BDR’s Favorite Horror Remakes – BDR Loves Halloween

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What better time to watch some awesome horror movie remakes than during the Halloween season?  FOOLED YOU.  Trick question.  Anytime is the best time to watch some awesome horror movie remakes.

The dreaded “R” word isn’t one that you need to be afraid of, just merely cautious.  Some of my favorite horror movies are remakes.  On the flip-side some of the horror movies I hate the most are also remakes.  I’m looking at you A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010, you giant piece of shit.

It’s such a weird line that gets straddled yet when the stars align sometimes remakes can actually bring something new to the table without completely pissing on the original source material. I’m looking at you AGAIN A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010, you giant piece of shit.

Here are just a few of my favorites that both kick ass as a remake and just as a great movie.  Also, don’t complain that I didn’t list deep cuts here.  These are MY favorites remakes.  Sorry Let The Right In.  No paragraph for you.  Also, it shouldn’t need to be said but beware of spoilers.

5.  Dawn of the Dead (1978/2004)

Considering that the original Dawn of the Dead  is one of my top 5 movies of all time, this remake had an incredibly high bar set for it.  George Romero wrote and directed an amazing piece of work with the original 1978 movie.  It was the second entry in his Living Dead series and took the smaller story from the original Night of the Living Dead and expanded on it to show how quickly normal life would break down if reanimated corpses came back to life to eat human flesh.

Spoiler alert: normal life would completely break down if reanimated corpses came back to life to eat human flesh.

It’s GLORIOUS.  The shopping mall craze was in full swing in the 70’s and he made the right choice in setting the movie in one.  Allowing his main characters to first deal with finding a place to hold up during the zombie epidemic that in theory would allow them to live comfortably without having to deal with the zombies was a perfect satire of modern consumer society.

Why bother with figuring out how to survivor the zombie apocalypse when we can play arcade games and eat all of the free food you could possibly eat?  Romero flipped the tables and made a normal human gang the big bad in the 3rd act. Perfect.  Some people aren’t a fan of the slapstick during these scenes, but I personally love it. It wouldn’t be zombies that were the downfall of man.  It was man.  MIND BLOWN.  It also had some great practical FX by Tom Savini, Ken Foree kicking all kinds of ass,  and an amazing soundtrack by Goblin and Dario Argento.  Buy the original movie here!

When it was first announced that some young punk named James Gunn, whose jobs prior were scripting duties on the live action Scooby-Doo and multiple movies in the Tromaverse, was writing the script I was hesitant.  I mean, the guy that wrote Tromeo and Juliet was going to take my favorite movie and modernize it?   Oooh boy.  Anger levels were rising.  Some young untested director was attached to the script as well.  That director would end up being one of the most talked-about directors on the internet in a few years.  His name? Zack Snyder.  Then the script was leaked and reviewed on AICN.  Even with Harry’s terrible writing saying it could be something cool, I was still very hesitant to get behind this movie if only due to my love of the original.

Then the turning point for myself happened.  The USA network premiered the first 10 minutes of the movie a week or so before it came out in theaters.  I watched that and all fears I had for this project went away in an instant.  Yes, most of the social commentary is gone.  Yes, they made zombies fast instead of shambling.  And yes, there is no silly 3rd act featuring a pie fight.  HOWEVER, what Zack Snyder and James Gunn did was make zombies scary again. In those 10 minutes, James and Zack took the viewers on a rollercoaster ride from domestic bliss to outright terror.  It was awesome. No one can say with a straight face that the zombies in the original were scary.  It wasn’t the zombies that were scary it was the idea that normal human beings were what we should be scared of.  Not monsters. The remake flipped that and because of that this works on its own merits AND does not ruin the original in any way.

Plus it has one of the best credit sequences since Se7en that completely sets up the entire movie.  Buy the remake here!

Fun Trivia from Wikipedia!:Three of the main characters from the original show up in the remake on news programs the new survivors are watching: Ken Foree, who played Peter from the original, plays an evangelist who asserts that God is punishing mankind; Scott H. Reiniger, who played Roger in the original, plays an army general telling everyone to stay at home for safety; and Tom Savini, who did the special effects for many of Romero’s films and played the motorcycle gang member Blades in the original Dawn of the Dead, plays the Monroeville Sheriff explaining the only way to kill the zombies is to “shoot ’em in the head”. Monroeville is also the location of the mall used in the 1978 film. In addition, a store shown in the mall is called “Gaylen Ross”, an obvious tribute to actress Gaylen Ross, who played Francine in the original film.”

4.  The Blob (1958/1988)

Monster movies from the 50’s/60’s are the best.  There are hundreds of them.  Possibly thousands.  Most are terrible.  Some are so bad they’re good.  This one fits into that category. Trivia note! – It also starred a relatively unknown Steve McQueen in his film debut.  It was a standard “creature comes from outer space” movie that definitely has a bit of charm to it but doesn’t hold up all that well in my opinion.  It did give the world an amazing theme song though.  Buy the original here!

Then came the incredibly kickass remake from 1988 written by some kooky kids named Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont.  If those names sound familiar then congratulations!  You know your horror trivia.  Chuck and Frank both worked on rewrites of the A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 script (read Wes Craven’s first draft here, it’s a much darker take). Chuck ended up directing ANOES 3 while Frank is best known for The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist, a bunch more books by Stephen King and of course The Walking Dead.

Before Frank and to a lesser extent Chuck, would be household names in certain circles they both wrote an updated take on The Blob.  Instead of coming from outer space, the titular title character was created in a lab to be a biological weapon by the biggest bad guys in history: THE U.S. GOVERNMENT.    Much like the Dawn remake, this changes the overall theme of the movie.  It goes from a possible Cold War allegory in the original to what some people  see as a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic.  All I know is that it has some of the best practical effects in a horror movie from that time.  It also has no problems killing children and it stars one of my childhood crushes: Kevin Dillon Shawnee Smith.  Buy the remake here!

Bonus: look at this awesome kill:

Fun Trivia from IMDB!: “The blob’s first victim, the homeless man, is credited as “Can Man,” a reference to the STAND character “Trash Can Man.” Trash Can Man was Randall Flagg’s most devoted follower; in this film, Can Man shares nearly all his scenes with Brian Flagg.

3.  The Crazies (1973/2009)

Wow, another George Romero flick that has been remade is on my list.  Who would have seen that coming?  Here we have yet another horror movie dealing with the effects of a biological weapon.  In this case, it causes people to become homicidal maniacs AND it was created by the U.S. Government who of course accidentally unleashed it on a small town.  It’s a perfect recipe for a great movie.   The original film follows two stories; one about the townsfolk trying to stay alive during the disaster, having to battle both “the crazies” as well as U.S. soldiers ordered to shoot on sight. The other involves the political and military leaders trying to contain the epidemic.  It also has a scene where a character who is going mad from the virus tries to have sex with his underage daughter.  Ugh.  What the hell, Romero?

George definitely knows how to bring a sense of dread to his work.  The biggest problem for me is the movie’s pacing which can sometimes drag.  It definitely feels small in scale but that’s due to the budget and the time it was made.   When this film works, it really works.  The farm scene works just as well here as it does in the remake.  That’s a testament to how awesome George Romero is.  He can do a lot with a little.  Buy the original here!

The 2010 remake mostly sticks to the same plot as the original but improves in certain areas which makes the film better overall in my opinion.  In the remake the main characters seem to know every character in the town.  This helps immensely when shit hits the fan and we’re expected to feel for the decisions they have to make with their neighbors who have been infected.  In the original, this is not the case.  Most of the people are just random people that we and the main characters have no connection to.  Both movies have slightly different takes on the paranoia that occurs when an infectious disease is running rampant throughout a community.  The remake amps up the disease’s effects on the townspeople and the bigger budget helps to draw the viewers  into the anarchy. The credit stinger was a nice touch. Plus, no creepy incest scene.  Bonus!  Buy the remake here!

Fun Trivia from IMDB!: “The remake opens with the song “We’ll Meet Again,” as performed by Johnny Cash. The song is from the same album that provided “The Man Comes Around,” which opened another remake of a George A. Romero film, Dawn of the Dead (2004). The album is “American IV”, the last full album Cash released before his death. “The Man Comes Around” and “We’ll Meet Again” are the opening and closing tracks, respectively.”

2. The Fly (1958/1986)

I’m not going to lie to you.  I’ve never watched the original movie the entire way through.  I just cannot get into it.  It’s a bit too cheesy for me and not in the “it’s so bad it’s fun” way.  I mean, can you fault me for not being on totally on board with this?  Shit, even Vincent Price wasn’t on board with this ridiculousness.  Buy the original here!

Thankfully David Cronenberg was brought on board for a remake that would end up making this concept much more entertaining and terrifying.

He was also instrumental in rewriting the script and made sure that Jeff Goldblum didn’t turn into a giant fly (as in the original) and instead turns into a grotesque man-fly.  That is better on so many levels if only for the amazing FX that Chris Walas brought throughout the different stages of Brundlefly.  Cronenberg also added the typical  sex and personal identity issues he is known for and also helped change the script into the amazing body-horror movie we finally received.  It really does have everything: Jeff Goldblum being super Jeff Goldblum-ly, Geena “I don’t get enough love” Davis (who is doing really good work on The Exorcist tv show at the moment), one of the better arm wrestling scenes that does not involve Stallone, the David Cronenberg cameo, and of course this amazing scene:

Buy the remake here!

Fun Trivia from IMDB!: The famous tagline, “Be afraid. Be very afraid”, originated in this film as dialogue spoken by Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis).

1. The Thing (1951/1981)

What started as a short story and then just another 50’s monster movie eventually was remade as one of the scariest, goriest, and most unrelenting horror movies of all time.  The original movie, The Thing from Another World, still holds up for the most part except for never once actually being scary.  That’s cool though.  Not many movies from that era or even today are actually scary.  What the original does do is that it brings you into the story and makes you question just who is human and who isn’t which does bring a certain sense of dread but it’s a definitely a product of its time.  Buy the original here!

 

SPOILER ALERT: Here’s what the Thing looks like in the original:
the-thing

Now compare that to just one of the forms in the remake:

john-carpenters-the-thing

Yeah.  John Carpenter took the original story to the next level with a stellar cast, incredible practical FX from Rob Bottin (who was only 22 when this was made!), and one of the best soundtracks which was composed by the amazing Ennio Morricone.  It was also more of a faithful adaptation of  John W. Campbell Jr.’s original novella “Who Goes There?”.   Most modern horror movies can’t even come close to the feeling of isolation that Carpenter provides here.  They tried with a crappy “prequel” a few years ago and it just further cemented the opinion that most horror fans have that this movie is something special and cannot be replicated.

All of this is used in a masterful way to make you feel incredibly isolated and paranoid.  You never know who’s infected.  It could even be YOU!  Seriously, if you’re reading this then you’ve probably watched this movie.  I don’t feel the need to discuss this movie at length if only because if you haven’t seen it then it works best going in blind.  The only things you need to know are: Kurt Russell is the man, Keith David is amazing in this, if you like dogs there is a scene you may not like, the practical effects are still AMAZING, and you should never fuck with THE BRIMLEY.  Buy the remake here!

Fun trivia from IMDB!:“This movie has become part of the culture in Antarctica. It is a long standing tradition in all British Antarctic research stations to watch The Thing as part of their Midwinter feast and celebration held every June 21.”

Honorable Mentions:

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Tom Savini stepped behind the camera as the director for this one and it almost made the list.  It is indeed up there with the best however because there are a million remakes of this movie and the mere fact that multiple Romero films already made the list, I had to delegate this to an “honorable mention”.  I watch this movie at least once every few months and ALWAYS on my birthday.  I love this movie.  That being said, this is really one of the better remakes that does manage to bring something new to the table  and the makeup work in this movie is completely awesome.  These zombies are legit scary and “real” looking.  It also helps that Barbara is more Ellen Ripley instead of passive comatose victim as she was in the original.  Tom Towles is in full sleaze mode as Harry and Tony Todd rocks the role of Ben.  Grab it on DVD here!  (the Twilight Time blu-ray transfer was terrible and I do not recommend it at all.  Twilight Time thought this movie was called Night of the Living Blue Filter Dead…)

Friday the 13th (2009)

A series that desperately needed a reboot finally got one in 2009. It’s just a shame it blew its wad in the first 10 minutes.  It  has an amazing intro sequence that ends up overshadowing the entire rest of the movie.  They did get some stuff right.  Jason as a character is pretty awesome in this in my opinion.  He’s a goddamn beast.  He’s fast, brutal, and smart.  Case in point?  He uses underground tunnels to get around the camp quickly along with  utilizing traps he’s set to slow down the teenagers.  It’s a neat addition to the mythology.  However, none of the kills are all that inventive which is a shame.  Just lots of stabbing for the most part just like when he showed up in Freddy Vs. Jason.    That being said, this is worth a watch for the first 10 mins and for the amazing sex scene half way through the film that is punctuated with one of my favorite line readings ever.  Buy it here!

Evil Dead (2013)

The original The Evil Dead is not that good.  The pacing is off, the acting is off, everything feels like a first pass at a decent idea.  Feel free to disagree with me but I’ll stand by that statement.  It’s why Evil Dead II essentially remade the first movie in the first 10 mins and brought more ridiculousness to the fold and it’s why most horror fans hold that one as the true best Evil Dead flick.  The less said about Army of Darkness the better.  It was just a matter of time before someone decided to remake The Evil Dead and I sure am glad that they didn’t skimp on the gore.  Seriously, this movie seems to have more blood in it than the original The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness put together.  Unfortunately it has one of the most terrible characters in any Evil Dead movie (fuck you guy that I call Mumford and Sons)but this remake is definitely worth checking out if only for the copious amounts of violence and gore on screen.  The end scene is also pretty freaking awesome.  By the end of the movie you’ll need a shower from feeling so dirty.  Buy it here!

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

I’m the asshole that prefers the sequel as opposed to the original.  I’m sorry, it’s just more entertaining thanks to Dennis Hopper and Bill Moseley.  The original is great at setting a specific tone, and for doing so without showing anything for the most part; HOWEVER that tone is “loud, grating, more loud, and even more grating”.  Maybe I’ll lose my official “Horror Fan” badge but it’s just how I feel.  Color me surprised when the remake ended up being much better than expected.  Sure there are some issues (seriously, Jessica Biel is in a wet shirt for like half of the movie yet no nips?  SHENANIGANS!) and it’s a bit over-polished (like all Platinum Dunes movies) but R. Lee Ermey chews scenery like Ceej chews McChickens and Zangief is a pretty great Leatherface.  Plus you get to see Harry Knowles’s severed head on a plate.  That makes this remake completely worth it in my opinion.  Just steer clear of every sequel/prequel after this remake.  They’re all terrible.  Buy it here!

I hope you had fun reading this as much as I had fun coming up with our list. If you enjoyed this article please make sure to share it with your friends via Facebook or Twitter or SnapChat or Kik or One of the Other Million Social Sites I know nothing about because I’m too old.

Have a safe and happy Halloween from all of us at Brain Dead Radio!

 

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