10. 'My Bloody Valentine,' 2009
The difference with this horror remake is that the 1981 original is just not that good. It is cheaply made, has pedestrian scares, and is exceptionally dated. A movie about a serial killer who hates Valentine's revelers seems like a great idea to me, but this is mainly about a mining accident that happened on the day many years before and the ‘no celebrating’ rule that came out of that. Those pesky kids just never learn and so the masked killer starts teaching them some deadly lessons. The remake is only truly good when viewed in 3D, but as it was filmed with that intention, it's hardly a negative. The actors are all TV veterans that turn in sound but unremarkable performances; however the effects are good, the kills are fun, and the twist ending was a doozy..
Dare I say it — better than the original.
9. Rob Zombie’s 'Halloween,' 2007
I’ve always considered the 1978 John Carpenter Halloween a classic, that is until I revisited it last year and realized there was quite a lot of imperfection in it. It was, an obviously always will be, one of the first slasher movies; it's certainly the first ‘mainstream’ Hollywood slasher, but there was much to improve on and while I do not think Rob Zombie’s version was better as such, it is a great companion piece. What is best and unique about the ‘remake’ is that it focuses on a different part of the story than the original. Here we have Michael Myers as a troubled teen, all pubescent angst and coiled rage. Stylistically, this film is certainly a step up from the original and the story manages to inject a decent amount of pathos into the proceedings therefore giving it all a ring of tragedy that was missing in the original. Nice work.
8. 'Fright Night,' 2011
The 1985 original starred quite a few straight-to-video '80s actors, had TV quality cinematography and an odd comedy/horror balance that ensured its awkwardness for generations to come. And I loved it! This tale of a vampire that moves in next door was hokey good fun, with main guy Charlie’s best friend, Evil Ed, stealing the show. The remake has just as much fun (especially with David Tennant as Peter Vincent, Vampire hunter, clearly channeling Russell Brand), but it also ups the ante on the horror with Colin Farrell giving an incredible, truly menacing performance as the vampire next door — there’s nothing sparkly about this monster! A great cast and great performances make this remake well worth it.
7. 'A Nightmare On Elm Street,' 2010
This will be my most controversial inclusion and I am well aware of the negativity and outright hate people have for this remake. I thought of leaving it off the list but I have to be true to my own experience of this film — I thought it was a great addition to the many Nightmare films in the series. Firstly, the 1984 original is a classic and in my top five horrors of all time. Freddy Krueger is iconic and yes, Robert Englund shone playing that character. Having said that, I think the remake fleshed out the backstory in new ways that made his violent history even more repugnant, adding as it did, elements that had only been hinted at in the original. I liked the concept of micro-sleeps and as Oscar nominated actress Rooney Mara’s first outing as a big screen lead, she gives a great performance, as does Jackie Earle Haley as the ‘new Freddy.’ Disagree, as I’m sure you will, but I really liked the remake. I went to the cinema prepared to hate it and came out thinking I wanted to buy a copy — that’s a sign of a successful remake.
6. 'Last House On The Left,' 2009
One of the ‘video nasty’s of the '80s, the 1972 original was banned in several countries over the years (including in Australia for 32 years), and was initially refused a rating as director Wes Craven would not accept an ‘X’ and an ‘R’ was thought to be too mild a rating for such a notoriously unpleasant film experience. Craven's directorial debut is an endurance test of a movie, telling the story of the kidnap, rape, humiliation, torture, and brutal deaths of two teenage girls by a gang who is later subjected to violence at the hands of the parents. The original, while truly shocking, had many missteps: some of the ‘revenge’ situations were absurd and the inclusion of bumbling police officers accompanied by a twanging banjo was a truly bad idea. The remake retains the original's ideas and story, and adds more realism, more sympathetic characters, and more backstory, with only a slight loss of that disturbing quality that made the original so effective. The main drawback of the remake is that terrible tacked-on ending. If it had ended 10 minutes earlier it would be further up on my list; but for attempting to remake a genuine horror classic game-changer, number 6 ain’t bad...
5. 'The Amityville Horror,' 2005
This is another film where the source material is not so much ‘good’ as ‘influential.’ The 1979 original was supposedly based on the true story of the Lutz family who were driven from their Amityville home by particularly unpleasant ghosty types. The scares are few and far between and it is all a rather labored exercise with only the ‘true story’ label amping interest. The remake starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George echoes the '70s setting with aplomb, but here the chills are much more effective and frequent, the possession of the father figure is clearer and explored to a more fulfilling conclusion, and the episodic nature of the original is gone. When this came out it was to little fanfare but in the end it seems to have found an audience, surprised at how well executed this remake truly is. Kudos.
4. 'The Fly,' 1986
The 1958 original starring Vincent Price was a silly affair with an accidentally amusing climax. The storyline concerns itself with a ‘mad’ scientist who designs a teleporter to break down living organisms to the atomic level and then reassemble them elsewhere. It all goes horribly wrong when he decides to test it in himself, not knowing that a fly is in the chamber with him. This storyline is the same in both versions but the remake, directed by visceral master David Cronenberg, takes it all to a whole new level. Wanna see a guy puke onto his food before slurping it down? Wanna see a guy pull out his own fingernails and grow weird bristly hair where no human should have it? Wanna see a guy twitch and tick as he becomes more and more fly-like? Then this is the movie for you! Expertly acted by Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum this is the pinnacle of ‘body horror.’ Not for the squeamish...
3. 'The Ring,' 2002
The basics behind the 1998 original (Ringu) are here — watch a video, get a call saying “seven days” and seven days later you are dead. It’s the background story of that haunting girl with the hair in her face that is changed between the two films. I have to admit, I found the original convoluted and messy, some things were hard to follow, other red herrings just muddy the water and dilute the scares. The remake was sharper, and more cohesive. The scares are on point! Some scenes are absolutely horrifying in the best sense, some scenes you know will stay with you for years. The remake takes the abstract ideas of the original and ties them together in a way that is fresh and haunting. Not to mention that wintery Gore Verbinski direction. Faultless.
2. 'Dawn of the Dead,' 2004
In 1978 George Romero followed up his ground breaking horror classic Night of the Living Dead with a film that explored the idea of a small band of survivors trying to escape the shuffling undead by hiding in a shopping mall. The socio-political commentary — brain dead consumerism, the dangers of military power and marshal law et al. were writ large in this horror, so the remake had a lot to look up to.
Zack Snyder, director of the remake, attempted none of that and instead just gave us one of the best zombie movies of recent years. This is balls-to-the-wall, blood and guts, face-biting good fun! It's still set in a shopping mall, still has a range of survivors holed up there, but what ensues is very different and I guess a die hard fan of the original could hate the remake for that and would have a reasonable argument as to why. I appreciate the original, it's funny and silly and important all at once; but I love the remake. It's just as funny but has a good dose of nasty to even it out. And that somber ending is killer.
1. 'The Thing,' 1982
The Thing From Another World came out in 1951, amid all the communist paranoia and McCarthyism, when it was thought that you couldn’t really trust your neighbor, when it seemed that anyone could be, well, anyone. So a film about the idea of your work-friend hiding his alien self was always going to draw an audience. Scientists at an Arctic research station discover a spacecraft buried in the ice. When they accidentally thaw the pilot back at their base, things go decidedly pear-shaped for them. The original is hamstrung by a low budget but the story is strong, the acting successful, and it is still an effective film. The 1982 John Carpenter remake, is nothing short of a masterpiece. One of the finest paranoid horrors ever put on film, this is Kurt Russell in all his beardy awesomeness, trying to decide who is human and who needs to be destroyed. The remote setting adds to the tension and beauty, the effects are jaw droppingly good and have held up over all these years to still be as amazing now as they were in 1982. It’s a pity this film couldn’t find an audience when it first came out, hitting cinemas on E.T.’s adorable heels didn’t help — who wanted to see a film about bad aliens after that little guy phoned home? But this is a film that can still be appreciated and respected now. The original was good, the remake was better — ‘nuff said!