For as long as we can all remember horror films have been around. Some have stood the test of time with real terror (Jaws, Alien, The Exorcist, The Blair Witch Project). And others have marked a special place in our hearts for what it means to be a true slasher flick (Friday the 13th, House on Sorority Row, Sleepaway Camp). However, if you look back at all these classics and then some, you will find now in this awful generation of Hollywood creativity, that we are being overrun by constant remakes and/or sequels of the horror films we love the most. I am not saying that all of the remakes are terrible and there is no reason to make them. Granted, if the original is lame even for it's time and didn't really make much of an impact on audiences upon it's release, then I think it's time for a reboot. But when studios just start to remake classics just for the sake of it, then folks... we have a serious problem. I mean, we all know, that in Hollywood, all that seems to be coming out lately are either remakes, sequels, prequels, true stories, adapted true stories, "based on the novel by such and such..." I mean, come on guys! Where did all the originality go?! Thankfully we still have films like Paranormal Activity (which was only made for $11,000, mind you). Now if I am familiar with the original, I will absolutely go see any horror remake that is released, just to determine which is better. Now I had seen the remake of The Last House on the Left last spring, and I never thought it could live up to Wes Craven's 1972 classic of the same, or even Bergman's 1960 masterpiece, The Virgin Spring. However, it shocked the hell out of me. I went in there with low expectactions and I got something magnificent. Now unfortunately this particular remake received poor reviews for it's gratuitous violence (which there is a lot of), but I have a very high tolerance for violence, and I think it did the original justice. I mean, Wes Craven produced this film so he must have seen something in doing a reboot of his own gem. Now I have narrowed it down to, what I think, are the top ten horror remakes to discuss (whether there good or bad). Now keep in mind, that these top ten remakes must of had some sort of an impact on me in either a positive or negative way that I just can't help but write about. Here we go...
1. The Hills Have Eyes (2006) - One of my new favorite horror filmmakers, Frenchman Alexandra Aja, directed and co-wrote this, what I think, is an incredibly well crafted film. Not only is it terrifying, but is also very well done. Wes Craven directed the original back in 1977 and a few months after I saw the remake, I decided to get the '77 one on my netflix, and boy, was this difficult to watch. I believe I shut it off about 3/4 into it. This was not one of Craven's finest pieces of work by any means. I give him credit for attempting to bring this story to life though, and for it's time, I'm sure it was somewhat cool to watch. But when your 18 and you go see a film such as Aja's Hills you are beside yourself. I remember when I first saw the trailer for this film at the cinema, and I had no idea what it was. My friend whispered into my ear, "Man, it's radioactivity." I was already starting to get chills down my spine from excitement. I couldn't wait until this was released. When I finally saw it with my friends, all my expectations were fulfilled. I went in there with high expectations and sure enough, I viewed something great. Which is very difficult to happen with me. For those of you who are not familiar with the story of The Hills Have Eyes, it revolves around an all American family on their way to California, and from the advice of a creepy gas station attendant, take a detour through the desert and eventually have their car break down in the middle of nowhere. As night falls, they start to discover they are not alone. That they are surrounded by mutant savages seeking revenge on humans for turning them into what they are. The film has everything a die hard horror fan would want. Nonstop suspense, right amount of gore, great make up effects, and even revenge and redemption at the end from the humans! EVERYTHING! And keep in mind, Alexandra Aja is not your typical horror filmmaker. This man is a student of cinema. He is going to be one of the greats years to come. If you have not seen Aja's first film, High Tension, see it as soon as possible! It's one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen, but it's brilliant, as is this overlooked triumphant reboot.
2. Friday the 13th (2009)
-Now I had been looking forward to this upgraded reboot of the cult classic 1980s slasher flick franchise, because to be honest, even though we all look at Friday the 13th as a classic, if you go back and really watch it thoroughly, it's a piece of crap. I'm sure people who viewed it in the theatres back in 1980 thought the same. Not the best or the worst slasher flick, but it definitely had somewhat of an impact on future slasher flicks and should be watched at least once. If not for the film itself, at least for Kevin Bacon's cameo! Now back to the topic of discussion. I was extremely excited and got goosebumps when the release date came closer and closer. And I had even higher hopes considering the fact that Marcus Nispel was signed on as director, considering he was the genius behind the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which we'll get to later...). And then I finally saw the thing. And boy, I have never been more disappointed about a horror film in my entire life! This film is under directed, poorly acted, horribly scripted, weak deaths, and not scary in the slightest. Even the original Friday the 13th films had better and more creative death sequences and cooler ideas than this shit fest, and they came out in the 1980s for crying out loud! Probably the cheesiest decade for slasher flicks! The only redeeming quality about this film is the opening deaths involving a small group of campers who get attacked by Jason, as he still remains with the bag over his head. The deaths are gruesome, the tension is built nicely, and the acting is tolerable. But from then on, when we skip to the next batch of campers who are the main principals of the story, the film goes downhill. Granted the opening sequence is only like 15 minutes tops, so... we don't have much to fall back on here. What Nispel did, which you can't blame him for attempting, was try to bring to life the old vibe of 80s slasher flicks (with the silly sexual innuendo, silly dialogue) and combine it with this new generation of ultra seriousness (like the Saw films). Needless to say, this was the ultimate backfire if you ask me. Honestly I really thought this film was off to a good start but then it felt like a new director took over after the opening and turned the film into shit. Also, sorry to go off the handlebars a little here, but you know how in most teen slasher flicks, there is at least one major preppy boy asshole who you just can't wait to get the most brutal, most grotesque death ever?! Well, this film is no different and contains probably the most perfect candidate to play the biggest prick in 'prick history.' The character is Trent, but wait, it gets better. The actual actor playing him's name is... (and I'm not even kidding) Travis Van Winkle! Is that not the most preppiest, most pompous name out there?! If that's not in the top 10, I don't know what it is. Anyway, so this character of Trent is a major asshole all throughout the film. Cheats on his girlfriend practically right in front of her, dismisses the main character's missing sister, and disses his friends all throughout the film in the most protentious way ever. So of course he remains alive until almost the climax, so we are just on the edge of our seats waiting for his death. So finally Trent encounters Jason Voorhees in the middle of the dirt road and what happens??? Jason picks him up and drops him on some fucking moose antlers attached to the back of some hick's truck!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? That may have worked with some of the other victims, but this jerk off needs the big kahuna of deaths. At least slice him in half or rip his face open. It needs something way more creative! That was like a shot in the gut to me. I love when pricks get what's coming to them, but they treated his death as if he were just some goddamn gas station attendant taking a shit. I can't discuss this film any further. If you really want to waste your time watching this piece of crap (which I know you will, cause I would out of curiousity if I read this review too, so...), then please try to only watch the opening 15-20 minutes! The opening is the only scene that counts. Everything else is dog shit.
3. The Amityville Horror (2005)
-Good God. I do not know how I am going to write this review. This is by far the bleeding asshole of horror remakes. If this was the last film on Earth, I wouldn't bother to lay my eyes on it. Well, to be honest, I just said that for effect. I probably would watch it to tell you the truth, cause I can't live without films (no matter how horrible they are)... but I wouldn't enjoy it that's for sure! In the year of 1979, an absolute cult classic and terrifying film was introduced to audiences all around the world. Stuart Rosenberg directed the original version of The Amityville Horror, based on Jay Anson's novel of the same name, starring screen veterans James Brolin and Margot Kidder as George and Kathy Lutz and the hard hitting Rod Steiger as Father Delaney. The story revolves around an average family who move into a house in Amityville, Long Island, and soon the father begins to become possessed by demons ordering him to murder his family. This film is not one to watch in the middle of the night by yourself (unless your a die hard horror fan like myself). This is by far one the scariest, most cleverly told films I have ever seen. I rank it up there in terror with The Exorcist. I wouldn't even consider this a horror film. More like an 117 minute nail biter. Unfortunately this film, due to it's critical success, spawned multiple absolutely awful theatrical as well as straight-to-dvd sequels. The only one being good enough to sit through is the first sequel, well a prequel, entitled Amityville II: The Possession starring Paulie Pennino himself, Burt Young! And who doesn't love Burt Young?! Okay, now to quickly discuss what we were really hear to talk about. In 2005, Andrew Douglas was assigned to direct the reboot of the franchise and brought us this pile of bull shit. This film was a joke. Yeah, it kept in several of the same bits of the original (the babysitter incident, the little girl on the roof), but big deal! That's not enough to save this disaster. Now I can't say I don't blame them for casting Miss Melissa George as Kathy Lutz. I don't have a problem with her and I adored her in Turistas (even though that film is crap). But here is the true kicker and biggest joke of the film. RYAN REYNOLDS TO PLAY GEORGE LUTZ?!? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the bozo who plays such intensified performances such as Van Wilder and the Male Nurse in Harold and Kumar go to White Castle? Now granted, Brolin was no Olivier in the film industry in the 70s, but at least he looked the part. Reynolds just looked like Jim Carrey. Oooooh, what, he put on a bunch of rock hard muscle and chops wood shirtless and has a beard, so were automatically supposed to be scared of him? Sorry Ryan. Ain't gonna work. I felt like this film was spoofing the original and seemed to try to make a dark comedy, which could work... if it was done intelligently, which it was not. The only element that didn't let me down was the incredible character actor and screen veteran, Philip Baker Hall, filling in Rod Steiger's shoes as Father Delaney. I'm glad it was Hall and not Tyler Perry. When I was watching this in the theatre and the demons were screaming, "GET OUUUUUUT!!!" I truly felt like that was a secret message telling us all to leave the theatre before it's too late. Two thumbs way down for this disgrace.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
-Now this is quite the tricky scenario for a remake to be made. The original absolute classic, directed by horror icon Tobe Hooper, had a major impact on many, many horror films to come. Even The Silence of the Lambs if you'd believe it! A 'Best Picture' winner, what?!? Oh yes. However, watching this film now, yes it is creepy and pretty grotesque, but never the less, it did come out in 1974 and could definitely use a reboot and some better acting. Marcus Nispel brought to life this remake in 2003 and went all out, holding nothing back. Once I discovered R. Lee Ermey was playing Sheriff Hoyt, I was all ears. For those of you who aren't familiar with this story, which is loosely based on true events in Texas, which scares you even more, considering the story's horrendously graphic nature. It is the story of a group of friends who are stalked and hunted by a deranged and cannibalistic family who are so poor that they need to hunt human flesh for food. The chainsaw in the title comes from our main antagonist, Leatherface, who swings a chainsaw everywhere he goes like a madman. Well, I guess it's hard to not look like a madman when your swinging a chainsaw. Leatherface's prime motive is skinning the faces off his victims and collecting them. Now this is one of those films where the cast and crew really took this film ultra seriously and were really out there to honor the original and do it justice, but also create a new vision. It was executed very nicely. The tension, the music, everything. Now only is this a terrifying horror film, but it's also just a damn well done film in and of itself. I would not be surprised if Soderbergh were behind the camera on this masterpiece. I can not say enough good things about this film. Hell, even the prequel that was released 3 years later, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was damn good! Granted, R. Lee Ermey reprised his role, but nonetheless, it's still a great prequel. Bravo to all who were behind this film. I'm sure it was not easy to try to please fans of the original, major horror fans, and cinema buffs all at the same time, but I feel this film honored all three categories nicely, and that... is the ultimate challenge.
5. The Last House on the Left (2009)
-I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer for this film, I probably had the lowest expectatations I have ever had for a horror remake. However, I was a huge fan of the original, I knew this was rated R, and I knew right off the bat, that I was going to check it out, no matter how bad it looked. I'll see any horror remake, cause you never know... I might be surprised. Which is exactly what happened to me with this ultra violent revenge drama. 50 years ago, Ingmar Bergman brought us the Swedish period piece entitled, The Virgin Spring, which takes place in 14th century Sweden. It revolves around a young virgin who is brutally raped and left for dead by goat herders. Later on, by a bizarre twist of fate, they wind up at the parents house in need of food and shelter. The parents then begin a sadistic list of revenge tactics on the herders. Then 12 years later, Wes Craven remade the Oscar winning Foreign classic in modern times (well, 1972 modern times) revolving around the exact same premise, just tweaked it a little. It was a huge hit and was the driving point for Craven's horror career. Then 37 years later, Wes Craven thought to himself, "It's about time for an upgrade." I really thought they were going to butcher this remake, but I did have in the back of my head that Craven was involved in producing and developing it, so that was a good sign. He did help The Hills Have Eyes get remade and that was magnificent (as you already know from previously on my list). But I still thought the trailer looked weak. When I finally saw this film in the theatres, it was the complete opposite of what I suspected it of being. IT WAS AWESOME! Cutthroat violence, intense acting, great character development, and fantastic, bloody revenge done to the max! Hell, this film actually received horrible reviews because of it's glorified violence! I, myself, think it was done very tastefully. For once the major prick in the pack (Garret Dellahunt) gets the worst death of all. They don't take this psychopath for granted, like a lot of terrible films have done to their main antagonist. They give this sleazebag what he's got coming. They take their time with him. I mean, this guy did rape their daughter, shoot her in the back, beat her, leave her for dead, as well as killing the girl's best friend with a knife. This guy has got to suffer. And suffer he does. Well suffer is really an understatement. I won't give anything away, but lets just say a microwave plays a large part in the victim's demise. Anyway, this film is a must see. If you love the original I really don't think you'll be dissapointed.
6. Psycho (1998)
-Are you kidding me?
7. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
-Zack Snyder directed this remake of George A. Romero's 1978 cult classic unofficial sequel to 1968's ultimate zombie triumph, Night of the Living Dead. George Romero has made quite the ultimate impact and revitilization of horror films and is the master of zombie flicks. So to be in Snyder's shoes is a tricky situation to remake something from the biggest horror icons in the history of horror cinema. And when I discovered Romero had nothing to do with this film, not even an E.P. credit, I was a little hesitant. But I loved the edgy cast consisting of Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley, Jake Weber, and Mekhi Pfeiffer. Now that's a kick ass cast for a horror film. Any film for that matter. I love when horror films get good actors though. It's very refreshing. I respect Snyder a lot for taking on this reboot and making it his own and his own only. Actually renaming it, Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead. That's when you know your in for a treat and it's a very risky move on his part if you ask me. Anyway, this film centers on a zombie epidemic happening causing a group of survivors seeking shelter and protection in an oversized mall. I have always loved this story out of all the ...Of the Dead films considering it's main message on shoppers in malls who are so overwhelmed with their shopping agenda and infatuated with buying the next "big thing" that they become zombies themselves. Great symbolism here. This film keeps you on the edge of your seat with tension and some of the most well directed zombie attacks I have seen in quite a while. Just the character development alone is fascinating to watch. How everyone comes together to battle these undead creatures in order to survive. How they all start out as strangers who despise one another and later soon to trust each other with their lives. Very well done. They were remakes made of the other two zombie flicks we all know of from Romero. Night of the Living Dead, which was tolerable, but then the real disgrace was in 2008, when they decided to remake Day of the Dead which went straight-to-dvd as it well should have. However, Ving Rhames did return for this one, but as a different character. Even he couldn't save this disaster. Mena Suvari and that idiot, Nick Cannon, also co-star. It was borderline impossible to sit through the first 5 minutes of the remake of Day of the Dead, but it's nearly impossible to get up from your chair throughout the entirety of the Dawn of the Dead remake.
8. Prom Night (2008)
-I can not say enough awful things about this absolute disgrace to all horror fans. Listen up studios!!! I warn you... do not rate a horror remake of an R-rated original, PG-13!!! They did the same with The Stepfather and I was totally mortified. This remake is no better. For those of you who are not familiar with the original 1980 cult classic, which starred scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis. It revolves around a masked killer who stalks 4 teens who were responsible for the death of a child 6 years earlier at their high school's prom. And did I mention Leslie Nielson has a principal role? I mean, come on, man! This flick is classic bad ass. Cool deaths, and kick ass disco makes this film one to remember. Now in 2008, Nelson McCormick (also the man behind the terrible Stepfather remake in 2009) revisited this film and brought us his own shitty version of what he thinks would make a good teen slasher flick. Jesus, this isn't even the same movie. Some moron in a baseball cap attempts to look scary as he stalks a bunch of teens at their high school prom while looking for some chick who he was infatuated with from years before but still is... oooooohhhhh creepy!!! Anything but. I couldn't believe they risked rating this PG-13. I mean, where the hell do they get off? The original was a classic R-rated bonofide slasher flick. Why do they rate a remake lighter then the original?! It's like what they did with the remake of Fame. Rating it PG, when the original was R?! How the hell can you do that? Well, I'll discuss that shitty remake on a different list. Anyway, this film has absolutely no scares, and they didn't even attempt at doing the original justice. They just threw in a bunch of eager beaver MTV talentless "actors" to scream and look scared so they can make a quick buck. No effort in this at all. Why even call it Prom Night? This has nothing to do with the original, except for the fact that there's a killer stalking people at a prom. But his motives and intentions and look is completely different. Why couldn't they just have called this Night of the Prom or Terror Prom or hey... how bout just not making this?! That sounds like a plan! If it's broke, don't fix it. This film is by far worse than all 3 of the horrendous Prom Night sequels combined!
9. Halloween (2007)
-Now I can't say I hated this film. But I, in no means, loved it. This film has a similar impact on me as the remake of Friday the 13th had. The first half (well for this film at least) was fantastic and definitely showed even more than what the original did of Michael Myers' past, but then once we get into Haddonfield, Illionois, the shit hits the fan. Rob Zombie wrote and directed this ultra reboot of the 1978 absolute cult classic with once again, scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis in the starring role of Laurie Strode. Unfortunately Zombie's choice for the new Laurie Strode is an utter chatastrophe played by Scout-Taylor Compton, who is just annoying more than anything. But I have to admit Malcolm McDowell is a fantastic choice to play Dr. Loomis and definitely made it his. He created something totally unique, rather than mimicking what Donald Pleasance brought to the originals. You can definitely see that Zombie was a huge fan of the Halloween franchise, especially the original. Well, really just the character of Michael Myers, and he wanted to do it justice. Zombie is not a dumb person by any means. He actually has a very kean eye for filmmaking and surely knows what he's doing and knows how to cut to the core. I mean, he even admits that he was rather upset with his turn out of this remake. It really felt like 2 movies by the time it was over. However, thankfully Zombie made a huge comeback with the sequel to this which came out in 2009. He just went all out on this one, and even though he used a tad bit from the original Halloween II from 1981 (the hospital nightmare sequence), he really created something completely different and ran with it. This sequel was an absolute power house and I really felt like Zombie learned his lesson with the let down of the first. Like I said, I didn't like this film nor did I dislike it. I just think it was unfocused and maybe should have had more time spent on it. Don't worry, Rob Zombie. I still think your awesome.
10. The Thing (1982)
-It doesn't get any better than this, folks. This is the big kahuna of horror remakes and will go down in the history books. From the acting to the special effects to the writing to the make up to the directing to the story. Everything spells out brilliant. I wouldn't really consider this a remake, considering how different it is from the original. But it holds the same title (well the original technically being called The Thing from Another World) and it is official on the internet that it's a remake, so... Christian Nyby, and believe it or not, an uncredited Howard Hawks teamed up to direct this 1951 science fiction film (which at the time I'm sure was horrifying, but now in 2010, ehhhhhh.....). The story centers on scientists and the American air force fending off a bloodthirsty alien organism while stationed in an arctic outpost. Then 31 years later, it was time to make an upgrade. And who better to take on that challenge, then the granddaddy of science fiction and horror, Mr. John Carpenter. And who better to star? Bad ass Kurt Russell, who returns after working with Carpenter in Escape from New York in 1981 (which unfortunately there is talks of making a remake of that too in 2011!!!). This version's story is not insanely different, however there is a twist. There are scientists. There are Air Force military soldiers. There is the arctic outpost. And there is an alien organism. However, the elaborate difference here is that the alien is a shape shifter who morphs into its victims rapidly. This makes for one ultimate horror/sci-fi flick! A real "guy" movie. It is very much in the theme of Planet Terror. Kurt Russell is the ultimate bad ass as R.J. MacReady and Keith David and Wilford Brimley bring memorable performances to the screen as well. But the main impact comes from the incredible make up and special effects. This film offers the perfect blend of dark comedy, horror and science fiction perfectly that it's hard to keep your eyes off the screen.
Well, that's my list for the top 10 horror remakes (good and bad) that had enough of an effect on me that they needed to be discussed thoroughly. Hope you weren't dissapointed. Please feel free to comment and if your interested enough, "follow" me! God bless.
UPCOMING HORROR REMAKES
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (April 30th, 2010)
2. Piranha 3-D (August 27th, 2010)
3. Pet Semetary (2010)
4. Child's Play (2010)
5. Hellraiser (2011)
- Chris von Hoffmann
"All I've ever wanted to do is darken the day and brighten the night." - Clive Barker