These days, if a movie doesn’t involve superheroes or isn’t a Star Wars spin-off, chances are it’s a sequel or a reboot of some other property you’ve held dear to your heart. Since it seems like Hollywood would rather prey on your nostalgia than dream up something original, it doesn’t look like remakes and reboots are going anywhere in the near future.
Typically, news of a remake or reboot is met with a groan or a rolling of the eyes, as they are deemed to be inferior rehashes of a story that was done better the first time around. However every so often a remake takes audiences by surprise and delivers a fun and entertaining experience that doesn’t tarnish the legacy of the original film.
The horror genre is rife with potential remake/reboot material, and with some of the most die hard fans, not all remakes can please the fans. Somehow, against all odds, these films did. The are the 15 Horror Movie Remakes That Are Actually Fantastic.
15. Evil Dead (2013)
While the film’s marketing campaign might not have been entirely accurate (it professed that the movie was “the most terrifying film you will ever experience”), 2013’s Evil Dead was a triumph for horror fans, and even more so for gore hounds.
Although series staple Ash Williams is noticeably absent throughout the film (although he resurfaced for the TV show), 2013’s Evil Dead works in returning the franchise to straight horror, dropping the more comedic elements of Evil Dead II (which is a quasi-remake of the original film itself) and Army of Darkness.
Even though it takes a long time for anyone to pick up a chainsaw (an electric carving knife does provide a decent substitute), the blood and gore flows freely throughout the entire film. For those who don’t get squeamish very easily, 2013’s Evil Dead will undoubtedly leave them satisfied.
14. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
In 2004, Zack Snyder took the DNA of Geroge Romero’s classic 1978 sequel to Night of the Living Dead and made a remake that had audiences sitting on the edge of their seats.
Snyder chose to ditch the subtext of the original film in favor of frenetic action. Romero’s original film used the zombie outbreak as a slow burning social commentary on the state of consumerism, something that is totally ignored in Snyder’s version, despite both films taking place in a shopping mall.
In addition to jettisoning the underlying commentary, Snyder’s film features zombies who are quick and agile, as opposed to the slow lumbering varieties that were far more common.
Many people erroneously believe that Dawn of the Dead was the first film to feature fast zombies (provided you don’t count 28 Days Later), but this isn’t the case. The concept of fast zombies was originally dreamt up in 1985 with Return of the Living Dead. Although we’re fairly sure that this was the first time we have seen a zombie in utero.
13. Friday the 13th (2009)
An incredibly divisive remake, 2009’s Friday the 13th was an attempt at revitalizing the fledgling horror franchise. Instead of being a straight remake of the original 1980 slasher, the remake attempted to combine the mythos of the first three films in the Friday series, while integrating some new ideas and characters.
The result was a commendable effort, one that sought to return the hockey-masked murderer to his horror roots. This version of Jason was imposing and even scary, something the later sequels failed to do as Jason and his bloody exploits became more tongue in cheek than terrifying.
In addition to some awesomely gruesome kills, some of which rank right up there with the series’ best, the filmmakers tried to answer one of the biggest questions that have nagged Friday fans for years. How does Jason, who never breaks a brisk walk, manage to catch his victims, who are usually running away as fast as they possibly can? Underground tunnels of course.
12. The Blob (1988)
A film about sentient Jell-O running amok in a small American town may not strike you as a particularly unsettling premise, but in 1958 a science fiction film called The Blob terrified audiences, as an amoeba-like alien creature feasted on hapless Americans in a thinly-veiled attempt at anti-communism propaganda.
The film was well liked by audiences but wasn’t particularly popular with critics, which would lead to The Blob being cited as an example of how a cheesy B-movie could still be entertaining and successful.
Thirty years later, The Blob was remade, with impressive modern special effects and Kevin Dillon’s equally impressive mullet. 1988’s The Blob still maintains the tongue-in-cheek tone of the original, while offering up some of the goriest kills of the 80s. Fans of the film even regard The Blob to be one of the best horror remakes ever made, which is quite impressive when you consider that they had to make an amorphous glob of pink goo seem threatening. Here’s hoping that the new remake can do the same.
11. Let Me In (2010)
A remake of the 2008 Swedish film Let The Right One In, which was an adaptation of the book of the same name, 2010’s Let Me In is an Americanized remake, in that it changes the names of the characters and switches the setting from Stockholm to New Mexico.
The story revolves around a young boy who is bullied at school and has a troubled home life when he meets a strange young girl who only comes out at night. The two become close friends, as a series of grisly murders occur around them.
The film is stylish and atmospheric, and the performances of the two leads by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz were particularly powerful. Of course, some people derided the film, saying that is was so similar to the original Swedish film that the only reason it existed was so that English-speaking audiences didn’t have to read subtitles.
10. The Crazies (2010)
Another George Romero film takes a spot on this list, as his 1973 film The Crazies was subject to a remake in 2010. In the film, a biological weapon turns the denizens of a small town into bloodthirsty maniacs. With their families and friends out for blood and the military attempting to contain the outbreak by imposing a shoot on sight strategy, a small group of survivors have to keep their wits about them in order to escape with their lives.
The Crazies may be a movie that we’ve seen many times before, but it is a taut, effective thriller. The remake trimmed a lot of the fat from the original, opting to focus on fewer characters and centering it on the simple premise of survival, whereas the original’s story was told through interwoven accounts of the survivors and the military brass charged with the clean up effort. Ultimately this leaner approach to storytelling makes 2010’s The Crazies just as good, if not superior to the ’73 original.
9. Piranha 3D
Alexandre Aja’s 2010 film Piranha 3D isn’t exactly high art, or even a particularly good film, but it is a whole lot of fun and arguably more watchable than the 1978 Jaws rip-off that inspired it. We say “inspired” because aside from the premise revolving around vicious little fish nibbling on unsuspecting fans of sun and surf, these two films couldn’t be more different.
As a result, Piranha 3D is a better film because of it. It wholeheartedly embraces everything that makes it ridiculous and instead of trying to play it straight, they decided to run with it and deliver a schlocky, highly entertaining film throughout.
The filmmakers and the cast were clearly having a blast while they made this film and that energy transfers to the audience every time. Piranha 3D is crude, violent, super gory and hilarious all at the same time. It’s a movie that a twelve year old would make, and that’s what makes it work.
8. The Last House On The Left (2009)
In 1972 Wes Craven made a low-budget exploitation film called The Last House On The Left, which revolves around two teenaged girls who are tortured by a gang of psychopaths in the woods. The film is incredibly graphic, and in a stroke of marketing genius, the film’s advertisements stated that in order to “avoid fainting, keep repeating it’s only a movie.” Although it was a fairly controversial movie at the time, The Last House On The Left was well received by critics and pegged Craven as one to watch.
In 2009 a remake of the same name was released. While it maintained some of the more confronting themes present in the original film, it is considered by many to be a somewhat tamer version than the original. Depending on whether you agree with this or not this one is worth checking out simply for the particularly brutal depictions of violence wrought by common kitchen appliances. Can you say “death by microwave”?
7. Fright Night (2011)
Everyone has had that one creepy neighbor who they suspect is secretly a crazed sociopath. Even Kevin McAllister in Home Alone thought that his elderly neighbor was a serial killer despite the only thing he ever saw him do was exhibit neighborly altruism by salting the neighborhood’s sidewalks.
For high school student Charley Brewster, his suspicions are proven accurate when his smooth talking, good looking next door neighbor turns out to be a vampire. Genre fans fondly remember the original 1985 Fright Night for its unique blend of scares and humor, so when a remake was announced, many were skeptical it would be able to live up the source material.
Featuring a stellar ensemble cast including the late Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell and a hilarious David Tennant, the 2011 remake of Fright Night delivered laughs and chills, making for an enjoyable film that holds up just as well as the original.
6. The Ring (2002)
Gore Verbinski’s remake of the 1998 Japanese supernatural horror film Ringu is responsible for ushering in the large number of J-horror remakes that saturated the market in subsequent years, and for good reason. 2002’s The Ring terrified viewers with haunting visuals and a particularly dreary tone. It is easily the best of the J-horror films that went on to follow it, with some seriously creepy visuals that stayed with audiences long after the movie had ended.
There was a certain amount of criticism levied at the lack of character development in The Ring, however the film went on to gross over $250 million at the box office, making it one of the most successful horror films of all time, which is pretty impressive when you consider the fact the film is about a killer VHS tape and a girl who doesn’t have access to a hair dryer. Maybe the sequel will feature killer DVDs? Blu-rays? At least they’re circular in shape!
5. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
In 1977 a pre-Nightmare On Elm Street Wes Craven delivered a low budget film called The Hills Have Eyes, in which a family of deranged desert dwellers antagonizes a road tripping family. Enjoying modest success and generally positive reviews, the film has gone on to achieve cult status among horror buffs. So it was only a matter of time before a remake was produced.
In 2006, French director Alexandre Aja was pegged to bring the remake to life, which was met with considerable anticipation, as Aja was coming off the success of his film High Tension (we won’t discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of that film’s ending).
Aja’s version of The Hills Have Eyes is almost identical in terms of the plot, but is much faster paced and significantly gorier. Aja’s remake ratchets up the tension and leaves very little to the imagination, satiating even the most hardened horror fan’s bloodlust. Let’s just pretend that the sequel never happened, just like Craven himself tries to pretend that the sequel to his original film doesn’t exist.
4. Night of the Living Dead (1990)
George Romero’s 1968 zombie film, Night of the Living Dead, provided the blueprint for what we consider to be the modern zombie. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, or play video games where you mow down hundreds of undead ghouls, you have this movie to thank for it.
While Romero may have been a visionary in the horror genre, he didn’t know all that much about copyright law. Romero failed to secure the rights to the original film, causing him to see very little in the way of profit from his wildly successful independent film. Worried that someone else might make an unauthorized remake, Romero got the ball rolling himself.
Romero updated his original script for modern audiences and put special effects master Tom Savini in the director’s chair. The final product resulted in substantial backlash, with many critics calling it an unnecessary remake. Savini was also criticized as the king of splatter was accused of reining back his signature gore at the behest of studio meddling.
3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
This particular film holds the distinction of having a number of remakes attached to it, but here is one in particular that stands above the rest. Originally a 1956 science fiction film about an alien life form that makes emotionless copies of people in a “quiet” invasion, the film can be seen as an allegory for the Cold War, but it is an unsettling and effective thriller all the same.
Largely ignored upon its initial release, the film was remade in 1978 with Donald Sutherland in a lead role. The film is widely regarded as one of the best films of 1978, with many praising how the film expanded on the ideas brought forth in the original.
It should be noted that the 1978 version’s inclusion on this list as a remake is up for debate. Some fans cite the cameo appearance of Kevin McCarthy, who portrayed the doctor who discovers the invasion in the original film, as evidence that the 1978 film is actually a sequel, as McCarthy’s character is briefly seen running through the streets shouting “They’re coming!” before anyone knows what is really going on, leading some to believe that he is playing the same doctor who appeared in the original film.
2. The Fly (1986)
The science fiction horror film The Fly was well received by both critics and audiences when it premiered in theatres back in 1958. The film centered on a scientist who accidentally splices his DNA with that of a common housefly during a teleportation experiment. The campy film involved some fairly tame effects in the form of rubber masks, but it’s effect was palpable, particularly its bleak ending.
Of course it only made sense for body horror guru David Cronenberg to helm the 1986 remake, which re-imagined the story as a man whose genes were spliced with that of a fly, transforming him into a deformed human/fly hybrid over the course of the film. To achieve this transformation, some of the most stomach churning special effects ever committed to film were designed by Chris Walas, the man who had created the titular creatures in Gremlins. For his efforts, Walas earned an Academy Award for Best Makeup.
1. The Thing (1982)
It’s hard to believe, but critics loathed John Carpenter’s The Thing when it was initially released in theatres in 1982. Some would speculate that the reason why The Thing failed to find an audience at the box office was because Spielberg’s E.T. had recently been released, and people weren’t in the mood to watch an alien life form massacring humans when they just had their hearts melted by a wrinkly alien who loved Reese’s Pieces.
Regardless of its box office performance, time has been very kind to Carpenter’s Antarctic thriller, and it is now considered a classic tale of tension and suspense. Carpenter’s nihilistic film improves upon its source material, 1951’s The Thing From Another World, in virtually every way, with fans praising it’s dark tone, atmosphere and the stellar practical effects work done by Rob Bottin. The Thing is easily one of the best remakes ever made, regards of genre.