One last mention before we head in a more positive direction is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and its more than effective prequel. Finally, a Platinum Dunes production that understood how to deliver. The remake is a far cry from the Tobe Hooper classic, but it did its best creating an atmosphere and filling it with brooding terror. I much prefer the prequel, because it takes everything that worked in the remake and added even more practical blood and gore and depth to the character of Leatherface and his whole twisted and bizarre family.
Now, it’s time for some solutions on how to make a successful sequel to a horror remake. Most of these are so damn obvious, yet the studios continue to disregard these basic ideas. There’s a reason why most of the remakes sucked in the first place and it’s because they chose not to follow these basic rules. I’ve also included a few fun ones that are a result of me simply giving my own random ideas as to how to make a better sequel. These are meant for fun and not to be taken too seriously. I’m just trying to help!
1. Hire A Good Director
I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but it really should be the easiest thing to accomplish when making a remake or a sequel to a remake. Hire a talented director that knows the genre and possibly shares a love for the established property. I know it’s tricky to bring in someone like David Fincher or Christopher Nolan when it comes to picking out who is going to continue the Halloween series, but that doesn’t mean you can’t actively pursue known horror directors like Ti West or even someone that isn’t afraid to dabble into the darkness like Guillermo del Toro.
Most consider horror to be the starting point for careers, which is why Platinum Dunes acquired most of their talent from the commercial or music video industry, but that should be for smaller and original ideas, not characters we’ve grown to love.
Fincher did Alien 3, Sam Raimi clearly got his now cult status from Evil Dead and Peter Jackson and James Cameron are no strangers to the genre either, yet most will never return after they’ve garnered all of this experience and success. Wes Craven, John Carpenter and a few others come back from time-to-time, but mostly to show us that they’ve lost a step. I’d love to see filmmakers that are already established as big names take a stab at making the proper Elm Street or Halloween film, but it’s probably the longest shot of them all, because most want to make their own original films.
2. Hire A Good Writer
C’mon. This should be another absolute main priority for the sequel. The remake more than likely sucked because you hired some amateur that watched half of the original Elm Street series. I know it’s hard to find good writers in Hollywood and they might come with a higher pay request, but it’s an absolute must at this point. Yes, the original films almost always had poor entries due to inexperienced writers and that without a doubt contributed to why we might even hold those films in high regard and consider them classics, because they were moments from that era in time, but we’ve got to move forward.
Most of the late Nightmare entries are complete crap and yet they still have more ideas bouncing around than the flat remake. In the 80s and early 90s New Line Cinema wasn’t afraid to hire outside of the normal directing/writing pool and while it didn’t mean a good movie it did mean an interesting one. Almost all of the Elm Street films have their own concepts and ideas that they juggle with and while most didn’t pan out the way they originally intended, they almost always felt like their own entries.
Can you imagine if Platinum Dunes actually went out and hired someone to write a much darker and actually scary Elm Street sequel? One that would explore the mental state of dreams and how fragile and important dreaming is? I’d love to invest into a group of actually likable characters that start having troubles sleeping and then start seeing a creepy man in a red and green sweater. They could slowly ease into each and every dream sequence, now that we (again) know Freddy and have already seen the back story.
Part of why the remake sucked so much was because we had to spend way too much time with Nancy exploring who Freddy was and why he started to stalk them in their dreams, but now we know all of that so we can cut the bullshit and skip to Freddy haunting a new group of souls. It would be great if the now-popular Rooney Mara would reprise her role as Nancy and possibly give it that same importance that Heather Langenkamp gave to the character in the original film.
This works across the boards for all sequels, not just Elm Street. Friday the 13th Part 2 could benefit from better writing, because Jason is the most silent of them all and most of his reasoning is briefly touched up upon. So instead of sifting us through another back story or flashback, we can simply cut to the good stuff with ease as long as there’s a good writer on board to make that transition pain-free.
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