Saturday, October 13, 2012


THE THING (1982) dir. JOHN CARPENTER- This remake of 1951's The Thing From Another World  is arguably the best remake to be found in the horror realm. The casting is stellar, with Kurt Russell leading the pack of scientific researchers working in Antarctica who discover something less than friendly has survived in the frigid ice.  The special effects were effectively practical and gory yet with not even a pinch of CGI to ruin it. Best of all, the film is just outright scary. It towers over the original by leaps and bounds - and not just because it has thirty years on it, but because it is all but a perfect specimen of a "remake" to which all other regenerated and renovated films should aspire. ~CH

DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) dir. ZACH SNYDER ~ Ok, I just have to say it: I LOVE this remake. I went to see it at the theater, and was pleasantly surprised at the character development as well as the zombies hustling ass. The first fifteen minutes shocked me and had me on the edge of my seat - it is so tense and exciting!  The rabid undead here seemed to start a trend of fast-movers in the zombie world, and truth be told, they were pretty damn menacing.  The blood and gore here are so well done, and the acting is fairly impressive for horror, too.  Sarah Polley in particular, and Ty Burrell has the best lines in the film ("It's nice to see that you've all bonded through this disaster.") I'm sure there are purists out there who can't accept the speedy zombies, but seriously I think there is room in this world for both of them. "And when there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth" ~CH

(BRAM STOKER'S) DRACULA (1992) dir. FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA  ~Coppola added Bram Stoker's name to the title of his film because it is claims to stay closest to the original text than any other, and I'm pretty positive that's right. The only huge difference is that Coppola made the Count a sympathetic character and turned it into a love story. It's hard to really compare this film with the 1931 classic because they are so different. I would never say "better" because I would just feel wrong doing that, but I think "different" is appropriate. I love Gary Oldman's Count Dracula, in all his forms, and if I haven't told you before, this IS my favorite film. ~MR

LET ME IN (2010) dir. MATT REEVES- When it was announced that Americans were remaking one of the finest vampire movies (and books, if I'm being honest) in years (Let the Right One In), I died a little bit inside. Thankfully this film turned out to be a bright spot  - with excellent acting led by Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen, and Richard Jenkins as Thomas. The heart of the story stayed nearly the same (with perhaps a bit more violence), with the bullying aspect being just as painful and Owen & Abby's relationship being just as poignant.  Though the location was changed to the US southwest and the characters names were altered it is still at its core, a coming of age tale about friendship and love - with a generous helping of vampire lore. ~CH

THE FLY  (1986) dir. DAVID CRONENBERG - How awesome was this movie? So amazing!  Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis are great as the leads, with Goldblum being his erratic, bizarre self and eventually vomiting and leaking body fluids and parts all over the screen. The ultimate "man vs science" mind-fuck, The Fly boasts outstanding special effects and this update makes the original look as lame as it would be - if it didn't star Vincent Price, that is.  Cronenberg is at the top of his game here, with one of the best sci-fi/horror flicks on his resume. ~CH

THE BLOB (1988)  dir. CHUCK RUSSELL - Made in 1988, this one still has a real 80's feel to it, with Shawnee Smith doing her best to scream through something other than Saw.  Whereas the original was really campy and screwball, this one tries - and succeeds pretty well - to be a horror film.  There's lots of nasty victims meeting their end in gelatinous goo, as well as a whole lot of trying to figure out what happened and what on earth they will do to get rid of the giant Jello from hell.  You wouldn't think this concept could prove to be scary, but there are several moments of sheer terror here, with an abundant amount of gore leeching through the goop.  I've only seen the original one time - and it just seems silly now that I know this one is available. ~CH

HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999) dir.WILLIAM MALONE ~I hold the original "House on Haunted Hill" very dear to my heart as it stars my beloved Vincent Price (whom Geoffrey Rush makes a lovely homage to) and is also a phenomenal movie but I actually really like the remake. I picked it up at the video store when I was a kid and watched it alone--needless to say it scared the crap out of me. I then HAD to show it to all my friends and scare the crap out of them! The newer version has much more terror and a definite psychotic feel to it. It will never replace the original, but I never felt that it was trying to; it took a classic and made a fun and scary companion to it. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you t hat I have a huge crush on Taye Diggs. ~MR

MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (2009) dir. PATRICK LUSSIER- I am a huge fan of the 1981 MBV, and was quite hesitant about them re-doing it. But they filmed it about ten miles from my home, so I had to go to see all the landmarks I've grown up with.  Surprise! It was a good remake with effective special effects (even the 3D!) and an updated plot that was actually decent - and so much better than the scores of remakes that came out at the same time. ~CH

CAT PEOPLE (1982) dir. PAUL SCHRADER -Though it's pretty hard to compare to a Val Lewton film, this remake of the 1942 still maintains its erotic flavor (slightly amped up of course) and sense of dread.  Most of this is due to its enigmatic star, Nastassja Kinski, and the film has more nudity than gore. But what it did keep from the Lewton original is suspense and atmosphere. And you really can't beat a good cat fight, even if it is more violent than sensual.  But hey, there's enough sex in this film to hold you over, I'm telling you. ~CH

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978) dir. PHILIP KAUFMAN ~ Based on a 1956 film of the same name (which was based on a book, originally), this creepy version stars The Donald (Sutherland) in the role of Matther, a health inspector who, along with co-worker Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) discover that extraterrestrial pod-people are taking over San Francisco. While the first version is certainly nothing to balk at and is considered a major force of science-fiction history, this take on the story is much more unsettling and horrifying. I'm sure many a person is nervous about going to sleep after sitting through this eerie and ominous film.  ~CH

THE RING (2002) dir. GORE VERBINSKI ~  We film addicts automatically groan when we hear of an American film remaking a foreign one because most of the time it is because American directors can't think of their own ideas or because Americans are too lazy to read subtitles (believe me, I know people like this). Every once in a while an American remake of a foreign original will go over well, or even terrifically in this case. When this came out here in the West it was the movie you dared each other to see because everyone was talking about just how fucking scary it was--and it really WAS, at least when I was ten it was. Although  Americans could never terrify in the same way the Japanese can, but if done right we can still give you a few nightmares. ~MR

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990) dir. TOM SAVINI ~ How could an iconic film like the original 1968 NOTLD ever be duplicated?  Hmm. It can't.  But this version - in color, to keep with the times - did a pretty good job in updating the zombie masterpiece.  Instead of the near-catatonic Barbra, we get a re-vamped Barbara who not only gains another "a" in her name, but a backbone to fight off zombies that were a tad more vicious than the lumbering dolts from the first film.  Tom Savini probably took some heat upon his decision to re-do this classic, and it's said that he had to cut some of the violence to avoid an X-rating, but I have to say I'm completely on board. And my favorite part?  Tony Todd, of course! ~CH

CAPE FEAR (1991)  dir. MARTIN SCORSESE ~ I'm sure people familiar with the original picture from 1962 that starred the late greats Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck probably could never imagine a new take on Cape Fear even coming close to their beloved film - but there's absolutely NO denying that Robert De Niro rocked the role of Max Cady.  He delivered one of the most chilling performances in film (and De Niro has an amazing body of work), and I think we've all heard of a guy named Scorsese. Pretty much every cast member here gives a stellar performance, and we get treated to cameos from Peck, Mitchum, as well as Martin Balsam - all from the '62 version. I still get chills when I think of De Niro snarling: "Come out, come out, wherever you are...." This is one frightening movie, hands down.  ~CH


Unknown said...

I'm glad someone else likes the NOTLD remake.

Anonymous said...

After seeing the remake of Cape Fear, I really need to see the original. And I think it was originally a book, right? Gotta get on that too!

Jeremy [Retro] said...

i agree... they should pay homage, not a direct copy of some horror movies. hollywood is fickled.

Budd said...

These, the ones I have seen, which is most of them, are a lot of fun. I am torn on My Bloody Valentine. I didn't hate the remake, but it feels weird on this list.

Kev D. said...

Great list... Technically if you consider "Evil Dead 2" a remake of the first one, it's a FANTASTIC remake.


The upcoming actual remake of it... we'll see.