Story by Mitchell Brown, for The Muleskinner
It’s a disease called the virus of the remakes.
Another strain is set to be unleashed in a few weeks, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Almost 30 years after its initial release, the original “Red Dawn” stands as more of a comedy, with Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, Patrick Swazye and other ‘80s stars defending a small Colorado town from invading Soviet, Cuban and Nicaraguan forces.
In 1984, upon the movie’s release, America was at the tail end of a revived Cold War, as defense spending increased during Ronald Reagan’s first term.
The threat of nuclear annihilation at Soviet hands and what was called “mutually assured destruction” was a very real threat, and the original “Red Dawn” was a reflection of the global political climate of that era.
The very idea of a movie that was a reflection of Cold War fears and paranoia being moved into the 21st century, a present in which the Soviet Union has been out of business for over 20 years fails hard.
In the new “Red Dawn,” the bad guys are not Russians, but North Koreans.
The perceived threat of North Korea is nowhere comparable to the threat the Soviet Union once posed.
To explain the Cold War in the simplest terms, it was essentially a case of two superpowers playing a game of chicken throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
It was a matter of the biggest dogs in the yard engaged in a global stare down.
A massive expansionist empire was far more threatening than a handful of so called “rogue states.”
In 1984, a movie like “Red Dawn” fit with the national mood.
In the present day, more people are worried about economic issues, rather than the possibility of an invasion from one of the few remaining Communist countries.
Removing the story of “Red Dawn” from a Cold War context makes the subject matter irrelevant, thus making the very notion of the remake even more laughable than the original.
I’m just not interested in seeing remakes, especially if it’s a movie I have a fondness for, because while many elements I loved within the original often remain, many are often altered beyond recognition.
Horror movies are some of the prime examples of the remake disease. I remember seeing the 2003 remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and being thoroughly disappointed.
The plot was identical to the original, but the overall feeling of the original was absent.
Only twice can I recall seeing a remake that measured up to, and in many ways surpassed, the original – that being Rob Zombie’s “re-imagining” of the first two “Halloween” movies. I was not expecting much from either one.
When I was told that Zombie’s incarnation of “Halloween” was actually called a “reimagining,” I simply thought the labeling was a matter of semantic word games, taking something and putting a new label on it in order to disguise what it was. But after viewing the movie, I realized the label of a “re-imagining” fit.
As opposed to just repackaging the same elements from the original, with a few tweaks, Zombie’s “Halloween” movies added deeper dimensions with the characters’ psychology and emotionality that were not present in John Carpenter’s original.
In the Zombie re-imagining, the viewer is given a back story, exploring reasons why Michael Meyers became a killer.
In the second “Halloween,” a transformation occurs with many of the characters.
A few of the characters who survived the massacre of the first film display symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, as someone in the real world would likely have if they had survived such horror.
With the “Halloween” movies, Zombie was able to add to a familiar story, as opposed to just re-telling it in a slightly different packaging.
A friend recently emailed me a link with a list of upcoming remakes.
I was flabbergasted at the list which, included the likes of “Evil Dead,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Robocop,” “The Warriors,” “Point Break,” “Death Wish” and a collection of others.
Some of the movies on the list I regard as classics that shouldn’t be tampered with; others should have never been made in the first place.
The advice I would send to Hollywood execs who green-light these remakes would be to stop it.
I have no desire to see a botched version of a remake when I can still derive enjoyment from the original.