Thursday, October 4, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 4 -- 10 Horror Remakes That Justify Their Own Existence

If I've learned one thing from frequenting the Internet, it's that the prevalence of remakes are the death-knell of modern cinema in general, and the Horror genre in particular.  And we all know the Internet is never wrong.

However, while a large number of the Horror remakes I've seen have struck me as a waste of time and money, there are a handful which have managed to justify their existence by putting enough of a twist on the original to not just feel like a tired retread, while also maintaining an acceptable level of quality in the script, direction, acting, etc.  Inclusion in this list doesn't mean that the remake is superior to the original; it just means that the remake was on some level an enjoyable film.

10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) -- I tend to think of this as this the remake that really kicked off the Horror remake boom, but I try not to hold that against it.  Although I'm a bigger fan of the 1974 original, whose rough and gritty visuals conjure a creepier tone than its slicker successor, I think the 2003 Massacre was still an effective film with some nice jump scares, which made it fun to watch in a crowded theater.

9. The Blob (1988) -- I will cop to the fact that I remember very little about this updating of the 1958 Steve McQueen vehicle, and reserve the right to come back and replace it with Cat People or the like if a re-watching proves it to not live up to my  nearly 25 year old memories of it.  With that caveat, my recollection is that this remake justified its existence by some nifty special effects and a more active version of the titular creature.

8. Dawn of the Dead (2004) -- Although many zombie purists disliked this remake's use of "fast" zombies, the frantic energy of the opening scene helped justify the decision; that being said, the 1978 original is by far my favorite straight zombie film.

7. Halloween (2007) -- The stylistic contrast between Rob Zombie's remake and John Carpenter's 1978 Horror classic is the flip side of the two Massacres, with Zombie's film feeling much grittier than Carpenter's.  In addition, Zombie focuses a lot of time into the circumstances of Michael Meyers' life, in an attempt to lend some empathy to the character as a product of his upbringing.  But, while I enjoyed the character exploration, humanizing Meyers even slightly served to diminish the air of menace that surrounded the original version's silent killing machine.

6. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) -- This remake of the 1956 metaphor for the Red Scare justifies it existence simply for this 

Everything else I could mention about this well done flick is secondary to Screaming Donald Sutherland

5. The Ring (2002)-- While there were things I preferred about the original Japanese version -- in particular the off-hand way that the father is portrayed as psychic -- it was nowhere near as creepy to me as Gore Verbinski's English language remake. I'd be tempted to chalk it up to cultural differences if this weren't the only such remake I found more disturbing than the Japanese original.

4. The Fly (1986) -- I'm a fan of director David Cronenberg's form of body-horror, and he puts it to good use in this film, which I think is superior to the original in almost every way but one -- no Jeff Goldblum-headed insect screaming "Help me! Help me!" in a high pitched voice.

3. Little Shop of Horrors (1986) -- Maybe this is a bit of a cheat, since it's more an adaptation of the play that was inspired by Roger Corman's 1960 film than a straight-up remake, but there's no way I could leave this off the list; I just wish they had kept the musical's original ending intact.

2. Fright Night (2011) -- Of all of the horror remakes I've seen, this was the one I was most trepidatious about, since the 1985 original is one of my favorite vampire movies of all-time. Thankfully, this turned out to be the epitome of what a remake should be: respectful of the original, without being slavishly devoted to it. Expect a more detailed review of this over at my Reviews of Doom page sometime soon

1. John Carpenter's The Thing -- If I have to explain to you why this is number one on my list, obviously you have never seen it.  You should go rectify that.  Now.

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