Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remakes that don't suck.

With the recent release of the teaser trailer for the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake, a lot of folks have been crying foul once more over the ol' remake trend.

I thought, given the circumstances, I'd just take a few minutes to point out a number of genre remakes that I personally really enjoy. This totally incomplete list contains old favorites, a few I was primed to hate, and a couple others that I sadly didn't even know were remakes until well after the fact.

And geeks, I'm not including great flicks like ALIEN, which was "basically" a remake of IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE. Same goes for HOUSE OF WAX (2004), which wasn't so much a remake of the 1953 film of the same name, but rather a surprisingly-entertaining redux of 1979's TOURIST TRAP.

No, I'm talking about straight-up, get-the-fanboys-bitching remakes here.

Again, all the movies listed below are ones that I really enjoy, and I genuinely don't care about the fact that they're based on previous films. They're fun in their own right - and that's what matters.

Oh yeah, and while I cherish the flawed original, I can't freakin' wait for the new CLASH OF THE TITANS.

A thrilling, remarkably scary remake of the 1956 classic. Sutherland's mouth owns this movie, and that dog thing still creeps me the hell out. Jeff Goldblum's great, as is Leonard Nimoy, and bringing original star Kevin McCarthy back was a classy move.

THE THING (1982)
Replacing the 1952 original's James Arness with a giant bloodthirsty pile of self-replicating, dog-eating alien goop is pure genius. Rob Bottin effects are still literally jaw-dropping, and the Carpenter/Russell combo is cinema gold. One of the best remakes... well, ever.

THE FLY (1986)
Cronenberg recently stated that he'd like to re-remake the classic 1958 sci-fi film. I doubt it can match the raw, visceral power of this monster, but he sure can try. Goldblum vomit still makes my skin crawl, and I love that this flick was produced by funnyman Mel Brooks.

Corman's 1960 original... well, just isn't that great. Frank Oz's musical remake, however, boasts brilliant creature designs, a bravura performance from Rick Moranis, and really, really good music. I know every word to every song in the damn thing.

THE BLOB (1988)
As a kid, The Blob remake was the first film where I saw a little kid ("jus' like me") get killed. And damn, did he ever. Chuck Russell's Blob still sports some of the ooiest, gooiest splatter ever weaseled into a mainstream R-rated release.

I love Romero's 1968 original, and virtually nothing is lost in this b-star-studded remake by effects wiz Tom Savini. The zombies look amazing, and IMHO, the different ending suits the story better than the original's.

The last five minutes are a total mess, but everything else in this spookshow is genuinely creepy and totally entertaining. The cast is dead-on and the epic, cavernous set is gasp-inducing. William Castle, director of the 1959 original, would have been proud of the brilliant Geoffrey Rush playing John Waters playing Vincent Price.

THE RING (2002)
The original was a scant four years old when the American-produced remake hit. Having only months earlier had the holy bajeezus scared out of me by Hideo Nakata's original, RINGU, I was hesitant. There was no need to be. Aside from some minor pacing issues, this is a moody, atmospheric gem that scared the crap out of everyone I knew.

1978's DAWN is one of my favorite films of all time and I was determined to hate the remake. Within five minutes, I had forgotten my anger and was lapping up this fast-paced riot. I miss the social commentary, but when I'm having this much fun, who gives a shit? This movie is flat-out awesome.

Its scarier, more brutal, and an all-around a better film than Wes Craven's groundbreaking 1972 original. Period.

The Canadian original, released in 1981, is a far superior film to the remake, but I just can't ignore how entertaining it is to watch Jensen Ackles and Tom Atkins run around this hokey, beautifully-shot bloodbath. The theatrical Real3D experience was fantastic.

There are dozens more, and I had to forcibly restrain myself from leaping out of horror and sci-fi. After all, I love THE DEPARTED, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, THE ITALIAN JOB, THE MALTESE FALCON, ALWAYS, CAPE FEAR, and, truthfully, hundreds of other remakes.

And now that this is a hate-free zone... what beloved remake do you bring up when people start bitching?


  1. I loved The Hills Have Eyes remake. More gore= awesome.

  2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. Compared to the original,there's no question, go 1974. As a standalone movie it's one of the best horror movies from the new millennium.

    I'm with you on Last House.

    I'm not sure if remaking films can be considered a trend considering remakes have been around since the early days.

  3. I wasn't blown away by the TSCM remake, but I thought it was a really solid film. I thought the multiple locales worked in its favor and I really liked the look of the entire flick. Perhaps I should watch it again.

    I didn't love the Hills remake, but it had some really exceptional moments strewn throughout. Again, I should see it again sometime.

  4. One of my all time favorites, Invaders from Mars! True, its more sci-fi than horror, but the sure as hell scared the crap out of me as a kid.

  5. Invaders from Mars is quite fun. I just recently re-watched it for the first time in years. They use SO many visuals from the original!

  6. I agree with you on Dawn.. I wanted to hate it as well and I ended up loving it. Also a personal fav is Cat People (1982)

  7. 12 Monkeys was fantastic and of course Star Wars is probably the best remake of a Kurosawa film ever.

  8. Adam said..

    I think the main issue is

    1)too many beloved films being remade at once, hence the feeling of overload

    2)a majority (but not all of them) of said remakes only being done as cash-ins, versus people geniunely wanting to do a new take on previously successful material. I enjoy the original Ring, but the US version is a far superior story/script, to me the original functions more as an atmosphere piece..yet the US version didn't overexplain everything or treat the audience like fools.

    3) horror fans seeing the remakes in droves, which isn't an issue- but let's face it..most fans are lazy and don't seek out original genre films that get limited releases when it's easy to see a reboot in 2000 theaters.

    What I like about your list of fave remakes is they're all earnest attempts to take the original material and find a new spin on it, often making them companion pieces to the original. I love the 50's Body Snatchers but the 70's film is a brilliant cousin. None of the films you enjoyed felt like "let's just update the same story with better film stock."

    It's funny though, classic plays are 'remade' every year with new casts etc. but nobody in the theater complains! "WTF, Death of a Salesman AGAIN!?" LOL

  9. The TCM remake was vile. I loathed, loathed, loathed it. The costumes really bothered me, and the aesthetic of the whole thing was just off and not at all cohesive.

    I'm super with you on Dawn of the Dead, The Fly, and The Thing. I had no idea about Clash of the Titans.

    In general though, I'm TOTALLY one of those remake haters. The Black Christmas remake almost gave me an aneurism. Heaven help me if the ever remake Rosemary's Baby or Let's Scare Jessica to Death.

  10. My favorite of those. It is the Ring.