The first reaction many audiences have to learning that a beloved horror movie is undergoing the remake treatment is to roll our eyes and complain about Hollywood no longer having any original ideas. We also typically forget that not only are there some horror movie remakes that are quite good, but there are even some that surpass the originals by which they were inspired.
For every exceptional remake of a famous film, there are dozens of remakes that were nothing more than a chance to cash in on a popular title, with the narrative sometimes barely having anything to do with the original. In other instances, like Gus Van Sant's Psycho, these remakes serve as examples of how a shot-for-shot recreation of a film can lose much of the original's magic.
Rather than suffering knee-jerk disappointment with the inevitable announcement of one of your favorite horror movies getting the remake treatment, get a refresher on some of the remakes that have a lot to offer!
'Dawn of the Dead'
George Romero's 1978 sequel to Night of the Living Dead was a slow-paced exploration of a group of survivors who found refuge in a massive shopping center, ultimately depicting how few things were as dangerous to civilization as man's inherent violence.
Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead went in a much different direction from Romero's original film, skimping on the social commentary and instead delivering audiences a much more gruesome and horrifying tale. Thanks to the emergence of the "fast zombie" in the horror genre, Snyder gave audiences an incredibly stylish horror film that played up the violence and gore in the tale of survivors.
It's hard to compare Snyder's remake to Romero's masterpiece, but as a horrifying zombie movie set within the confines of a mall, the remake succeeded in some elements of horror that were absent from the original.prevnext
The Ring proved to be such a successful remake of the Japanese Ringu that it inspired dozens of remakes of Asian horror films, with none being nearly as successful as Gore Verbinski's 2002 film.
The discovery of a mysterious VHS tape full of horrifying imagery leads to a viewer receiving a disturbing phone call that alerts them that they will die in seven days. A reporter makes it her mission to discover the origins of the tape and prevent herself, and her son, from succumbing to the supernatural curse.
Verbinski filled this remake with unsettling imagery and a chilling atmosphere, which many filmmakers attempted to recreate with other A-horror remakes, but failed to accomplish. Watching foreign films can be a turnoff for some audiences, with The Ring helping highlight the compelling stories of foreign horror films while offering a more accessible interpretation of the story.prevnext
'The Hills Have Eyes'
Wes Craven's original 1977 film helped introduce the world to the filmmaker's dark and disturbing stories, with the film's strength being its lo-fi look and feel, making the experience of watching the film almost as uncomfortable as the story that unfolded. The 2006 remake offered a different aesthetic of the core subject matter, offering audiences a stylish update to the storyline.
Hoping to make up for lost time, a family takes their RV on a shortcut through a desolate canyon which they don't realize is inhabited by mutated cannibals. The canyon's residents begin to pick off the family members one-by-one to feast on their flesh.
Practical effects had made massive advancements in the 30 years since the original film's release, with director Alexandre Aja using new techniques to deliver audiences far more grotesque visuals than the original film. Aja's cinematography and editing style delivered audiences a much more aesthetically pleasing film, despite never deviating too far from the original film's simplistic narrative.prevnext
Much like The Hills Have Eyes, one of the strengths of the original Maniac is its overall sense of discomfort that the audience experiences while watching its narrative unfold. Set in 1980s New York City, Joe Spinell starred as a man who would stalk and scalp unsuspecting women, nailing those scalps to mannequins he kept in his home.
The 2012 remake starring Elijah Wood followed a similar narrative, but filmmaker Franck Khalfoun put audiences in the main character's head as a majority of the film was shot from the character's point of view. If he murdered someone, the audience saw the murder unfold as if they were doing it themselves.
The Maniac remake was a bold experiment in storytelling, which mostly paid off, and offered audiences one of the more unique horror film experiences of the decade.prevnext
'House of Wax'
The 1953 House of Wax was a remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum, but given it starred genre favorite Vincent Price, this installment is typically thought of as the original. When a business deal goes bad, a famous wax sculptor begins to incorporate horrific figures into an exhibit that featured historical figures.
The 2005 remake shares only the title of the 1953 film, as its plot is more similar to that of the 1979 film Tourist Trap. When a group of friends' car breaks down, they search for help in a nearby community, only to discover this entire "town" is populated by wax figures.
While the 2005 film is only loosely connected to its namesakes' concept, once you stop comparing the two films you are given a twisted and macabre tale of a sculptor who goes to great lengths to create works of art.prevnext
The original Fright Night blended humor with horror to give audiences a campy adventure featuring a teenager who was fearful that the new hunk who moved into his neighborhood was actually a vampire. The film is highly entertaining, but while it uses a horror narrative to drive the story forward, few elements about the film are actually scary.
The 2011 remake offered audiences a similar story with as many humorous moments, but the horror of the concept was emphasized much more strongly to deliver audiences a fresh take on a familiar premise. The original Fright Night will always have a passionate following, but the remake is arguably more successful at delivering audiences its titular frights.prevnext
The original Evil Dead films offered audiences a seminal cabin in the woods story about a group of friends who inadvertently awaken evil spirits that create a waking nightmare for the coeds.8comments
In the 2013 remake, a group of friends stages an intervention for a drug-addicted friend, only for the evil to once again be awakened. The twist with the remake is that the incorporation of drugs temporarily made the friends think that the horrific things being described were merely the result of hallucinations caused by their friend's withdrawal, only for those visions to become a horrifying reality.
A drawback to the horror film's update is there was no Bruce Campbell, who provided the original film with hilarious heart, instead delivering audiences relatively forgettable characters. What it lacked in compelling characters it more than made up for with horrifying practical effects, becoming one of the most gruesome theatrical events of the year.prev