I usually tend to agree with those who are against remaking horror movies, especially if they were already perfect (or at least good enough) the first time around. However, that does not mean that I am completely against the idea of them, as some of the best horror movies I have ever seen are remakes, such as John Carpenter’s The Thing from 1982, or David Cronenberg’s The Fly from 1986. Speaking of that seminal era for the genre, there are some other ‘80s horror movies that I actually think could use a touch up or might be due for a reintroduction to a new generation through a fresher perspective, such as this otherwise divisive installment of one of the most celebrated horror movie franchises of all time.
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
Fans have been debating for years why this attempt to turn creator John Carpenter’s Halloween movies into an anthology series failed critically and commercially upon release. Some argue that Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a misunderstood gem only burdened by the absence of Michael Myers, while others believe it is simply too cheesy and too dull for its own good.
Personally, I agree more with the latter, but also find the concept of a divorced doctor (Tom Atkins) investigating strange deaths mysteriously linked to a popular line of children’s Halloween masks intriguing enough. I would be interested in seeing another attempt to make Halloween III into a truly fun and scary flick, but probably with a new title this time.
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Speaking of controversy, a Sleepaway Camp remake in this day and age sounds a bit too risky, especially given the final reveal that - SPOILER ALERT - teenage Angela (Felissa Rose) is not only the killer, but really a boy forced into believing the opposite by her delusional aunt. Well, as I see it, you could go about it two different ways.
One idea I have is to make it into a fun camp slasher throwback in the vein of Fear Street: Part Two - 1978 and with a less problematic twist ending. Or, you could lean even further into its themes of emotional abuse and sexual identity for a more socially conscious commentary. Either sounds like a great way to reinvent this so-bad-it’s-good summer horror movie classic into something good for the mainstream.
Hell Night (1981)
Speaking of fun slasher movies, I had a lot of fun watching this cult favorite I found on Shudder, especially in the last 15 minutes. It follows four college students (including Scream Queen Linda Blair years after The Exorcist) locked inside a supposedly haunted house as part of a Greek life initiation ritual.
However, until it gets to its thrilling final act, Hell Night moves at a snail’s pace, featuring overly drawn-out, misguided attempts to build suspense. Yet, its smarter-than-average script has me itching to see a revival with more of a pulse, which sounds like something 2013’s Evil Dead helmer Fede Alvarez could handle.
Chopping Mall (1986)
On the other hand, Chopping Mall is the kind of ‘80s slasher that I think could have benefitted from slowing down a bit. Produced by B-movie legend Roger Corman and starring Barbara Crampton (another one of the era’s great Scream Queens), the film follows a group of youths locked inside a mall with deadly security robots who have inexplicably gone haywire.
Many believe the movie’s mindless execution is part of its charm, and I absolutely empathize with that. Yet, I believe there is a more thought-provoking exploration of technophobia and commentary on safety and law enforcement hidden underneath its broken dialogue and cheesy special effects. I would be curious to see a more earnest, Black Mirror style take on these themes brought to life.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
Speaking of technophobia, a common theme among stories related to the topic is the concept of man and machine experiencing assimilation… but metaphorically speaking, that is. However, writer and director Shin'ya Tsukamoto seemed to take a more literal approach to that idea with Tetsuo: The Iron Man - the first of a trilogy that all involve a man undergoing a bizarre and painful metamorphosis into a metallic being.
The mere concept of this experimental Japanese cult classic and the surreal, disturbing imagery that accompanies it (at one point, the main character’s reproductive organ becomes replaced with a spinning power drill) is breathtakingly inventive. If it were not for its abundant lack of genuine humanity and jarring awkwardness that often make it feel like a student film (not to mention it was shot in black and white), I would have really loved it. Therefore, I’d be down to see a version of Tetsuo: The Iron Man that leans even deeper into its unique body horror elements in a slightly more accessible narrative.
The Beyond (1981)
Speaking of a more accessible narrative, Lucio Fulci's penchant for style over story is arguably essential to what makes him an Italian horror movie hero. However, I personally believe the visceral second installment of his loosely connected "Gates of Hell" trilogy could benefit from a more fully realized expansion of its supernatural plot. Not to mention, its pacing is slightly more off than its poorly dubbed dialogue.
To describe the plot in its most basic terms, The Beyond is about a woman (Catriona MacCall) who inherits a hotel that turns out to have been built over a gateway to the underworld, leading to a series of horrifying incidents that include shuffling corpses, etc. As a classic example of supernatural giallo (which James Wan paid tribute to with Malignant), it is undeniably creepy and a plentiful eyeful for gorehounds. What I would like to see is a reboot that takes advantage of those elements in a story that is easier to follow and more heavily borrows from the lore of its New Orleans setting.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
We have seen a recent wave of movies and TV shows based on work by Stephen King that was already adapted for screen once before, such as It, or the Hulu original Castle Rock, which took second aim at characters and concepts from Misery and Salem’s Lot in one season. Whether or not these new interpretations were better or necessary is up for debate, but I have a feeling most would agree that a remake of Maximum Overdrive could be necessary, and has great potential to be better.
This film starring Emilio Estevez about mechanical devices becoming sentient is based on King’s short story, “Trucks,” and was the only film the author attempted to direct himself, partially because of the harsh critical reception. A 1997 TV movie update (called Trucks this time) did not do much to make up for the backlash, which is why I think a more thoughtfully crafted take on the otherwise clever concept of this ridiculous, nonsensical B-movie could result in one of the best modern Stephen King remakes yet.
Of course, whenever you are talking about giving a horror movie of any kind a second try, there will always be someone chiming in to argue why it should be left alone, which I respect. However, I hope these ‘80s horror movies may inspire you to keep an open mind about the good that remakes can bring.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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