Re-animated: The contemporary American horror film remake, 2003-2013




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


This doctoral thesis is a study of American horror remakes produced in the years 2003-2013, and it represents a significant academic intervention into an understanding of the horror remaking trend. It addresses the remaking process as one of adaptation, examines the remakes as texts in their own right, and situates them within key cultural, industry and reception contexts. It also shows how remakes have contributed to the horror genre’s evolution over the last decade, despite their frequent denigration by critics and scholars.

Chapter One introduces the topic, and sets out the context, scope and approach of the work. Chapter Two reviews the key literature which informs this study, considering studies in adaptation, remaking, horror remakes specifically, and the genre more broadly. Chapter Three explores broad theoretical questions surrounding the remake’s position in a wider culture of cinematic recycling and repetition, and issues of fidelity and taxonomy. Chapter Four examines the ‘reboots’ of one key production company, exploring how changes are made across versions even as promotion relies on nostalgic connections with the originals. Chapter Five discusses a diverse range of slasher film remakes to show how they represent variety and contribute to genre development. Chapter Six considers socio-political themes in 1970s horror films and their contemporary post-9/11 remakes, and Chapter Seven focuses on gender representation and recent genre trends in the rape-revenge remake.

This thesis concludes with a discussion of the most recent horror remakes, and reiterates the findings from the preceding chapters. Ultimately, genre remakes remain prevalent because they are often profitable and cater for a guaranteed audience. They are commercial products, but also represent some of the more creative entries in horror cinema over the last decade, and their success enables further productions. Rather than being understood as simplistic derivative copies, horror remakes should be considered as intertextual adaptations which both draw from and help to shape the genre.





Research Institute