Remaking Controversy?
: Three case studies of the changing reception of controversial films and their remakes

  • Nia Naseem Edwards-Behi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis offers an analysis of the British marketing and reviewing of three films from the 1970s which have been seen as controversial, through to their most recent DVD releases, as well as their more recent remakes, in relation to the changing public construction of cultural taste. The films are Straw Dogs (Peckinpah, 1971/Lurie, 2011), Last House on the Left (Craven, 1972/Iliadis, 2009) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Hooper, 1974)/The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Nispel, 2003). The methodological design of the thesis is based firmly in traditions of historical reception studies, following Barbara Klinger (1994), Janet Staiger (1992, 2000) and Kate Egan (2007), and employs methods of analysis primarily drawn from Lisa Kernan (2004) and Martin Barker and Kate Brooks (1998). By employing a historical reception studies approach to the material, the thesis resists the tendency to treat film remakes as inherently ‘inferior’ to authentic originals. The public construction of taste in relation to these films is figured in relation to Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capital, cultural distinction, and developments of these, such as Sarah Thornton’s notion of subcultural capital (1995). Through such an analysis a discrepancy emerges between the two sorts of material under scrutiny, whereby a sense of ‘the generic’ is figured as either positive in marketing or negative in reviewing, suggesting difference conceptions of an imagined audience. Overwhelmingly, the remakes are positioned negatively by critics in relation to the original films and these negative appraisals are often asserted through the discourses which have rehabilitated the original films from their own negative reception during the 1970s and 1980s.
Date of Award17 Jul 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
Sponsors Arts and Humanities Research Council
SupervisorKate Egan (Supervisor) & Sarah Thomas (Supervisor)

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