The Thing, opening this weekend, is one example of a horror remake.

Hollywood is so into recycling you’d think Al Gore was running a studio and green-lighting movies. This year alone we’ve seen reimaginings, reboots and redos galore, from Straw Dogs and Footloose to Conan the Barbarian and The Mechanic.

It seems Tinseltown never met an idea it couldn’t endlessly recycle.

This is particularly true in the horror genre. In the last 12 months, Colin Farrell clipped on Chris Sarandon’s used fangs in a remake of Fright Night, and this weekend, The Thing is, according to IMDB, “a prequel to a remake of an adaptation of the novella Who Goes There?” Whatever it is, original it’s not.

Not that all original horror films are better than their remakes. David Cronenberg’s dark vision enhanced the story of The Fly, delivering the real scares that the campy 1958 version lacked, and 1978′s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is far creepier than its cinematic predecessor.

The Blob, the tale of what happens when germ warfare goes awry, has been made a couple of times.

The original is an unintentionally funny flick with more giggles than gore, but it inspired a sequel, a remake and, if the rumours are true, a bloody revamp by horror maestro Rob Zombie.

I have a soft spot for the low-budget charm of the 1958 version, although the 1988 reboot has a smarter-than-it-needs-to-be script co-written by Frank Darabont and a cool tagline – “Scream now! while you can still breathe!”

Count Dracula is one of the most portrayed characters on the big screen, having appeared in more horror films than any other famous monster of filmland. Eighty years after he first portrayed the vampire in the 1931 film Dracula, Bela Lugosi is still the most famous blood sucker of them all, although for my money, two British actors – Gary Oldham in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula – are tip-top Transylvanians.

Unlike his work in Scream, Wes Craven’s early films didn’t have any of the self-depreciating humour to go along with the scares.

His first movies were brutal, bloody and grim, usually all at once. Recent remakes of The Last House on the Left – rated R for “sadistic violence”  – and The Hills Have Eyes – “The lucky ones die first!”- don’t have quite the impact of the Vietnam-era originals but still require a strong stomach. 

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