By now, glitzy horror remakes have become a fact of life, like bad weather and Michael Bay (who, it’s worth noting, is a producer on many of the most egregious ones). There is the occasional surprise
, but for the most part, the remakes are cynical-but-harmless attempts to cash in on an old brand name one last time.
Except, of course, when it’s not one last time. What happens when a remake of a movie that already has a sequel gets a sequel of its own? All kinds of things! For a particularly crazed example, consider Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, which opens today and is a sequel to a remake of a movie that already has seven sequels. Phew. Here's a quick rundown of some popular examples, with a winner called in each case:
1. Halloween II (1981) vs. Halloween II (2009)
The Setups: The original takes place almost entirely in a hospital on the same night as the first movie, where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) continues to flee from The Shape. Zombie’s new movie opens in a hospital but cuts to a year later for similar shenanigans.
The Mayhem: The old movie’s most famous scene has a character trip in a pool of blood and die, no butcher knife required, which once upon a time passed for wit. The new one is exceedingly brutal, with an uproarious marquee sequence that features a kind of Last Supper populated by pumpkin-headed monsters, amongst others.
Verdict: Zombie’s movie, by far. The 1981 HII isn’t as bad as most of the old sequels, but Zombie has the good sense to get out of the hospital, and he retools slasher clichés into an intense, strange movie that certainly distinguishes itself from his first.
2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) vs. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
The Setups: Although technically a prequel, 2006’s The Beginning is just a continuation of the callous dirt-chic aesthetic of the 2003 remake, with another foursome served up to everyone’s favorite Texas cannibals. The 1986 movie, meanwhile, is a totally weird attempt to bring the same wrath on the ’80s nuclear family as the original did on hippies.
The Mayhem: Beginning is the usual parade of hacked-up torsos and limbs (the two brothers at its heart are on their way to Vietnam), while its predecessor, filmed mostly in a warehouse, has a long sequence devoted to a deformed, elderly family patriarch who can’t grip a sledgehammer long enough to pound the heroine.
Victor: Both are a mess, but the presence of Dennis Hooper as a maniacal sheriff gives this one to the 1986 movie.
3. The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985) vs. The Hills Have Eyes II (2007)
The Setups: One follows a decidedly retro motorcade, the other some very unlucky National Guard trainees, as they come up on a coven of nuclear-deformed monsters in the middle of the desert. The two movies have barely anything in common, other than Wes Craven as a credited screenwriter.
The Mayhem: In the 1985 sequel, the dog from the original returns and has his very own flashback of some mutant-killing from back in the day. Nothing else compares.
Victor: Draw. No, but really, draw; both are unwatchable.
4. Ju-On 2 (2003) vs. The Grudge 2 (2007)
The Setups: Written and directed, depressingly, by the same dude, the two movies are very different, but both follow the same basic formula: Random people are terrorized by an unhappy dead Japanese woman and her equally dead, unhappy son. Our resident J-horror entry, though it's hardly the only offender in the canon (The Ring Two vs. Ringu 2, etc.).
The Mayhem: Various. Essentially, if you are in the vicinity of unhappy dead Japanese people, avoid abandoned houses, cars, hospitals, apartment buildings, schoolgirls, bridges, bridges with stairs, TV studios, bathroom stalls and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Victor: Ju-On 2, for atmosphere alone, because neither gets involved with that whole pesky "having a plot" thing.