Should Hollywood place a moratorium on film remakes? In other words, should filmmakers be forced to wait a certain number of years after a movie’s release before they’re allowed to remake it?

I firmly believe that such a moratorium would do little to address the actual problem we face today: putting a stop to awful, ill-conceived Hollywood remakes. I believe that the number of years that transpire between the release of a movie and its eventual remake has little or nothing to do with how well the remake turns out. Instead, the success of any film remake is the product of the skill and vision of the creative forces involved and the quality of the source material itself.

That’s not to say that remaking an earlier film is usually a good idea. MSN Movies’ list of the worst remakes of all time drives home that point rather clearly. Remaking a television show into a semi-watchable movie is even more difficult, as demonstrated in
AOL Television’s list of the eleven worst movies based on TV shows.

Do terrible film remakes like 1998’s Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick (Rotten Tomatoes score: 25%), 2002’s Swept Away starring Madonna (Rotten Tomatoes score: 5%), or 1998’s Psycho starring Vince Vaughn (Rotten Tomatoes score: 37%) suggest that Hollywood should implement a mandatory waiting period between a film and its remake? No, they do not. Time is a red herring; poor filmmaking is the true culprit.

Consider Sam Raimi’s cult classic, The Evil Dead (1981). For all intents and purposes, Raimi remade this film as Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn six years later and improved on the original in almost every way imaginable. Yes, many fans still maintain that Evil Dead 2 is a sequel rather than a remake. If you ask me, though, when a director makes two movies in a row that feature the same main character going to an abandoned cabin in the woods where he battles various demonic forces with a chainsaw after someone inadvertently unleashes them by reading from the Necronomicon, that sounds an awful lot like remake. The point is, however, that Raimi waited only six years before remaking The Evil Dead, yet the remake turned out significantly better than the original. Consider also The Magnificent Seven, released a mere six years after Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.

On the other hand, Peter Jackson’s King Kong was released a full 72 years after 1933’s King Kong. With a little over seven decades of turnaround between the original film and its remake, even as skilled a filmmaker as Peter Jackson was unable to create a movie that didn’t suck monkey ass. Waiting an extra ten years or even an extra fifty years isn’t the answer. Making a decent film — remake or not — is the answer.

For every regrettable remake like 2004’s Alfie or The Stepford Wives, there’s a worthwhile effort like 1991’s Cape Fear or 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven. Time, however, is not the driving force.

Therefore, Hollywood should not place a moratorium on film remakes as it would not address the actual problem of craptastic retreads of old favorites. Instead, Hollywood should consider instituting a system of harsh punishments for filmmakers who release bad remakes. I’m thinking maybe repeated forced viewings of Tim Burton’s “reimagined” Planet of the Apes and Ron Howard’s live-action version of The Grinch. Then again, that probably violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.