Not all remakes are doomed to live in the shadow of their predecessors.
Horror is back in a big way in 2020, but it seems Hollywood is struggling to come up with new ideas. While original flicks such as A Quiet Place Part II, Antlers and The Green Knight are fresh projects receiving much hype, the majority of big-budget horrors are remakes, reboots and sequels.
So far we’ve seen trailers for the Jordan Peele-produced Candyman sequel and Chris Rock’s Saw offshoot Spiral, along with a new iteration of The Grudge (it’s shit) and Saw creator Leigh Whannell’s take on The Invisible Man (it’s great).
With horror reboots dominating the last few decades and many more on the horizon, here are our favourite remakes from the genre that live up to the films they are based on.
Similar to Sam Raimi’s iconic ’80s gore fest, Evil Dead follows a group of friends who are terrorised by a demon they conjure up after reading aloud an ancient incantation. First time director Fede Alvarez delivers a bloody flick that includes possession, a questionable rape scene involving plant life, amputation and death by chainsaw. The cast of unknowns are terrific, with Alvarez creating a scary and bloody remake on par with the original. This certainly isn’t one for the squeamish.
Not only is The Thing another awesome collaboration from director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell, but this horror/sci-fi hybrid is my favourite film of all time. Slated by critics when first released in 1982, The Thing is now regarded as a cult classic, featuring a shape-shifting alien that infiltrates an American research station in Antarctica and begins to kill and replicate those living there as fear and paranoia sets in. Russell is in top form as chopper pilot R. J. MacReady who is forced to take control as the group begin to turn on each other. Rob Bottin’s special effects will have you gasping while the blood test scene is one of the greatest and tensest pieces of film ever shot. A masterclass in horror.
Dawn Of The Dead
Zack Snyder’s a hack, but even I have to give him credit for his reboot of Dawn Of The Dead. The 1978 George A. Romero original is a classic zombie flick which Snyder managed to recharge for a modern audience. A group of survivors – including Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley and Mekhi Phifer – find themselves trapped in a mall where they must work out how to live in harmony while plotting their escape from the thousands of zombies surrounding them. Jumping onboard the fast-moving zombie trend of the early ’00s, Dawn Of The Dead offers enough thrills and kills to keep most horror fans entertained.
The Hills Have Eyes
Director Alexandre Aja (the man responsible for French classic High Tension) ramped up the gore for his version of Wes Craven’s controversial The Hills Have Eyes. When a family’s car breaks down in the New Mexico desert, the occupants find themselves hunted by mutant cannibals. This is a well-shot horror with plenty of jump-scares and featuring a lot more gore than the original. The reviews were mixed, with many upset by the graphic violence, but the film went on to quadruple its $15 million budget and became a well-liked movie embraced by the horror community.
Japanese horror films are rarely bettered, but Gore Verbinski, better known for directing the first three Pirates Of The Caribbean films, managed to buck the trend with supernatural scare-fest The Ring. After watching a cursed tape, Naomi Watts has seven days to save herself and her son, who also watched the tape. Bad parenting Naomi. This one is a suspense-filled terror with a disturbing atmosphere and some great performances from Watts, Brian Cox and Martin Henderson.
The Fly proved Jeff Goldblum could act and continued David Cronenberg’s fascination for films exploring psychological and physical torment with a good dose of blood and guts. When a teleportation experiment goes wrong, Goldblum finds himself sharing his DNA with that of a fly. The horrifying transformation he undergoes throughout the film is a visceral and gory process that’s incredibly lifelike, thanks to makeup artists Chris Walas and Stephen Dupuis. The film spawned a less than stellar sequel and short comic book series, but neither compares to the slime-dripping horror of Cronenberg’s remake.
The Wicker Man
I’m the first to put my hand up and admit director Neil LaBute’s reimagining of British favourite The Wicker Man is an absolute clusterfuck, but it’s worth watching solely for star Nicolas Cage’s performance. His portrayal of policeman Edward Malus, investigating a mysterious cult where his daughter has gone missing, is one for the ages. Cage has never been more over the top and animated, from him screaming “How’d it get burned? How’d it get burned?” to the infamous bees scene. This is the film that turned Cage into a meme and solidified his position as one of acting’s greats, or worsts, depending on your view of his work.
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