Horror Films: Original vs. Remake

By Shauna Mazenes

 

It: 1998 vs. 2017

Stephen King’s It is a action-packed psychological thriller about a group of kids who are tormented by a shape-shifting clown monster. First things first, Tim Curry played a much more personable clown, delivering stellar punch lines throughout the original film adaptation of It. Curry’s performance was similar to Freddy Krueger's’ in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Curry exhibited a human, relatable sense of humour, which creates an eerie atmosphere for the production. The 1998 It was a mini TV-series which made a conscious effort to resemble the book. For example, the story is told between two separate timelines—past and present, childhood and adulthood—giving the movie suspense while simultaneously providing informative context.

Furthermore, the original is much more dramatic than the remake in a traditional cinematic sense. The 1998 version deploys creative storytelling methods, such as flashbacks and symbolism; simplistic music; allusions; and foreshadowing. Maturin—the cosmic turtle that provided guidance in defeating the the shape-shifting entity in the original—is merely referenced in the remake, a symbol that had great significance in the book as well as the 1998 original. The remake—released on September 5th this year—is a helluva lot scarier visually, but lacks a lot of the original content that made the 1998 film so psychologically compelling. The remake entertains more blood, gore, typical pop-ups, comedic clichés and lends itself to sensationalism as opposed to the actual story. It employs intense effects, camera angles, and a terrifying clown, effectively inducing fear within the audience due to the currency of clown sightings.

 

Cape Fear: 1962 vs. 1991

When Martin Scorsese decided to remake Cape Fear in 1991 he certainly had the odds stacked against him. The original picture from 1962 directed by Joseph Logan Thompson was already a very good movie for its time and was well received by critics and moviegoers alike. Thompson’s Cape Fear had a very star spangled cast—its leading men were Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. But Scorsese's remake was extremely tasteful. Firstly, the pacing is measured and effective. Due to censorship, the original wasn't nearly as violent and not as impactful—violence is crucial for the success of Cape Fear. As a Roman Catholic, Scorsese said he would have been a priest if he didn't make movies—so he added a lot of abstract religious symbolism to this southern drama.

Scorsese's cast was as extraordinary as Thompson’s, especially with his long time collaborator Robert De Niro playing the operatic antagonist of Max Cady. There's also a plethora of great supporting actors—one of my favourite actresses, Jessica Lange plays Nick Nolte's wife with mastery. Scorsese also brought back a lot of elements of the 1962 film, giving roles to both leads of the original. Peck plays a lawyer that defends Cady and Mitchum plays an morally ambiguous sheriff. The original Bernard Hermann score was also used. Hermann was one of the finest movie composers to ever live and his score was fabulous. He composed the score for Citizen Kane (including an opera for that flick) and the soundtrack for Psycho. The cinematography is also top-tier in the remake where the original is visually flat at times.

 

Carrie: 1976 vs. 2013

Brian De Palma’s breathtaking adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie was released in November 1976. De Palma's unique visual flair is what makes the film so great. It's absolutely devastating to watch, making it one of the best King novel adaptations. Sissy Spacek—who was casted as Carrie in the original—possesses a frailness and vanity that makes the film so strikingly relatable. The final sequence—the pig blood scene—is absolutely visually incredible and masterfully edited. It is shot beautifully and suspenseful—there's something very cathartic about her laying waste to everybody but it's also very sad to watch. His use of split screen is great—well I mean de Palma is known for his dramatic use of split-screen. I haven't seen it in years. But it has some phenomenal performances from De Palma regulars John Travolta and Sissy Spacek. It's paced quite oddly and I probably wouldn't be as forgiving of its pacing if the final act wasn't so incredible. The first two acts of the movie are unremarkable and stood as a very bold work for its time with the steamy locker room intro. De Palma loved to be controversial but Hollywood really hated him for it, which inflicted substantial damage to his career. I saw the remake but it just doesn't have anything the original did. Moreover, the casting was unoriginal and stale, as the lead role was awarded to Chloé Grace Mortez, who also starred in If I Stay, Neighbors 2 and Kickass.