In most cases, remakes are bad. They’re either too close to the original, like the 1998 Psycho remake, or just bad in general, like Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. But every now and then we get a great remake, most of the time because the directors changed the movie in just the right way, or because they put their heart and soul into the movie. These, in my opinion, are those remakes.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976/2014)
When The Town That Dreaded Sundown was released in 2014 I didn’t even know it was a remake. It just felt like an interesting movie. What I got was a self referential throwback to the slasher movies of yesteryear.
Instead of giving us a simple remake, telling the same story set in 2014, with the same things happening, they decided to pay homage to the original movie and even show scenes from it. The movie is based on a true story that was made into the 1970s movie, and that movie is watched in the remake. Now, many years later, the killer seems to have come back.
The original wasn’t bad, it was alright. It’s just nothing special, forgettable. It came shortly after Halloween, basically a rip-off. Instead of a Shatner mask they got the killer a bag over his head. The remake not only was an enjoyable movie, it also made me want to see the original. And that’s why it made the list.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2006)
Both movies are actually quite similar, eventually telling the same story: A family with their van accidentally ends up in the desert with no contact to the outside world, and then evil incestuous hillbillies attack.
The original was cheaply made, with bad acting throughout. It was still a good movie because its director: was horror legend Wes Craven. Alexandre Aja, one of the more recent masters of horror, is the director of the remake. He put quality in this movie, and while the characters were still stereotypical, at least the acting was much better.
Also, just a technical advantage, the remake looks much cleaner because of the higher production quality, and it looks more realistic because of better special effects.
The Thing (1951/1982)
No, I’m not writing about the 2011 remake/prequel. John Carpenter’s The Thing is a remake of The Thing from Another World from 1951.
They are both set in the arctic, on a station with scientists. In both versions they are attacked by an alien being. In the original, that alien is a plant-like being. The remake is … different. The titular thing is basically a transformer, can turn into animals and humans, which adds a new layer to this movie.
The original is black and white, a little slow and misogynistic. The remake is fast paced, different and has some of the greatest special effects in movie history. And that’s why it’s better than the original.
There have been lots of adaptions of Dracula. I’ll be comparing two of the most famous ones, who are both only called Dracula (or Horror of Dracula, depending where you live).
Dracula starring Bela Lugosi is one of my favorite movies of all time. But let’s be real, it’s a little slow and feels like they were filming a stage play. On the other hand, we get Dracula, starring one of the greatest actors of all time, Christopher Lee, and his adversary is Peter Cushing. Both give this movie gravitas.
Also, what Hammer studios added to the classic story is blood and sex. They don’t care about taboos. That’s what makes the remake better than the original Dracula. Of course, if we put Nosferatu in, that beats them both just because of Max Schreck as Count Orlok.
The Ring (1998/2002)
This is probably my most controversial pick on this list. Both Ringu and The Ring are well loved by horror fans. Also this is the only remake that has nothing to do with age or time. It’s about culture.
Both are pretty much the same story. A scary video tape goes around. If you watch it you get a call, and someone tells you you’ll die in 7 days.
As with The Hills Have Eyes, the remake had a much bigger production value. The original is cheap, but the story turns it up a notch. The remake has the same story, but has a much higher budget. And for western audiences, the remake feels more natural, because of cultural differences. Last but not least, the evil video just feels scarier in the remake.
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