The Collector’s Crypt survived 2020! After such a dramatic year, we are hoping for new beginnings in 2021, so what better way to celebrate that than to take a look at some collectibles for horror movie remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings throughout the years. From returns to Camp Crystal Lake to ill-fated desert road trips, there are plenty to choose from, so let’s dive right in!
WE ARE ALL EARS FOR THE HILLS HAVE EYES
Wes Craven’s 1977 classic The Hills Have Eyes got the remake treatment in 2006, helmed by High Tension director Alexandre Aja. The redo followed the same basic plot as the original, with the all-American Carter family taking an ill-fated detour through the New Mexico desert and encountering a clan of inbred cannibals after they crash their car. With Craven still serving as a producer, the remake upped the ante even more by making the villains not just inbred cannibals, but also horribly deformed by the effects of radiation tests performed in the desert decades earlier. If any of the Carters hope to make it to morning, they will have to fight harder than they ever thought they could.
In one memorable scene, family patriarch Big Bob (played by veteran horror actor Ted Levine) returns to the gas station where his family earlier received the directions for their wrong turn from the gas station attendant, who knows more about what lurks in the desert than he lets on. Already suspicious, Big Bob is finally put on high alert when he finds a takeout container with a severed ear inside among a pile of junk inside the store.
When it came time to get word out about the remake, the marketing department sent out replicas of the bloody takeout container to members of the press, complete with a fake severed ear inside! At least two versions with very minor differences exist, having been sent out to promote the March 10, 2006 theatrical release, and the unrated DVD on June 20 later that year. In addition, The Hills Have Eyes-branded squeeze balls full of fake body parts were also sent out to promote the release.
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FRIDAY THE 13TH FREEBIES FRENZY
The 12th (and so far, final) entry in the long-running Friday the 13th series functioned as a reboot of the franchise, returning Jason Voorhees, who had gone to hell, been launched into outer space, and battled Freddy Krueger on Elm Street, to his roots in Camp Crystal Lake, and slaughtering two different groups of unlucky young adults who have decided to party in his territory.
Directed by Marcus Nispel, who also directed the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003 (which appeared in a previous edition of the Collector’s Crypt here), the Friday reboot combined elements of the first four movies, with appearances from Mrs. Voorhees and Jason‘s sack mask alongside his iconic hockey mask. Marketing for the reboot relied heavily on the fanbase’s nostalgia for the earlier entries, with the trailer featuring a callback to the body count motif that famously starred in trailers for the first few entries in the Friday series.
Press outlets and various critics received Friday the 13th gift boxes to promote the release, and they were in for a treat upon opening them. The faux-wood grain box design features the Camp Crystal Lake sign, and a speaker plays the famous “ch-ch-ch, ah-ah-ah” music motif when the lid is opened. Inside, a postcard from Crystal Lake itself accompanies a miniature replica of Jason’s hockey mask. A must-have for any Friday fan, these gift boxes sometimes appear on eBay or other online auction sites, but they are usually snatched up quickly!
WHERE THERE’S A WILLARD, THERE’S HORROR MERCH
In 2003, a remake of Willard, the 1971 horror movie about the titular social misfit who’s closest relationships are with a group of rats he has trained to do has bidding, hit theaters, directed by Glen Morgan and starring Crispin Glover. Loosely based on both the original movie, and also billed as a re-adaptation of the original novel Ratman’s Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert, the remake also featured appearances by original Willard star Bruce Davison and R. Lee Ermey as Willard’s cruel boss.
Despite decent reviews from critics, who praised Glover’s performance as Willard, the movie was not a financial success, grossing less than half of its $20 million budget at the US box office upon its release in March of 2003.
Nevertheless, Willard did receive a couple of cool promotional items as part of its advertising campaign. Members of the press were invited to a screening of the movie via an invitation printed on an actual mouse trap. Other pieces of merch given away include toy rats, which featured the movie’s titled printed on the bottom, and Willard-branded mouse pads (get it?!).
PSYCHO GETS A REFRESH
Director Gus Van Sant took on the unenviable task of remaking Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal classic Psycho in 1998. The new version of Psycho was virtually a shot-for-shot remake of the original, with the main differences being that it featured new actors and was in color. It followed the exact same story of Marion Crane (Anne Heche), on the run after stealing money from her job, who makes the fateful decision to stay the night at the lonely Bates Motel, run by the even lonelier Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn).
The updated Psycho received mixed to negative reviews upon its release, with many noting that it seemed pointless to copy the original so closely. In the twenty plus years since its release, it has come to be seen by some as an interesting experiment in remaking a film shot-for-shot, showing that even copying a movie completely can’t always recreate the impact of the original.
To promote the release, and alluding to the franchise’s most famous scene, a Psycho-branded toiletry set was created, containing a razor, toothpaste, mini bottles of shampoo, and a bar of soap inside a handy travel bag. Perfect for the horror fan on the go, these rare sets can occasionally be found on eBay or other online marketplaces.
That concludes this month’s edition of the Collector’s Crypt! Be sure to return next month for another batch of horror merchandise and collectibles, and be sure to share your collection with us Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter! Have a happy and safe 2021, Collectors!