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Dear American Cinema, stop remaking horror films

09/08/2010
By:

Steve Miller

Opinions Editor

“Martyrs,” “Ju-on,” “Let the Right One In”—these are only a few of my favorite horror films that have been or will be remade by American producers for the American audience. Though I don’t consider myself a horror snob by any means, I’d like to think I have a substantial basis for which to make my claim: Dear American Cinema, if you have any sense of dignity left, please stop remaking foreign horror films!

Over the past decade, numerous European and Asian horror films have been remade in the U.S that are specifically geared towards Americans—this is where the real problem lies.

Americans are lazy and unobservant. I don’t know whether it’s our lack of competence or the fact that we have the attention span of a goldfish, but we can’t seem to enjoy a horror film in another language. Is reading and viewing at the same time really that hard? Do we have to remake horror gold to appease the Western masses?

It’s not to say I have an issue with remaking a film as long as it’s done in a respectful and tasteful manner. But time and time again, American movie houses decide to remake an acclaimed foreign horror film and turn it into a steeping pile of cinematic poo when compared to its predecessor. Do we really not have the ingenuity to make our own horror films without ruining another’s work?

For example, the 2007 Spanish-made film “Rec.” The basis of the film is about a news reporter who was doing a story on the lives of firefighters. The reporter goes on a call to an apartment building; things go awry when a viral outbreak leaves them trapped in a dark place full of terrifying blood-sucking zombies. Sounds good, right?

Fast forward a year later, and the American version “Quarantine” comes out. The remake is almost exactly the same as its Spanish counterpart, with the exception that all the Spanish actors were replaced with English-speaking ones. It had no innovation and there was nothing the film added to its original other than the fact that I was pissed off afterwards because I wasted an hour and a half of my life re-watching the same film, only it was terrible this time around.

Recent movies have proved a foreign (or foreign-like) film can be successful at the American box office.

“Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” made a total domestic growth of $128 million since its release in 2000, and nobody seemed to mind watching “Inglorious Bastards,” which was 70 percent subtitled.

Now, I don’t think Americans are unwilling to read subtitles while watching a film, per se. Maybe we’re just conditioned by corporate cinema houses to want so much action/violence/romance/comedic nudeness that the idea of having to read subtitles on top of all this would make our heads explode?

Regardless of the reasons, one fact remains clear: A good horror film should not have to be remade. It not only discredits the effort that went into the original, but shorts the viewer, who now has a preconceived bias towards the remake and everything surrounding it because it was so god-awful.

We need to appreciate well-made films as they are. Forget marketing and wanting to make money if it comes at the cost of ruining a work of art. A good film, horror or not, should be appreciated by its viewers not chewed up and spit out like a piece of bubble-mint. So please, American movie makers, next time you decide to remake a foreign horror film, spare me the frustration of having to explain to my friends that, “The original really is great, just give it a chance,” or, “Ugh, you should have told me you were going to see that film beforehand, there’s an original foreign version that’s 209,458,304 times better.” In the end it will save you money and my time.

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