Few genres contain as many classic films as horror. The impact and emotional toil invoked by horror movies can stick with us for decades, while few other genres can claim to be supported by a more dedicated legion of fans.
However, although the horror section in video stores (do video stores actually still exist?) may be chock full of classic titles, it's also not unusual to see remakes and reboots appearing in increasing numbers. Indeed, horror remakes are probably the most numerous form of reboot and even revered and beloved classics, such as Dawn of the Dead or The Evil Dead, have gone under the remake treatment.
What is also unusual is that these remakes aren't often that bad. This is especially the case in the more blood and guts heavy titles, as modern technology can update these movies to modern tastes and sensibilities. Having said that, there are still some horror movies that should never be remade. Often, these movies are imbued with such deep-seated terror, a remake could never come close to the original. Here are five such horror movies below:
The Shining - Stanley Kubrick
Let's start with the obvious one. Now, before you speed down to the comments section to remind me, yes, I know Stephen King's book, The Shining, was remade as a TV mini-series in 1997. However, this series drew no inspiration from Stanley Kubrick's cinematic classic. I also know the 1980 Shining movie bears only a slight resemblance to King's book, something which disappoints some fans. However, despite this, you have to accept The Shining is still a pivotal horror movie in its own right.
Kubrick is famous for his incredible dense cinematic masterpieces. Every scene in The Shining contains hidden meanings and allusions, while his long tracking shots and use of music helps to turn the monotonous Overlook Hotel into a foreboding and sinister location. Throw in a great performance by Jack Nicholson and you get a horrific classic that just cannot be remade. Interestingly, a prequel to The Shining, named [The Overlook Hotel](movie:504506), is in production. We'll have to wait and see how that turns out.
The Blair Witch Project - Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
When The Blair Witch Project released in 1999, found footage horror was still a term which elicited confusion and curiosity. Nowadays, the horror sub-genre is responsible for a huge proportion of horror movies being released. This explosion is due, in no small part, to the surprise success of The Blair Witch Project, a low-budget independent horror movie that blasted even the huge studio releases out of the water.
The Blair Witch Project is a unique item. Not only was it partly responsible for introducing found footage, but the story of its creation is a special one. The characters in Blair Witch appear so terrified because they actually are. Blair Witch was filmed in an informal, improvised method, in which the actors were only given daily notes informing them of their character developments. They had no idea what would happen to them at night, and over time the crew reduced their food rations to increase their frustration and fatigue. This means when the characters are traipsing through the woods at night, they really were tired, confused and scared. It's for this reason, some people believed The Blair Witch Project was genuine.
Alien - Ridley Scott
Although Alien has now become a sprawling franchise covering sequels, spin-offs, crossovers and video games, the original Alien is still a masterpiece of sci-fi terror. The conceit is simple - a commercial space vessel receives a distress call and soon discovers an insidious interloper has arrived on their craft. The inability to combat the alien as well as the frustrations of the quickly diminishing crew turns Alien into a kind of space cabin fever flick. However, what really makes Alien stand out, is it's treatment of the ferocious space creature and the film's art direction.
Alien rarely actually shows the titular antagonist. Apparently, this was a fortunate side-effect of Ridley Scott not wanting to reveal that the alien was actually a 7-foot dude in a rubber suit. By only filming it close-up or in profile, Scott managed to keep the alien as a sinister force to be reckoned with. With the modern day obsession with CGI and 3D special effects, a modern Alien reboot would have to resist the urge to show the alien in its fully glory - ruining what made the original so scary.
The Exorcist - WIlliam Friedkin
Now to be honest, The Exorcist kind of has been remade under various other guises, but we've yet to see a big screen adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel or WIlliam Friedkin's seminal 1973 horror. Exorcism movies are now a sub-genre of horror and that is part thanks to the breakout, and controversial, success of The Exorcist.
Of course, The Exorcist franchise has been messed around with extensively, including sequels, prequels and spin-offs (such as The Ninth Configuration which is seen as the 'true sequel' to The Exorcist), however the original still stands unsullied on the big screen. The Exorcist was one of the few horror movies which can legitimately claim to be 'based on true events'. This phrase now appears extensively on modern horror movie trailers, but few really contain even the smallest shred of authenticity. The Exorcist however, as far as Friedkin is concerned, depicts everything that can be verified by those involved in an exorcism of a young boy from Cottage City, Maryland in 1949. With this in mind, it's a very special piece of horror history.
Jaws - Steven Spielberg
Jaws, like Alien, is a classic almost by accident. Although nowadays, Stephen Spielberg's breakout movie is known as the birth of the blockbuster, at the time Spielberg did not have the budget to actually deliver the movie as he had originally intended. With special effects in their infancy, Spielberg would have to rely on prohibitive expensive practical effects to show the shark attacks. With this ruled out as a method, Spielberg fell back on another solution - not actually showing the shark.
Spielberg reportedly went to composer John Williams and asked him instead to suggest the shark's ominous presence with a terrifying theme. The result is, of course, one of cinema's most famous soundtracks. Once again, in the modern age, the pressure to show the shark with incredible CGI might be hard to ignore. Furthermore, if a remake did keep true to Spielberg's original minimalist approach to Jaws, it would simply be a rehash of a near perfect film, and therefore completely redundant as anything other than a cash-in job. Jaws did spawn quickly forgotten sequels, however the original is now preserved in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". For this reason it should never be remade.
So there you have it. Five horror movies which simply cannot be improved upon by being remade in the modern age.
Are there anymore you can think of? Let us know below.