- Remakes are a common trend in the film industry due to their pre-existing cultural recognition and guaranteed success.
- The horror genre is particularly prone to remakes, with original creators sometimes overseeing reimaginings to maintain their vision.
- Examples include Michael Haneke. Funny Games made for American audiences, remake by Takashi Shimizu Ju-on for Western audiences and Eli Roth watching the remake of his film Cabin fever explore changes in your own vision.
Remakes are all too common these days, filling the box office with the same stories we’ve seen over and over again. Of course, it’s completely understandable why studios would choose to fund remake projects: they’re tried-and-tested products that are already packaged with heritage and name recognition because they’re already part of the cultural memory. From a creative standpoint, remakes generally fall into two categories: an older film that updates the special effects, actors, or cultural cues for modern audiences; or a non-English language film remade for American audiences with English dialogue and plenty of Western cultural values. Most of the time, remakes are unfortunately quite cynical in their creation, even if they are made against the wishes of the minds that originally created the intellectual property, but there have been times when projects were actually directed (or at least controlled) by the original creators. . Oddly enough, we most often see this phenomenon in the field of horror cinema.
Why are there so many horror remakes?
It’s well known that the film industry is a legal minefield of intellectual property rights and lawsuits, so where do original filmmakers fall in the grand scheme of these multi-million dollar remake projects? In most cases (there have been some legal errors…) the rights to these films are bought from the original production companies and created independently of them, leading to different results, or the same production company that owns the film decides to remake the film. this is without taking into account the participation of original minds. However, there are times when the filmmaker is brought in to participate in the second phase of his work, respecting his vision and giving him the opportunity to control or even direct the remake of the film.
As mentioned earlier, this rare case is most often found in the horror genre: an arthouse film legend. Michael Haneke remade his 1997 German-language horror hit Funny Games almost frame by frame, simply changing the setting and characters to their American counterparts. Japanese ghost horror icon Takashi Shimizu was called Sam Raimi’s Renaissance Pictures to create a generalized and simplified American adaptation of his episodic ghost series. Ju-On. A staple of modern exploitation horror Eli Roth wanted to experiment and supervised the remake of his first film, Cabin feverinto the hands of creative minds he respected to see how different the results would be. In an industry where most writers and directors prefer to protect their intellectual property and original vision, it’s interesting to see an artist happily watch their work be repeated over and over again.
Michael Haneke originally created Funny Games for an American audience.
When it comes to intelligent, thought-provoking and deeply creepy cinema, few directors are as revered as Michael Haneke.. The Austrian visionary has given us nearly four decades of highly acclaimed work, and a bold, unique vision shares much of his filmography. Haneke’s films are (usually) very cold, detached clinical studies of violence and sadism and their various manifestations through identity, individualism and class struggle. This is a hard thing, and is it worth exploring through the suicidal monotony of bourgeois life in Seventh Continent or through the twisted, finally digitized eyes of a broken mind in Video Benny, Haneke always successfully devastates and breaks the spirit of his audience… and perhaps his most powerful film to do so is Funny Games.
Original Funny Games This is an Austrian home invasion horror film, entirely in German, released in 1997 and telling the story of two sadistic killers who torture a wealthy family in their country home for no other reason than disgusting fun. The film made a horrifyingly effective choice to directly involve the audience in the film: the camera presented an almost first-person shot of an unnamed third killer following him and witnessing the sadistic games the killers play. The experience is a commentary and critique of the glorification of violence in the media, where the viewer is confronted with extreme pain and despair and asks, “This is what you wanted, isn’t it? You came here to watch a violent horror movie, so now you’re a part of that violence.” It’s a very hostile film that figuratively attacks and berates audiences with mind games, much like its characters do to their victims, and as reflected in an interview with Cinema.com, Haneke intended the experience for the United States. “Unfortunately, the first version of the film was not seen by the target audience because it was in German, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for it to reach the audience it was originally made for.”
In a 2017 Cambridge University study by Iain Robert Smith and Constantine Verevis, Haneke’s desire to reach American audiences with his comments on media violence in Funny Games It is explained that it was limited by American resistance to foreign cinema. A significant portion of US moviegoers will not watch films in which English is not spoken. Of course, dubbed films can break immersion if they’re not done well, and in a country that produces the majority of the world’s film hits, it’s understandable that American audiences are not accustomed to watching films with subtitles. That’s why Haneke decided to make the same film again, simply recreating it shot by shot with English-speaking actors. Haneke wanted his comments on media violence to reach a country that had effectively begun to commercialize violent media on a global industrial scale. Happening Funny Games is a rare exception to American industrial imperialism in the film industry, where the remake was voluntarily made by the original creator himself, hoping that Americans would watch his film and understand its meaning a second time.
Shimizu was approached to remake The Grudge as a stripped-down, big-budget film
Takashi Shimizu – a legend of Japanese horror cinema. And this is not surprising, since this 51-year-old director created one of the most iconic horror series in history, as well as one of the most recognizable horror villains: Ju-on row. Also known as resentment franchise abroad, Ju-on is a long-running series of films, episodic mini-shows, and shorts that collectively tell the story of a brutal curse left behind by a double murder that continually claims the lives of the residents of a suburban Japanese home. The series is known for its complete focus on creating and delivering horror scenes. There is very little filler or side content in the characters developed through B-plots. No, every minute of every episode of Ju-on is spent creating an atmosphere of fear that leads to terror as the iconic mother-son ghost duo arrive to wreak murderous havoc.
There are currently quite a few entries in the series, each containing several episodic stories told out of chronological order. Episodic, disordered nature Ju-on the series helps to heighten the horror through confusion and obfuscation of facts, keeping the horror a haunting mystery and maintaining the audience’s fear of the unknown. But of course, there is a downside: this series is very difficult to follow. Ju-on can be confusing, especially for Western audiences, as much of the story and world-building is based on Japanese folklore.
So when Sam Raimi’s Renaissance Pictures wanted to bring the magic Ju-on franchise for the Western world, Shimizu was brought on board to maintain the original feel and vision of the series. In an interview with Hollywood Gothique in 2004, Shimizu explained how his American reboot, simply titled Discontentwas a simplified and summarized version of various episodes of the series. Ju-on, collected in a neat, easy-to-read package and, in addition, with more sophisticated special effects on a Hollywood budget. Shimizu may not have been the one to jump at the chance to remake his vision for Americans, but he took the opportunity to see his vision benefit from more highlights and a refreshing new perspective on his series’ increasingly complex story.
Eli Roth Helped Cause Another Cabin Fever 14 Years Later
In a slightly different case than the rest, America’s favorite director who burst into the gore-ridden horror scene of the early 2000s, Eli Roth, also returned his brush to the finished canvas with a remake of his very first feature film. Cabin feverin the hands of the director Travis Zarivny. Original film put Roth on the map as the torchbearer of sexually explicit, gory, and torture-focused horror homages to ’70s Grindhouse cinema, reviving the genre and revitalizing it with low-brow post-American Pie sense of humor through a deceptively simple premise: a group of students go to a cabin and their flesh is slowly eaten by a virus.
Roth’s original work launched his career and established his unique vision in the horror genre, a vision that is definitely an acquired taste that many have criticized since the director’s rise to fame. This is the main reason why Roth was so keen to see Cabin fever remake. This was not to oversee the project and ensure that his vision remained intact – quite the contrary – it was intended to experimentally see how the film had changed 10 years later in the hands of a fellow director whom he now respected Roth was older, a more experienced filmmaker. In an interview with IGN, Roth talked about how he has changed as a director since starring in the film. Cabin fever at the ripe age of 30, and how this led to him quickly and enthusiastically jumping at the chance to remake his first film out of sheer curiosity. 2016 remake Cabin fever the same script was used, but key points such as character deaths were changed, much to Roth’s enthusiasm. “I looked at it as putting on a play—as an experiment, I just wanted to see how it would turn out.”
Overall, while studios have gone ahead and remade films many times without the original visionaries involved, they seem more inclined to involve them in developing a horror remake. Horror is a unique film genre in the sense that it uses cinematography to create the desired effect of frightening, and it is the unique vision of the creators that subjectively determines how effective horror is for audiences. In horror, translation from script to screen is much more subjective than in other genres, due to the complex and varied techniques for scaring someone, as well as the almost endless number of approaches that can be taken to apply these techniques. When half a second of extra pacing or an extra source of lighting on set can completely change the feel of a horror scene, horror remakes benefit greatly from keeping the original visionaries on hand – so it’s no wonder studios decide to bring them on board!
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