Movie Talk: The Top 10 Horror Remakes
Written by: Tim Meyer
When it comes to horror remakes, it’s hard to assemble a list of the best. Remakes are generally terrible, unable to stand up to their predecessors. Especially when the originals are so damn good and, well, original. Anyway, here are my favorites. Warning: I’ve been known to like some bad movies, so feel free to lay into me in the comments below.
10 – House of Wax – I know exactly what you’re thinking. Paris Hilton. Chad Michael Murray. Is this a horror movie remake, or a one-hour drama on the CW? Well, I’m probably one of the few who enjoyed this movie after multiple viewings, but I can’t help it. The story was surprisingly engaging, suspenseful as hell, and contained some of the coolest death scenes I’ve seen in a modern horror film.
9 – The Fly – I can’t think of a movie that’s more unsettling than The Fly. David Cronenberg’s take on the 58′ classic is utterly spectacular. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis deliver great performances. Couple this with excellent special effects, and a half-human, half-fly monster, and you have one of the greatest horror movies of all time, making it an instant classic. Fun fact; after watching this movie, I made sure I owned a fly swatter. A really big one.
8 – My Bloody Valentine 3D – Although this movie has House of Wax qualities to it, I don’t care. I thought this remake was a great time at the movie theater. If I remember correctly, it helped kick-start the recent obsession with 3D. Sure it’s a cheap gimmick, but this movie utilizes it quite well. I think the creative, brutal death scenes elevated it from mediocrity. And even though the Fight Club ending proved ineffective, the movie entertained me and it certainly belongs on this list.
7 – The Hills Have Eyes – Wes Craven’s movie is great. So naturally, like most moviegoers when the remake came out, I was skeptical. But, like all of the remakes that came out around that time, I took a chance and hoped for the best. Much to my delight, the 2006 kept up with the classic. The movie is violent, creepy, and makes me never want to take a road trip to see the Grand Canyon. A very talented cast, including Ted Levine and Emile De Ravin, also helps make this movie stand out from other remakes. It also spawned a sequel, which was much more violent, but not as good.
6 – Dawn of the Dead – Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of the Romero classic is one of the most intense zombie movies you’ll ever see. It’s got plenty of action, copious amounts of gore, awesome zombie death scenes, and Ving Rhames. What more could you possibly want out of a zombie film? Romero fans and zombie purists probably disregard this film, especially as a remake, but my experience with this film has been nothing short of awesome.
5 – The Crazies – Look what we have here. Another Romero remake. If you’re counting, this is the second one to make this list. The Crazies for me is a fierce, action-packed thriller that has everything you could expect from a solid horror film. I was never a huge fan of the original, so this movie was a remake I welcomed with open arms. The updated version keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat for the entire ninety minutes, right where they should be.
4 – I Spit On Your Grave – Whoa. Talk about intense. Both movies pull it off here, tugging on my emotions like an angry puppeteer. The remake was violent enough to make me squirm in my seat, and that’s saying something. Plus, I’m a sucker for movies where the victim goes apeshit and exacts revenge on their attackers.
3 – Night of the Living Dead – I love Romero’s classic zombie tale. It’s the first of its kind. Without it, the zombie craze never would have happened. That’s right. Imagine the world without Max Brooks’ World War Z, Brian Keene books, or The Walking Dead. Scary, huh? Tom Savini’s remake isn’t exactly shot for shot, but it’s pretty damn close. Most of all, it captures the same tone and themes that the original did, just updating its effects. Honestly, without the remake, zombies might not be what they are today. Plus, for whatever reason, the talented Bill Moseley chanting “They’re going to get you, Barbara,” still sends chills down my spine.
2 – Black Xmas – Nothing shouts out Christmas spirit like dysfunctional families, scenes involving incest, disfigured murderers, and some of the most gruesome death scenes you’ll probably ever see in a horror film. Well, maybe not. But I watch this movie every December, because it’s one of my favorites. Although the original is a classic, and done very well, I actually prefer the remake. If you haven’t seen it, ask Santa for it next Christmas. You won’t be disappointed.
1 – The Thing – Admittedly, I never saw The Thing From Another World. I know. Shame on me. But John Carpenter’s ’82 remake is one of my favorite movies of all time, one of the few classics that still holds up today. Everything about this movie is perfect. The special effects are disturbing, the acting is great, and thematically, the movie shows us what fear, isolation, and distrust can truly do to the human psyche. No movie has had a bigger impact on me than The Thing.
Remakes that deserve attention: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Evil Dead, Last House on the Left, Frankenstein, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, The Blob, and Piranha 3D.
Tim Meyer lives near the Jersey Shore (but don’t hold that against him). He is the author of ‘In the House of Mirrors’ and several other horror novels. His new zombie novel ‘Less Than Human’ is now available on Amazon.
The Crazies also had actor, Timothy Olyphant, in the lead role as the sheriff of the town taken over by zombies, and Radha Mitchen (Pitch Black) as his wife. Timothy Olyphant now plays Raylon Givens, a US Marshal in Kentucky, on Justified. It was a pretty good remake of the Romero film.
A VERY mixed reaction to this list from me.
On a positive note, I agree with the inclusion of The Fly and The Thing (although I don’t agree with the order in which they appear), and big props to you for including The Crazies, The Hills Have Eyes and My Bloody Valentine 3D, all of which I’d list as well. Dawn of the Dead was another solid selection. I don’t think it’s superior to Romero’s film (I honestly don’t think ANY zombie film is), but it still works extremely well on its own, fresh terms.
Adversely, on the negative side, I consider both House of Wax and Black Xmas to not only be subpar when compared to the originals, but just flat out awful horror movies overall. And I can’t agree about Savini’s Night of the Living Dead. It’s okay, but it doesn’t add anything to the mix that really warranted a remake (other than empowering Barbara). Horror fans would be better served just revisiting the original classic.
I’m also bewlidered at the admission that you’ve never sen The Thing from Another World. Part of the necessary criteria for evaluating a movie in regards to it’s effectiveness as a remake is deciding how it functions in comparison to the orignal.I happen to agree that Carpenter’s film is superb , but I’m not sure how it can qualify as the number one remake if you’ve never seen the film being remade.
DS, solid points. House of Wax and Black Xmas are guilty pleasure movies. I can’t help that I enjoy them. Also, Romero’s NOTLD is always going to be better. You’re right, Savini’s version doesn’t add much, except for an extended ending. But that’s also why I love it.
Carpenter’s The Thing is universally accepted as one of the best remakes ever. It also happens to be one of my favorite movies ever. That’s why it’s number one. I’ll definitely go back and view the original, but I guarantee it won’t change my opinion as it being the number one movie on this list. But great point!
I have nine of the ten films on your list in my DVD collection.The only one I dont have is the My Bloody Valentine remake..which I have seen and thought was ok. I’m glad to see Dawn of the Dead on there. I thought that film was a nice mix of scary and funny. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is way way up the list for me though. Perhaps not higher than The Thing, but very close. So I was glad to see that on your list of could have beens along with Rob Zombie’s Halloween.
I agree with almost every one on the list. The Crazies is miles better than the original. Same with The Thing (my favorite). I totally disagree with Dawn of the Dead. They ripped the soul out of the original on that one.
Wonder if the Poltergeist remake will make the list next year.
I agree with agree with the list and Hunter about the Crazies. The only movie I though t completely sucked on here was Black Xmas. But then again, I’m also one of those 5 people in the world that loved 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. I think Jackie Earle Haley and Rooney Mara were excellent in their roles. And wish they’d come back for a sequel. To me, the key to great remakes is usually wrapped around a great screenplay (naturally) and REAL actors. So many horror films in general, fail from inexpensive, bad actors.,Mara and Haley, much like Kurt Russell in The Thing, add legitimate talent to these films.