Most of us our instant reaction to a horror remake is ‘not again’ but sometimes as horror fans we really just need to pull the stick out. I have done a few pieces on horror remakes and if there is one thing that we can all likely agree on its the fact that as a rule horror remakes suck.
Hollywood in my view uses horror remakes as an easy cash grab with little effort on story, character or unique and inspiring film making. Why focus on an original horror movie concept when you can throw something old to a new generation of fans and slap a hot chick with great teeth and a dude with muscles in the leading roles?
Younger generations have heard their parents and older siblings rave about movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th but studios also recognize most wont experience the originals, so enter the remake. Horror remakes can be cheap, effective, and profitable movie making without the need to do anything original or think outside the box.
That said there have been some great horror remakes made over the years and as horror fans if we hate on remakes simply because they are remakes we are fools. This is my effort to compile a list of horror movie remakes that raise the bar and are actually well polished and entertaining films that are worth checking.
Please note these films are listed in no order other than the way my brain spit them out.
I threw the biggest hissy fit imaginable when it was announced that Sam Raimi was remaking Evil Dead. Sure it’s not technically a remake its a ‘prequel story’ that will be built into a whole new franchise of films but I don’t care. For me this movie is still retracing the steps of the original and I was downright irate over it. No Bruce Campbell as Ash? No Sam Raimi in the directors chair? I was beside myself.
But truths are truths and despite all my hate-orade Evil Dead 2013 was exactly what Bruce Cambell told us it would be. It was nothing short of spectacular. Evil Dead is one of the best horror movies I have seen in years and carefully pays homage to the original while blazing its own path with a new and unique story. A must see for horror fans even those of us who hate remakes.
Let Me In
If you were going to list the Best Vampire Films of all time you would need to leave a spot for Let the Right One In the swedish film that Let Me In is based on. The Swedish film is shocking, violent and is wrapped in a truly unique story of teen love. When Matt Reeves was tapped to direct a remake I was pretty disappointed as usual and when I found out it was literally going to be a scene by scene remake I found myself even more upset.
As much as Let Me In really is pretty much a scene by scene remake it stands out thanks to an outstanding cast led by then unknown Chloe Moretz who has since grown a fan base. Let Me In is not anywhere near as good as the original but it’s still a solid remake that all genre fans should see.
The Crazies is a 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.
Last House on the Left:
The remake of Wes Cravens Last house on the left is violent, sadistic and unnerving and delivers one of the best remake experiences you could hope for. Hollywood is typically afraid of crossing any sort of cultural lines and Last House on the Left is the exception as its easily one of the most violent horror movies to come out of Hollywood in a while. Lots of films are gory but very few are truly disturbing and the Last House on the Left is definitely disturbing and gory.
The first film was edgy controversial and became a cult classic and although the remake doesn’t live up to those standards it is still one of the best horror remakes ever made and is also one of the better horror movies to come out of Hollywood in the last 10 years despite it being a remake.
Sarah Michelle Gellar is one of my least favourite actresses. I am one of the few who never watched Buffy and for whatever reason she has always irked me. That said The Grudge is one of the few movies I can say creeped me out badly. I watched it with a few friends in a very dark basement and had anything gone bump in the dark I would have gone screaming in acapello out the door.
I am to this day terrified of pale skinned little girls with long black hair. Unlike with Last House on The Left the remake got less than stellar reviews from fans.
Remember when Jeff Goldblum was a Hollywood star and made good movies? The Fly is one of those movies. David Cronenbergs remake of the original 1958 film is gruesome well written and poignant. It tells the story of a scientist whose life comes apart as he chases his dream of a teleportation device. Unfortunately as he begins to perfect the technology he not only estranges himself from his love but mutates into a hideous half human half fly creäture with a gruesome outcome.
The Fly is a must see for horror fans and is not only a great remake but a fantastic horror film in general. The remake has an 88% approval rating and nobody has reviewed the original which makes me think not many people are fans of the original.
Fright Night is another remake that really caught me off guard. I expected it to be horrible mainly because of the casting choices and the team assembled to make the film but boy was I proven wrong. Relative unknown at the time Anton Yelchin stars as Charley Brewster and truly turns in an outstanding performance.
He has since shot to fame with Terminator Salvation and Star Trek. Jerry the vampire is played by Colin Farrel who also delivers a strong performance. Fright Night works because it respects the original but adds just enough of its own flavor to make it a fun twist of vampire movie magic.
The Ring is another one like The Grudge that did a great job of getting under my skin. The concept of a VHS tape infecting people sounds cheesy but it was executed to perfection making it not only terrifying but also a mesmerizing experience.
Well shot with a very artistic feel The Ring has an outstanding cast an incredibly creepy story and is sure to give you the night time willies.
Funny Games is unique in that the remake came along only 10 years after the original and was directed by the same person Michael Haneke. A scene by scene remake Funny games tells the story of two sadistic brothers who take a family hostage and play a set of gruesome games that leads to a terrifying and grizzly outcome.
Funny Games for me is the JAWS of home invasion movies and features some insane imagery and implied violence that will make you sit up. Funny Games has a spectacular cast and a great director with enough money to make the film really shine. Funny Games will leave its mark on you and is a great film in general.
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.
Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is actually the first Frankenstein movie I saw and to this day it is still my favourite. Of course Monster Squad is a close second J . The film starred Robert DeNiro, Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter and is more love story then terror piece but it has enough of both that in the end you will find the film tragic, creepy and it will tug at your heart-strings.
This film is easily as good as the original black and white Frankenstein combining fantastic storytelling with a top-notch cast and visual fx that continue to hold up. If you have not yet seen Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein you need to just so you can experience true empathy for a murderous monster that is out for revenge over love lost.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The film made almost $80million at the box office and is a prime example that shows that horror remakes make alot of money. Rated R the film had a budget of just under $10million and combined some good writing with a good cast and some great moments of absolute carnage. Although it does not contain the same magic the original does that should not be held against the film. It is a remake and although it tells the story well it can never live up to the original.
Obviously one of the major draws for the male demographic was Jessica Biel and of course for horror fans in general the over the top gore and out right carnage in this R rated remake.
Hills Have Eyes
I was very wary about the remake for Hills Have Eyes but surprisingly I was quite impressed with the outcome. This R rated remake definitely knew how to please the most discerning horror fans with outstanding FX a story that was well written and a cast of outstanding actors. Made for around $15million this R rated Mutan Festival went on to make over $40million at the box office and generated alot of buzz with fans.
This is one remake that I felt was far superior to the original with top-notch FX, great kills and a budget that was reflected in the film. The sequel which came shortly after although insanely violent and at times quite interesting for me was not near as good as the remake or the original film.
Dawn of the Dead
I am a massive fan of George Romero and Dawn of the Dead. Although Diary of the Dead and Land of the Dead have let me down Dawn of the Dead is one of his best films and is a defining film for the zombie genre. When the remake came along I was very wary but when it finally arrived I was completely blown away. Although not a true remake in my eyes the film was terrifying, action packed and simply put .. mind-blowing. Lots of action, a cast of new and interesting characters and some of the best zombies I have seen in a movie in a while.
The film differs so much from the original it’s hardly fair to compare it but without question Dawn of the Dead is one remake which is well worth watching and gave a whole new generation of fans a respect and admiration for zombie movies and George Romero. The fact it starred Ving Rhames an all around bad ass and Sarah Polley who I have a huge crush on was an added bonus.
Night of the Living Dead
The remake of Night of the Living Dead is one of my favorite zombie films and in fact.. may be my favorite of them all. The fact that Tom Savini directed the project is an interesting note. Tom Savini did an outstanding job on this film and proved that he is much more than just a talented FX man and actor.
He has serious skills behind the camera and with George Romeros help he managed to modernize a classic while still staying true to it. Night of the Living Dead (1990) is a MUST see for any fans of horror.
The Thing is a classic and one of the greatest sci-fi horror films ever made. Hands down. The remake of the film which starred Kurt Russell is easily one of my all time favorite films and one I have watched more times than I can count.
The Thing is terrifying with great acting, a top notch story and visual fx that will impress even the most finicky horror fans. Really there is nothing I can say about ‘The Thing’ other then if you have not seen it you must!
Rob Zombies Halloween
There were a lot of things that bothered me about Rob Zombies Halloween but there were also a lot of things I liked. I liked how Rob took the time to tell the background of the character and give us an in-depth look at the character bringing a new creepy look to a terrifying classic killer. HALLOWEEN was dark, gritty, violent and the definition of what a good horror remake, or re-envisioning can be.
Much like Dawn of the Dead it brought a lot of new things and also brought some of the old to make a remake that is tops on my lists for must see horror. The fact the movie made almost $60million speaks for itself.
The Blob Remake
I love the Blob remake for a variety of reasons. Well shot with a perfect cast its the definition of a campy good time. By no means scary to me this action sci-fi tale of a blob that wants to eat all of humanity is both fun and entertaining and very much deserving to be in any horror collectors collection.
Think of it as a more friendly version of The Thing. Admittedly as much as this movie did not scare me at all the thought of a massive blob eating people is pretty damn scary. A fun factoid worth noting is another Blob Remake is in the Works
House of Wax Remake
I have to admit right up front I avoided this film like the plague since the directors chose to pull a stunt move by casting Paris Hilton. I hate Paris Hilton and casting her is basically saying to me ‘please do not buy my movie it’s not a serious movie’. That said unlike Repo The Genetic Opera I actually though Paris Hilton did a pretty good job in this film.
It was both creepy and fun and the scene where Paris Hilton bites the big one resulted in cheers and hollers of happiness from the audience when i first saw it. Both gory and entertaining I have to confess that I did enjoy this remake. I bet not many of you did. Or did you?
The Toolbox Murders Remake
I am going to go out on a major limb here and say that I think the remake was better than the original. I enjoyed Toolbox Murders immensely. It was dark, creepy and all around just plain fun. This creepy film redefined the words ‘holy crap its time to move’.
When a mutated killer decides the best kinda tenant is one that is a mutilated and left for dead it’s probably time to move out. Although they do not have another remake of this one planned there is talk of a sequel to Toolbox Murders which will most likely ruin everything like so many unneccessary sequels do.
Judge Dredd 3D
I hated the new trend of 3D movies with a passion until Judge Dredd 3D arrived. This movie redefined what a 3D movie can be. This remake of the b-movie classic starring Sly Stallone is over the top, violent, gritty and visually spectacular.
Dredd 3D is a dark and brooding story that has some of the most impressive 3D I have ever seen. Rather then using 3D to fling gimmicky projectiles at the screen Dredd 3D draws its viewers in and uses the effects to better tell the story and pull us right into the brutal street wars of Dredd. I expected very little from DREDD and boy was I wrong! A truly amazing experience!
Silent Night is a not so scary tale of a serial killer who dresses up as Santa Claus and delivers candy canes and pain for Christmas. In Silent Night Santa Claus brings new meaning to have you been naught or have you been nice?
The filmmaker Steven C Miller clearly knew he was remaking a classic Christmas horror movie and just went with it. the film stars genre legend Malcolm McDowell which gives it immediate credibility with horror fans but it also has a polished production and great script to go with it.
Silent Night works because its fun without being campy and its violent without being gratuitous. It’s a modern-day tribute to drive in theater movies and happens to be a solid remake. Honestly can you go wrong with a killer Santa with a penchant for flame throwers? I think not.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D Remake
My Bloody Valentine got rave reviews from horror fans but despite that I still could not bring myself to see it since for me 3D at the time was nothing but a headache inducing gimmick I could not tolerate. Judge Dredd changed that for me recently with its mind blowing 3D special effects.
When My Bloody Valentine 3D came out on DVD I picked up a copy, watched it in 2D and much to my surprised enjoyed the experience quite a bit. Clearly the 3D was the driving factor for the film and it wont win any awards but My Bloody Valentine 3D is a fun waste of 90 minutes and if your a fan of the original you will definitely appreciate the remake.
I think as horror fans the biggest thing we need to remember is that just because somebody remakes the classics doesnt mean we need to instantly judge them. The fact we enjoy a remake doesnt make the original any less important or significant to the genre.
I love the classics and I hate most of the remakes that have been pumped out over the years but that does not change the fact that some are worth remakes. Which on the list do you agree with? Did we miss any?