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Culture > Entertainment

Beating a Dead Horror Movie

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

One of the biggest concerns about movies being released today is a lack of originality and an overabundance of sequels and remakes. This year alone, Nosferatu and The First Omen will be receiving remakes, and upcoming sequels or prequels include Terrifier 3, Smile 2, A Quiet Place: Day One, Alien: Romulus, and MaXXXine.

Despite the overwhelming cultural impact of horror movies, they are rarely celebrated during award season. One of the only examples of a big win for horror is that of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), which took home “five Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.” Horror movies can often be completed faster and with a smaller budget, making them more appealing to filmmakers and less appealing to the Academy. While most films will flop without an A-list cast, horror relies on subject matter- casting unknown actors can even make a film feel more immersive! These movies are more likely to use practical effects instead of pricy CGI. Films such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity were made with what is called a ‘shoestring budget,’ yet they accumulated tremendous box office numbers, proving horror can be low budget AND high yield. This is why Hollywood has fallen victim to beating horror franchises into the ground, continually making and remaking older concepts.

One such example is the Hellraiser movie franchise, which has a staggering eleven installments, seven of which are utterly terrible (yes, I watched them). Here are the Rotten Tomatoes scores of the first five films:

  • Hellraiser (1987): 70% Rotten Tomatoes
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988): 53% Rotten Tomatoes
  • Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992): 38% Rotten Tomatoes
  • Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996): 25% Rotten Tomatoes
  • Hellraiser: Inferno (2000): 14% Rotten Tomatoes

The declining ratings and substandard quality beg the question, how did these sequels continually get greenlit? Well, when Bob Weinstein won the rights to the series in the 90s (around the time they started to be terrible) Weinstein didn’t particularly “like or understand” the franchise and started making low quality installments to keep the rights to the IP. He continued to make straight to TV films with almost no quality control until he finally lost the rights and someone else was able to create a remake that actually surprised audiences with its quality.

While many praise Nightmare on Elm Street‘s original trilogy, six more movies followed, including crossover films with Jason Vorhes from the Friday the 13th series, which has twelve movies of its own.

The Amittyville Horror Franchise began as a typical paranormal haunted house story about a family tormented by spirits. With nine canonical sequels and over forty-five off-shoot films (not exaggerating), people are not scrambling to catch the next one in theaters.

Iconic horror film Scream (1996) follows Sydney through a teenage slasher nightmare with a shocking and subversive twist. Five more films have followed with varying degrees of success, even sparking parody adaptations of the story. While the first one is beloved by many, the later movies lack the charm of that first installment, struggling to replicate one of the more unpredictable reveals in horror history.

Sometimes a remake is made needlessly and adds nothing of value to the original film. Funny Games (1997) revolves around a family that is viscously tormented by their neighbors in their vacation home. Filmmaker Michael Haneke created the original movie in Austria with foreign actors speaking French, German, Serbian and Italian. After the movie’s disturbing nature caused a stir, he was presented with the opportunity to remake it for an American audience and agreed upon the condition that Naomi Watts would play the starring role. Instead of reworking any of the material, they made a shot-for-shot remake in the same location, just with different actors and in English. The director believed that the language barrier held it back from success in English speaking countries, as audiences wouldn’t be interested in a subtitled film…

Following the success of The Wicker Man (1973), Nicholas Cage was cast in a remake that was so terribly received that it won the 2006 Stinkers Bad Movie Award for worst remake and was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards (another award show that champions failed films).

Breaking the cycle

When deciding whether or not to invest in adapting a screenplay into a feature film, studios see it as a greater risk to greenlight original concepts rather than pre-established remakes or sequels that audiences are already familiar with. Relying on fandom loyalty for people to come to the theater takes pressure off of the filmmaker, potentially making them feel like they don’t have to push any boundaries or ‘reinvent the wheel.’ Once an audience member pushes past the initial buzz of seeing familiar characters and themes, is there anything else of substance to be offered?

There is certainly a vicious cycle in which people avoid independent films while simultanuously only supporting blockbuster regergitarions of the same old stories and participating in public outcry for originality.

In conclusion, to see more original, independant films in theaters, we have to support filmmakers and show up to the cinema! If we want studios to allow these projects to make it into production, it is important that we financially boost these pictures to incentivize more creative freedom in Hollywood.

Lilly Cheung is a writer for the HerCampus chapter at Florida International University with a passion for fashion, beauty and film. As an English Literature major, she has spent countless nights writing and rewriting, dedicating much time to honing her craft. Set to graduate this year, she plans to continue writing professionally through copywriting. When she's not busy typing away on her computer, you can find her logging the last independent film on Letterboxd of thrifting for vintage. The type of girl that won the middle school 'Fashionista award' in 8th grade and never let it go (true story). She's a serial hobbyist, sewing and crafting costuming pieces or fashion staples in her small apartment. The smell of hot glue and a floor covered in stray thread is commonplace. In addition, staying active and traveling are another big part of her life.