The very first horror movie was, arguably, La Manoir du Diable, made by French film-maker, Georges Melies in 1896. Having more than a passing resemblance to a David Copperfield tits-and-teeth spectacular, it’s less horror to the modern palette than museum-piece, but every genre must start somewhere.
The Japanese film-maker, Shiro Asano, followed with silent productions of ghost stories and corpse resurrections that were about as scary as a "before and after" picture of Donatella Versace first thing in the morning (which is probably pretty scary, actually). But we are talking the 1890s, here.
The Japanese soon embraced the horror genre and ran with it; producing some of the most innovative, terrifying and original horror movies in the terror almanac - with a distinct focus on the snail-paced macabre, and the supernatural.
America has been at the forefront of the horror revolution, proudly lapping up the dripping bodily fluids released by stabby psychopaths and flesh-eating monsters, but there have been some celluloid car-crashes that are best committed to the grave and left there.
Here are seven horror movie remakes that will forever feed the rampant worms, chewing through the coffin nails of movies best forgotten.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 vs. 2003)
There’s nothing scarier than a deranged psychopath so afraid of his reflection that he considers a mask made of body-parts a more socially-acceptable way of facing the public. If there was anyone in need of therapy, it was Leatherface. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has probably done for the Texan tourist board what Demis Roussos did for Rock n Roll.
The original is utterly terrifying; partly because of the home-movie aesthetic; and partly due to a soundtrack so heavy on the treble that it’s like forcing a blunt, rusty cheese grater through one ear-drum to the other.
The remake was pretty horrific, and certainly upped the thriller value of the original. But sometimes a lead antagonist (and his chosen tool of terror) is stronger in the imagination than on the screen (think about Jaws), and we were slightly overwhelmed with back-story with the 2003 remake.
For me, if you want to pee your pants in fear, you can’t beat the terrifying original.
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Official Synopsis: En route to visit their grandfather's grave (which has apparently been ritualistically desecrated), five teenagers drive past a slaughterhouse, pick up (and quickly drop) a sinister hitch-hiker, eat some delicious home-cured meat at a roadside gas station, before ending up at the old family home... where they're plunged into a never-ending nightmare as they meet a family of cannibals who more than make up in power tools what they lack in social skills...
Cast: John Larroquette, Marilyn Burns, William Vail, Gunnar Hansen, Jim Siedow, Paul A. Partain, John Dugan, Perry Lorenz, Levie Isaacks, Edwin…
Genres: Horror, Thriller
The Ring (1998 vs. 2002)
If there’s ever a film that’s going to make a grown adult run, screaming out of their living room, having kicked the TV screen, it’s The Ring.
Ringu was a Japanese cult success in 1998, made by director Hideo Nakata; full of the supernatural weirdness that Japanese horror is so famed for. A post-modern fable, Ringu was the retelling of the age-old yarn of girl releasing curse via VHS. That old chestnut.
The classic scene featuring Sadako climbing out of the TV screen is unbearably creepy in the Japanese original - we’re never sure what’s going to happen next. We’re stuck in the lounge for the long-haul as the mysterious events unravel - slowly.
However, the US remake goes head-first for the jugular, with distracting cross-cuts to a hysterical Naomi Watts, speeding through the streets to save the day. The jump-cutting and jerky choreography of Sadako in the American version climaxes with the reveal of a truly obvious CGI fright-mask; the Japanese version relies on a single, manic eye to bring true terror to the moment.
The US version is certainly fast-paced, I’ll give it that, but the impending doom is way too obvious.
Directed by Hideo Nakata
Official Synopsis: Reiko Asakawa is researching into a 'Cursed Video' interviewing teenagers about it. When her niece Tomoko dies of 'sudden heart failure' with an unnaturally horrified expression on her face, Reiko investigates. She finds out that some of Tomoko's friends, who had been on a holiday with Tomoko the week before, had died on exactly the same night at the exact same time in the exact same way. Reiko goes to the cabin where the teens had stayed and finds an 'unlabeled' video tape. Reiko watched the tape to discover to her horror it is in fact the 'cursed videotape'. Ex-Husband Ryuji helps Reiko solve the mystery, Reiko makes him a copy for further investigation. Things become more tense when their son Yoichi watches the tape saying Tomoko had told him to. Their discovery takes them to a volcanic island where they discover that the video has a connection to a psychic who died 30 years ago, and her child Sadako...
Cast: Hiroyuki Sanada, Yûrei Yanagi, Yutaka Matsushige, Kiriko Shimizu, Kazuhiro Yokoyama, Yûrei Yanagi, Rikiya Ôtaka, Shigefumi Nakai, Yûki Takahata, Yôichi Numata,…
Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Flatliners (1990 vs. 2017)
The 1990 classic featured the on-screen chemistry of Sutherland, Bacon, and Roberts - actors at the peak of their popularity - in a thriller that was both scary and thought-provoking. More thriller than pure horror, this plot-driven jumper was a reasonably big hit when it hit the screens in 1990. The remake, however, has been lavished with somewhat lukewarm praise - it seems that big budget, CGI reimaginings don’t cut the mustard with audiences.
One of the big problems with movie remakes, it seems, is technology; filling in what the imagination once had to do for itself. An audience shouldn’t be spoon-fed - it’s way scarier to let the imagination run wild. And the remake of Flatliners just handed it all on a plate. And the dish wasn’t that tempting.
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Official Synopsis: Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences, hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure.
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Patricia Belcher, Beth Grant, Jeff Dlugolecki, Susan French, Oliver Platt, Ilona Margolis, Hope Davis, John Benjamin…
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Sci-Fi
The Wicker Man (1973 vs. 2006)
If there was ever an American remake that missed the mark, it was the 2006, Nicolas Cage remake of the British classic, The Wicker Man. In IMDB terms, 3.7 is the territory of student movies, and low-budget MiniDV productions starring actors dragged off the streets.
The 1973 classic was spooky and mysterious, interrupted with totally weird musical numbers, and one of the most terrifying climaxes of its time.
The 2006 version was an AWFUL black comedy that paid no respect to the original. Not even Nicolas Cage could save it.
And, so, it deserves to spend an eternity, suffocating in the bottom of the bargain bin. And long may it rot there.
Directed by Robin Hardy
Official Synopsis: On Sunday, April 29, 1973, Sergeant Neil Howie with the West Highland Constabulary flies solo to Summerisle off the coast of Scotland. He is there to follow up on a letter addressed specifically to him from an anonymous source on Summerisle reporting that a twelve year old girl who lives on the island, Rowan Morrison, the daughter of May Morrison, has long been missing. The correspondence includes a photograph of Rowan. Upon his arrival on Summerisle, Howie finds that the locals are a seemingly simple minded lot who provide little information beyond the fact that they know of no Rowan Morrison and do not know the girl in the photo. Mrs. Morrison admits to having a daughter, seven year old Myrtle, but no Rowan. As Howie speaks to more and more people, he begins to believe that Rowan does or did live on the island, but that the locals are hiding their knowledge of her. He also begins to see that the locals all have pagan beliefs, their "religion" which centers on procreation as the source of life. That procreation does not necessarily need to be within marriage, and openly flaunts the act of sex, both in private and in public. These beliefs do not sit well against Howie's strict Christian morals, he who regularly attends church, prays, and accepts communion. Everything that happens on the island seems to be dictated by Lord Summerisle, whose ancestors bought the island generations ago. Howie begins to believe that Rowan was murdered, she a sacrifice by the islanders to their higher power to ensure a bountiful apple crop - the main crop of the island - which did not materialize last season. With May Day approaching, Howie not only tries to find out if Rowan was indeed murdered/sacrificed, which includes trying to locate her body, but if there will be another sacrifice on this important day within the cycle of life.
Cast: Christopher Lee, John Hallam, Jennifer Martin, Roy Boyd, Aubrey Morris, Irene Sunters, John MacGregor, Ian Campbell, Walter Carr, Jimmy MacKenzie,…
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Musical
Halloween (1978 vs. 2007)
As if the dreadful Halloween 3 wasn’t the final nail in the coffin, the Rob Zombie remake of this classic slasher failed to breathe fresh air into the grubby tale of stabby psycho on a suburban rampage, armed with a collection of his mum’s freshly sharpened kitchen knives.
Shame, because Rob Zombie makes some great horror movies, but it just didn’t live up to the John Carpenter original.
They never learn.
A film as good as Halloween already works on a narrative level. It’s all about the tension and the jumps. So why provide us with tons of back-story?
The remake often goes wrong where the team tries to better an already great script - and it’s always by adding unneeded exposition that’s neither scary nor complementary to the original.
Whilst the 2007 remake wasn’t the worst on this list; it wasn’t particularly memorable.
Directed by John Carpenter
Official Synopsis: The year is 1963, the night: Halloween. Police are called to 43 Lampkin Ln. only to discover that 15 year old Judith Myers has been stabbed to death, by her 6 year-old brother, Michael. After being institutionalized for 15 years, Myers breaks out on the night before Halloween. No one knows, nor wants to find out, what will happen on October 31st 1978 besides Myers' psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis. He knows Michael is coming back to Haddonfield, but by the time the town realizes it, it'll be too late for many people.
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, P.J. Soles, Nancy Stephens, Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, Tommy Lee Wallace, Tony Moran,…
Genres: Horror, Thriller
Carrie (1976 vs. 2013)
The original movie, based on the Stephen King book, was the best kind of revenge p*rn. Exploring the ostracized, titular protagonist’s struggle between the High School Prom and a mother who could do with some lessons in lingerie, Sissy Spacek perfectly portrays Carrie’s pain, as she struggles between the bizarre demands of a religious mother and the temptations of the peer group.
The 2013 remake was neither scary nor worthy of the time spent at the cinema - an air-brushed Barbie-doll remake bearing no new soul. Offering nothing more than popcorny trash, the only place it inspired the imagination to explore was the theater exit.
Directed by Brian De Palma
Official Synopsis: It's nearing the end of the school year. High school senior Carrie White is a social outcast, largely due to being unwise to the ways of the world based on her upbringing. Her mother, Margaret White, is a religious fanatic, her extreme views primarily targeted against sex, which she believes is a sin. She even believes natural associated processes such as menstruation are a sin, about which she has refused to mention to Carrie. Mrs. White's beliefs were taken to that extreme largely because of her own failed marriage and her husband Ralph long ago having run off with another woman. The only adult authority figure who tries to help Carrie with her life is her phys ed teacher, Miss Collins, who is nonetheless warned not to get too close to go against how Mrs. White chooses to raise Carrie, Mrs. White whose beliefs are well known in the community. An impromptu event that happens among Carrie's phys ed classmates against her leads to her classmates being punished. One of those students, self absorbed Chris Hargensen, vows revenge against Carrie for that punishment, the method of the revenge associated to the phys ed class incident. Another student however, the popular Sue Snell, begins to feel sorry for Carrie. In wanting to help her get out of her shell, Sue asks her boyfriend, the equally popular Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the senior prom instead of her. This move does not sit well with Mrs. White, who in her extreme view believes Carrie will fall prey to sin. All these competing issues lead to Carrie deciding on an impulse to use a newfound skill to free herself from the figurative chains that have long been placed around her, with tragic consequences.
Cast: P.J. Soles, William Katt, Priscilla Pointer, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, Betty Buckley, Sissy Spacek, Cindy Daly, Nancy Allen, John Travolta,…
The Haunting (1963 vs. 1999)
The IMDB rating says it all. This dreadful remake has the same playing duration as the 1963 classic, but it feels several times longer. It is, at least, a good excuse for a snooze.
None of the tension of the original is present in the worst remake of them all, removing all of the mystery of the original and replacing it with a cheesy subplot and the sterility of CGI.
Gross. For all the wrong reasons.
Directed by Robert Wise
Official Synopsis: Dr. Markway, doing research to prove the existence of ghosts, investigates Hill House, a large, eerie mansion with a lurid history of violent death and insanity. With him are the skeptical young Luke, who stands to inherit the house, the mysterious and clairvoyant Theodora and the insecure Eleanor, whose psychic abilities make her feel somehow attuned to whatever spirits inhabit the old mansion. As time goes by it becomes obvious that they have gotten more than they bargained for as the ghostly presence in the house manifests itself in horrific and deadly ways.
Cast: Paul Maxwell, Richard Johnson, Julie Harris, Howard Lang, Verina Greenlaw, Claude Jones, Frieda Knorr, Janet Mansell, Susan Richards, Mavis Villiers,…
Genres: Horror, Fantasy
So, there you are. Seven movie remake that were dragged from the pits of hell and straight into the bottom of the bargain bin. And long may they rest there!
About the author
Katie Porter is an aspiring writer, movie lover, and part of the team at Seatup. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her home state Colorado and plays in women’s amateur rugby league.
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