Let me be clear before the hate mail starts piling in. In no way am I saying that these films—well, except for one—are better than their predecessors. What I’m saying is that these films provided an enjoyable experience that showed a different vision of the same story. You know what? I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. These are five entertaining horror films. So what that they’re remakes (really, people…we need to get over this remake hate and just accept it as part of the filmic faith now…I myself am a convert)?
Anyway, being that it’s Halloween time, and just about every single list of scary movies is being plastered over every website worth its salt, I thought it’d be nice to pay homage to those creepy films that paid homage. Here are 5 scary flicks that did their forefathers proud.
1.The Hills Have Eyes
Nothing soothes the soul like a good ol’ gang rape by a bunch of twisted freaks followed by a healthy dose of blood-spattered revenge, and this film has it in spades. Based on the infamous Wes Craven film that appears more like a home movie rather than a cinematic venture (that’s a compliment…the original is disturbing, to say the least), this film, thanks to High Tension director Alexandre Aja, is much glossier and much bloodier.
Aja is a talented guy, no matter what you thought of Mirrors, and this is his best showing since he hit stateside. While the first two acts remain close to the original, it’s the third act in this remake that really had me on the edge of my seat, as the unlikeliest of spectacle-framed heroes is born, and boy is he bad-ass. Out of the Wes Craven remakes that are popping up these days (Nightmare on Elm Street was a debacle) this is the best of them, and it’s a true popcorn-muncher.
This 80’s classic is also a remake of the Howard Hawks’ film by a similar title: The Thing From Another World. The film, about a gang of Antarctic scientists and military personnel embattled with an alien creature that replicates its victims, was a high-tension gory masterpiece of a flick, and it’s one of John Carpenter's best pieces of work.
Not only is this one of the best horror remakes of all time, it’s also one of the best horror films made…period. Sporting, at the time, cutting-edge make-up effects, this film stands the test of time, and also features Kurt Russell in one of his best roles.
3.Dawn of the Dead
The original Dawn of the Dead is a zombified masterpiece by none other than George Romero, and when I heard that it was being remade, a small part of me cried. I actually still have the original on VHS, that’s how much I love that film.
But, current big-shot director, Zach Snyder, stayed true to the original’s claustrophobic mall-horror and made one hell of a slick and stylish zombie film that got Snyder’s name on the lips of all the Hollywood honchos. The opening sequence is especially a horrific joy-ride, and Snyder keeps the tension ratcheted throughout with his signature visual style.
Like Romero's Dawn of the Dead, I watched the original Ringu on a VHS tape I bought from a Korean store in Philadelphia, and it scared the hell out of me. The Japanese film was a low-key atmospheric terror, with an ending that made me run for my bed sheets. Talented director Gore Verbinski took his version of the story a different way, and made a stylish yet bleached and bleak film with terrific bouts of spine-tingling terror mixed with moments that made you jump away from your TV screen.
Naomi Watts also proved she can hold a film onto her own with her paranoid performance. Unfortunately the formula didn’t work with the sequel, but nonetheless, this film is what landed Verbinski the lauded Pirates of the Caribbean gig. Now, he can pretty much make whatever film he pleases.
Rob Zombie is a rocker-turned-director, and I have to say that while I hated his first feature, House of 1000 Corpses, I thought he did well with the follow-up, The Devil’s Rejects. So, it was refreshing to see that the newly minted director progressed upon his craft with his re-imagining of John Carpenter’s highly praised and cherished, Halloween.
While the original maintains a spot at the top ten horror films of all time, Zombie did a nice job injecting his splatter-house sensibilities into the story, even providing us with some nice backstory into the creation of the white-masked psycho killer. In all, it’s an enjoyable ride, and despite the follow-up’s lackluster performance, this installment remains my favorite Rob Zombie film and proved the rocker could do more than thrash a guitar.