I suspect this list may please some readers, but ultimately will likely stir a general dere to sling feces in my direction. I’m okay with that. I’m a firm believer that it takes all kinds to enjoy all kinds, and I try to keep that motto alive in my mind, so as not to get too pissed off at others when I disagree, or gush when I do.
Remakes, reboots and re-imaginings constitute sketchy discuson. Some of us love them, some of us hate them, some of us are completely indifferent, and a few of us out there are too damn young to realize that half of their favorite horror movies were alive and kicking a few decades ago, sans the computer generated imagery.
I personally don’t care all too much either way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s highly aggravating to see the creativity slowly leak from Hollywood studios, but I understand the motivation: the mighty dollar. I also understand that the best thing a viewer can do when heading in to check out a remake, is head in with a clear mind, and zero expectations. You’re more likely to form an honest opinion of the picture if you don’t purchase your ticket with an Olympic zed pool full of preconceived notions in your head.
Check out a few picks, spanning the second half of the last decade, and don’t flame me straight to Hell if you disagree!
House of Wax: This remake really doesn’t remain incredibly faithful to either of its two predecessors (the 1953 rendition of the same title, 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum), but it’s a fun little viewing experience all the same. Anytime in which I get to see Paris Hilton killed onscreen is a plus in my life. Throw in solid performances from Jared Padalecki, Chad Michael Murray and Elisha Cuthbert and some damn entertaining gore and you’ve got yourself a damn decent remake. House of Wax certainly has its flaws, but it’s enjoyable, no doubt.http://youtu.be/MJYnHA2OzfA
War of the Worlds: Obviously more science fiction than horror, War of the Worlds does offer some frightening sequences and a hint of savagery. The cinematography and post production is gorgeous, creating a real vintage feel to the picture. I can’t pretend to be a big Tom Cruise fan, but I’ve got to give credit where credit is due: this Steven Spielberg helmed remake is awesome!
The Hills Have Eyes: Alexandre Aja’s rendition of Wes Craven’s original shocker is superb and arguably superior to the original (I don’t see much argument, but purists will still swear by Craven’s interpretation) 1977 offering. The gore is elevated tremendously, the sadistic nature of the film exceeds that of the original, and the acting is impresve. This is one of the few contemporary remakes that I’ll stand behind 100 percent.
The Omen: Make no mistake about it, John Moore’s 2006 take on this decades old tale is filled with uhh, really? moments. That said, Liev Schreiber is fantastic, and there are a few death scenes that are so far superior to the original it’s almost unbelievable. If you don’t get a kick out of a couple of the death scenes in this one… you must be insane! While I don’t find a whole lot of replay value in this specific remake, it’s a kick ass watch once over.
Black Christmas: I can hear it already “Oh no, he didn’t!” Yes, I did! I’m a masve, masve fan of Bob Clark’s original 1974 film of the same title, and I won’t t here and attempt to tell you that this ’06 remake can pretend to hold a candle to the original. However, I will say this: if you try to view this one as a standalone feature, and detach the title itself from the equation, you’re likely to enjoy it, at least a bit. The film’s color is gorgeous, as are the young ladies in front of the camera. There are some new twists to the story that don’t work well, but I’ll be damned if flesh cookies and… unpleasant tree toppers aren’t a whole lot of fun. Drink some beers, put your comedy face on and prepare for a raucous time. Notice I said ‘raucous’, and not ‘amazing’.
Halloween: It’s easy to argue that this is Rob Zombie’s best work-to-date. I’m not sure that is the greatest compliment however. The film suffers from some glaring pacing issues (it feels like two films stapled together) and predictable Zombieisms (the white trash family from which Myers suddenly comes from), but Rob does do some things very well. He successfully builds upon the Myers mythos, and fills in the misng years of the story pretty well. It’s also nice to see genre staples like Danny Trejo, Bill Moseley, Dee Wallace, and Ken Foree involved. Tyler Mane is a terrifying Myers, though I could do without the dirty heavy metal hairdo, he’s definitely a menacing figure.
Funny Games: This shot for shot remake is unnerving, albeit not the most believable of concepts: If two teenage punks show up at my door and start some trouble, I’m beating the snot out of them to protect my family, plain and mple. That said the cinematography is great, and there are some unique techniques put to work (the fourth wall shatter, the extended ngle shot scene). The performances are fun, and by the time the final credits run, there’s definitely an unsettling emotion resting in the belly. While I’m not ordinarily huge on shot-for-shot remakes, you’ve got to love a film that ends on such a nister note.
The Strangers: Here we have another foreign flick that earned the American remake treatment. Thank the stars it’s well assembled. The atmosphere is slightly inferior to David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s original piece, Ils, but it’s tense all the same. The motive behind the madness of the plot is brilliant, and the fact that the premise is loosely based on actual occurrences adds an extra dimenon of terror. Both Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler are great, and the relationship hurdles they deal with during the feature adds a nice outde-the-box feel to The Strangers.
Mirrors: Once again Aja makes the list. Though Mirrors certainly doesn’t pack the punch that The Hills Have Eyes offers, it’s still legitimately eerie in spots. While the picture differs in some key areas from Sung-ho Kim’s original Into the Mirrors, the adjustments can be argued as enhancements to the picture. I’m a big Reefer Sutherland fan, and in truth, he (for the most part) makes the movie. This is another one that may earn me some verbal barbs, but it’s better than a whole lot of Korean converts to hit the American market in recent years.
Quarantine: Like Funny Games, this one is just about a shot-for-shot remake of Paco Plaza’s . Though the tenon of the original isn’t fully intact, there are some disquieting sequences that rival Quarantine’s Spanish source material. The performances are great (Jennifer Carpenter and Johnathon Schaech exude memorable charisma), and the jolts fly at the viewer with regularity. I conder Quarantine inferior to , but not by any zable margin.
My Bloody Valentine: If you honestly believe this contemporary take on Harry Warden and the pick-axe from Hell is inferior to the 1981 original, you’re a deluonal purist (sorry to break it to you this late in life). Patrick Luser’s reboot adds layers of depth, mystery and character development that the original clearly lacked (though I am admittedly a fan). Jensen Ackles and Kerr Smith play oppote one another wonderfully, and believe it or not, this one actually boasts some fantastic 3D work. Let the past go, and accept this one for what it is: a bad ass modern slasher!
Friday the 13th: Shall I attack the traditionalists again? No, I think not. Instead I’ll say this: the cast kicks ass (Jared Padalecki was born to play the hero just as Danielle Panabaker
was destined to be slaughtered in virtually every horror film in which she appears), the agile Jason Voorhees is a blast, the kills are creative, and there’s genuine character in the script (which mashes up the first four Friday films all in one, to surpring effect). Did I mention that on top of being an extremely warm, funny guy (I had the pleasure of interviewing the man during the Friday promotional run in ’09, at which point I learned that this masve man is actually a comedian!), Derek Mears is (dare I say) far more menacing than Kane Hodder behind that hockey mask?http://youtu.be/SqXnowJjfDc
The Last House on the Left: I enjoy the gritty, sadistic nature of Wes Craven’s original controversy stirring film (unlike many), however it’s cluttered with imperfections and moments of deep exploitative revulon. This contemporary take doesn’t twist the story up too much; rather it just puts a little shine on the rusty chrome, and smooth’s out some of the highly controveral scenarios proposed by the original. Most will likely agree with this selection, as Craven’s 1972 veron is generally loathed, even by die-hard fans.
It’s Alive: This one is a one-hitter-quitter. It’s got its fair share of technical deficiencies, but it’s certainly fun for a ngle viewing. Larry Cohen’s original 1974 tends to be condered hit-or-miss for most viewers, and I can see the same standpoint taken when assesng this remake. Just the same, it’s nice to see this film reignite interest in the original, and while I don’t enjoy it as much as its predecessor, I did find some tangible entertainment value attached. You’ll dig it, or you’ll hate it, but it’s worth at least one go-round!2010
The Crazies: The Crazies is quite posbly my favorite remake to earn mention in this article. I’ve always enjoyed George Romero’s original take, but I absolutely love Breck Eisner’s modern spin. It’s shocking, tenon filled, fairly gory and actually a bit frightening at times. The early subtlety of the film is genuinely haunting, and I’m pleased to say that the terror only escalates as the picture unfolds. Timothy Olyphant was destined to play the role of this Iowan Sheriff, while Joe Anderson is damn near flawless as Deputy Russell. The make-up effects are grand, and the finale is as rewarding as the opening act. This is one fantastic remake that should not go unnoticed!
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Here we go with what many will conder another highly suspect selection. I confess there are some serious technical flaws that plague this picture, namely pacing and character development (we’re supposed to care about Nancy!). However, Jackie Earle Haley is creepy as hell, in both human form and scarred post-mortem monstrous guise. I love the fact that a lot of the humor that began to drag the Nightmare franchise into unbearable territory is trimmed down, just as I love the look of the make-up work (if you don’t feel Haley’s Krueger looks the more realistic burn victim than Englund’s, you’ve never seen a severe burn victim). The additional plot additions (Krueger is finally clearly outlined as the molester that was always hinted at and the incluon of the micro-nap details are both wonderful embellishments) are fun, and add a bit of new substance to an old story. In addition to Haley, Kyle Garner also offers a fantastic performance.http://youtu.be/9u8vZwvP57Y
Predators: This one is a tricky pick, as it’s not really a remake, not really a reboot, and not exactly a sequel. Just the same, it fits the same mold as the other films in this piece. If you haven’t seen this one yet, see it, it’s awesome! Adrien Brody is an excellent lead, who I find more endearing than Schwarzenneger (probably because he actually possesses highly refined acting abilities, rather than mple brawn), and he’s got a great group of supporting actors to keep things fresh, including Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace and Danny Trejo. The action is balls-to-the-wall from the opening moments, and never truly slows down. A fine twist caps off one hell of a movie here! Clearly one of the best films to make this list!
Piranha 3D: Like Predators, this one isn’t exactly a remake, but it’s a solid reimagining, that’s for sure. The gore is absolutely off the hook; you won’t find too many contemporary mainstream offerings that boast the blood, guts, and fileted flesh that this one boasts. The story is outrageous, but strangely engaging, and Jerry O’Connell is absolutely grand as the party animal, would-be Joseph Francis. Toss in plenty of nudity and some kick ass cameos from the likes of Christopher Lloyd and Eli Roth and you’re eying a stunningly entertaining flick!
Let Me In: I won’t tell you that Let Me In rivals the original Swedish feature, Let the Right One In, but I will tell you that it’s got a few sequences that are actually superior to the original feature. For one, while we lose the haunting atmosphere of, Let the Right One In, we gain monumental strides in terms of pacing and coheon. The story feels much more straight-forward, and the downtime is all but eliminated. The performances of Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz certainly rival those of Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson, and Elias Koteas and Richard Jenkins are terrific. My only complaint with this one lies within a few questionable CGI sequences, which Let the Right One In wisely avoided by leaning on practical effects.
I Spit on Your Grave: This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Meir Zarchi’s original 1978 feature feels sadistic, chauvinistic, overtly vile and absolutely nothing more. The remake follows the same formula, but director Steven R. Monroe incorporates a hint of humanity and a whole lot more compason, which make for a much eaer viewing experience, although the picture is still clearly harrowing as all Hell. In the end the results are fairly milar, though this remake is far more spirited, and definitely conscious of its intentions; Zarchi’s yarn feels like nothing more than a means to demoralize women, while Monroe empowers the female gender much more effectively.