Great Horror Movie RemakesBy MortimerTGraves for Movies
Since I already kicked around the “Bad” remakes, now would be a good time to wash the bad(lol) taste out of our mouth and look at some good remakes. We all know when we talk about remaking a movie; it is an “Either, Or” situation. It is either better or worse than the original. Rarely is it viewed as equal. I get the personal feelings some people have with movies. Some movies hold special places for us. We enjoy them. When a popular movie is released, it creates a fan base and is immortalized. After a few years they remake the iconic movie to try to cash in or update on the original story. When they do this, most(but not all) of the original fans usually dislike or think less of the remake. So regardless of how good or bad it really is, we have different fans disagreeing between which is better. But sometimes they can be made better. Even if they are remade, we still have the originals.
The only real reason I tend to dislike remakes is that I want a continuation of the story. Why reboot it, when you could just add to the canon. I understand movies that are 25 or more years old. But rebooting movies 5 to 10 years old is just greed. This does not apply to remakes of movies where the antaginists is immortal. Why reboot movies like Hellraiser, Phantasm, Candyman, Freddy and others when we can get new stories. They are immortal. Just add to the story with a modern tale. Take for instance; why can’t the ghost girl’s VHS tape be put on a box of DVD’s, and she possesses them. Modern take on an old franchise that adds to the original. But they will just reboot it because the original was a known money maker, and money is the bottom line.(sorry for the rant).
So lets go over a list of remakes that in general are viewed as better or atleast on par with the originals. I am going to keep it mostly modern(1970s and up), since the list would be huge if I tried doing it over the course of history of cinima. I may not include your favorite, but this will still be a long but fun lists.
Nosferatu the Vampyre 1979
I’ll start the ball rolling with a remake of one of my absolute favorite movies. Werner Herzog’s breathtaking remake of F.W. Murnau‘s 1922 Nosferatu. When making Nosferatu, Murnau couldn’t access the rights to Dracula, so he adapted the material to his needs, changing names and locations, in a bold move that resulted in a cinematic masterpiece that was almost entirely struck from existence as a result of retaliatory lawsuits from Bram Stoker‘s widow.
By the time Herzog got his hands on the material for Nosferatu The Vampyre, Dracula had fallen into the public domain, so the filmmaker was able to merge the two great source materials into one of the finest horror dramas of all time, centered on the aching loneliness and monstrous hideousness of the iconic creature. In Herzog’s hands, the daring remake of one of horror’s greatest films becomes a doting homage (sometimes down to the very shot) while also establishing its own place in the canon of the genre.
This is a shining example of how to remake a film. Both movies are superb films.
King Kong 2005
I love the original, I love the 1976 remake, but this remake is just beautiful. It’s the same old story; Carl Denham needs to finish his movie and decides on the perfect location; Skull Island. No one knows what they will encounter on this island or why it is so mysterious. Anyway Kong steals Ann, everyone goes looking for her while avoiding all sorts of dangers in the forms of creatures and beasts of the island.
I admit the acting is stiff in places, and it does drag in a few small spots(it’s 3 hours long lol), but the effects are top notch. Every time Kong was on the screen doing what he does best, the audience in the theatre clapped and cheered. This Kong looks like a giant gorilla. He indeed puts the King in Kong.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978
Considered by most to be one of the best remakes of all time, horror or otherwise, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a atmospheric sci-fi horror that updates Siegel’s McCarthy-era scares to 1978 California. Directed by Phil Kaufman, the remake is a dose of intense post-Vietnam anxiety, mount a growing sense of paranoia with disarming closeup and low angle shots as the film’s mysteries unravel.
Beautifully shot with a standout ensemble that includes Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum. Invasion is tight with moments of piercing existential horror and dread, wrapped up with one of the most iconic and unforgettable endings in horror cinema. I know I jumped at the ear bleeding screech at the end.
The Fly 1986
David Cronenberg’s body horror The Fly is one of the few remakes that manages to elevate the material in the original by taking the story to new dramatic and horrific heights. And that is truly something since this is a Vincent Price remake(I still like the original better). Taken from Kurt Nuemann‘s 1958 camp sci-fi classic of the same name, Cronenberg re-imagines the tale as an operatic tragedy, rooted in the romance of unfulfilled love.
Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis are superb as a young couple in love, torn apart by ambition, human error, and fate when a fly sneaks in to Seth’s teleportation experiment, creating a grotesque human-insect hybrid. A nightmare of the highest caliber, heartbreaking and stomach-churning thanks to Goldblum’s committed physical performance and the stunning practical makeup transformation. It also won an Academy Award for Best Makeup.
Final note: I would not recommend eating while watching.
The Thing 1982
You knew it was on here MacReady. John Carpenter’s re-imagining of the seminal 1951 sci-fi film The Thing That Came From Another World has become a possible the greatest remake ever. It’s hard to imagine now, but Carpenter’s 1982 remake The Thing was brushed off by critics and audiences alike when it first hit theaters. Fortunately, the years have shown the creature horror classic justice and the beautiful, brutal remake is heralded as one of the horror greats.
Led by a commanding performance from Kurt Russell in one of his many outstanding collaborations with Carpenter. The Thing is an exercise in precision paranoia and pulse-pounding genre craftsmanship(who didn't jump when the Thing clamped down on the arms of the dr.), not to mention the mind-bending practical effects. Carpenter is a master of building tension and he’s on the top of his game in The Thing. Creating an experience of chilling anxiety punctuated by moments of searing terror.
Night of the Living Dead 1990
The remake of Night of the Living Dead is a fan favorite zombie film. 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 Romero's help he managed to modernize a classic while still staying true to the tale of the first undead coming back. Plus it has a Barbara that I wasn’t hoping would be eaten every time I saw her.
Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn 1987
Yea I know, but the first half of the movie is a remake of the original. Part 2 was suppose to be Army of Darkness. But Raimi didn’t have the money, so they remade and added to the original. From the beginning of the movie to this scene where he flies through the forest and lands in the mudhole is the remake. Everything from Ash landing in the mudhole to the end of the movie is actually part 2. It really isn't that hard to understand. Remember Ash dies at the end of the original, and the Naturan Demanto gets burned in the fireplace. To make a sequel, he has to remake the first one. So it’s a remake up till the mudhole. New movie from the mudhole to the end. Everyone on the same page now? Good.
The Evil Dead is part horror, part comedy, with Ashley Williams(Ash to his friends) once again battling horrifying demons at a secluded cabin in the woods. After discovering an audiotape left by a college professor that contains voices reading from the Book of the Dead, Ash’s girlfriend Linda becomes possessed by evil spirits that are awakened by the voices on the tape. Ash soon discovers there is no escaping the woods.
If by some weird universe splitting reason you have never seen this, smack yourself for being stupid and go watch it. One of the best horror comedies ever made.
The Crazies 2010
Another George Romero film takes a spot on this list. In the film, a biological weapon turns the denizens of a small town into bloodthirsty maniacs. With their families and friends out for blood and the military attempting to contain the outbreak by imposing a shoot on sight strategy, a small group of survivors have to keep their wits about them in order to escape with their lives.
Yea I know some have said it is just another zombie type movie but in this the monsters are still alive(Well every slasher movie is just a western without guns. But I don’t go around pissing on slasher movies). I view them for what they are. Yes I agree it is a movie that we’ve seen many times before, but it is a taut, effective thriller. The remake trimmed a lot of the fat from the original, opting to focus on fewer characters and centering it on the simple premise of survival, whereas the original’s story was told through interwoven accounts of the survivors and the military brass charged with the clean up effort. Ultimately this leaner approach to storytelling makes 2010’s The Crazies just as good, if not superior to the ’73 original.
Piranha 3D 2010
Let me say this isn’t exactly high art, or even a particularly good film, but it is a whole lot of fun and arguably more watchable than the 1978 Jaws rip-off(or it's sequel) that inspired it. We say inspired because aside from the premise revolving around vicious fish nibbling on unsuspecting fans of sun and surf, these two films couldn’t be more different.
As a result, P3D is a better film because of it. It wholeheartedly embraces everything that makes it ridiculous and instead of trying to play it straight, they decided to run with it and deliver a schlocky, highly entertaining film throughout.
Piranha 3D is crude, violent, super gory and hilarious all at the same time. It’s a movie that a twelve year old would make, and that’s what makes it work. Remember I said great, not best horror remakes.
Bram Stoker's Dracula 1992
Who doesn’t know the story? Basically it is a vampire buying realistate lol. No we get a retelling of the Stoker classic with some great backstory added. Plus we get Anthony Hopkins as Helsing, which in itself is worth watching. The costume design, lighting, camera work, make-up-fx are all very good and make for a very atmospheric movie.
Gary Oldman is one of my favorite actors, and possible 2nd favorite Dracula.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
Evil fairies or goblins, or trolls, or whatever don't necessarily sound like prime horror film fodder, but the malevolent creatures here are scary enough to convince you. This surprisingly dark remake of a 1973 TV movie, the twisted fairytale feel and a strong emotional core. It's a pleasant surprise that works better than it comes across on paper.
I have always liked the original, and this is just different enough to enjoy without taking anything away from the original. But then again, I have always been a sucker for little creature horror movies.
A modern reboot of the franchise. The story is pretty much the same as every other remake Godzilla has had. Radiation plus Alpha Predator equal Godzilla destroying stuff. And we love it.
I could put any of the Godzilla remakes on here, and be satisfied. But this one the King of Monsters looked best. Now let us pray they will eventually just give us a 2 hour fight movie. No story, no plot, just the new Godzilla destroying cities and fighting monsters. Is that too much to ask?
Little Shop of Horrors 1986
One of the best soundtracks in horror(right behind Rocky Horror). Seymour is a nerdy orphan who finds a new plant. The plant hungers for blood and soon begins to sing for his supper.
This movie is a guilty pleasure. The music, comedy, and story combined with the cast makes for an enjoyable time. That is why I have a repainted Piranha Plant on my desk.
Twelve Monkeys 1995
A lethal virus has wiped out everyone but 1% of the population, and they are forced to live underground. So they send Cole back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemic. However Cole is sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution. Here he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous virus expert.
I was debating on including this, since the original La Jetée is more of a slideshow than movie, and very few people have seen it. Plus this is by some peoples account a sci-fi movie which i never understood. We have apocalyptic death totals, and everything from stalkers, destruction, and crazy people. To me that sounds like a horror film.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 2007
Millions of Emo’s can’t be wrong. Plus Mrs. Lovette is sexy. Set in the Victorian London, a barber is falsely accuses and spends fifteen years in exile. He returns to London meets the widow Mrs. Lovett who is the owner of a meat pie shop who tells him that his wife died from swallowed arsenic many years ago. He opens a barber shop above her store, initiating a rampage against those who made him suffer and lose his beloved family, while Mrs. Lovette makes “meat” pies
Another great example of how music and horror can combine into an wonderful story that hits every point that fans of both will like. I have not wanted a villain to die so much as I did the judge. The guy just oozed nasty.
I saved the best for last(I am right so don’t argue with me because you are wrong). This remake from Glenn Morgan, featuring Crispin Glover giving the most amazing performance of his career. Glover is a quiet loser who befriends a white rat named Socrates, and then soon has an entire army of rats to do his bidding. This is a slick, strange remake with some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen. The script is smooth, but none of that matters because Crispin Glover is insane here. Glover has always been a strong performer, but this was the first time in a while he was given the opportunity to carry an entire film, and he certainly doesn’t squander it. He rants, he raves, he looks like his head is literally going to explode off his body. It’s a treat. Plus the white rat is cute(even if it is a nasty, disease ridden harbinger of evil).
It follows the events that lead one man into the pits of insanity, taking you along for the ride. Through every blink, every wide-eyed stare, the audience is drawn into the character. We believe in his connection with the rats, and marvel at his ability to train them. And when he gets even with Mr. Martin, we celebrate.
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