Whenever a horror remake is announced, the news is almost always met with skepticism and groaning. Now, there is good reason for that. Remakes and reboots are difficult to do. Aside from trying to please an existing fan base (that may vary in size and intensity), the filmmaker essentially has to justify—although not always explicitly—why their film exists at all. To this point, there have been plenty of remakes that have failed this test.
Perhaps more rare is the remake that can please fans while drawing in a new and unitiated audience to the original story. However, these films can seem fewer and farther between, making the search for them daunting. But, before you write off the whole lot of remakes, we have curated a list of a few good ones to restore your hope.
5. The Crazies (2010)
It's nearly impossible to throw a rock at a horde of zomie moviess and not hit one that was created by George Romero. The father of the zombie flick made a name for himself with films like Night of the Living Dead, that used a torrent of these monsters and how people reacted to speak to larger issues about society. Back in the early 70's, he directed The Crazies which, as both Spencer and Eric point out in their reviews of the original and remake, repsectively, was not one of his better films. In 2010, when director Breck Eisner decided to try his hand, he was able to trim some of the fat from Romero's story and, while dumbing it down, make a much more effective and scary horror film; and it is an interesting addition to the discussion, precisely because it does that.
4. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Romero's original Dawn of the Dead was a scathing commentary on society, which picked apart issues of race, gender, and consumerism. Much of the film was set in a shopping mall, and made some obvious and intentional statements about those who spend a lot of time in those climate-controlled consumer environments. Still set in a shopping mall, the remake upped the anti, with zombies that moved much quicker and improved special effects. Although the characters in this film aren't the same ones from the original, there do seem to be nods to the original cast. We stll have a lead female who is not your typical damsel, a pregnant woman, and in place of the SWAT team, we get a trio of rent-a-cops from the mall's security detail. All in all, this is really fun remake that stays true to its roots, while forging its own trail. A new Dawn has arrived and fans were thrilled.
3. The Fly (1986)
Of all the other entries to this list, we probably don't have any other one that is so singularly different than the original, while still holding true to some the very basics (except perhaps, John Carpenter's The Thing.) The film that David Cronenberg's adaptation draws its inspiration from is a story of a man so controlled by his scientific ambition that he—through his own carelessness—is genetically melded with a fly. What that looks like on the screen is a man who has a human body, with the head and arm of a fly. When the film opens, he is already dead (after committing suicide to protect his family and humankind from what he has done), and the rest of the story shows flashbacks to her desperate attempts to save him. In 1986, Cronenberg decided to put his signiture touch on the story, creating a tale that focused much more readily on what many call "body horror." Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is also spliced with a fly in much the way that his predecessor was, except that instead of mismatched parts, he slowsly starts becoming a human/fly hybrid. This transition comes with a lot of awesomely gross sound design and practical effects, and paints a story instead of a man who continues to be drawn by his own desire for fame and discovery, even as his body and his very self begin to disappear.
2. Evil Dead (2013)
Fans of the Evil Dead franchise are about as die hard as you can get. Sam Raimi's campy gore-fest has inspired a true cult following (as well as a musical stage show). Fans were, admittedly, not pleased to hear that the series was getting a reboot. But where this film goes is so much its own that fans were hard pressed to find the flawed and hacky movie they were expecting. In fact, writer/director Fede Alvarez was successful preciseley because he had a clear understanding of the original, as well as a respect for it that didn't allow him to make a simple copy. The remake twists and morphs the original while offering all of the absurd gore that the audience has come to expect from one of these movies. The cast is much more likable than almost everyone in the film that it takes its name from—Ash not included, of course—and the finale packs a real punch. The last ten minutes of this movie are not to be missed nor will they be quickly forgotten!
1. The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter's The Thing is less a remake than it is a reimagining of the same source material Both his film and the 1951 The Thing from Another World both share a common root in the novella, "Who Goes There". Unlike the earlier film, which features a monster in the form of a larger-than-life space man who is part plant and feasts on blood, this this version boasts an alien that is able to morph into humans and animals. This seemingly subtle shift creates instant paranoia as the men at the end of the world start to doubt everyone around them. This new iteration of the Thing allows for a ton of gruesome death scenes, all of which were done with striking practical effects that have stood the test of time. Added bonus: the remake removes the awkward lynching joke that the appears in the first one.