If there is one thing I like to get cranky about it is the constant need for the Hollywood machine to remake classic horror films. Yesterday I flew off the handle when it was announced Matt Reeves is Writing & Directing a Remake of They Live and I did not respond much better to The Crow Remake and the Total Recall Remake.
Its no surprise why Hollywood does this it is an easy way to tap into a built in audience and pretty much guarantee positive results at the box office. Why spend money trying to create a new concept when you can tap into an existing idea make a few adjustments and release it as your own animal.
In many cases mainstream America has no idea that the film is even a remake depending on the age and country of origin of the original film so remakes are not just feasible but highly profitable for studios. To put it in perspective according to BoxOfficeMojo remakes alone have made studios over 1.9 Billion dollars just at the box office alone!
As much as horror remakes in principal annoy the hell out of me I have to admit that at times it does work and I wanted to take a minute and look at 14 Horror remakes that to me are as good, or at least live up to the original film. So in no particular order I present to you my 14 horror remakes that are worthy of the original films.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Starring Jessica Biel this remake of Tobe Hooper’s classic original is a violent and modern take on the classic. The original film was released in 1974 and is a must have film for fans of the cult classics. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre a group of friends passing through a small town are stalked and hunted down by a deformed killer with a chainsaw and his diabolical family. I like to bag on Jessica Biel and the fact she is never my first choice as an actress but her obvious good looks and her emotionally stunted acting worked effectively in this film.
The Hills Have Eyes:
I am going to upset a lot of people with this one and say that the original 1977 film is actually not a personal favourite of mine. I realize that a lot of you love the original but for whatever reason the film was a bit blasé for me.
That said the remake in 2006 which was directed by Alexander Aja was an absolutely fantastic and brutal film with equal parts suspense and terrifying violence to make it one of the better remakes to sprout out of the Hollywood machine. What made this movie work is an unknown cast and an incredibly talented up and coming director. Over the years Alexander Aja’s name has been brought up to direct many films including a remake of Hellraiser and the brutal French film Martyrs.
Let Me In:
Let The Right One In is easily one of the best vampire films of the last 10 years so it comes as no shock that Hollywood remade it the online buzz with die hard horror fans was intense. The Swedish film was directed by Tomas Alfredson and was released in 2006. One of the reasons this remake works well is because most of mainstream America has never even heard of the original much less seen it. The remake was directed by Matt Reeves the director of Cloverfield and starred two very talented young actors one of which being Chloe Moretz who also starred in Kick Ass and is quickly establishing herself as an up and coming actress. The remake titled Let Me In tells the story of a young boy who is bullied by his schoolmates and ignored by his single mother and his estranged father. He finds comfort with his new neighbour who hides a dark secret.
Dawn of the Dead:
George Romero is a legend. Every fan of the zombie genre knows his name and gives him proper credit as being an icon of the genre. Admittedly over the last few years his films have been a bit hit and miss with Land of the Dead, Survival of the Dead and Diary of the Dead but that does not lessen his impact on the genre. I loved the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead but I also am extremely passionate over the remake which Zack Snyder directed in 2004.
What made the remake work was a great director and a strong cast which included Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Jake Weber. What really made this remake work is Zack Snyder lifted some of the key elements from George Romero’s terrifying original but then added a slew of new elements that not only brought the film up to modern times but truly made it his own. Sure it had zombies and it was in a mall but otherwise it was very much his own film. Exactly how a good remake should be. I respect a director who can pay homage while also making a film his own.
Night of the Living Dead:
It is some irony that I bitch about classics being remade and one of my favourite directors has three of his films on my ‘favorite horror remakes’ list. Yep this won’t be the last film of George Romero’s we discuss on this list. The 1990 remake of the Night of the Living Dead brought the black and white classic into Technicolor and frankly the key reason this film worked so well is because of George Romero’s involvement in it. He did not direct the project, he produced it and tapped his long time cohort Tom Savini to direct it. Tom Savini is best known for his bit parts and special FX work but I give him most of his credit in the industry for the outstanding performance he turned in directing this feature film. This remake is easily as good as the original and is a film I have watched over 50 times. You can never get enough of a good thing and the 1990 remake of Night Of the Living Dead is a good thing.
Released in 1982 this remake of the 1951 classic works for all the obvious reason. A talented director in John Carpenter an outstanding cast including Kurt Russell and some of the best practical special effects ever applied to film. They did not just remake a film for the sake of remaking it they took a classic tale of sci-fi terror and brought it up to modern standards while adding their own twist to it. This film much like the remake of night of the Living Dead has gotten a real workout in my DVD player having watched it no less than 50 times over the years.
Rob Zombies Halloween:
Rob Zombie has quite a reputation and has more than once come out in the press to bag on remakes and the directors that make them. So needless to say there was some irony to his remaking Halloween which is another staple of the genre. Rob Zombie however proved that a talented director can take a classic make it his own and deliver a unique experience that new and old fans alike can appreciate. The real shame here is that Rob made a sequel to his remake in the form of 2009’s Halloween 2 which is not just one of the worst sequels / remakes but one of the worst horror movies I have seen in ages. Fortunately he is no longer attached to do a remake of The Blob and is instead going to take a stab at the Lords Of Salem which is getting lots of early buzz from fans.
: Admittedly this one barely made my list. The only reason it really ends up here is because of the fantastic performance that Sean Bean turned in as The Hitcher. Questionably as entertaining as the original it at least is an entertaining stab at a 1986 classic.
My Bloody Valentine 3D
: I am not a fan of 3D and feel it is a complete gimmick. So it should come as no surprise to you that I saw this film in 2d and not 3d. That said I was truly shocked to see how well this film held up and how much I enjoyed it. It did not exactly track new ground but it was definitely a violent and sadistic tribute to the original and one that was well worth seeing. You can never go wrong with more violent films of terror that revolve around one of our favourite commercialized holidays Valentines day.
I told you that George Romero would make the list again and this is his third film on the remakes worth watching list. If it makes you feel better it is also his last J . This remake of the low budget 1973 original stars Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell and is everything a remake should be. This creepy re-imagining of the original contains just enough original concepts and classic tribute material to make it a fantastic film. I am not a fan of remakes and am also definitely not a fan of Timothy Olyphants but have to admit that this film and its team delievered.
The Last House on the Left:
The original film by Wes Craven is a truly brutal experience but it also has a much deeper message on humanity and the human spirit. The scene in question plays out during one of the roughest scenes where the antagonists rape and murder a girl. You see it when they look down at the blood on their hands and realize in disgust as they try to clean their hands what they have done. True to form though they continue on to commit even more sadistic violence and quickly overcome their disgust.
The remake directed by Dennis Illadis is as brutal as the original and features a talented cast that make this extremely sadistic and brutal film work. The most impressive performance in this film comes from actress Martha MacIsaac who turns in a very emotional and intense performance. I only knew her up until this point as ‘the geeky chick from Superbad’ but with the remake of The Last House on the Left she proved she is an incredibly talented actress.
This 1988 remake of the 1958 movie about a killer blob from outer space works for me primarily because they took the original and brought it up to modern times. Chuck Russell took the original film and made it his own. The original film starred Steve McQueen and is a classic tale of scifi terror and the remake for me is one of my favourites and is one I have seen many times. It and The Thing are two of my favourite sci-fi horror remakes. They also have in common the fact that both have remake in the works yet again. We will see if these new second set of remakes hold up to the originals.
I Spit on Your Grave:
This 2010 remake from Anchorbay was directed by Stephen Monroe and takes the classic exploitation film and updates it for modern day filmgoers. Easily as brutal as the original this film is the definition of exploitation filmmaking. Once again it works because of good direction and excellent casting with Sarah Butler taking on the role that Camille Keaton played in the original. This story of a novelist who goes into the backwoods and goes from victim to victimizer is definitely an excellent example of a well thought out remake.
The Body Snatchers:
The remake I am referring to is the 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland. This sci-fi horror film about aliens that snatch and replace people is a classic tale that has been remade and retold more times than I can count. The original starred Boris Karloff and was released in 1945 it was remade in 1956, 1978 and 1993. The 1978 one is the one that stars Donald Sutherland and in my view is the best of the ‘remake batches’.
So there you have it, fourteen horror remakes that are worth watching from a guy who typically despises horror remakes. Which of these fourteen films do you like? Which do you despise? More importantly which remakes are you a fan of that did not make my list?