Anthony is a friend from Chicago whom I have had many talks about horror with; the ones that immediately come to mind seem to circle around Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects if memory serves correctly — but there’s a very good chance it doesn’t.
Now Anthony claims he had never written anything for a site before, but he did such a stellar job with this write up that I think he may have just been pulling my leg. He knocked this one out of the park! And I’m not afraid to pay him the compliment, even if he is a fan of modern horror remakes. But enough of my yammerin’: take it away, Anthony!
I have a confession to make, and it’s something which will probably take away any sort of credit I may ever hope to have as a horror fan: I absolutely love remakes of classic horror movies. Whether it’s 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, or the modern takes on Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It doesn’t matter if it’s a remake done with input by the original creators, hoping to realize their vision more clearly after a few decades of technology improvements or if it’s a remake by an entirely new crew, attempting to put a new spin on a beloved movie. I just really like seeing brand new takes on a movie that I already know and love, for better or for worse!
With this in mind, there’s a very specific sub-section of remakes that holds a special place in my heart, and one that I think would make a really fun focus for a drive-in double feature. That is, of course, the remakequel. A movie which manages to both retell key elements of the original film, but also takes place in a universe where the original story did, in fact, happen! It’s an interesting slice of movie-making which can serve to magnify the themes of the original film, while also paying due respects by not wiping the old story out of continuity to make room for the new story.
My two favorite remakequels in recent memory are Scream 4, from 2011, and Evil Dead from 2013. Both of these films simultaneously serve as the fourth movie in their respective series, while also acting as a remake/reboot of the original film. It’s hard to talk about these two movies without first going a bit into the original versions! Both of these film franchises are widely known and loved, and for similar reasons. Throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy managed to combine over-the-top campy gore with slapstick comedy, to create a unique blend of horror and dark comedy. This combination resonated throughout the horror film industry, and the influences can be seen in countless movies released afterwards. Similarly, the Wes Craven created Scream films took a more light-hearted approach that managed to bring campy slasher flicks back from the dead in the mid-to- late ‘90s. While I think many people going to see this double feature would be familiar with the original franchises, I don’t think that quite as many people went and saw the fourth movies in these series, and that is why I would love to attend a double-feature playing both films!
The first movie played would have to be Scream 4, as that movie not only came out first, but thematically sets up the idea of a remakequel in the classic self-aware style which made the first movie so entertaining! Taking place 15 years to the day after the original Scream film, this movie sees the town of Woodsboro dealing with what appears to be a copycat killer, mirroring the acts of the infamous Ghostface. The two main characters that this film looks at are Neve Campbell, reprising her role as Sidney from the first three films, and newcomer Emma Roberts playing Sidney’s younger cousin, Jill. In examining the relationship between the “final girl” from the original film, and her family member who is set up to fill that archetype in this one, Scream 4 provides a really fun and twist-filled analysis of the slasher film sub-genre, and of the craze of remaking classic horror films in general. The movie plays with our expectations by giving the audience a mix of exactly what they expect in some instances and exactly the opposite of what they expect in others, keeping this tension high and never letting the viewer have a moment to feel comfortable! Scream 4 serves as both a great example of a remakequel done right, and also as a fourth-wall breaking explanation of exactly what it means to have a reboot take place in the same universe as the original films. Opening with Scream 4 will surely delight the crowd attending this double feature, and will also help set the scene for the second movie.
Next up, we have Evil Dead! This movie is a bit vaguer in its relationship to the original trilogy than Scream was, but if you pay attention it definitely can be viewed as “Evil Dead 4.” I think this is awesome, because Evil Dead 2 was actually one of the earliest examples of a remakequel! Taking place some 20 years after the original, this Evil Dead introduces us to a brand new set of 20-somethings who end up spending the week in the exact same cabin in the woods featured in the original trilogy. Our two main characters are Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernandez as Mia and David Allen. The brother-and-sister duo breaks the audience’s perception on how this remake is going to run, both immediately and in unexpected ways throughout the film! At first, it appears that David might be this movie’s “Ash.” They wear practically the same outfit, and both are accompanied by a sister, a girlfriend, and a few other friends. But as the film goes on, we start to see elements of Ash appear in nearly every main character, but mostly Mia. This switch-up serves to remind us that, despite the events being very similar to the first movie, this is more than just a remake. Furthering this idea, it’s worth noting that the theme of cycles being both broken and re-entered runs throughout the entire film. From the main purpose of the trip being Mia trying to break her drug habit, to the climactic reveal that (despite what we were shown previously in the series) the Necronomicon won’t go away just because it’s been set on fire. This movie manages to pay homage to the best parts of the original Evil Dead trilogy, without ever feeling like a rehash! Also, by going a bit lighter on the comedy and a bit heavier on the atmosphere, at times it manages to do something that the originals themselves never really did: scare the audience. The use of practical effects and having a full cast of really believable actors, this film accomplishes everything that an Evil Dead movie should accomplish, and is a must-see for any fans of the series.
With that, the double feature will end, hopefully giving anyone who sat through the whole thing a lot to think about, and a couple of modern remakes that aren’t so bad after all. Scream 4 and Evil Dead are two of my favorite modern horror films, and movies that I fear many people skipped due to the concern of them being creatively bankrupt unoriginal rehashes of old movies. Were these two movies to ever actually get shown together, my biggest hope would be to show the world of horror fans that you can do a reboot right! Some stories are so good that they’re worth telling again.
Anthony is void of any major forms of social media or public blogs, but any praise and/or criticisms can be left here and I’ll be glad to pass it along to him!