 'The Ring' and it hasn't worked since. Time to move on.
Worst Culprits: 'The Ring Two' (2005), 'Dark Water' (2005), 'The Grudge' (2004), 'The Grudge 2' (2006), 'Pulse' (2006), 'One Missed Call' (2008), 'Mirrors' (2008).
1. If the Original was Rated R, the Remake Should NOT be PG-13.
It was rated R for a reason, so don't sugarcoat the script for the sake of ticket sales. Teens grow up, and when they're finally old enough to watch the remake, they'll be glad you didn't dumb it down.
Worst Culprits: 'Prom Night' (2008), 'The Fog' (2005), 'The Stepfather' (2009).
So what are some other rules for making a good horror remake?