Cult classics withstanding the test of time this Halloween

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Horror movies brought onto the stage bring a new sense of realism to the horrors that the characters face. Photo: Derek Fu

Reported by Caitlin O’Flanagan

Halloween enthusiasts are getting into the eerie spirit with their favourite cult classics and modern remakes.

Combining fiction with realism to provide a hearty dose of fear is what makes viewers appreciate these films over many decades, and inspires directors to keep remaking them.

Remakes making it onto the stage

Mark Carter, an artistic director at Down Stage Right Productions (DSR), appreciates the nostalgia of a classic horror film. He has made a career of remaking cult classics for the Vancouver stage, such as his versions of Evil Dead and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He directed CBC Studio 700’s live production of Night of the Living Dead on Oct. 20–23.

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Poster for the stage remake of Night of the Living Dead. Photo: Down Stage Right Production

“A cult classic endures because it’s familiar and it’s something that made an impression on people,” said Carter. “People want to revisit something they love.”

“People may not have ever seen a classic but have heard of it, so it’s a bit of a curiosity perhaps to find out for themselves what all the fuss is about.”

A classic lives on through it’s remakes

There have been multiple remakes of the 1960 thriller Psycho, most recently the spinoff television show Bates Motel. Justis Greene, the show’s producer, jokes that remakes in the film industry stem from a lack of new ideas.

“The originals tend to be so incredible that there seems to be an audience for them,” Greene said. “We’re lucky in that we have phenomenal writers with incredible imaginations to make the show contemporary.”

The necessity of fear in horror cult classics

Despite the potential lack of originality that comes from these remakes, fear is the most essential part of these classic films. Peter Babiak, an English professor at Langara College, appreciates the psychological aspects of these older films, and feels that gory effects overshadow original writing in newer horror movies.

“I think it’s important to be scared every once in a while. There’s a theatricality to fear and to horror, and that hasn’t changed since Shakespeare,” said Babiak.

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