TOP FIVE FAVORITE HORROR REMAKES
When Hollywood officially ran out of ideas in the mid-2000, they started re-making, re-booting, re-imagining, re-vamping, re-(you get the idea). There is a large list of horror movie classics that have gotten the rejuvenation treatment over the last decade, and the ones that are good or even decent, are far and few between. Off the top of my head, I can name a few that fell far short or the original. A Nightmare on Elm Street (awful), Friday The 13th (bad), The Wicker Man (god-awful), Dawn of the Dead (watchable), and The Fog (should have stayed lost in the fog) come to mind. Like good scotch, the originals have all aged well. The remakes are like stinky old milk, two weeks past its expiry date. As horror movie fans, we can pray that a few classics are off-limits. The Shining, Jaws, and Exorcist are hopefully untouchable. Poltergeist should have been on that list, but it was butchered in this summer’s remake. A total hack job. Sam Rockwell could not even save it. Although most disappoint, I have waded through the muck, and chosen my top five “most watchable” horror movie re-boots. I’m not saying these are amazing cinematic masterpieces, but they are passable, and entertaining. In no particular order…
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Directed by Marcus Nispel, Platinum Dunes 2003) Being a big fan of the 1974 Tobe Hooper nerve-grinder, I was excited and worried for this updated version of TCM. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the Michael Bay produced version of this tale of a cannibalistic family who preys on weary travelers. The acting was decent, the suspense and violence was on course with the original, and R. Lee Ermy (Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket) makes any film a little better. Also, it seems that a lot of remakes get “Hollywoodized” with a sexy cast and crazy CGI effects, but this film did not get lost in that stuff (I’m not saying Jessica Biel is not attractive). The sequel, or prequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was not so great, but that aside, the 2003 TCM is definitely worth a watch.
Halloween (Directed by Rob Zombie, Dimension Films 2007) The original Halloween is the pinnacle of slasher movies as far as I’m concerned. John Carpenter took a minimal budget, used atmosphere, suspense and a soundtrack to create a timeless film. Rob Zombie took the premise and made it his own. The violence is over the top, the character interaction is gritty, and the acting is quite adequate. Zombie gives a little more back story on Michael as a boy, with some insight on why he might be a psychopath. Basically his family, minus his mother, are assholes. If you liked The Devil’s Rejects, chances are you will like Halloween. Same gritty feel a lot of the same actors, and a great 1970’s soundtrack. Different from the original, but good slasher fun none the less.
Evil Dead (Directed by Fede Alvarez, Ghost House Pictures 2013) Sam Raimi is the master of camp horror, and the 1981 original is a charming, creepy trip into the woods. Demon possession, a book of the dead, and Bruce Campbell all equate to a great time of a movie. A remake could never capture the tongue-in-cheek, campy fun of the original. However, they did manage to capture the gore, violence and terror of the original. This film is a blood bath, with 50,000 gallons of fake stuff being used throughout production. There are a few nods to the original Evil Dead, as well as Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. If you light some jump scares and violence, this film is recommended. The original team of Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell are all producers on the remake. These three are primarily responsible for the original Evil Dead, and it’s always a good sign if the re-boot is endorsed by the creators of the original film. Also, watch through the entire end credits for a special cameo.
The Fly (Directed by David Cronenberg, Twentieth Century Fox 1986) I recently watched the original 1958 version starring horror icon Vincent Price, and watched the updated version the following day. Both are very enjoyable. However, the Cronenberg film, in my opinion, tells the story better. The Fly is basically a beauty and the beast story. To me, it is a love story, but in a way that is suitable for a Cronenberg movie. Jeff Goldblum is brilliant as scientist Seth Brundle, and in turn even better as the “Brundle Fly”. The special effects are excellent for their time, before CGI. The fly make-up and suit are seamless, and the experiment effects are vintage 80’s. I am quite surprised that someone has not tried to remake The Fly again, considering that at the heart of the story, it is just a woman unconditionally loving a man, even though that man has turned himself into an insect. Cronenberg has crafted some great films, and The Fly is right up there with Videodrome and A History of Violence as my favorites.
Bram Stroker’s Dracula (Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, American Zoetrope, 1992) I suppose it could be argued that this film isn’t really a remake of a film, but a re-telling of the Bram Stroker literary classic Dracula. To hell with it though, I am going to include it on my list. This is a lavish, artistic film with an all-star cast that includes Gary Oldman and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Oldman is brilliant, portraying the most famous Vampire of all time. Oldman’s Count is charming and vulnerable, as well as monstrous and savage. The original 1931 Universal film is a timeless icon, and Bela Lugosi IS Dracula, but in that era of film making, they were limited as to how far they could dive into the source book. The 1992 production is high quality, and is a very believable period piece. As with The Fly, Bram Stroker’s Dracula is also a love story at it’s core, but sometimes love is a violent, bloody thing. The cherry on top is the fact that the beautiful Tom Waits plays the slightly unhinged R.M. Renfield. A perfect match!