How to cope if your favourite movie gets a remake

I get it. I understand that pain. The wrenching, invasive feeling of having something you hold dear torn away. The sense that something you treasure is about to be stolen, turned into something less good, and handed back to you. Remakes of films are perturbing things, and it seems they’re happening more and more lately. The last five or ten years have seen a vast seam of the ‘80s strip-mined, reworked, toned down, and generally made quite dull. Did anyone need a 12-rated Robocop? No they did not.

And it looks like this stuff is only going to continue, as Hollywood progressively runs out of ideas, and the internet’s stifling penchant for nostalgia culture convinces studio execs to cash in on more of the past. And it’s going to keep making people sad. So I’ve decided to write a survival guide. I’ve thought about it long and hard, weighed up all the angles, and I reckon I’ve worked out the best ways to cope with the oncoming storm. Read on. It’ll help.

Shield your copies of the originals 

First things first: protect the true victims of this crime. A remake is agony for you to deal with, of course, but the precious originals? The sweet, perfect, innocent films being violated with this vicious and uncultured attack.? You must put them first. You must ensure that they are safe. When you think about it, such selfless heroism means you’re a lot like Batman, really. But that’s not the point now. Right now, you need to defend these fragile, multi-million dollar, decades-long movie franchises from the vile criminals who would erase them from history and memory.

Round up your physical media collection. Buy a load of extra copies just to be sure. But take your existing copies with you when you go to the shop. You can’t let them out of your sight for a second. When you have enough insurance – 10 to 15 DVDs and Blu-Rays should do it – put them in a very secure safe, and vow to defend the combination with your life. Encase the safe in concrete. Bury it deep.

But make sure that you stash away the respective media player as well. You’re preserving this stuff for future generations. Come the end of the great media war, when all is dust and ash, and the remake usurpers have finally been eradicated with the glory of the purists’ fire, this victory for the soul of the future will be celebrated with a marathon of ‘80s and ‘90s genre cinema. And lo, the world will be born anew.

Find everything that is different in the remake, and attack it 

Time to fight back. The most important strategy to implement is to identify every point of difference in the remake and hit it hard. Because if this thing is going to be any different to the original, what’s the point? Some might say that, in lieu of being able to recreate the specific magic of the original film – being, as it is, the product of certain people, at a certain point in time, coming together under certain circumstances long-since passed – then a fresh spin on the essence of the material might actually be an interesting exercise. But they’re wrong. Only the same thing will do, and if it can’t perfectly recreate that, then a remake is an aberration.

So attack the differences, as angrily and publicly as you can. Make it clear that these things are not just different, but wrong. You must remain steadfast in this dogma, otherwise there’s every chance that the original films that you love so dear will become corrupted by misapprehension, their qualities - maybe even their content - becoming less special and distinctive, or even changing completely on the disc, eroded by force of the remake’s ethereal wrongness.

Avoid being corrupted yourself 

This one is key to the whole process. Stay angry. Stay resolute. Do not engage in conversation with anyone defending the remake, or who simply even sound open to ‘seeing how it turns out’. That is the attitude of the sell-out, and you must not listen to such heathen fallacy. It doesn’t matter how well-reasoned or balanced the angle sounds. That’s just the kind of trickery the Devil plays to draw in the innocent.

Don’t for a second ponder what it might be like to see a favourite old franchise continued by the generation of film-makers that grew up loving it. They’re bound to get it wrong, because they can’t possibly understand it like you do. And remember, there’s no nostalgia involved in your value judgements. It’s all objective fact. Don’t even consider the whimsical notion that you might actually just want something new to make you feel the way the original did, and that maybe something fresh is the only real way to achieve that. You just want the exact same, original thing, over and over and over again, until you die. It’s the only way to remain culturally healthy.

Screw it, build a time machine 

Everything was better in the past, right? I mean, it wasn’t just because you were younger. Things were objectively better back then. So build a time machine and go back. There is no way you’ll be disappointed in seeing that era through the eyes of adult-you. No chance that your older, more worldly, wearier, more angrily disappointed self will see things differently. The past was just better, and these days no-one can get anything right, and that’s the real root of the problem here.

Take a break. Rest up. You’ve earned it 

Seriously, you’re fighting the good fight here. Maybe kick back and watch another one of your old favourites.

As you pull the DVD down from the shelf, make the startling realisation that the disc and movie still exist, as do all the others on your shelf, even the ones that have had remakes 

A Nightmare on Elm Street. Total Recall. Robocop. Psycho. [Rec]. Those films are all still there. They haven’t disappeared, like Marty’s hand in Back to the Future – a film which you currently have stashed safely away, a mile underground, inside 10 square-meters of lead. They still exist. And you know, the last time you watched one of them, it was actually still the same film, and you still enjoyed it. In fact, last time you mentioned it to anyone, you both instinctively started discussing the original. Almost as if the remake had not replaced it in the public cultural consciousness. Almost like the remake had not happened ///at all///.

Have the revelation that perhaps there’s a reason that this has always, always happened. Perhaps it’s not just a coincidence. Perhaps it’s not even down to how well you protected those films with all that tiring, tiring rage. Maybe, by some insane miracle, the bigger, more well-loved, more established, and more culturally important the film, the less likely it is to be superseded by a remake. Maybe that means that most of the films you worry about being remade actually have a built-in safety net.

Realise that your favourite films are safe, whatever happens. Realise that, having already happened and now existing in the past, your childhood cannot be destroyed. Realise that none of this stuff need have any material effect on your life whatsoever, and that if the remake is crap, then you can just not watch it, and carry on as if it had never been made. Have mind blown. Change view of world forever. Waste 70% less of life screaming futilely into a void on the internet.

But maybe keep the time machine 

Just use it for something that actually matters. Go and see a long-lost civilisation. Learn some ancient wisdom. Warn people about climate change earlier. Think about killing Hitler, or something. I don’t know, it’s your time machine. I can’t do everything for you.

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.