When I was first brought into the fold of the giant empire known as TBK, I came in as the movie guy. That was my schtick, I would review movies and write mostly movie-based articles for you guys. My output has evolved somewhat to act as more of an umbrella for all things nerd but I’ve never forgotten what my specialty is. I LOVE to watch movies, and not just watch them but learn all about them. I love every bit and every step of the film making process from beginning to end. The combination of artistry and magic and ingenuity involved in bringing cinematic stories to life is something that has always tickled my fancy. Another thing you guys should know about me is that my favorite type or “genre” of film is definitely horror. If you wanna talk the best possible cross section of imagination and fun, accept no substitutes. There are certain diamond absolutes in life, one of which is that people like being scared. Whether it’s the rush of adrenaline you feel when a palpable sense of danger looms large or the scare of some unknowing phantasmagorical beast/creature is giving you chase, horror films and the horror genre of entertainment will always have a permanent and prominent place in pop culture as it should.
Recently some pretty insane left field news dropped about god amongst men Mark Hamill doing the voice work for the upcoming Child’s Play remake as the psychotic knife wielding doll himself. At first this news was pretty badass and to be honest it still is, but something struck me as I started to digest the scale of what was announced. What is the current state of horror movies as they exist now and even as recently as the past few years? There’s a few things or “trends” I’ve noticed as of late and it honestly bothers me quite a bit
One of the oldest song and dance bits when it comes to any avenue of entertainment is the Remake Machine. Whether it’s a film studio reimagining a beloved film classic to generate more money or a band covering a song that had been previously recorded and molding it to their own sound, the Remake Machine is stronger now than it ever has been. People love that sense of nostalgia that washes over you when you get blessed with that thing you love from long ago that comes with a fresh coat of paint attached. I have absolutely fallen prey to this myself. In fact, my favorite film of all time John Carpenter’s The Thing is a remake itself. The reason I bring that up is because this film is the perfect example of what to do right when it comes to remaking an older film. It’s based off an older film called The Thing From Another World which was a 1950’s Cold War allegory film that kind of comes off as cheesy and extremely outdated. So Carpenter took the title, the core concept of the film and the general plot outline and ran with the football all the way into the endzone. He fashioned his own tale of paranoia and suspicion of one’s own friends and family into a horrific tale that is equal parts timeless and absolutely terrifying. The horrors of The Thing are not born of the gooey and gory violence, though rest assured it is still a sight to behold, but off the constant paranoia of never knowing when or where the creature will strike and assimilate its next victim. It is the gold standard by which all horror remakes and remakes in general should be judged.
Another perfect example is Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake. The original is the perfect horror movie. It doesn’t feel dated in the slightest, it is packed to the gills with social satire and scathing biting commentary on societies monetary obsession with shopping and owning trinkets. It also doesn’t skimp out on the wicked good scares and scenes of disgusting zombie movie violence. Snyder knew that no film remake would ever be able to stand toe to toe to the things that this film accomplished so he went the opposite route not unlike Carpenter and his film. He took the name, the core concept and largely made his movie on the skeleton of what Romero had created all those years ago. They’re perfect companion pieces and complement each other almost perfectly.
These are both amazing examples of remakes done right, but what happens when they’re done wrong or dirty? If there’s one adage that holds true to horror it’s that for every good horror movie that comes out, there’s always 5-10 bad ones waiting in the wings to be released. This statistic almost doubles when it comes to horror remakes. For every The Thing or Dawn of the Dead, there’s A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th or Prom Night or Wicker Man. These are all movies that saw a title that had a built-in fan based and instead of adding to the lore or bringing something new to the table, they cashed in and used it purely for money making reasons. Horror fans are super loyal to a fault and will go to support their beloved genre even through all the mucky muck that gets shoved our way. Studios know this and their desire to make a profit often times wins out over the idea of artistic integrity. I understand that the idea of remakes is more about re-visitation than actual creation but the two movies I mentioned earlier are proof that it doesn’t always have to be that way.
So to bring it back full circle, what about this remake of Child’s Play? I would be willing to bet everything that I am and everything that I have that this film wasn’t really on anyone’s radar until the news broke that Hamill would be brought on to voice Chucky. I bet even less of you knew that not just the remake is coming at us but a TV series based on the original series of films and a potential cross over with Freddy Kruger are also all coming at us as well. So with their being plenty of activity on the Chucky front, what is ultimately the point of this remake? What is this re-imagining going to give us that is going to move the franchise forward into the current cultural zeitgeist? What is the reason for this film existing?
I’m not gonna lie, I’m not really sold on this idea even with Hamill attached. It feels like his casting is a stunt to generate buzz for a film the studios themselves weren’t even confident in to begin with. Especially considering there’s still plenty of activity left in this series. I was never the biggest Chucky fan to begin with, but I’d still wager that a new TV series based on the original continuity or at the very least another sequel would be way more warranted or wanted. But… maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this movie will come out and blow everyone’s socks off the way Snyder and Carpenter’s movies did. I’m not going to rush the judgment on something that we haven’t even been shown footage of. All I’m communicating here today is that I’m extremely nervous and wary of this film based solely on my feelings and hunches that I’ve developed from a lifetime of wading through an Olympic sized pool of shitty horror movies.
Remakes are not always creatively bankrupt cesspool’s indicative of film studios constant drive to produce profit over creativity. It has been proven true time and time again that bringing new ideas and thematics to an older story and updating them to reflect the current societal ideas and tenants is a very excellent and thought provoking way to get people to pay attention to what it is you have to say and make your voce heard. But then again…. there’s always Vince Vaughn’s PSYCHO.