Remakes: while we like to think of them as a newer thing Hollywood has been doing to get us to the theaters, but the truth is, there have been remakes from just about the moment movies were invented. Iconic Western director John Ford, for example, made Three Godfathers in 1936, then remade it as 3 Godfathers in 1948. Sidney Lumet made the classic film Twelve Angry Men 1957, just three years after it had been made by Franklin Schaffner.
Still, there does seem to be an increase in remakes these days. Every year we get treated to new versions of classic horror or action movies, and in most cases, these new versions don't live up to the original. There are exceptions to that rule, but they are few and far between.
Sometimes it can seem like Hollywood is doing remakes because they're out of original ideas, but in truth, most remakes happen because audiences are more likely to see a movie if they already recognize the name. Therefore, studios are more willing to take a chance and spend money on a remake than on a wholly new idea.
Sometimes, like with Jurassic World, the studio will get a little inventive and the remake will be called a reboot or have just enough mentions to the other movie to be a sequel. More often than not, though, as with Spider-Man (twice now) and Ghostbusters, they will just do a straight remake.
Here are The 15 Worst Remakes (According To Rotten Tomatoes):
15 The Ladykillers - 50%
Alexander Mackendrick's The Ladykillers, released in 1955 and starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, has something very few movies can claim - universal acclaim. The movie, about a kindly old woman who gets tricked into helping a group of thieves pull off a sophisticated robbery, was nominated for an Academy Award and is today considered one of the greatest comedies ever made. To reflect that, The original Ladykillers has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It would seem to be a fool's mission to try and outdo the original film, but you would think that if anyone could do it, it would be the Coen Brothers. Add in that they cast Tom Hanks as the leader of the thieves, and you may wonder how the movie could end up on this list. The answer is simple - the Coen Brothers failed to capture the magic of the first in just about every way.
14 Planet of the Apes - 45%
The original Planet of the Apes blew the minds of audiences in 1968. The movie, which tells the story of an astronaut named Taylor who ends up on a planet where apes have evolved speech and intelligence while humans are hunted and treated like animals, was unlike any movie before it. The make-up work was so impressive that the Academy Awards, which didn't have a category for make-up at the time, gave artist John Chambers an honorary Oscar for his impressive work. The movie, which is unarguably a science fiction classic, has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
While the original Planet of the Apes was followed by four sequels and two TV shows, the franchise laid dormant for decades. Then, in 2000, director Tim Burton signed on to remake the original film, with Mark Wahlberg as the star. Once again, the movie was praised for its make-up effects, this time created by Rick Baker, but the story and acting did not live up to the standards of the original.
13 Carrie - 45%
Brian De Palma's Carrie, released in 1976, was the first adaptation of a Stephen King story, and it set the bar high for all those to follow. The movie, best remembered for the iconic shot of Carrie in her prom dress and covered in pig's blood, wasn't just a commercial success - it also did something that horror movies rarely pull off; it was nominated for multiple Academy Awards - Best Actress for Sissy Spacek and Best Supporting Actress for Piper Laurie. The movie stands at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2013, Carrie was remade with Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore taking on the respective roles of Carrie and her mother. While critics pointed out the work of the talented cast, there was no denying that this version didn't have the touches that made De Palma's work so well.
12 Psycho - 37%
When Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make Psycho in 1960, Paramount Pictures - which he was under contract with - was completely against the idea. In the end, Hitchcock was able to make the film, but he had to cover the budget himself, wasn't allowed to film on the Paramount lot, and had to use the crew from his TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
The movie, made for less than a million dollars, went on to gross $50 million (nearly $600 million when adjusted for inflation) and since Hitchcock received 60% of the profits, it is hard to imagine he complained. Today, the original Psycho holds a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
After the smash success of Good Will Hunting, director Gus Van Sant finally had the clout to do something he always wanted to try - to remake a movie shot for shot and see how it turned out. Van Sant's first choice wasn't Psycho - in truth he wasn't overly concerned with what movie he would remake - but Psycho is what he got. In some ways, Van Sant's experiment worked - he proved that you can't recreate the magic.
11 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - 36%
Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, released in 1974, took the world by storm. The movie was, and still is, considered to be one of the most violent and terrifying movies ever made. Hooper's ability to create such a raw, visceral movie turned off many reviewers and audience members at first, but over the years film lovers have come to see just how good the movie is. Today it has an 88% positive rank on Rotten Tomatoes.
Early in this century, some people got the idea in their heads that it was time to bring Leatherface and his freaky family back in a remake. This remake, produced by Michael Bay and starring Jessica Biel, was a huge commercial hit, but the reviews were brutal.
10 Arthur - 26%
To hear the story of Arthur, you would be shocked to find out just how successful it was. The movie, about a rich alcoholic who chooses the woman he loves over the woman his family wants him to marry but don't worry he's still super rich at the end, proved hard to promote - Orion Pictures went through six ad campaigns before finding one that the general public connected with and in the end it paid off. Arthur, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli made back its budget 13 times over, won two Academy Awards and four Golden Globes, and holds a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2011, the movie was remade with Russell Brand and Jennifer Garner. This one, made for $40 million dollars, grossed just $45 million at the box office and went unrecognized by the major award shows. It did get two Golden Raspberry nominations, though!
9 Fame - 25%
In 1980, American audiences went to their local movie theater to see what the lives of the students at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City was like. The movie, Fame, was a critical and commercial success, winning two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe. If the movie would have done as well with the originally planned title of "Hot Lunch", we'll never know. As of today, Fame has an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Out of Fame came a number of spin-offs, including a TV series that ran for six seasons and a stage version that has been performed in over 25 countries. In 2009, the movie was remade and, while it was a moderate box office success, critics weren't into it.
8 Halloween - 25%
If you talk to die-hard horror fans, there will be some disagreement about this, but it is generally accepted that John Carpenter's and Debra Hill's 1978 classic Halloween was the start of the slasher genre. The movie, which turned Jamie Lee Curtis into a star was independently made for around $300 thousand dollars and went on to gross $70 million, launching one of the longest-running franchises in film history (with a new movie coming next year). It also has one of the weirdest and most confusing franchise timelines, but that is a discussion for another day. The original Halloween holds a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2007 Rob Zombie directed the remake to Halloween. His movie focused less on Laurie Strode, choosing instead to show us the life of Michael Myers. While the concept was interesting, Zombie just didn't pull it off well, and the movie was ravaged by critics.
7 The Invasion - 19%
In 1954, while Americans were filled with dread at the idea of the "Red Menace" taking over the world, Allied Artists Pictures released Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Based on Jack Finney's book, The Body Snatchers, the movie played as an allegory of communism taking over America and audiences ate it up.
The movie shows a town that is slowly taken over, person by person, by alien life forms. These aliens take the real people and replace them with duplicates that are grown in pods. These "pod people" are submissive, having lost their independence - they now think and act as one - a hive mind, if you will. The movie was a box office hit and holds an impressive 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been remade many times, and while none of them have had the impact of the original, it wasn't until 2007's The Invasion starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig that a version was released that is simply terrible. Along with making back just about half of its budget, The Invasion also has the shockingly low Rotten Tomatoes score of 19%.
6 The Haunting - 17%
In 1963, audiences sat in theaters ready to be terrified by The Haunting, an adaptation of Shirley Jackson's fantastic novel, The Haunting of Hill House. However, the audience didn't have to worry about finding seats - the movie wasn't very successful in its initial release. Still, critics greatly enjoyed the story of a group of paranormal investigators who are brought to a supposedly haunted house and the frightening dangers they within. The movie holds an impressive 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Since the early 1990s, a remake was in the works - at one point it was to be written by Stephen King and directed by Steven Spielberg. In the end, a remake did happen, and it was released in 1999. Starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Owen Wilson, the movie had a shockingly high budget of $80 million but made twice that in theaters. Still, critics weren't impressed.
5 Godzilla - 16%
Just nine years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hit with atomic bombs, Godzilla, a creature brought out of its natural habitat under the sea by nuclear testing, made his way to screens for the first time.
Launching the long-lasting kaiju genre. The movie was re-edited and new scenes were shot to add in American actor Raymond Burr for a US release, which also proved to be very successful. Since 1954, there have been over thirty Godzilla movies, but the original still stands as the most loved with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 83%.
In 1998, Roland Emmerich - director of Stargate and Independence Day - took on the job of remaking the original Godzilla for modern times and on a modern summer blockbuster budget. Turns out, this was a terrible idea.
4 The Mummy - 16%
After the back to back successes of Dracula and Frankenstein and 1931, Universal Pictures wanted to expand their monster movies and began looking for a new novel to base a horror movie on. When they couldn't find one to their liking, producer Carl Laemmle Jr. decided to just make a mummy movie and base it on the supposed "Curse of the Pharaohs" that surrounded the opening of the Tomb of Tutankhamun a decade earlier. The resulting movie, The Mummy, was a box office smash and holds a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
After a successful reboot of the Mummy franchise in the 1990s, Universal decided to use the brand to kick off their "Dark Universe" movie line. With Tom Cruise heading the movie, it seemed like things could go really well. And while The Mummy was a financial success, making just over $400 million worldwide, it wasn't the hit Universal was hoping for. Adding to their woes was the terrible Rotten Tomatoes score the film received.
3 The Wicker Man - 15%
Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man, a British horror mystery released in theaters in 1973 tells the story of Police Sergeant Neil Howie and his search for a missing girl on the isolated island of Summerisle. Sergeant Howie is shocked to find that the residents of Summerisle practice a form of Celtic paganism instead of one of the more traditional religions, like his own Christianity. In the end, everything gets crazy, and audiences ate it up. The movie, made for just $500 thousand, made its budget back a hundred times over, grossing over $50 million at the box office. It is also a critical hit with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 90%.
In 2006, audiences were invited to see the remake of The Wicker Man. This version, directed by Neil LaBute and starring Nicolas Cage was a box office flop and is better remembered today as one of the endless Nicolas Cage memes.
2 A Nightmare on Elm Street - 15%
Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street stands out as not just one of the best movies in the slasher genre, but in all of horror. The movie is creepy, gory, and unlike any other horror movie before. Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger has left many a moviegoer filled with fright, and with good reason, in the costume and make-up, the actor almost seems to embody all things scary. A Nightmare on Elm Street was a huge hit for the fledgling New Line Cinema, both in terms of box office and critical success. The movie holds an astonishing 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2010, Michael Bay's production company, fresh off of the financially successful reboots Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, released their reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street. While he did his best, Jackie Earle Haley - with a more realistic make-up design - just couldn't match the creepiness of Englund's version of Freddy. The movie did well at the box office, but critics tore it apart.
1 Swept Away - 5%
Lina Wertmüller's 1974 Italian adventure comedy-drama film Swept Away is, by most accounts, an okay movie. It is a well-made filmabout a rich woman who ends up stuck on a desert island with a crew member of her yacht. As you can guess, they don't get along at first, but by the end, the two are madly in love. In a very Italian bit of melancholy, when they are saved from the island, the rich woman chooses her privileged lifestyle over the sailor. Maybe it is that bummer of an ending that led to critics being pretty mixed on the movie - it has a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2002 Guy Ritchie, known for his testosterone-filled action comedies, decided to remake Swept Away with Madonna, whom he was married to at the time. To call this one a stinker is being rude to stinkers. The movie, which was released straight-to-video in the UK, holds a 5% on Rotten Tomatoes.
What are some of your least favorite remakes?