Next to sequels and reboots, remakes seem to be the most common type of film moviegoers see today. Whether they modernize the setting or alter the plot and/or characters, remakes come in all shapes, sizes, and qualities. However, because some audiences tend to think back to the phrase, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," they can be quick to judge remakes as heartless retellings of iconic stories. This is simply not the case.
While it is true that many remakes have failed to capture the magic of their source films (feeling downright unnecessary in the process), some have expanded upon their lore and delivered a fresh, updated take on their stories. For example, Ocean's 11 was originally a 1960 film that, despite starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr., received average reviews. However, once acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh remade it in 2001, it spawned an entire franchise of three main films and a spin-off, starring the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Sandra Bullock. In other words, without the film being given a second chance, a beloved film/franchise would never have existed.
Several iconic films have even gone unnoticed as remakes, including Scarface, The Magnificent Seven, and A Fistful of Dollars, which just proves that not only have remakes been around a long time, but will probably continue to exist as long as the industry itself. Sure, they might be hit-or-miss, but they also have the potential to be cinematic masterpieces. So, today, we're going to look at some of cinema's best and worst remakes.
Here are 15 Notoriously Bad Movie Remakes (And 15 That Are Actually Worth Watching).
30 Bad: Halloween (2007)
Director John Carpenter's 1978 horror classic Halloween remains a staple in pop culture, from its iconic score to its eerily quiet antagonist, Michael Myers. However, due to a slew of subpar sequels, fans welcomed a 2007 remake in the hopes that it would revitalize the tired franchise.
While it was the highest-grossing film in the series at the time, it became yet another negatively-received entry, with many disappointed at director Rob Zombie's portrayal of Michael's childhood and use of intense moments.
Following a more intense sequel (which earned both praise and criticism for straying far from the series' usual elements), fans seemed to get their wish for a sequel true to the original with last year's mega-hit, Halloween.
29 Worth Watching: A Star Is Born (2018)
Picking a favorite version of A Star is Born is easier said than done. The original 1937 film (which stands as the only non-musical entry in the series) holds a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the 1954 version is preserved in the U.S. National Film Registry and ranked among the greatest musicals of all time, and the 1976 one...well, Barbra Streisand sings great. However, the 2018 remake starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga may just overthrow them all.
Featuring three Oscar-nominated performances from Gaga, Cooper (who also directed), and Sam Elliot, and becoming the first Best Picture-nominated version, the film stands as one of last year's greatest love stories, musicals, and films in general.
28 Bad: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)
The next (and certainly not the last) disappointing remake of a horror classic on this list, 2010's A Nightmare on Elm Street is the reason we haven't seen a decent Freddy Krueger movie since 2003's Freddy vs. Jason.
While the film deserves props for trying to bring the razor-fingered dream monster back to his darker roots, Freddy's strange appearance and the movie's overall poor execution make for a forgettable entry in the series. And, even though Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley made for a passable Freddy, let's face it: fans just weren't ready to bid farewell to Robert Englund.
27 Worth Watching: The Jungle Book (2016)
Disney's long line of live-action remakes may seem like cash-grabs to some, but this doesn't make them bad movies. However, if we had to pick a favorite, it would be director Jon Favreau's 2016 remake of The Jungle Book.
Despite going in a few different directions than the 1967 animated classic, the film wowed audiences with its gorgeous CGI and made excellent use of its large ensemble voice cast, which included Bill Murray as Baloo, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, and Christopher Walken as King Louie.
26 Bad: Arthur (2011)
Playing a partying fellow seemed like the perfect role for Russell Brand, but remaking a classic Dudley Moore comedy was probably not the best way to use it. Unfortunately for fans of the 1981 classic, Arthur was remade in time for its 30th anniversary and, even though it turned out better than Moore's 1988 sequel, it still ended up with negative reviews and earned Brand a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Actor (in place of Moore's Oscar nomination for the original).
Since Brand hadn't done much to prove himself as lead-role material before, it's no wonder he later stated that he felt he'd "made a mistake."
25 Worth Watching: The Thing (1982)
Another John Carpenter masterpiece, 1982's The Thing is on many movie lovers' list of great horror films and thankfully has no bad remake to tarnish it. Why? Because it is the remake! Yes, Carpenter's film is actually a reimagining of 1951's The Thing From Another World, which trades in a shape-shifting monstrosity for a blood-drinking humanoid alien played by Gunsmoke's James Arness. It may sound strange, but it's still considered a classic sci-fi film.
Regardless, the 1982 version has been deemed the superior work, following closer to the 1938 novella which the original film was based on. Known widely for its disgustingly-realistic creature effects, the film is a must-see for movie fans (the 2011 prequel...not so much).
24 Bad: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
"Klaatu and Gort remade." Remember those words, as they are words many thought would never be spoken. However, in 2008, 20th Century Fox did the unthinkable and tried to recapture the magic of their 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (which continues to be hailed as one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time).
While the effects were admittedly impressive and bringing in Keanu Reeves to play extraterrestrial Klaatu may have pleased some fans, the film's poor critical reception and Razzie nomination for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel tainted any legacy it could've had.
23 Worth Watching: True Grit (2010)
When a True Grit remake was announced under Joel and Ethan Coen's direction, nobody doubted their ability to make a solid film, with their history including Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men. However, if fans would've been told that the remake would overshadow the original (which won John Wayne his only Oscar), many would have argued back.
Yet, exactly that happened, and the brothers gave us one of the 21st century's greatest Westerns, starring Jeff Bridges as the one-eyed Deputy U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn and a young Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. Overshadowing Matt Damon is a tough feat, but these two pulled it off quite nicely.
22 Bad: Get Carter (2000)
Before John Wick, Get Carter was the go-to action revenge flick. Regarded as one of the greatest crime films of all time, the 1971 British classic starred Michael Caine as a London gangster who returns to his hometown in search of vengeance for the demise of his brother. But, while that film will go down as one of Caine's greatest, the 2000 American remake will be remembered as one of Sylvester Stallone's worst.
Despite featuring Rachael Leigh Cook, Mickey Rourke, and the return of Caine himself (though, this time as one of the villains), the film was so despised that Warner Bros. chose not to release it in the UK.
21 Worth Watching: The Ring (2002)
Asia has given the world some fantastic horror films, and no list would be complete without 1998's Ringu, which follows a journalist investigating a supposedly cursed videotape that ends the lives of those who watch it after seven days. If this sounds familiar, that's because most Americans will recognize it as the plot of 2002's The Ring AKA the U.S. remake of Ringu.
While not quite the nerve-racker the original was (The Ring's 71 percent Rotten Tomatoes score just can't compete with Ringu's impressive 97 percent), it nevertheless jumpstarted the U.S. cinematic movement of remaking Asian horror films. True, the results have varied, but fans most likely look back on this one as the best.
20 Bad: Psycho (1998)
Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece Psycho set a new standard for horror movies and is arguably responsible for the entire slasher genre. So, who exactly thought it would be a good idea to remake it? Good Will Hunting and Milk director Gus Van Sant? Okay, that didn't sound so bad at first...until fans found out it was a shot-for-shot re-telling of the story...with Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates!
Honestly, does anything else even need saying? If fans want more of Norman Bates, they would be better off watching any of the sequels or, better yet, Bates Motel.
19 Worth Watching: The Departed
Many fans of the Best Picture winner The Departed would probably be surprised upon learning it is actually an American remake of a 2002 Hong Kong film, but even more surprised at how well both films hold up.
Infernal Affairs was released four years before the U.S. version and centered on a Hong Kong policeman infiltrating the local triad while another officer is secretly working as a mole for the same group. Martin Scorsese, on the other hand, used the Irish Mob and FBI as the two opposing groups. Whichever one's preferred version, they both stand out as solid crime thrillers with memorable legacies (one gained two sequels and the other a failed Kickstarter campaign).
18 Bad: Black Christmas (2006)
Several classic horror films kept the villain's identity a secret until a dramatic reveal toward the end, but not 1974's Black Christmas, who gifted audiences (pun intended) with one of the genre's most mysterious antagonists, Billy Lenz. Only alluding to his past in one of his many phone calls, the villain is never given a proper introduction and audiences only get a glimpse of his eye.
This is what makes the 2006 remake so infuriating, as it throws all mystery out the window by revealing Billy's traumatic backstory and showing his appearance as a man reeling from severe jaundice. And, trust us, fans will probably wish they never learned the truth about his sister, Agnes.
17 Worth Watching: King Kong (2005)
Before his introduction in the MonsterVerse, it can be argued that the King of Skull Island's only great films were the 1933 black-and-white original that started it all and Peter Jackson's 2005 version. While technically the second remake of the 1933 masterpiece, many would like to forget the 1976 film ever existed, and, once Jackson's King Kong hit theaters, it became clear why. Utilizing breath-taking production design and motion capture, Jackson not only brought Kong to life with the help of longtime-collaborator Andy Serkis, but the environment and creatures of Skull Island as well.
If only he could've done better bringing Carl Denham to life (thanks a lot, Jack Black).
16 Bad: The Jazz Singer (1980)
Marking the beginning of the end for silent films, 1927's The Jazz Singer is widely remembered for being the first feature-length film with synchronized music and dialogue. Yet, the only thing memorable about its 1980 remake is Neil Diamond's soundtrack.
With Diamond's starring role earning him both a Golden Globe nomination and Razzie win (ouch), the film was so puzzling to critics that it earned a spot in The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. Critic Roger Ebert even famously said that the film "has so many things wrong with it that a review threatens to become a list."
15 Worth Watching: Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Director Zack Snyder's dark take on the DC Universe may not have won him universal appeal, but he's no stranger to praise for his own take on another already-established universe: George A. Romero's The Dead franchise.
Fans of the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead follow-up should be prepared for a few changes to the story, especially the faster zombies. Despite this, lovers of zombie films will surely have a blast with this one. And, even if they don't, maybe Snyder will win them back with his upcoming Netflix project, Army of the Dead.
14 Bad: The Fog (2005)
Good grief, what is so appealing about remaking John Carpenter classics (besides the fact that they have Carpenter's full support as long as he gets paid)?
Well, perhaps the answers are hidden in the fog...or so filmmakers thought when they made this garbage pile of a remake. Despite being produced by both Carpenter and Debra Hill (the writers of the original), the only thing 2005's The Fog kept hidden was everything that made the concept of ghostly mariners attacking a town via mysterious fog scary in the first place.
13 Worth Watching: Cape Fear (1991)
Usually, seeing remakes of films with a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes begs the question, "Why remake it at all?!" But, not this one, because of the picture-perfect partnership of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.
In one of his greatest performances, De Niro channels his inner maniac as Max Cady, a criminal out for revenge against his former attorney upon release from prison. Co-star Nick Nolte can be crazy himself, but he seems like a kitten when compared to De Niro in this 1991 psychological thriller.
And, if nothing else, at least viewers can finally see where that classic Sideshow Bob episode of The Simpsons came from.
12 Bad: The Haunting (1999)
Speaking of Martin Scorsese, he has previously made it clear that his favorite scary movie is 1963's The Haunting, which has appeared on various lists of the best horror films ever. This is a shame, since its remake has gone down in history as one of the worst.
Starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Owen Wilson, 1999's The Haunting made an impact on that year's awards scene...the Razzies award scene. Nominated for five Razzies, including Worst Picture, the movie is remembered for its poor CGI, overuse of horror clichés, and laughable performance by Wilson.
11 Worth Watching: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
As we mentioned earlier, some remakes go on to be seen by some as superior to the original. In the case of the two Invasion of the Body Snatchers films,...it's hard to say. While the original is regarded as one of the 1950s' greatest political allegories, the remake expands on its ideas to become its own unique creation.
Regardless, the remake is a film often overlooked by sci-fi fans but definitely worth checking out. Besides its unsettling scenes (particularly the ending), the all-star cast, including Donald Sutherland, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy, is certainly a reason to watch.
Let's hope the next remake will continue the series' success.
10 Bad: Day Of The Dead (2008)
Unlike George A. Romero's second zombie flick, his third, Day of the Dead, didn't get the proper remake treatment.
Though the allure of seeing Nick Cannon in a horror film may tempt some viewers, don't be fooled. While Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead only altered the zombies to make them run, this disaster-piece also gives them the ability to crawl on ceilings. Combine that with the zombies' heads blowing-up upon contact with fire, unnecessary editing, and the story having little resemblance to the original, and we have another space-filler for our list of skippable horror movies.
9 Worth Watching: 3:10 To Yuma (2007)
Another of this century's greatest Westerns, 2007's 3:10 to Yuma retold the classic story of a rancher in need of money taking a dangerous outlaw to justice. However, instead of Van Heflin and Glenn Ford, we get Christian Bale and Russell Crowe bringing their A-game, and, as a result, the film arguably outshines the original.
Fans of Logan should be sure to check the film out, as it stands as another of director James Mangold's finest works and features another great score by Marco Beltrami (who received an Oscar nomination for his work).
8 Bad: The Vanishing (1993)
The only bad remake on this film with mixed critical reviews, the American remake of the 1988 French-Dutch thriller The Vanishing (released only five years later) is particularly disliked for its large change to the original's ending, as well as that of the 1984 novel the films were based on. While the original saw the villain alive and the hero buried alive, the remake ends with the hero escaping his tomb and ending the villain's life, prompting a Time Out critic to call it a "lobotomized Hollywood remake."
This proves that having Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland, and Sandra Bullock in a movie together just isn't enough to overcome disappointing changes to its source material.
7 Worth Watching: The Italian Job (2003)
Featuring car chases, a gold heist, and a great Michael Caine performance, the 1969 comedy caper The Italian Job has gained a reputation as one of the greatest British films of all time. So, it was only a matter of time before America, the country known for bringing heist films involving cars into popularity, created its own version.
Thankfully, though, it proved itself both a great homage to the original and a fun film for stars Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron to flex their action muscles. And, to make this already-awesome team even cooler, we have Jason Statham as the wheelman, Donald Sutherland as the safecracker, and Mos Def as the demolition expert.
6 Bad: The Stepfather (2009)
While the 80s may best be remembered by horror fans for giving them slasher icons Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, and Angela Baker, they would be remiss not to include "The Stepfather," a man who marries into families, ends their lives, and then changes his identity. However, fans of the 1987 classic would be better off watching its two sequels than going anywhere near the 2009 remake.
Emmy-winning Lost actor Terry O'Quinn delivered such a memorable performance in the original that it's understandable why Nip/Tuck star Dylan Walsh couldn't bring the same level of intensity to the role, resulting in a pitiful 11 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.
5 Worth Watching: Let Me In
Before he wowed audiences with his Planet of the Apes films, director Matt Reeves created an outstanding remake of one of the greatest vampire films of all time: 2008's Let the Right One In. Released two years later, Let Me In starred future X-Men actor Kodi Smit-McPhee as a bullied 12-year-old who befriends and eventually falls in love with a young female vampire, played by Chloë Grace Moretz.
If this sounds like a child-friendly and gender-swapped version of Twilight, trust us: that can't be further from the truth. With dark subject matter and mature performances from both leads, this films stands alongside the original as a masterpiece of romantic horror.
4 Bad: Fame (2009)
High School Musical ain't got nothing on the 1980 Oscar winner Fame. Featuring unforgettable songs and a memorable performance from pre-Flashdance singer Irene Cara, the film had a hand in both resurrecting teen musicals and influencing future dance films. However, if not for sharing the same title, its 2009 remake could easily be mistaken for a Disney Channel movie.
Toned down and sloppily edited, the remake was called "awful" by Alan Parker, the original's director, and proved a disappointing debut for director Kevin Tancharoen (who would later somewhat redeem himself with Glee: The 3D Concert Movie).
3 Worth Watching: Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
Arguably the scariest vampire movie of all time, the 1922 unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Nosferatu, remains a film masterpiece thanks to Max Schreck's unsettling performance of Count Orlok. However, the 1979 West German version sets itself apart for its impressive visuals and closer look at the tragic Count (who is yet again masterfully played, this time by Klaus Kinski).
Though Kinski did go on to reprise the role in a 1988 Italian film co-starring Christopher Plummer and Donald Pleasance, it's the '79 remake that will always stand out in the minds of horror fans.
2 Bad: The Wicker Man (2006)
While several of the bad horror films on this list rank among the worst horror remakes ever, this one stands out the most for just how badly it failed in trying to scare anyone. Responsible for various memes and dubbed by some as Nicholas Cage's most hilariously-bad film, 2006's The Wicker Man features such "spooky" plot points as having Cage punch a woman while in a bear costume and repeatedly ask how a doll got burned.
Thankfully, this doesn't ruin the 1973 original's reputation as one of the greatest British horror movies (it starred the late, great Christopher Lee as a cult leader, after all).
1 Worth Watching: The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
To take on roles previously played by Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury, the 2004 remake of acclaimed political thriller The Manchurian Candidate needed two actors who would undoubtedly turn in great performances. Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep were certainly the right choices.
Though Streep ended up stealing the show as the film's villain (earning her another of her many Golden Globe nominations for acting), Washington proved great in the shoes of Major Bennett Marco, a war veteran investigating a conspiracy involving brainwashing, and helped make the film one of the century's greatest remakes.