We’ve seen plenty of sequels, remakes, and reboots come and go in the world of horror. Some are unequivocally awful but then, just sometimes, we’ll get the most pleasant of surprises in ways a classic or stale franchise has been rejuvenated.
Take remakes, for example. Sure the word’s so laborious you can hear the collective groans at the mention, but before you judge let’s remember that there are some very worthy ones out there.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
George A. Romero’s stonewall classic that set the precedent for not only the future of zombie flicks but the inclusion of an intelligent social commentary is unquestioned. However, while it packs in a significant amount of subtext and practical effects, it’s quite a slow movie that doesn’t have that mch needed urgency with its plodding flesh eaters. Zack Snyder’s remake is fast, furious and rather slickly conceived. While the director has come under criticism recently for the likes of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, ‘Dawn of the Dead’ is arguably his best movie because it tells the essence of the story which is no frills in approach but also retains its important subtext.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
This one’s always felt a little underrated when it comes to horror updates but Alexandre Aja’s effort is a much more polished version of its 1977 predecessor. It’s well directed and contains some genuinely harrowing scenes that, combined with its booming and utterly chilling score, culminates as a surprisingly great movie. In short it’s extremely tense, disturbing and, as you may expect, rather bloody.
I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
The original’s still considering a cult classic and notoriously harrowing for its graphic depiction of rape. So reimagining the story is exactly what Steven R. Monroe did: it retains the vile elements of its sexual attack, which is the catalyst for the narrative, but expands thereafter. Instead of simply retreading the ways Jennifer seeks revenge on her attackers, Monroe gifts us a number of gruesomely inventive moments that’ll make you wince with satisfaction. Essentially it remains an important commentary on sexual violence and subsequent empowerment as well as the revenge flick format we’ve seen emerge in recent years, notably with Adam Wingard’s ‘You’re Next’.
The Thing (1982)
Debate rages that John Carpenter’s horror classic isn’t a remake of 1951′s ‘The Thing from Another World’ but for the purposes of this list let’s declare it most definitely is. There’s so much to admire here it’s difficult to know where to start: with Kurt Russell’s awesome protagonist MacReady, perhaps? With that phenomenal score that adds so much to the impending doom? Or the magnificent practical effects that litter the movie before anyone had heard of CGI? There’s also the ending, too, which is yet more cause for interesting discussion.
The Crazies (2010)
Romero’s early ‘70s outbreak movie undoubtedly has its place in horror history but the remake, starring the very watchable Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, states its intent from the off as Johnny Cash’s We’ll Meet Again helps establish the setting of a low-key, small town in Iowa. Its strength is in its storytelling which is solid and non-convoluted. Yet it has the emotional connectivity and impact to make us really care about their escape from the quarantined area on permanent lockdown.
The Fly (1986)
While the original stars the legendary Vincent Price, this David Cronenberg-directed effort from the ‘80s does a better job at telling the story and, significantly, depicting it. People hold the ‘58 version in high regard for it being one of the first (along with ‘The Blob’) body horror films to emerge. Naturally Cronenberg was drawn to the material and, with Jeff Goldblum and a stellar special effects team at his side, produced a visual feast of gore and a story that looks at Seth Brundle‘s mental instability too.
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Picture credit: Strike Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Anchor Bay Films, Universal Pictures, Overture Films, SLM Production Group