Few things send horror fans into a frothy rage quite like horror movie remakes. Sure, there have been plenty of terrible ones over the years—Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Blob, The Crazies, House of Wax, I am Legend, etc. But there have also been some great remakes: The Fly, Willard, Dawn of the Dead, The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Hills Have Eyes, The Hitcher, and more. We probably don’t need new versions of close-to-perfect horror movies like Rosemary’s Baby, Martyrs, or any more version of Carrie.
But you know what might actually be good? Horror remakes of movies that should have been better the first time around. Why not also remake movies that could use an updating because they’re more than 50 years old? Or movies with a great concept that just weren’t as well executed as they could have been? Expect mild to major spoilers for all films discussed.
Here are our picks for horror movies that really could benefit from a remake, reboot, or re-imagining.
19 Honorable Mention: Pixels
You’re probably thinking, “Hey, Pixels wasn’t a horror movie!” You’re right. It wasn’t. That’s one of the many reasons it wasn’t very good. Pixels absolutely should have been a terrifying horror movie where angry aliens disguised as videogame characters came to Earth to destroy us. It’s not as if we wouldn’t deserve it. Horror Pixels should also incorporate a few more scenes and characters to amp up the gore and terror.
Who wouldn’t be terrified to fall into a Burger Time burger? Or to be chased around by that sword-wielding guy from Dragon’s Lair? Imagine actually trying to play Frogger in human scale and real time? Those random snakes that come out of nowhere would be extra terrifying. Pixels could have been a horror movie—one that didn’t even suck. Instead, it proved a solid waste of Peter Dinklage, and even a mild squandering of the talents of Josh Gad. But hey, Adam Sandler probably has to pay bills and buy groceries just like the rest of us.
18 Event Horizon
Sam Neill probably doesn’t get enough credit for his contributions to the horror genre. His first ever American film was the Omen sequel that ended the trilogy: The Final Conflict. (yes, there was a made for TV sequel, one we won’t be discussing today) Neill also appeared in modern horror classics like In the Mouth of Madness, Daywalkers, Dead Calm, Jurassic Park, and in 1997, the wonderful Event Horizon. Wait, if Event Horizon is so good, why does it need a remake? Good question.
This movie combines elements of The Black Hole, Alien, and Outlander, with an exceptional cast who get picked off one by one by space madness and general evil. It was good, but could have been so much more. Paramount was pushy about the film’s release date, so both the shooting and the editing were rushed. Had they been given the time to make the movie they wanted (with just the right amount of gore), Event Horizon could have been a veritable sci-fi classic, rather than merely a beloved cult film.
17 Night of the Demon
Whether you remember this film as Night of the Demon, or the slightly shorter Curse of the Demon, it’s not a bad little film. Directed by Jacques Tourneur (who also gave us Cat People), it’s a solidly plotted film that very few horror fans take the time to watch today. In some ways, this film has everything horror fans should want: cults doing cultish things, murder, magic, some minor gaslighting, disappearing magical scrolls, and of course—demons. It also had Dana Andrews—which means that this film is old. It was made in 1957, which means that communication, trains, and probably demons have all changed a lot since then.
What this movie needs today is a sparkling cast, some witty dialogue, and a terrifying and evocative score—maybe by Bear McCreary. The point is that there are a lot of ways to make Night of the Demon relatable for modern audiences. Let’s hope it happens!
16 The Wraith
Horror fans of a certain age tend to have fond feelings for The Wraith. It’s a 1986 cult classic, and early example of a dead guy coming back from the grave to get revenge on the gang of asshats who murdered him. This movie has cool cars, brotherly love, an evil gang, a pretty girl what needs saving, and a hot young Charlie Sheen. For you youngsters out there, The Wraith is proof that Charlie Sheen wasn’t always a violent drugged-out loon who couldn’t even remember all the people he’s attacked.
Why update it? Teens may still be basically the same as they were in 1986, but transportation, technology, and street gangs have all changed with the times. There should be a cooler car, a gang with one or two redeeming qualities, and a girl who’s a little tougher and smarter. The Wraith has a solid story and enough honorable characters that it would be well worth Hollywood’s time to give this one an update.
15 Creature from the Black Lagoon
Is 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon still scary today? It depends on who you ask. Most people do not find the Gil-Man (obviously some dude in a rubber suit) to be especially scary. But you know, Alien also features a dude in a rubber suit, and plenty of people still find it scary. Calling the Gil-Man a “piscine amphibious humanoid” is, if anything, worse. Could there be remnants of a missing link between aquatic and land-dwelling animals? Probably, but what use would they have for human women in wide-cut bikinis?
If Creature from the Black Lagoon is remade today, should it be in 3D? Probably. 3D is another one of those things that’s changed tremendously since the ‘50s. That’s less important than the social and environmental commentary that could be worked into a Creature from the Black Lagoon movie today. If global climate change is bringing Sharknados and megalodons to the surface, why not the Gil-Man?
Can anyone really replace Max Von Sydow in any movie? Maybe not. But that’s no reason not to give this one the ol’ college try. Dreamscape is a 1984 movie about scientific experimentation gone awry, and what happens when marginally bad (or very bad) people have the power to twist reality to their own ends. Oh yeah, and it’s also about people who can use technology to jump into other people’s dreams—even allowing them to have dream sex with people they wouldn’t normally approach. Creepy, right?
The leaps and bounds by which the science of the mind has advanced could make a Dreamscape updating highly feasible. A modern retelling of this movie could involve all new technology and equipment, comparisons to the internet, and some truly trippy and terrifying dream sequences. It could also stand to have a lot more action. After all, nightmares can be terrifying even when they stay inside your own head.
When’s the last time we had a great movie about Satanists? They can be downright cinematic, whether they’re the "All Hail the Father of Darkness" kind, or the "We reject your puritanical values sort", Satanists bring excitement to the screen.From a horror perspective, the 1973 British cult classic Psychomania (released as Death Wheelers here in the states) has a lot going for it. There are bikers, suicides, a Satanist cult, multiple séances, tons of failed black magic, and a group calling themselves “The Living Dead.” There’s also a guy who wants to be Malcolm McDowell so badly he can taste it—and you will too.
The original Psychomania has all the ingredients of an incredible horror film. And yet… it never quite gets there. Lackluster performances and poor dialogue sour what even its killer score couldn’t save. It’s a shame, but a period horror piece with all of those things? That would surely put the discussed Warriors remake to shame.
Can you believe this is the second ‘80s movie with George Wendt to make our list (the first being Dreamscape). House is an ‘80s cult classic for sure. But honestly, when’s the last time you pulled out your copy and gave it a watch? It’s probably been a while, unless you were having some sort of Bad Movie party.
House is another movie that has all the makings of a great film. A strong story, solid scares, and even a good cast—who doesn’t enjoy that Greatest American Hero, William Katt? And yet, House just doesn’t stand the test of time. The effects are cartoonish and the acting is often flat and forced—we can probably blame director Steve Miner for that. He eventually became an awesome TV and film director—but in the early ‘80s he just wasn’t there yet. A remake of House would be highly welcome. Better still might be a zombie crossover. How awesome would it be if Big Ben actually got to hang out with Bub from Day of the Dead?
We talked a little about Ramone the alligator in our list of Most Terrifying Pets in Movie History. And why not? He’s huge, terrifying, and wasn’t scared at all about eating a member of the Corleone family. Now that’s a badass. Alligator is the quintessential story of a pet being flushed down the toilet, eventually growing up huge, and busting out of the sewers for revenge. That’s a time honored tale, right?
Alligator, like Piranha before it (both scripts penned by John Sayles), has a fair amount of social commentary and satire that we’d be well served to make use of today. Besides, being devoured by an enormous reptile has got to be terrifying. And that scene with the kids playing pirate in the swimming pool? Gah! One could argue that Lake Placid is a modern retelling of Alligator. We say that if it doesn’t come out of the sewers or have a rallying cry about science run amok—we’re not interested. A remake of Alligator could be amazing.
In case you don’t remember, 1981 was a massive year for werewolf movies. Full Moon High, The Howling, and American Werewolf in London were all huge wolf films released that year. With that in mind, it’s not that surprising that 1981’s Wolfen ended up under the radar. It’s based on a great book and, despite a strong cast, didn’t really connect with moviegoers as much as the other werewolf films of the time. The wolves of Wolfen are higher up in the food chain than humans, which the humans don’t really take kindly to.
You could do a lot with a film like Wolfen today. We’ve got the special effects to make a transformation unlike anything we’ve ever seen, which could be great if executed properly. Wolfen also talks up the connection between Native American shape shifters and the wolf pack. Given what Native Americans are dealing with out west, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suggest that a few radicals might want to find some fat cat industrialists and tear them a new throat hole.
9 Lair of the White Worm
This might be one of the tougher sells on this list. There are fans who really, super love Lair of the White Worm and wouldn’t change a thing about it. Sure, the movie has trippy and off-putting direction by Ken Russell. It also boasts an excellent case that includes Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant (he has fans, right?), and the current Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi. Being based on a Bram Stoker novel doesn’t hurt either.
So what’s the problem with Lair of the White Worm? Is it the inaccessibility of the characters? Kind of. Maybe it’s the cheap effects or the very concept of a were-snake-monster illness. After fans learned that Ken Russell wanted Tilda Swinton to play Lady Sylvia, getting Amanda Donohoe instead almost feels like punishment. We’re sure she’s a very nice lady, but it’s honestly not too late to make Lair of the White Worm with the cast it should have had. It’s not as if Tilda actually ages, right?
8 Silent Night, Deadly Night
These days, movies where childhood trauma results in murder are a dime a dozen. But back in 1984, they were still pretty rare. That’s probably part of why Silent Night, Deadly Night earned a solid fan-following despite being little more than a cheap slasher with gratuitous violence and nudity. But you know, these are the kind of movies that, when made properly, can actually help humans become more understanding of each other.
If you saw a kid punch Santa Claus in the face, your first impulse might be to think he’s a monster, or that his parents didn’t raise him right. But what if it turned out that his family was slaughtered by a killer Santa? See, everyone is fighting an internal battle you know nothing about.
That’s why this sort of movie should come around every year—just as surely as movies about finding the perfect gift, or falling in love and buying an absurdly-sized diamond. Movies like this are good for us. Hollywood should keep them coming.
Yes, we’re actually suggesting that there are some Alfred Hitchcock movies that could stand to be remade. We understand that not all readers will be down with this. And that’s okay. Lifeboat is an incredible film. It’s scary, suspenseful, even gruesome in parts. It has the kind of fear, despair, and horror that is rarely seen—and it’s also a movie you’re more likely to find in the “drama” section than in “horror” where it belongs. This 1944 film is one of a few films Hitchcock made using only one small location. It’s got a stellar cast, even though it features nearly stock characters: the soldier with a gal at home, the young hero, the driven reporter, the stranger, the take-charge guy, etc.
But again, this film is over 70 years old. So many things have changed since then: boats, war, the media. A remake of Lifeboat with different enemies from a different war could be a sharp illustration of what has changed since then, and what hasn’t.
6 White Zombie
Even as shows like The Walking Dead or Fear the Walking Dead begin to bore us after too many seasons and too many zombies, we still dig the genre. The 1932 film White Zombie isn’t just beloved by Rob Zombie and Sherri Moon. The film has long been referred to as the “first feature length zombie movie.” That’s true-- to a point. But modern zombies, the kind that will eat your face off, did not premiere in film until 1968.
The undead of White Zombie aren’t really undead at all (so if you don’t accept 28 Days Later as a zombie movie, you can’t accept this one either). They’re puppets of sort, under a Voudon spell placed on them by a Houngan, played by Bela Lugosi. Lugosi is actually quite unnerving in this film. But modern audiences just don’t find White Zombie as creepy as fans did back in the day. We haven’t really had a good Voudon zombie movie since Serpent and the Rainbow. We’re probably due for one—and a remake of this would be as good as any.
5 Silent Hill
Here's another great example of a film that should have been fantastic, but just never came together. If Milla Jovovoch has taught us anything, it’s that movies based on video games don’t have to suck. The Silent Hill movie takes elements from the first few Silent Hill games, and combines them with a strong cast that includes Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Sean Bean, and Kim Coates. Like the games that inspired 2006’s Silent Hill, the film has a cool visual style, unnerving pacing, and is light on dialogue. If you’ve seen it, you already know that it’s so close to being a great horror movie.
A strong remake or reimagining of this movie would need a cast with some great horror mainstays—Sam Neill maybe, or even bringing back Sean Bean would be cool. Keep the amazing music, or use the soundtrack to later Silent Hill games even. Most importantly though, focus on making a film that will appeal to fans and those who don’t play modern video games. Making it accessible while maintaining the creep factor would make this a fine candidate for a reboot.
If you read a lot of ScreenRant, and you totally should, you know that we mentioned Them! on our list of black and white films that are still damn scary. But Them! was made in 1954. Just imagine how much more scary this film could be if it was made today. If the ants didn’t look like they crawled out of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, or if big Hollywood names like Chris Pine or Robert Downey Jr. found themselves in this kind of peril? A remake of Them! would surely attract a strong cast and probably a great composer as well. Ramin Djawadi, anyone?
We’ve also got a few contemporary insect related issues as well. We could just as easily remake a movie like The Swarm, or any insect movie where the bugs have decided that they’ve had enough of our crap, and that they’re not going to stand for it anymore. There are so many ants on earth—if they really wanted to kill us, we wouldn’t stand a chance.
If you’ve ever seen the poster for the 1981 David Cronenberg movie Scanners, you already know how much has changed since then. The poster boasts that there are 4 billion people on earth, and 237 of them are Scanners. These days, there are 7.4 billion people on earth, which means about 400 of them should possess the most terrifying powers known to man.
So what are scanners? What can they do? It’s a wild combination of telepathy, telekinesis, and head exploding. These days, the original Scanners has an 80% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. So why don’t people watch this modern classic anymore? With the exception of Michael Ironside, the cast is basically unknown to modern audiences. More importantly though, Cronenberg seemed to have wanted Scanners to be all things to all people—mystery, thriller, sci-fi satire, drama, and eventually horror. He should have focused on making a horror movie. It could have been one for the ages, and still could be if they did it right.
2 The Stuff
Another movie with strong appeal to nerds and horror fans of a certain age—1985’s The Stuff is an improbably delightful film. One could argue that it’s the cheapness and ‘80s innocence that makes this film work. But a remake of The Stuff could work in tons of gore, cool effects, and the kind of sociopolitical commentary that sci-fi horror has always been disposed toward.
If you saw a bunch of white gunk bubbling up out of the ground, would you eat it? Most of us wouldn’t. But if you did, what if you were rewarded with a sweet taste and immediate feeling of contentment. Comfort food, right? But what if that tasty sludge was actually tiny aliens who took over the bodies of those who consumed it? Wouldn’t you rather eat shaving cream to avoid eating it—even though everyone around you "can’t get enough of The Stuff"? Sure, this is a fun little movie. But it could reach a whole new generation of fans with a remake. Heck, it could even serve as the basis for season two of Stranger Things.
This 1984 horror film is not usually called “good” by anyone who has seen it. That’s too bad. Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers are pretty scary, or should be anyway. This film has a pretty good cast that includes John Heard, Frankie Faison, Daniel Stern, John Goodman, and the late Jon Polito as the local newsman. CHUD clearly inspired awesome horror films that came later, like Midnight Meat Train and The Descent. But this one? Meh, it ain’t so great.
The concept of a monster race crawling out of the sewers to devour us, our pets, and the local homeless folks is unsettling to say the least—but to think that we created them with our cavalier and careless use of nuclear waste? Now that is totally ‘80s. The campiness of the time period detracts from what could have been a cautionary example as well as a truly terrifying film. It also would have helped if the CHUDs looked a little less like Sleestax from Land of the Lost.
Would you see any of these proposed horror remakes? Got an argument as to why they should never happen? Let us know in the comments!