I just went and saw Matt Reeves remake of Let Me In which has inspired me to write an editorial on what I consider to be 5 of the best horror remakes. No easy feat since there is alot of really really bad horror remakes mixed in with a few good ones. Just as a quick interlude I would like to point out what my issue with Horror remakes is. Alot of horror fans hate remakes just on principal alone of Hollywood studios ripping off our memories and trying to cash in on them. I am not in this camp. I judge a movie based on its merits and if a remake is done right it can deliver an exciting and original experience while paying homage to the original film and not completely ripping it off.
So no I don’t hate horror remakes as a whole but yes I do hate remakes that are just blatant low brow studio cash ins. Below are five remakes where the filmmakers cashed in on a horror classic but did so in a fashion that delivered not just money into their coffers but also a fantastic film experience.
The Fly: Directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis this film is a remake of the 1958 movie directed by Kurt Neuman and starring Vincent Price an absolute legend to us genre fans. The film is about a scientist who in an attempt to develop a teleportation technology inadvertently crosses his DNA with a fly and begins to mutate not just physically but mentally as well. Scary, creepy and gorey the Fly remake is a fantastic film because of a great director a talented cast adn an excellent script. The Fly is not just a horror movie about a scientist that mutates into a vicious killer it is also about the human character, love and tough choices. A truly fantastic scifi-horror film that everyone should see.
Let Me In: Matt Reeve’s who did Clovefield with JJ Abrams is behind this remake which is currently playing in theatres. [ Let Me In Review ] Originally I was not sure what I thought of this remake since it was a blatant scene by scene rip off from the trailers and admittedly having seen the film it really is a big rip off. It even rips off the tone and visual look of the original film. That all said the reason Let Me In has made my list is because as much as it knocks off the original film it takes it to new levels adding details and elements that were missing from the original film.
Although Matt Reeves clearly took 80% of the source material and redid it verbatim he was able to add enough new background material and develop the characters to a point where Let Me In is a fun experience. Matt Reeves brings out new layers to the main characters Owen and Abby which were not obvious in the original film while bringing new levels of terror. A well written film, with great characters it takes what the original film did well and builds upon it.
Dawn of the Dead: George Romero is a legend in the horror genre for his zombie films and is one of the few directors that I respect and admire. Not only is he talented but he is a super nice guy. When Universal announced they were going to remake Dawn of the Dead I was very hesitant but when they announced Zach Snyder would direct I about pee’d my pants. Zach Snyder true to form delivered one hell of an experience. Dawn of the Dead is a remake but only in the sense that it has zombies and takes place in a mall, otherwise it is very much its own film. Where George Romero’s film is a story of human survival with a deep story that talks about the state of society Zach Snyder’s version is an action pack terrorfest. I did not find George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead even remotely scary but will admit that Zach Snyder’s running, screaming, ripping zombies made me think twice about going to the mall.
Zach Snyder had an outstanding cast including the talented Sarah Polley as the lead character and mixed in a fantastic and original story combined with some insane sequences of zombie destruction and violence. Rarely does a movie end with me begging for a sequel much less a remake but Dawn of the Dead ended with such intensity I left the theatre begging for more. Zach Snyder has teased of a sequel and as a huge fan of zombie films and Zach Snyder I sure hope that project happens!
-Night of the Living Dead 1990: When you think of zombie movies what film comes to mind? If your new to the genre it is likely Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead or Zach Snyders Dawn of the Dead. If your a die hard genre fan then you likely think Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE or George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Made in 1968 the film is truly fantastic but for fear of committing sacriledge I am going to go out on a limb and say the remake which George Romero produced and Legendary FX man Tom Savini directed is a better film. Dont lynch me! Tom Savini with the help of George Romero took the original black and white film and turned it into a classic film that every horror fan can love. The political messages about society are still very much evident in the story but added to it is a new level of scares, violence and human drama. The remake of Night of the Living Dead is well polished with an outstanding cast and a great team and a testament to remakes done right. Easily one of the Top 5 Horror remakes ever done!
Halloween: Rob Zombie cracks me up. He came out in the press and trashed filmmakers who do remakes and then he turned around and did not only a remake of Halloween but a sequel to a remake in the form of Halloween 2. Rob Zombies Halloween 2 sucked in every sense of the word but I have to give him credit on the remake of Halloween. It was creepy, violent and a throw back to classic American horror films. Rarely does a remake live up to the original but Rob Zombie’s Halloween for me is as good as the original and a film that both die hard genre fans and mainstream horror fans can appreciate together.
The Blob: I have a soft spot for 80’s Camp Horror films. I love Return of the Living Dead, Dead Heat and other films of the like. The Blob is of the same grain and is also a favourite of mine. A remake of the 1958 scifi-horror film it is the story of a mysterious blob that comes from outterspace to take over a small town. Campy, entertaining and original The Blob is a fantastic film that fans of scifi-horror will love. Also worth noting their is another remake on the way of this film and Rob Zombie is slated to direct. Yes I laugh everytime he is signed up to direct another remake.