success of the Saw films is depressing for many reasons, but one of the chief
ones is that it empowers Twisted Pictures, the production company behind the
films, with carte blanche to not only make new mediocre horror films at will,
but also to acquire and remake existing properties that are much better than
anything they could possibly imagine. And thanks to their deep pocketbooks,
they’ve been able to pact with RKO Pictures to raid their library for titles to
remake. Specifically, they’ve set their sights on the Val Lewton/Boris Karloff

Now, don’t
get me wrong. I don’t see anything – conceptually – wrong with remakes. While
it seems that all that Hollywood does these days is remakes, adaptations and
sequels, it’s not terribly difficult to trace the DNA of most “original” films
to one or two specific predecessors to the extent that they’re nigh indistinguishable
from films that admit to being direct remakes. Hell, it’s even better if mediocre
films with good premises get redone by more capable auteurs who can nail the execution
of said good premise that much better. And the likes of Karloff and Lewton’s The
Body Snatcher
and Bedlam – two of the first announced
titles in this deal – are not so sacred that they cannot be touched.

But given
the general crappiness of the Saw films, I’ve no reason to believe
that Twisted would fit into the “more capable auteur” category needed to
justify a remake existing at all. Then there’s the fact that we’ve entered an
age of horror where viscera, gore, and torture are what’s selling, and these
films are antithetical to that. I Walked With A Zombie would be
considered a light occult comedy by today’s standards. The Body Snatcher’s
premise – that a doctor needs to have graves robbed in order to get corpses for
dissection – is just plain quaint. Only Bedlam’s story of the workings of an
insane asylum headed by an evil warden lends itself easily to more explicit interpolation.
The motive here – to make easy money with cheap reduxes – is understandable,
but it does the originals no favors when these rather slight, small-scale
charmers are overblown into routine, Twisted-caliber nonsense. Not everything
needs to be remade in order to be “relevant” to a new generation. Some things
stand on their own as products of their times, and the Lewton/Karloff films fit
that description to a tee.