This week’s Top Ten is gonna seem weird to those who know me and my dislike of remakes in general. Of course you know I am a purist and hate them as a rule, but I wanted to show you that I do have a heart. I give them all a chance and I even recognize that some are necessary. So to show you that I can be fair, I give you my top ten acceptable remakes. And let me tell you I almost regretted this suggestion after I gave it. It took a lot for me to come up with ten.
Top Ten ACCEPTABLE Remakes:
10. Halloween (2007) I know I’m gonna catch a lot of heat right out of the gate for this one, but I don’t care. Carpenter’s Halloween is one of my all-time favorite films and I have a sentimental attachment to it as well. I love this movie as much as you can love a movie but I can still appreciate Zombie’s effort. Let me tell you why. Rob Zombie is a fan. He didn’t remake this film for revenue and he didn’t change it up (like the TCM remake).
He kept the same characters, the same plot, the music, the mask, etc. This was a loving homage done in his style. I can dig that. If anyone else had done it and attempted to copy the perfection that is the original, I would have blasted it to Hell. Trust me, you know I don’t stand for that. But Zombie’s film is a tribute done the way only Zombie could do it. Of course I have some issues with it (a little too heavy on the white trash angle if you ask me) but I can appreciate where he was going. Plus it has a kickass soundtrack.
9. The Omega Man (1971) More sci-fi than horror, this film will seem obscure compared to the others on the list but I felt it needed a mention, especially since we just saw another version with I Am Legend. The Omega Man is the Charlton Heston version of the Matheson story. Before this one, there was The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price.
Of course Price is priceless (sorry lol) but I really dig The Omega Man. I think the creatures are very close to the way Matheson describes them and I love the tone of the film. It is rather heavy on the religious symbolism but I can overlook that for the creepiness of hearing them hiss…”Neeevillle” every night. Shudders.
8. The Toolbox Murders (2003) I’m not even really sure how many people knew this was a remake. The original from 1978 was so bad I don’t even know anyone (other than die-hard horror fans who’ll watch anything) who’s seen it. Even the genre greatness of Cameron Mitchell couldn’t save it.
But Tobe Hooper, who I would watch direct traffic, did a good job with a creepy story. There are several note-worthy scenes here that give me the shivers. Not to mention that I am a big fan of Angela Bettis ever since I saw May.
7. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) Some of you may or may not consider this a remake depending on how you feel about films about the Universal monsters. But I think that since it shares source material and basic storyline with the Lugosi Dracula (among others) it is definitely a remake.
And it is my favorite version of the story to date. Coppola created a dark, romantic, incredibly seductive film that is akin to porn for vampire lovers. The only flaws are Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves. Neither of them should be allowed to do accents…EVER! I could go on and this would end up being a review, so I will just say I love it, so it’s on the list.
6. King Kong (1976) Of course I enjoyed the Jackson version of KK, but I gotta say it was toooo long. I got a little bored at times. But the Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange vehicle is the one I grew up on.
It was my first exposure to King Kong and I dearly love it. The Fay Wray version is truly a classic and the effects still hold up today as amazing but the 1976 remake is excellent in my opinion and deserves a spot right here.
5. The Grudge (2004) This could get ugly. I know this. I am not usually a fan of American remakes of Japanese films either. Hell, I don’t like remakes at all as a rule. But I really feel this one is better than the original. For one, this film scared the crap out of me. That doesn’t happen a lot.
If you can scare me, I must give you props. Ju-ON just didn’t do it for me. I found the story convoluted and difficult to follow and the atmosphere just wasn’t quite creepy enough. But The Grudge had me sleeping on my sofa fully clothed in case I had to run. That bed scene…oh my lord…
4. Night of the Living Dead (1990) Well you know how I feel about Romero and Romero films. Purely sacred. But Savini did a masterful job capturing what Romero had in mind here. And since Romero himself penned the screenplay, how could you go wrong?
The last few minutes of the film are especially good as we see his comparison of us to them. Plus the zombies in this one are very corpse-ish and scary. Creepy times. One of the rare examples of the remake being better than the original.
3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) The original film from 1956 with Kevin McCarthy is a classic sci-fi spookshow. I love it. But Donald Sutherland and Jeff Goldblum bring home this version with a high-level creep factor. The last scene is one of my favorites in horror. They added a dash of gore and a whole lotta holy crap to get the definitive version of one of the most remade films ever.
2. The Fly (1986) Be afraid. Be very afraid. Cronenberg’s brilliant adaptation of this classic sci-fi tale is fun, gory, and scary. It’s also sexy if you happen to be hot for Goldblum like I am. This film is not only a high-level remake, it is up there as one of the greatest horror films period.
1. The Thing (1982) Well here we are at number one. The time just flew by didnt it? Let’s see we have gone from a remake of a Carpenter film all the way to a remake by Carpenter. How poetic. In my opinion, Carpenter’s The Thing is the number one remake ever done. Not only is it acceptable, it is necessary. The story of The Thing From Another World is a great one and he did it justice. Howard Hawk’s version is not bad at all, but The Thing is bone-chilling and stylishly gory as all hell.
It has a superb cast, a brilliant screenplay and some amazing special effects that are just as e ffective today, even in the midst of all the CGI technology we have swimming around. And let’s not forget the suspense. Look for me on the edge of my seat cause that’s where I’ll be.
And I feel it’s only fair to give an honorable mention to Dawn of the Dead 2004. I do in fact hate that it is a remake, but I cannot deny that it is a damned good film. I enjoy it immensely and feel it deserves to be held up, but I just wish they had called it something else to make it more palatable to my purist tastebuds.
So there you have it. Those are my Top Ten Remakes. Trust me it was hard. I had no idea how much trouble I would have coming up with ten. But I am pretty pleased with the outcome. Now let me know what you think.