Remakes. Love them or hate them, they are a part of horror (and film) history. With the lack of originality plaguing Hollywood I decided to list my favourite must see remakes. So strap yourselves in as I, Rhiannon Irons, a.k.a Ahlephia, take you on a journey into the already charted waters of horror remakes.
If you are an avid reader of my blog (or have paid any attention to any one of my rants on the lack of originality), you’ll know that I’m not a fan of remakes and often believe they are a waste of perfectly good cinematic space. But every once in a while, someone comes along and remakes a movie that is quite enjoyable to watch. A remake that, as much as it pains me to admit, is actually good.
So without further ado, I have completed a list of 13 horror remakes that have stood out in my opinion and are worth the watch.
What can I say? You can’t keep Jason Voorhees down no matter how hard you try. This remake was actually considered a reboot because it incorporated the first three movies of the film’s franchise into one action-packed adventure that saw Jason return to the big screen for the first time since Freddy Vs. Jason.
So what made this film stand out? Aaron Yoo as Chewie was without a doubt one of the only shinning stars with this remake. His character was fun, hilarious and I will admit, I was sad to see him die. But that alone isn’t the reason why this film has landed on this list. It landed this coveted position because out of the three big bads (Michael, Jason and Freddy) it is the only film that hasn’t seemed to piss of the original fan base, all the while rebuilding Jason as somewhat of an anti-hero. Yes, there were some that disliked this film, but overall, it was a success. Crystal Lake has never been a more dangerous place to visit.
Nothing will beat the original with Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface, but this remake sure as hell tried. Beginning and ending with ‘found footage’, this film was about as great as remakes come. Starring Jessica Biel, this version was about combining old concepts with the new. Using cinematic masterpiece moments from the original film like hanging a victim on a meat hook, the remake was surprisingly gritty.
So what makes this stand out? For the first time since The Blair Witch Project, I actually enjoyed the ‘found-footage’ moments at the beginning and the end. Jessica Biel proved she had the lung power to match it with the best of the scream queens and the disturbing team of Andrew Bryniarski (Leatherface) and R. Lee Ermey (Sheirff Hoyt) was simply outstanding. When it comes to terror and chainsaws, Leatherface has proved he still has what it takes to get the job done.
OK, I will admit that I’m a huge Sarah Michelle Gellar fan, and her performance in the American remake of the Japanese horror Ju-on (2002) was hard to pass up. Being an American in Japan has its disadvantages especially if you don’t know, or seemingly understand the language. But Karen (Gellar) isn’t bothered by that. She’s more bothered by the fact that the house in which she’s working seems to be haunted by some vengeful spirit that is hell-bent on passing along an ancient curse.
Now, my love of Sarah won’t diminish the fact that I will always recommend the Japanese original first, but should you not be able to get your hands on Ju-on, then The Grudge is a perfect substitute. Tension is high in this remake and settings are both creepy and beautiful. A must see.
Another remake of a Japanese movie to make this list, The Ring taught me that watching videos is apprently bad for you. Australia’s own Naomi Watts starred in the American version and played to her strengths as a protective mother and investigator, determined to get to the bottom of a curse that befalls anyone who watches a certain tape. For with just one viewing, your phone will ring and a chilling voice will say “Seven days.” If that’s not chilling enough, the consider the fact that over the course of those seven days, weird and unexplained things will happen that were all witnessed on that cursed video tape. And on the seventh day….you die.
Based on the 1998 movie Ringu, The Ring did an amazing job of remaining terrifying as well as jumping cultures from Japanese to American. Like with The Grudge, I will always recommend seeing the original, but this version is just as amazing. Not deviating from the original story, The Ring has proven itself worthy of placing on this list. Hmmm….I wonder how this would look in 3D just as she’s climbing out of the TV…
Wes Craven’s mind is one demented little cube for coming up with this idea. And Alexandre Aja’s mind is just as demented for remaking the story with such finesse that it scared the bejesus out of audiences 29 years after the original surfaced. A suburban American family is being stalked by a group of psychotic people who live in the desert, far away from civilisation. Add in the fact that this ‘civilisation’ live in a nuclear testing site and are now horribly deformed after years of possible inbreeding as well as raidiation and now feed on human flesh and you’ve got yourself a terrifying horror movie.
But what made this remake so enjoyable was the performances from each of the actors as well as the settings. The remoteness of the film was unnerving, the desert landscape proving more chills than necessary. This film is rare. Not because of the way it was shot or the storyline, but rather the fact that I often tell people, “You don’t need to see the original to enjoy, or understand, this.”
It’s cheesy. It’s fun. It’s about ‘man-eating’ fish and scantly clad women. The original came out in 1978 and was riding on the wave of Jaws, giving audiences another reason not to go into the water. But in 2010, the fear was reinstalled when Piranha 3D made a splash in cinemas. (Fun Fact: Piranha deaths are actually quite rare. How they are portrayed in the movie is vastly different from how they react in the wild. They cannot strip a carcass as quickly as shown in the film as it normally takes serveral weeks, even if the fish are starved, and they are more afraid of humans than we are of them)
What gave this film the number eight ranking on this list? The massive death sequence which saw more blood in twenty minutes than the Red Cross does in a year, the beautifully filmed nude synchronised swimming sequence with Kelly Brook and Riley Steele, Jerry O’Connell having his dick bitten off and Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Boyd at the beginning singing “Show Me The Way To Go Home.” Now, with a sequel on the way, all I can say is, “Here fishy, fishy, fishy.”
Originally filmed in 1981, the 2009 remake took a drastically different turn with Supernatural star, Jensen Ackles, taking the lead and showing us a whole new side to his personality. Keeping the same theme as the original, the beginning of the remake saw newspaper clippings blaming Ackles’ character for a cave in at the mine that killed six people. At a Valentine’s Day party being held in the mine, the lone survivor of that disaster, Harry Warden comes back to take revenge. He is shot by police, killed on sight…..or so it would seem.
What I liked most about this film was the characters. Normally I think Jaime King is a terrible over actor, but in this she was amazing. Kerr Smith as Axel had his moments where you wanted to smack him, then hug him which was exactly how to play his character. Ackles was great too, especially towards the end when he began to lose all control. Why do I recommend this? If the characters are interesting enough, the death sequences are. I’m sure discovering new ways to kill someone with a pick axe will keep your attention.
Originally filmed in 1979, When A Stranger Calls is actually based on an old urban legend. In the remake, Camilla Belle plays the leading role of Jill Johnson who is grounded after going over her phone call minutes. As punishment, she is forced to babysit for Dr. Mandrakis and his wife. Their two children are sick, so Jill considers this to be an easy job. But when the phone begins to ring, her pulse begins to race. Especially when someone doesn’t answer, then asks her if she’s checked on the children. But what scares Jill the most is when the police trace the call….and it’s coming from inside the house.
The remake was enjoyable on many levels. Firstly, Camilla Belle was good as the leading lady. She was sweet, tough when she needed to be and had the interests of the children in mind first. Very Jamie Lee Curtis circa Halloween. The house that Jill was staying at was breathtaking and I’ve never been more disappointed to learn that it isn’t an actual house, rather than sets built on a sound stage. Finally, the moment when we see the stranger’s face is more chilling than one could imagine. We read more terror into that one moment then we do throughout the entire film. This is one film that will make you think twice before babysitting again.
I couldn’t pass over Robert Englund in the remake of the 1964 cult classic Two Thousand Maniacs. The remake was campy, but delivered on gore and scares. When a group of ‘Northerners’ begin to travel down to Florida for Spring Break, they end up taking a detour through what appears to be a ghost town called Pleasant Valley. But when they stumble across the inhabitants of Pleasant Valley, they agree to stay for the barbeque that is being planned by the locals. What they didn’t count on was them being the main course.
Why does this film make the list? The deaths were highly entertaining. One girl gets pulled apart by having her limbs tied to four horses, another guy gets his dick bitten off with a set a steel jaws while my favourite death sequence is Ricky getting a barbeque skewer up his ass and out his mouth. Throw Robert Englund in as Mayor Buckman into the mix and you have campy terror like nothing you’ve seen before. One thing is for certain….An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind (Once you watch this film, you’ll understand what it means)
There is a glass house in the middle of no where. A house designed by the devil and powered by the dead. Arthur and his two children, Kathy and Bobby, inherit his Uncle Cyrus’s estate: a glass house that serves as a prison to 12 ghosts. When the family, accompanied by Bobby’s Nanny and an attorney, enter the house they find themselves trapped. As the ghosts are slowly released, they find themselves fighting for life against the spirits of the death.
Matthew Lillard is one of the reasons why I loved this movie. Seeing him in something serious is always a nice change of pace. Add that to the wonderful back stories of each of the ghosts, the make-up and effects and you have one hell of a story that makes you grateful that you can’t see the dead. It also makes you wonder how far some spirits will go long after their bodies have gone….
When an eccentric millionaire offer a group of opposites $1,000,000 to spend the night in a so called “Haunted House” with a murderous past, they figure it is a quick way to get quick money and leave. All of them are sure it is some made up story just to mess with their heads a little and test their courage. But, once they stay in the house they start to think about the mistake they made in coming there when mysterious things start to happen.
Geoffrey Rush starring as Stephen Price, and looking somewhat like the star of the original film, Vincent Price, steals the show, proving that he can be as creepy as the haunted house in which they’re staying. This is by far one of my favourite remakes. A film that is as enjoyable and as entertaining as the original deserves some recognition. A must see film!
A Tom Savini remake of a classic George A. Romero film? Yes, it is possible not only to recreate the terror that was caused by the original horde of zombies, but also to launch a career of one of horrors biggest icons. Make-up artist extraordinaire, Savini shows that he is more than capiable of resurrecting the dead and unleashing them upon people stranded in an old farm house with no way out.
If you read this months Horror Icon article, you’ll know that it was because of this film that Tony Todd became a house hold name. And his performance as Ben is what seals second place for Night Of The Living Dead. His performance and the performance of Patricia Tallman as Barbara was what made this movie fun, enjoyable, entertaining and terrifying. So when the zombie apocolypes occurs, I highly recommend recruiting Tony Todd to take them on…..after all, in this, he knew exactly what do even if it cost him his life.
A young man with an unusual connection with rats, uses them at his own sociopathic will. Never before have I ever found rats scary, but team them with Back To The Future star Crispin Glover, and they become a nightmare waiting to happen. The story is of Willard Stiles, who is a social misfit taking care of his ill and fragile but verbally abusive mother Henrietta in a musty old mansion that is also home to a colony of rats. Willard then finds himself constantly humiliated in front of his co-workers and is eventually fired by his cruel and uncaring boss, Mr. Frank Martin, a vicious man whose professional interest in Willard extends to a personal financial one.
Why is this remake my number one? Two words: Crispin Glover. Often overlooked as a leading man, Crispin proved himself worthy of such a status. He plays a loner convincingly and manages to stammer on cue. When he befriends the rats, you feel a sense of joy that Willard has found something in his life that makes him happy. But when he gets the rats to do his evil bidding, that’s when things take a nasty turn. He is just as convincing as a madman, but still, when the rats turn on him thanks to an exceptionally large one named Big Ben, you can’t help but empathise with his character. After all, aren’t we all alone at times too.
Ahlephia’s Top 5 Worst Remakes
5) Halloween (2007) – Great idea on the back story for Michael….lousy execution
4) The Haunting (1999) – I love Catherine Zeta-Jones, but her seduction couldn’t save this film….the original is much better
3) Children Of The Corn (2009) – It went straight to television for a reason
2) Psycho (1998) – Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates….need I say more
1) Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) – Replacing Robert Englund as Freddy sealed the fate of this film before it even hit cinemas
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