I'm on this whole spiel lately with remakes. My best friend accused me of liking the originals of films more just because they're the originals. It really irked me. A lot of accusations about films I like irk me. If you want to say my cinematography sucks, I'll agree with you; but if you want to say I don't like Blue is the Warmest Color because I don't like LGBT movies or something, I will disagree with you. I did like Blue is the Warmest Color but a love story should not be longer than Once Upon a Time in the West. Ha, I bet you posers thought I was gonna say Seven Samurai, nope that baby is three hours and TWENTY SEVEN minutes long.
Anyway, onto my point about how I don't just like the original version of movies. Hell, you don't even need to look very far; my sixth favorite film of all time is John Carpenter's The Thing. I don't have anything against Thing From Another World but John Carpenter's version just feels superior to me. It's not because that's the version I saw first, it's just more memorable. All I really remember of the original is where he gets electrocuted, where they set him on fire, and where he's apparently a monster carrot. The monster felt more like Mr. X from Resident Evil 2 (Ha, I bet you thought I was going to say Nemesis). He busts in, lumbers after people, they hurt him, and he runs away.
John Carpenter's version makes you feel isolated and paranoid. You really have no idea who the monster is (is it Keith David? It's Keith David, isn't it?). The lack of soundtrack really sells the feeling of isolation and everyone on edge sells the idea that it could be anybody. In the original the monster just comes across as obnoxious (again, like Mr. X). I suppose you could argue that it's not a true remake even though both versions are based on the same short story, so I'll go with another example.
The Fly is a better example of this. While I don't necessarily love the remake more, I do find I like each one for different reasons. It's a similar story (a man's science experiment goes wrong and he joins bodies with a fly) but they're both unique. The scientist in 1956 hides himself away from his wife and family in shame while in the 1986 version the scientist embraces his new fly like powers and his girlfriend may even be pregnant with a fly baby. Cronenberg is also smart enough to know that he can pay homage to the original without actually paying homage to it. I don't recall anywhere in his version a fly with a human head saying "help me, help me!" as a giant spider comes to eat it.
This is something that does piss me off. Why do they always have to quote something from an older film into the newer film? When Evil Ed says "You're so cool, Brewster!" after Charlie gets a chili cheeseburger slapped in his face in Fright Night, that made sense. He's mocking him for thinking that he's good enough to get his girlfriend back but ends up fucking it up. However, in the remake when McLovin' says it...it just feels awkward and forced and seems to come out of nowhere. It'd be like if they remade Monster Squad and the kids are walking down the street and just say "Wolfman's Got Nards!" Well unless Wolfman is standing in front of them with his nards hanging out or something...which would be quite funny.
I am glad though that we stopped trying to copy Japan's ghost movies. They just didn't work in the West. They required too much explanation and important details were never transferred over and little girls put on hoodies when they decided to be evil and screaming babies with cell phones and drowning horses. Yeah, let's just move on.
I think what started this whole debacle was me saying that I didn't like Red Dragon and that I liked Manhunter more. I don't care if Red Dragon has Sir Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton it was still directed by the guy who nearly killed the X-Men. I like Manhunter more because Michael Mann is a more competent director. Hannibal Lecter had never seen the screen before and Brian Cox plays him very well as a genius who is kinda pissed off that he was caught. Watching William Petersen flip his shit is absolutely fun, something Ed Norton never does in the movie. Also, Tom Noonan plays creepy yet sympathetic so well without saying anything he really overshadows Ralph Fiennes (who is still a terrific actor) who has to speak everything.
In closing, I don't hate remakes at all. I've defended with Fistful of Dollars long enough but I thought I should throw a few more out there to defend this claim. The point is to take the story and make it your own. You want to make a movie about a vampire moving next door to some kid and call it Fright Night? Fine, but don't name them Charlie or Peter Vincent or Jerry Dandridge. Because then you're just reminding me of a film I could be watching instead. At the time of this writing, I have not seen Let Me In. I plan to soon and I really hope to like it in the same regard I like The Fly. Though it could always end up like Evil Dead, making me cringe with every word of Diablo Cody written dialogue and wondering what the hell is going on on-screen. Only time will tell.