There have been a lot of horror remake over the years. One could say horror was the trendsetter for useless and unneeded remakes, but sometimes while it may not be perfect a remake can still hold some merit by adding to the mythos or by successfully recreating the thrills we all went to the theater to experience from the first film. This weekend one of the year’s most anticipated movies, “It”, hits theaters and while this will be the first theatrical version of the classic Stephen King horror novel the film is a remake of a miniseries from television. In the spirit of the remake’s forthcoming debut I decided to take a look at a few other horror remakes that received backlash but, honestly, aren’t that bad. These are the 10 Horror Remakes and Reboots Better Than You Remember.
For this list there was a lot of my personal opinion involved, but I did take into account fan opinions on the remakes in question and any backlash they received compared to opinions on the film in hindsight for numerous sources. Keep in mind this is not a list of the worst or best horror remakes, those come later. These are films that are the middle of the road. They’re not perfect, but on their own, without the stigma of living up to the previous films, their not that bad even if the source material or original film was still superior.
I looked at films that are both reboots (continuations of a series without being considered part of the original series) and remakes (a totally revamped take on the property starting from scratch) and picked out ten I believe are under-appreciated. As long at is was a remake or reboot of a property, even if it’s a remake of a foreign film or non-theatrical release, it qualified for this list and it had to be a horror film so any film that has horror concepts but is not considered a horror film was not considered for this list. Also films that are part of a reboot or remake series, such as the sequel or prequel to an initial reboot or remake, were not considered as they are a continuation not a real reboot or remake in and of themselves.
What horror remakes and reboots do you feel deserve more credit than they received? Let me know in the comments below!
10. “Friday the 13th” (2009)
While in the end the attempt at rebooting the famed “Friday the 13th” franchise ended up producing a pretty generic slasher flick, it’s actually a pretty fun generic slasher flick. The new rendition of the franchise featured the long-awaited return of Jason Voorhees to the big screen and offered a standalone story with a classic setting but a modern twist as Voorhees kidnaps a young woman who resembles him mother at a young age while her brother goes in search for her with the help of a group of weekend campers staying along the shore of Crystal Lake. One by one the victims pile up as Jason goes about his normal killing ways with some very brutal and bloody scenes unfolding. What makes this movie so underrated is that it acts as a subtle continuation of the Voorhees mythos while providing some of the killers most brutal attacks and presented him as a ruthless killer with a bit more personality than most of the other sequels. One particular moment shows a great shot of the killer staring into the camera during a kill, giving us a look right into what little soul he has left. This film provided the biggest opening weekend of the series and of the horror genre at the time, but sadly it has been forgotten over the years but deserves more credit than it gets.
9. “The House on Haunted Hill” (1999)
Loosely based on the 1959 film of the same name, “The House on Haunted Hill” follows a group of invited guests and their host who are stranded inside a worn down insane asylum where many of the doctors and patients were killed during a massive fire. What starts out as a game turns into a fight for survival as the spirits within the home begin to target the visitors one by one. While not as well respected as its source material, this remake had its moments. It adapted the same love-triangle subplot as its predecessor into a more diabolical scheme and took the liberty of upgrading the houses haunted status from implied to confirmed, putting the spirits and their abilities and willingness to torture and kill their guests front end center. Add to that an interesting backstory that ties everything together and the movie is actually a pretty neat watch if you go in with an open mind. The kills are brutal and once you realize why these visitors are being targeted it’s not hard to feel for their situation as they are being tortured for sins they didn’t commit. “The House on Haunted Hill” may not contain the subtleties and deeper examinations of humanity that made the original a memorable film, but on its own the 1999 version with its added paranormal elements is a rather enjoyable example of escapism in the form of a haunted house story.
8. “Quarantine” (2008)
It’s tough to make a worthy remake of an iconic film, especially when that film is merely a year old. “Quarantine” was the 2008 version of the modern classic Spanish found-footage film “REC” and is, more or less, a shot for shot remake of the source material for western audiences. The film focuses on a documentary crew following a group of firefighters about their day. When they respond to a situation at a nearby home they find themselves locked in, quarantined from the outside world for reasons unknown. They soon find out a rabies-like infection is spreading and normal people in the building are turning into relentless killing machines. All of the great aspects of the original film were successfully adapted to this Americanized remake and that’s probably why it is often overlooked, because it’s really nothing more than an imitation in the grand scheme of things. However, that doesn’t make it a bad film. While the original “REC” is better acted in my opinion, “Quarantine” presents the story in a more familiar and relatable setting to American audiences and without the need for subtitles for those who don’t know the Spanish language. It might be a retread that was overshadowed by the source material and 2007’s much more hyped found footage spook fest “Paranormal Activity”, but “Quarantine” does its source material more justice than it gets credit for really by introducing a new audience to a story and concept that the 2007 films helped popularize.
7. “Thirteen Ghosts” (2001)
“Thirteen Ghosts” showcased the story of a family who is willed a glass house that works as a machine. As it turns out the house is actually a cage, holding twelve spirits captive within its walls that are all part of an evil version of the zodiac. In order to complete a ritual a thirteenth ghost must be captured, but before that the family and others in the home are tormented by the dangerous and murderous spirits within the home. The original 1960 “13 Ghosts” was a horror classic that stands today as an iconic piece of fear-driven filmmaking. Its 2001 counterpart was criticized as a cheap and unwarranted remake, but on its own it’s not the worst film out there. Sure, when compared to the original film “Thirteen Ghosts” has more than its fair share of issues, but when adapted for a modern audience the movie on its own provided some great nightmare fuel with creatively designed ghosts, each with their own backstory, and some very gruesome and graphic deaths that even by modern standards are pretty nasty. “Thirteen Ghosts” turns the concept of spirits on its head by adding new elements to the paranormal folklore and testing the limits of possibilities for what drives spirits to do what they do. When you think about it from that perspective, this remake is an under-appreciated trendsetter in a way that showed audiences that ghosts can be even more scary and deadly than we first assumed and sometimes not seeing the entity is probably for the best as things only get scarier when you know what’s haunting you.
6. “The Grudge” (2004)
Over the years western horror remakes of foreign hits have become something of a cliché. We’ve already discussed “REC”, but probably more overlooked is “The Grudge” which was the western take on 2002’s Japanese horror film “Ju-on: The Grudge”. Telling a non-liner story spanning numerous subplots all involving a strange curse brought on by a wrongful death, “The Grudge” may be a difficult film to follow but it’s no less effective. The movie introduced audiences in America to the creepy and ominous noise the Grudge ghost makes when its nearby, which in itself was a spooky and fear-inducing element in a film filled with suspense and an uncomfortable atmosphere that kept audiences confused and seeking answers with no idea what would happen next. If you take the time to follow it and appreciate it, “The Grudge” has its moments and while the original is far superior in quality the American remake is an effectively scary assault on the mind and senses worthy of this list.
5. “The Wolfman” (2010)
A modern take on the original 1941 horror classic that introduced audiences to the concept of the werewolf, “The Wolfman” is often overlooked as another unneeded and uncalled for remake. However, I personally believe it has its charm taking the classic cinematic origin story of the Wolfman and bringing it to the big screen for newer audiences to experience and respect. “The Wolfman” came about in a time where the werewolf craze from a certain crappy novel series was taking off that, dare I say, soiled the legendary monsters once respectful image. This film sought to right the path and succeeded by reminding audiences what was so scary and charming about the original Wolfman to begin with. This film plays as more of a tribute than a remake, bringing the concept of a werewolf back to its bloody origins with an exceptional cast and classic setting completing the package. Is it the classic we all know and love? No, but it’s a rendition that updated one of cinema’s most beloved movie monsters for a new era and proved that werewolves can still be the stuff of nightmares on screen.
4. “The Last House on the Left” (2009)
A remake of the gruesome 1972 film, the updated version of this tale about revenge includes even more gore and torture than the original which brought it some pretty brutal reviews upon release. The movie shows what happens when the tables are turned on the bad guys as a family of criminals becomes the hunted when they unknowingly find shelter in a storm in the home of a family whose daughter they raped and attempted to murder earlier in the film. Containing some very graphic and no-holds-barred displays of violence against the young female victims in the movie, this movie leaves audience little room for compassion towards its antagonists but even then the brutal nature of the revenge thrust upon the villains in itself is a scary look at how far humans will truly go to avenge those they love. The original film itself was inspired by a Swedish Film, but this 2009 film is a true remake of a Wes Craven classic that the director himself said he wanted to see expanded with a bigger budget for a newer audience. It might be a perfect example of torture porn, but the updated version of “The Last House on the Left” had Craven’s approval and that is enough for me really. It might not be as reserved and controlled as its 1970s counterpart, but part of its charm is its willingness to further explore the brutality associated with its controversial subject matter.
3. “Carrie” (2013)
With “It” coming to theaters this weekend it’s only appropriate that a Stephen King film be featured somewhere on this list and while the original 1976 film is a classic by most standards, let’s face it (and I’ll probably get some flack for saying this), the film is a little dated. Sure the original has it’s great moments, including the artistically shot gym scene and the pitch perfect casting of Sissy Spacek as the titular telepath, and deserves ALL the praise it got back in the day but the story was a rare one that deserved an update. The best thing is 2013 version proved to be quite and entertaining ride all on its own. Even if it failed to add much to the story and in many ways was a retread of its predecessor, the 2013 “Carrie” put the title character in a more modern high school atmosphere and world and utilized great special effects and top notch acting by Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role to make a much more terrifying and intimidating Carrie and one whose attitude and humanity was more present than the more innocent version by Sissy Spacek, creating great contrast between both portrayals of the telepath that is worth commending because both of them, in one way or another, actually worked. While many may disagree with me, this adaptation of Stephen King’s first published novel deserved much more credit that it gets and, were it not for the classic film that preceded it, would have probably earned much more the respect.
2. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010)
The “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise is a goldmine of horror classics combining comedy, creative kills, and one of the most iconic horror killers in cinematic history. When the film was remade for a new generation the reimagining of Wes Craven’s massive hit original film took a much more serious approach, presenting the famed dream-based killer as a more serious-natured villain with one goal in mind…revenge. While it can’t compete with the original series, the 2010 remake added new character depth to its famed protagonist. We get a complete backstory for Freddie Kruger and while his sense of humor and dark comedic talents made him an icon this version of the slasher with the clawed hand presented him as a much more brutal and fear-inducing character who shows little mercy. While Robert Englund will always be Freddie in the eyes of horror fans everywhere, Jackie Earl Haley was perfect to bring a more serious tone to the popular villain and although it really feels out of place as part of the overall “Nightmare” franchise, as a film on its own it’s a solid story that offers a new take on an iconic character and adds to his fearsome image, giving us more reasons to be afraid to fall asleep at night.
1. Halloween (2007)
You’ll notice there’s a theme for many of the films on this list, and that is that the remakes or reboots tend to add to the characters essential to the story. Before the “Friday” reboot and “Nightmare” remake however Rob Zombie started the trend of rebooting or remaking some of the most famous horror movie franchises in the late 2000s and early 2010s with his 2007 “Halloween” films. With the goal of doing justice to the famed franchise featuring the infamous Michael Myers while adding Zombie’s own touch, the 2007 origin film for the killer reimagines Michael’s beginnings and gives us a true glimpse into not only the actions that shaped who he would become, but also the adult he evolved into as well as filling some plot holes from the original film. Still, the movie is often pushed aside and overshadowed in favor of its iconic predecessor and while I can openly admit that it’s EXTREMELY hard to top the original film I think the 2007 adaptation is on par with the original, updating the story with more modern filmmaking tactics and adding to the lore of Myers in a way few remakes of any genre manage to pull off when compared to the original. The “Halloween” of 2007 is a labor of love and may not be as flawless or as shockingly effective as the original film but it earned its merit by creating its own fear-filled experience and bringing Myers back to his status as a credible threat and a horror icon. Yes, you could easily watch the original or this film and get the same experience, but that’s what makes this remake so awesome is that it captures everything worth enjoying about the first film and reminds us why Michael Myers became such a powerfully respected horror figure in the first place.