It’s a weird thing about film fans,and Horror fans in particular, that when anybody mentions the dreaded word “remake”,they start quaking in their boots, mouthing obscenities and generally throwing up green bile.
Horror has always been a genre that self riffs on itself, and borrows, and remakes have always been a part of the genre. Bela Lugosi was seen as the definitive Dracula, in the 1930’s, but the wonderful Christopher Lee made the part his own in the more gruesome Hammer films of the sixties and seventies. Gary Oldman then did a great job with a more cerebral, romantic take on the character in Francis Ford Coppola’s sumptuous version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the early nineties.
I love all things Horror, and I don’t mind remakes providing they add something new. Some are truly appalling, the Nicholas Cage bastardisation of The Wicker Man, was an atrocity against cinema, and the remake of John Carpenter’s The Fog was an act of celluloid vandalism which I still haven’t forgiven. The Director Rupert Wainwright should have been imprisoned, community service at the very least. Yes, you see I’m also capable of throwing my toys out of the pram on this subject as well.
However some remakes are very good, and many have entered the sacred tomb of film, otherwise known as my DVD collection. One film that a lot of horror fans hate, is the 2010 remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street, directed by Samuel Bayer. They mainly hate it because it’s not Robert Englund under the prosthetics.
Afficiendos are very territorial over their cine-maniacs. I love the 1984 original and would have that particular classic in my top ten horror films of all time. However, this clever reboot surprised me, because its much darker, and Jackie Earle Haley is a terrific Freddy Krueger, albeit a different one to Englund’s campier incarnation.
Krueger still has the burnt face (grotesquely realistic in this version) the red and green striped jumper, the crumpled fedora and most importantly, the ghastly homemade glove of razor blades. Yes he has all his trademarks intact, but he is far nastier, the scene where he has just killed a dog, and comes up with the line “But i was only giving him a stroke” – Nasty! . The killings of the teens are also much more gruesome, and Haley really sticks the blades in with menace.
The 2010 Freddy is also quite clearly, a dead paedophile, something the original skirts around. This is central to the film with Krueger’s present day victims mistakingly, believing the ghoul is haunting and killing them in their dreams because their parents wrongly killed him. How wrong they are ! leading to an intense finale in the lair, Freddy made under the children’s playground.
I love the way Earle Haley makes Krueger really evil again, and I strongly recommend it to any fans of the genre who have not seen it yet. You also get to see Krueger before he was dead, in some queasy Jimmy Saville style flashback nursery scenes, and in a powerful horror scene when the parents burn him alive. The original may be the better film, but the 2010 version is nearly as good in its own way, with the beautiful, excellent actress Rooney Mara, an interesting and different Nancy as well. Catch her in Steven Soderburgh’s latest thriller Side Effects (2013) where she is even better!
Elm Street 2010 will be remembered for Earle Haley’s unique creepy take on a cultural legend. This year sees the remake debate raging again, with a remake of another fan-boy favourite The Evil Dead (cannot bloody wait!) opening next month, and the hormonally charged “Carrie” makes a return later in the year.