There seems to be this myth among horror purists that all remakes suck. Something I totally get. For every Maniac we seem to get 5 Prom Nights. Sure there we got The Ring but we also got The Grudge, Dark Water, and tons of other awful adaptations of Japanese horror movies. Still they are pumped out by the studios with a recognizable name. Still every once in awhile you get something special. A remake that is not only good but sometimes even surpasses the original. To me these are those movies.
6- The Blob (1988)
The original Blob is a classic. It is one of the great giant monster movies of the 50’s. So what could a remake possibly bring? The answer is gore. I know that doesn’t automatically make a good movie but I felt like this was the original movie fully realized. While the original Blob comes off a bit goofy nowadays this Blob feels like a real threat. It is surprisingly fast and will kill anything in its path.
There’s also something just endearing about how 80’s it can be. While not overwhelming like Hobgoblins it has that feel. I don’t know maybe it’s the cheesy green screen. Heck maybe it is just seeing Kevin Dillon and his sweet mullet. Whatever it is it works. While far from flawless this remake ups the gore, ups the scares and is an absolutely fun time.
5- Piranha 3D (2010)
I don’t like the current trend of 3D movies. Not because of the increase in price like most people. As far as I’m concerned that is just an extra tax to prevent douches from crowding the theater. No my problem is the way 3D is used nowadays. Since Avatar the main goal has been for the 3D to add depth to the world. Yeah that’s nice but usually this amounts to little more than sparks floating to the screen in Thor 2. This makes movies like Piranha 3D even more special.
Directed by Alexandre Aja Piranha 3D knows what it is and revels in it. Instead of being a straight Jaws rip off like the original they decide to go the exploitation route. Whether we’re talking a random lesbian ocean scene to the fat kid from Stand By Me getting his dong bitten off it is over-the-top and uses the 3D the throw every piece (PUNS!) of it at you. We also have Eli Roth killed by a boat propeller. Let’s be honest, we have all wanted to see that.
4- Dawn of the Dead (2004)
In 1978 George A. Romero released what has long been considered the quintessential zombie film in Dawn of the Dead. While the movie had action and gore (even getting an X rating for it) it was also a sharp commentary on consumer culture and America in general. A horror classic that’s magic nobody, not even Romero himself, has been able to recreate.
Which is why I think the remake was genius for the remake to go in the opposite direction.
While the movie was set in a mall the movie was no longer trying to make a profound message about consumerism. Instead we get a nearly perfect popcorn film. The kind of movie where you can turn your brain off and enjoy some zombies killing people and a really poor looking zombie baby. We also got that opening which is absolutely amazing. On its own it is could be considered an amazing short. As just a part of Dawn of the Dead it is the perfect opening for a fun and frenetic zombie movie.
3- The Ring (2002)
In 2014 it’s easy to look back and laugh at The Ring. The concept of a cursed item and a long haired ghost girl has been overexposed, died and then overexposed all over again. Yet if you go back to watch the movie it is still a really good adaption. What I think made this work is the fact that they didn’t mess with the story. While I think most good remakes will this didn’t have to. Instead it depended on adapting the story and creating a creepy atmosphere. We also got an early look at director Gore Verbinski. While he has become one of the top guys for summer blockbusters he showed some skill with a quieter, tension building horror movie and I would love to see him return to the genre. In the post-Scream/pre-Saw wasteland of horror this was definitely the movie needed to kick start horror again.
2- Let Me In (2010)
If my guilty pleasures list has proven anything it is that my credibility as a reviewer is constantly at risk. Well surprise I have even more to kill my movie street cred; I prefer Let Me In to Let The Right One In. More importantly I enjoy it more because of what they took away. Admittedly this isn’t much because the movie is a pretty close remake of the original. Some scenes are beat-for-beat the same as the original. With that said they wisely cut some of the more superfluous plot points.
One of the major subplots of Let The Right One In involves the friends and neighbors of Oskar and Eli (Owen and Abby in the US version). While they had some cool scenes I never felt that they added much to the story. While still featured they were more in the background for and a detective character is featured. In one of the few times an original character works I think it added a bit more realism to an already grounded story. Well as grounded as a movie about vampires can be. Still at the end of the day we have a touching and tragic look at vampirism that the topic has needed for quite some time.
1- The Fly (1986)
I feel a bit bad picking The Fly. Not because the movie is bad, far from it. I feel bad because it feels almost a totally different movie than the original. Oh some of the original pieces are there like a man turning into a fly. No the big difference is David Cronenberg behind the camera and Chris Walas handling the special effects. While the original looks great (even today) it simply can’t compare to Cronenberg’s signature body horror.
We also get an absolutely amazing performance from Jeff Goldblum. While it’s easy to remember him as “The guy from Jurassic Park” he really is great here. Whether playing the obsessed scientist or being in a tragic love story he sells every bit of it. Not bad for a guy who’s basically melting. With an update effects, great acting and a new look this is what a horror remake should be.
The Crazies– From the start the movie comes off like it’s trying to rip off the Dawn of the Dead remake. It soon becomes apparent that we will be getting a tense and well shot take on the mediocre source material.
Evil Dead/Maniac– I chose not to include these mainly because I covered them early in the year. Still these are great for all the reasons I mentioned before. Just consider them the unofficial #7 best remakes.
My Bloody Valentine 3D– Honestly there is nothing special about this movie. It has a fairly bland storyline that is almost beat by beat the same as the original. But by god somehow it wormed its way into my heart (PUNS!). Maybe it’s the 3D, maybe it’s the upped gore, or maybe it’s just seeing Dean Winchester go cray. I just enjoy this movie more than I should.