January is almost over and few of us have kept our resolutions. Don’t worry, the year is still new and second chances can happen anytime. So, in keeping with that theme, here’s my picks for the best horror reboots/remakes.
Typically, I’m a big fan of the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, with the superior technological advances in both filmmaking and special effects, some reboots or remakes are pretty darn good, a few even surpass their predecessors. Let me know what you think.
10. Fright Night (1985/2011)
Yes, the characters aren’t half as charismatic as the original cast, but the acting talents of Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette and David Tennant are what keep Fright Night from being a bad remake. While the story itself hasn’t changed much, the remake loses most of its humor, in favor of a more sardonic style, making the film more of a thriller.
Biggest Changes: Setting location moves from main town, USA to a glitzy suburb of Las Vegas. No more camp, just blood-thirsty vampires.
9. The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2006)
Despite losing the iconic performance of Pluto from horror thespian Michael Berryman, the remake is a faster paced film with better production value. Fresh off his success with Haute Tension (aka High Tension), French film director Alexandre Aja directs a new gory retelling of Wes Craven’s cult classic.
Biggest Changes: The new story sheds light on mutant’s backstory and even tries to convince audiences to have a little sympathy for mutant community by showing how heinous regular humans can become in the fight for survival.
8. Piranha 3D (1978/2010)
Once booted from Comic-Con’s famed Hall H lineup in the summer of 2010 because the trailer’s content was too unsuitable to show the audience, Alexandre Aja’s unapologetic reboot replaces the quiet little horror sleeper of the 1970s and pays homage to campy 80s horror films.
Biggest Changes: Somewhat bombastic, definitely gratuitous, the horror-comedy reboot features an all-star cast, scantily-clad beach-goers, and gory eye-popping visuals.
7. Evil Dead (1981/2013)
The reboot’s familiar story and renewed gore factor, which takes advantage of modern CGI and better make-up techniques, helps the film quickly reestablish its roots. Unfortunately, it’s also devoid of the wittiness of Bruce Campbell. (Anyone looking for true nostalgia, should watch the first season of Starz’ TV series instead.)
Biggest Changes: Not enough of the iconic character Ashley Johanna Williams (Ash), for the which the Evil Dead series is now synonymous.
6. The Crazies (1977/2010)
The remake is bloodier, more violent and easier to understand than George A. Romero’s original, which some people considered a zombie film without the zombies. Romero’s social commentary the Vietnam war, environmental woes, and fears of small town living are replaced with the Iraq war, environmental woes and fears of small town living.
Biggest Changes: It’s more zombie-esque and the quiet subtlety is gone.
5. Dawn of the Dead (1978/2004)
The remake features more relatable characters convened in the familiar shopping mall setting, in the same doomsday premise. While the social commentary on American consumerism-gone-wild doesn’t pack the same punch as George A. Romero’s original film, director Zack Snyder’s version is a smart, taunt thriller, designed for the next generation of horror film buffs.
Biggest Changes: The undead move faster, scream louder and are more frenzied, making them truly terrifying creatures.
4. Ringu/The Ring (1998/2002)
Director Gore Verbinski’s American remake of the 1998 Japanese horror sensation Ringu, had a bigger budget and A-list talent but it’s still as close to the original film as one can get. Both movies are adaptions of the novel by Koji Suzuki and if you ran the movies side by side, many scenes are identical.
Biggest Changes: Verbinski upped the ante by adding more jump scares and playing up the mystery of the mythos behind the tape.
3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956/1978)
Of all the remakes done of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the 1978 version is the scariest of them all. Unlike the original sci-fi melodrama with corny dialogue, Philip Kaufman’s Body Snatchers is a taunt sci-fi thriller with top notch acting from heavyweights such Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy. The original premise is still there, but moving the story to San Francisco makes it feel fresher and movie itself is more ominous. City folk are simply too busy to notice an alien invasion.
Biggest Changes: Besides the bigger budget and better production values, the stakes seem higher when the invasion moves from small town USA to the big city.
2. The Fly (1958/1981)
David Cronenberg, aka the Baron of Blood, turned the 1958 sci-fi melodrama into the most visceral love story ever produced, with a stomach churning, yet sympathetic performance by the charismatic Jeff Goldblum, and spectacular make-up effects created by Chris Walas, which won the Academy Award that year.
Biggest Changes: Besides the amazing make-up effects, audiences get see the man-to-fly transformation process over time, which is like a watching train wreck, shocking and gory but you can’t look away.
1. The Thing From Another World/The Thing (1951/1982)
To me, there are two horror films that brilliantly explore the theme of paranoia, Jaws is the first and the Horror Master John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing is the second. Upon its release, the Thing was immediately panned, critics and audiences alike didn’t know what to make of the new gory “barfbag” interpretation of Howard Hawks’ beloved sci-fi classic. Yet, Carptenter re-imagined the story with screenwriter Bill Lancaster directly from the novella ‘Who Goes There?’ and created a movie with the notion, the thing comes from within. Eventually, the movie found new life on home video and a more accepting audience as time went on. Today, it’s a cult classic and remains a constant staple on all the top 100 best horror lists of all time.
Biggest Changes: Gory, visceral, existential, nihilistic…this ain’t your granddaddy’s Thing.