Halloween: Original vs. Remake

We hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween! Another holiday has come and gone, however we had so much fun and great conversations about this topic that we’ve decide to extend it another week. We also want to thank everyone for reading and discussing horror movies with us all month. It is my pleasure to review this one, and heads up, I could talk forever about this one!

Michael Myers 1978
Photo: http://halloweenmovie.wikia.com

Halloween – The Original

Possibly my favorite movie from this era and definitely in my top five in the genre, John Carpenter’s Halloween is a classic. This was one of the first – maybe even the first – slasher movie I saw as a kid. I don’t want to gush and seem like a fan girl because I do poke fun at a few things too. So, here are a few of my favorite things about the original Halloween.

False Sense of Security: From the opening scenes, the audience sees this is a quite little suburban town. The teenagers are decent kids who party, but most teenagers do. The younger kids are excited about Halloween, and there are lots of shots of trick-or-treaters, trees, streets and houses. As the movie unravels, you feel sympathy for these townspeople. They have encountered a tragedy and evil that may defeat them and destroy their little town. You wouldn’t expect an evil force, and the original takes you from all those wonderful Halloween memories you have to fearing Michael Myers. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotion and disrupts what should be a fun-filled holiday.

Pure Evil: Myers is pure evil. It’s that simple. Some people are just born with an evil that consumes them. Whether you believe in this theory or not, the original Halloween did. There was no backstory. You do not know why Myers was a killer, and I never cared to know. I just accepted the “pure evil” within him because it was believable. He never says a word. He just punishes and kills, and that’s what makes him more threatening to me. Evil motivates him, and if you aren’t scared of evil, then what does scare you? The evil serves as a supernatural force, which is much harder to control than a person. It’s unpredictable, reckless, and illogical. The idea that you can’t control it is more effective from a horror standpoint and leaves you uneasy throughout the movie.

Jaime Lee Curtis: My pick for the top final girl. Curtis set the bar for final girls. She’s played several strong female characters over the years, and Halloween helped her establish that career role. In Halloween, her character is smart, responsible, fun, and studious, however she also smokes pot and hangs out with her friends. She is a normal teenager who becomes tormented by Myers. Her character was developed very well, and you follow her through her ups and downs. She was strong and weak; she fought and cried. She was a woman survivor. Curtis is and always will be Laurie Strode.

Michael Myers 2007
Photo: filmedge.net

Halloween – The Remake

I don’t think I saw Rob Zombie’s Halloween in theaters, and if I did, I apologize to who I saw it with! We’ve talked a little about re-imagining movies – such as A Nightmare of Elm Street – and that’s what Zombie’s version is. He took the original and built on it. It wasn’t a true remake because he added and changed a lot, and Zombiefied it as only he can do.

I have a few issues with this version, but as a stand-alone horror movie, it’s pretty intense.

No security: As an audience, you never feel safe watching this movie. Zombie takes you from a highly dysfunctional lower-class family, to an asylum, then back to the dysfunctional family. There is nothing pretty in or about this movie. As an audience, it’s difficult to feel shocked about anything that happens because you almost expect it. It’s predictable. Whereas in the original, the murders are a tragedy because terror invades a small quiet town. You get to know the town as a whole, instead of Myers. I don’t agree with Zombie’s choice because Myers and his life are terrifying enough. He strips all innocence from the beginning. And if you take away the town’s innocence from the beginning, you take it away forever and leave no hope.

The backstory: I appreciate a little backstory, but I feel the first half of this movie is way too long. Zombie refuses the idea of “pure evil,” and make Myers a product of his environment. Coming from a dysfunctional and abusive household, Myers snaps. Then he is so consumed by loss and hatred, it turns into evil. Comparing the two, I prefer the original idea, however I accept that modern audiences need this backstory. They want to know why, and they have to see progression. If Zombie had shortened it 20 more minutes, I think most people would not complain about the length. Reviewers seem split down the middle about this – you either love or dislike the backstory – I side with the latter.

Laurie Strode: Once Myers escapes, Halloween 2007 turns into a respectful remake. Scout Taylor-Compton portrays Strode’s character well, and she stays true to the innocent good-girl type. Her character is modernized, and for the purposes of the remake, that’s okay. However, audiences don’t really know her. The emphasis on Myers is so heavy, Halloween 2007 lacks teen character development, which should be as important as Myers’ story. In the remake, Strode doesn’t stand out above her friends, and she is not the only final girl. It’s a disservice to the character, and I wonder if Annie (Danielle Harris) survives because the first franchise kind of screwed her over.

Final Thoughts

Zombie does keep a lot of the original details, which shows he wasn’t trying to outdo the original Halloween. Myers dresses up as a ghost with the glasses, Zombie uses the original score, the masks are the same, the girls resemble the original girls, etc. It is gruesome and bloody, which I can take or leave. I also expect that from Rob Zombie. I enjoy the movie much more once Myers escapes, but the violence and kill scenes feel too long. For that reason, I can’t watch this movie often because it borders torture instead of quick-slasher fashion.

The verdict: The original. I watch it every Halloween night, and it is perhaps a perfect slasher movie.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Guest Post: A Nightmare on Elm Street – Original vs. Remake

Happy Halloween week, everyone! Our good friend Blake Best, author of Seeing Red and Green, joined in the remake conversation this month to discuss this horror classic. Please show some love, and feel free to learn more about him in our Artist Spotlight: Blake Best.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Original vs. Remake

When the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was released in 1984, it became a surprise hit. The late Wes Craven (1939-2015) created the perfect horror film: great story, believable characters, and the cinematography was spot on for the dark nature of the film. Craven expanded on the “rubber reality” concept and in doing so created an iconic boogeyman in “Freddy Krueger” (Robert Englund), the fire-scarred, razor-fingered maniac that launched one of the most successful horror franchises in modern cinema.

The remake of the film was released in 2010 to DEFINITE mixed reviews. Most purists balked because Robert Englund did not return as “Freddy,” the role that essentially made him a household name among horror fans. Jackie Earle Haley was cast instead, fresh off his turn as “Rorschach” in the hit film “Watchmen.” Another reason for the criticism was the presence of Michael Bay as a producer on the film. Bay is known for his attachment to action blockbusters like the “Transformers” films. I was initially biased because of my unabashed love of the first “Nightmare” film. My new book “Seeing Red & Green” examines the popularity of the films and discusses why “Freddy Krueger” has become such a pop-culture icon. I concluded there would be no better time than now to share my comparison of the original to the remake.


There are a few similarities between the films. The basic premise is the same, with a group of teenagers sharing collective nightmares about this dark and ominous man. Several of the teens are killed off by Freddy one by one in unique ways and the ending of the film is ambiguous, leaving room for a possible sequel. Freddy’s general appearance is very similar to the original film (tattered red and green striped sweater, hat, and razor fingered glove), though in the remake his sleeves are striped and the makeup has been altered to resemble a more realistic burn victim.


The differences are the defining characteristics in comparing the films. The characters are altogether different (including Nancy, who is less the girl next door and more an introverted artistic type) and Freddy himself underwent changes to his backstory.

The original allows you to get to known the characters on a more personal level, allowing you to feel a certain way about them (sympathize, clamor for their death, etc.) The remake doesn’t give you enough time to know them. With the exception of a couple of characters, the majority of the teens are introduced and promptly killed off, allowing you no time to feel ANYTHING about them.

Freddy’s backstory in the original was that of a child killer who escaped conviction due to a technicality. Vengeful parents cornered him in his boiler room hideout and set him ablaze. The remake’s backstory is markedly different, with the revelation that he was a pedophile. Originally Craven intended for this to be included in the original film, but it was scrapped due to a very public scandal in California involving children at the time of the film’s production. In this film the child killing facet of his backstory is completely removed from his “pre-burning” history. The film goes one step further and toys with the audience, leaving them unsure of Freddy’s guilt (until closer to the ending of the film).

The original featured all practical special effects, as computer generated imagery (CGI) was over a decade away from being introduced. Freddy’s makeup/prosthetics and all of the other effects (including the “face through the wall” gag) were all physical effects made with latex, wires, ingenuity and a ton of fake blood, around 500 gallons. The remake featured an overabundance of CGI effects, including a portion of the “Freddy” makeup. The iconic “face through the wall” effect was entirely CGI. It feels like the CGI was used to distract audiences from issues with the plot and character development.

The original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was an entirely original concept and used very few tropes typical to the ‘slasher’ genre at the time. The remake actually re-used several one liners from the previous “Nightmare” films. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which ones!

How do I rank them?

The original surpasses the remake in nearly every way, save for budget ($1.8 million for the original, around $35 million for the remake). The 2010 film is far less gory than the original, which is surprising, since the films are part of the ‘slasher’ genre. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010) is less of a “remake” and more of a “re-imagining,” geared towards catching the attention of younger generations

— Blake Best, author of “Seeing Red & Green”

Friday the 13th: Original vs. Remake

As we draw closer to the end of the month, you knew we’d save some of the best slasher movies for last. Friday the 13th is one of my favorite horror movies, and I have been watching it since I was a little girl. I think I was 8 the first time I saw it. When I was 10, I went to camp and was cautious of my surroundings because of this movie. Few movies can do that nowadays.

Friday the 13th
Photo: dailyutahchronicle.com

There are several differences between Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th (2009), but I must point out something important. The 2009 movie is not a remake of the original. From the opening scene, Jason’s story has already happened. His legend lives and haunts campsites everywhere. His story is told around the campfire as if it’s happened several times. It’s also not a sequel because it cannot and does not fit into the series. And in the 2009 version, Jason is the killer. Horror fans know that doesn’t happen until Friday the 13th Part II.

Friday the 13th – The Original

The original Friday the 13th is well done and follows suit with many horror movies from this time period that try to prevent teens from having sex and partying. If you don’t behave, you’ll die. This message is classic of the genre, and there is a final girl.

One of my favorite things about it is the sound; it is a very quiet movie. You hear rain, crickets and frogs outside, and the music only comes in when the killer does. I miss that. Nowadays, either everything is filled with music for soundtracks or talking. We don’t need constant conversation, especially if people are telling you what they see. One reason this movie is so effective as a creepy camp movie is because there is natural sound. You hear the natural environment, which puts you into the movie. There are also incredible shots of the lake and surrounding area. You want to feel relaxed, but there’s a psycho killer disrupting it. The score pays tribute to Hitchcock’s Psycho, and audiences clearly see the people who made this movie are old-school horror fans.

Mrs. Voorhees Friday the 13th
Photo: fridaythe13th.wikia.com

The Women

Spoiler alert: Jason’s mom, Mrs. Voorhees is the killer. I really love this. In the slasher cannon, a woman is seldom the killer, and even though she’s tiny, her rage and disdain for teenagers is pretty awesome. She harbors her son’s spirit and uses that to fuel her motivation. More importantly, she has clear motivation, which is something the 2009 version lacks. The final fight scene between Mrs. Voorhees and Alice feels real. They roll around, pull hair, scream and squeal, hit each other, and Alice decapitates her in the end. The final fight is entertaining, fun, and the end of the movie serves as a perfect set up to a sequel or conclusion.

Friday the 13th – The Homage

I have to say I don’t love Friday the 13th 2009. I have so many issues with the movie-making decisions, and I can’t compare the original with the 2009 version because they’re completely different. By today’s standards, the 2009 version is OK, not great. I think it was so popular because Jared Padalecki stars in it. Supernatural fans probably saved this movie from bombing.

However, his character is completely useless. The first time I watched Friday the 13th 2009, I was furious that his costar Danielle Panabaker – at a whopping 5’6” – saves him several times. Spoiler alert: She dies. This is where the 2009 version screwed up most. They had the opportunity to do something few slashers have done: Have two final girls. This could have put the movie at the forefront of the girl-power movement before girl-power was a movie trend. Her death was unnecessary and leaves you wondering why they invested so much into her character.

The main characters are probably my biggest problem with this movie. They are idiots and make terrible decisions, and they have no development. The two minor guys Chewie and Lawrence are the best characters in the movie. These guys add comedic relief and have likable qualities, and you actually care when they die. Most everyone else you want to see die.

I also find this movie painfully boring. There’s a difference between build-up and boring. The conversations are boring; the shots are boring and way too dark; and aside from pretty people, there’s not much to invest in. There’s way too much music and talking. These people never shut up, which slows down the action. Movie tip: Slasher movies should not be dialogue heavy. Lack of sound and the killer’s music help make these a stand-out genre.

I can tell the cast and crew did try to pay homage to the series though. They did not try to outdo the series or remake the original, which I appreciate. Kills are similar to others in the series, and they made Jason scarier. He’s quick, smarter, and powerful. The 2009 made Jason 2.0 in a tasteful way, not a stupid cyborg way. They have both a campsite and cabin settings, paying tribute to the early movies and updating accommodations to fit 21st-century times. Let’s face it, present-day college kids would stay at a cabin, not in tents.

The verdict: The original. As fair as I try to be and as much as I love Sam (Padalecki), I vote for the original. I appreciate the 2009 version for not butchering the Friday the 13th series, but in the end, Mrs. Voorhees wins in my book.

P.S. If you want to see a perfect tribute to the series, watch Psych’s Tuesday the 17th. It’s horror/comedy gold.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and happy horror watching!