10 Horror Remakes That Should Never Have Happened
Look, we get it — Hollywood loves sequels, prequels, and remakes. When there is a bankable franchise with a ready-made audience, it’s easy to see why these films get made. Especially in the horror genre, it’s harder to think of new icons than to revisit old icons, such as Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers. Sometimes, Hollywood gets it right. Dawn of the Dead, IT, and Friday the 13th made passable, even enjoyable films. The trick is to expand on a premise and add to it. Some films, however, miss that part. They either go in a completely different direction (any of the Texas Chainsaw Massacres), copy the original frame by frame (Psycho), or focus too heavily on the parts that nobody cares about (Halloween). Sometimes, a film gets remade and it is an enjoyable entry into a revitalized franchise. Friday the 13th sits nicely among its predecessors. Dawn of the Dead is, dare we say, even better than the original. The newest Halloween, from Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, promises to be a fitting conclusion to the original franchise, or it could serve to jump-start a new one. More often than not, however, remakes are made with very little heart. Their creators are more interested in the almighty dollar and they know that we, as horror fans, will still go see a movie, even despite our better judgment.
10) The Thing
The Original (1982): In remote Antarctica, a group of American scientists, led by Kurt Russell, are confronted by an alien lifeform that is able to assume the shape of its victim. Directed by John Carpenter, The Thing is actually a remake itself of the 1951 film The Thing from Another World. Carpenter’s Thing is how remakes should be: it expands on an intriguing premise and offers new moments using better technology. The Thing is a classic and its ending still causes arguments among those who’ve seen it.
The Remake (2011): We commend director Matthijs van Heiningen Jr. for adding a woman to the all-boys club that was in the original. The problem is that nobody cares about her. Even if this character was a man, they were as was the rest of the film. The Thing remake tries to pay respect to the original, by maintaining that this version is a “prequel,” but is it? Is it really? It’s pretty much the same movie except instead of taking place in Antarctica, it takes places in Norway. It tries new tricks to make the monster look imposing, but it could never match the amazing effects of the original.
9) Cabin Fever
The Original (2002): Cabin Fever wasn’t a great movie. But it was funny at times, disturbing at others, and it featured Shawn from Boy Meets World in a leading role, so it wasn’t all bad. One of the first films from Eli Roth, Cabin Fever combines body horror with backwoods horror to various degrees of success. Cabin Fever had some pretty cool effects and some smart dialogue. It was also surprisingly cheap to make.
The Remake (2016): There should be a rule: if a film is less than 20 years old, nobody should remake it. Additionally, directors shouldn’t be allowed to remake their own movie, unless their name is John Carpenter. Eli Roth actually wrote the screenplay to the remake of his own film. But by “wrote,” we actually mean “probably just changed the names of his characters and copy and pasted the rest.” The premise is the same. The shots are the same. The dialogue is the same. The scares are the same. It’s all the same, which means there was really no reason to remake it at all.
8) The Hitcher
The Original (1986): The 1986 thriller starring Ponyboy himself, C. Thomas. Howell, proves that your mother was right — you should never pick up hitchhikers. Unfortunately, Ponyboy didn’t have Darry around to knock some sense into him, so he picked up a hitchhiker named John Ryder who almost immediately starts to act creepy. The Hitcher is a perfectly acceptable entry into 80’s Thrillers, and Ponyboy gives a pretty good performance, as does Rutger Hauer as the titular antagonist. There’s also a scene that has become infamous for its brutality. The only thing more brutal than that scene is, unfortunately, the remake.
The Remake (2007): The 2007 remake meant well. It tried to change things up by having a couple, instead of just one person, pick up the hitchhiker. That was about the only innovative thing about this movie, though. The leads were boring, the hitcher was no Rutger Hauer and the ending tried too hard to be different. This wasn’t a bad film, per say. It was just unnecessary.
7) The Fog
The Original (1980): John Carpenter will be on this list a lot. The majority of his films are just classics. The Fog is but one example of how a talented filmmaker can literally make anything scary, including fog. Of course, it helped that the fog in this film brought with it a swarm of dead, angry fishermen. This is a perfect film for a chilly night. It has atmosphere, mood, and characters you actually care about. It also has Tom Atkins, which automatically makes any film better.
The Remake (2005): This was, we think, an effort to catch the attention of boys and girls looking for a good “date night” movie. That’s the only explanation we can think of for its existence. While Carpenter’s film had atmosphere, mood, creepy visuals, and Tom Atkins, this remake has boring CGI, cardboard characters with cliché backstories, and Tom Welling. The only good thing about this film was that Welling’s character name was Nick Castle, a nod to the stuntman and original Michael Myers of the same name. When the only thing interesting about your movie is a character’s name, perhaps your remake is unnecessary.
6) House on Haunted Hill
The Original (1959): There is just something about creepy, black and white, William Castle movies that brings us a sense of pure, unadulterated joy. Nothing feels like Halloween more than a Vincent Price movie, and House on Haunted Hill is no exception. This classic film centers on an eccentric millionaire and his wife, who invite a group of ragtag individuals looking to go from rags to riches, to a “party.” This isn’t just any party, however. It’s a Danse Macabre and these partygoers have no idea what other “guests” await them.
The Remake (1999): What happens when you take an atmospheric classic, starring the kind of old-school scary movies, and repurpose it for a new generation? We’re not sure, but it definitely had to be better than the House on Haunted Hill Remake. While Geoffrey Rush did an admirable job, there is no way he could fill Vincent Price’s shoes. Nor could Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, or Veronica Vaughn from Billy Madison. The 90’s were a bad time for any remake, as “atmosphere” was replaced by gore in a lot of cases. House on Haunted Hill brought nothing new to the table.
5) Child’s Play
The Original (1988): Serial Killer Charles Lee Ray is chased into a toy store by Chris Sarandon (more on him later). Before dying from a gunshot, Ray transfers his soul into that of a “Good Guy” doll. The doll then becomes “Chucky,” a murderous doll intent on making himself laugh as much as he makes his victims scream. Child’s Play very easily could’ve been a corny, throwaway 80’s movie. It became so much more than that, however, and spawned 6 sequels and an upcoming TV series. This is one of the longest-lasting horror series of all time, and because of 2017’s ‘Cult of Chucky,’ it seems as though we’ve barely scratched the surface. Chucky, voiced by the amazing Brad Douriff, might be small in stature, but he’s just as big of a horror icon as his contemporaries.
The Remake (2019…probably): You might be asking yourself, “If the original Child’s Play series is still ongoing, and is about to be on TV, why are they remaking it?” You are not alone, dear reader. That’s the question all of us are asking. We’re also asking why the powers-that-be can’t just think of a new name to call it, since it sounds like the premise is going to be drastically altered from the original. We’re ALSO asking why they think any “Chucky” movie without Brad Douriff would be successful. This remake hasn’t even happened yet, and it’s already more unnecessary than the majority of its counterparts.
4) Fright Night
The Original (1985): Charley Brewster loves monster movies. That is, until his life becomes one. When his next-door neighbor moves in, Charley is curious. When his next-door neighbor turns into a vampire and murders a buxom blonde, Charley is scared. He alerts his mom, his friends, and the police and none of them believe him. As Charley tries to take down his vampire neighbor, his girlfriend begins to fall for the vamp’s charms. It’s easy to do, as the vampire in question is played by Chris Sarandon. Sarandon is everything that a modern-day Dracula would be — he’s charming, seductive and sexy and you’ll find yourself asking if it would really be that bad if he bit your neck. Now, the only one who can save Charley is Peter Vincent, an actor who portrayed a vampire killer on TV.
The Remake (2011): Colin Farrel is a good looking dude, but he’s not Chris Sarandon in the 80’s. Nobody is. This 2011 remake tried to be a little different, and for that, we give it props. We just didn’t think “different” meant casting McLovin and changing Peter Vincent from a B-movie horror star into a Russel Brand-esque magician. Anton Yelchin does a good job in the role of Charley (he did a good job with any part he played) and while Farrel cannot compete with Chris Sarandon, he was about as close as one could get to being as charming and seductive as Sarandon was. But nothing new was added to the story and it lacked the “fun” of the original.
The Original (1960): Psycho is the granddaddy of them all, really. What Alfred Hitchcock did in 1960 was usher in a new wave of horror films. Gone were the vampires and werewolves and haunted houses. In their place stood something scarier than anything — normal human beings who go crazy. Psycho has been called the very first “Slasher” film and it’s easy to fall into the camp that believes that. On its own as a horror movie, Psycho is a moody, eerie journey into the psyche of a madman. But Psycho is so much more than that. It was a changing of the guard. It was the end and the beginning of an era. It was, in a word, a classic.
The Remake (1998): Literally a shot-by-shot remake. Nobody knows why this was made. Nobody also knows why Vince Vaughn was cast in Anthony Perkins’ iconic role. Nobody knows why Anne Heche was cast in Janet Leigh’s role. Nobody knows what the point of this movie was.
The Original (1978): It was the night he came home. If Psycho was the granddaddy of slasher films, then Halloween was the super cool dad that gives you everything you want because after the divorce he was afraid that your mother would poison your mind and turn you against him so now every other weekend is spent at Disneyland. Halloween is, quite simply, the perfect horror film. It has characters that you care about. It has a villain that you’re scared of. And it’s a simple, yet effective story that can be re-watched time and time again. It launched the career of Jamie Lee Curtis (coincidentally, the daughter of Psycho star Janet Leigh), as well as a string of sequels. Halloween is a classic in every sense of the word.
The Remake (2007): Y’know, you gotta give it to Rob Zombie. He tried, he really did. He tried to do something different and, for that, we commend him. He cared about Halloween and he wanted to try to explain why Michael Myers was the way that he was. The problem, however, is that it doesn’t matter why Michael Myers is the way he is. There isn’t supposed to be a reason. He just is, that’s all. It doesn’t matter if he came from a middle-class family with a white picket fence or if he came from a white trash hellhole. Michael Myers is evil because that’s just how he is. It’s not nurture; it’s nature. Zombie tried to use his remake of Halloween as a way to make us understand Michael Myers. He then used the latter half of the film to cram in everything from the original. It didn’t work.
1) A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Original (1984): A Nightmare on Elm Street is arguably one of the greatest horror movies ever created. It is as surreal as it is terrifying. It created, also arguably, the most iconic boogeyman this side of Dracula, in Fred Krueger. It spawned 6 sequels, one mashup, a television series, and a very, very unfortunate remake. A Nightmare on Elm Street was the magnum opus of director Wes Craven and it gave us a villain that will never be forgotten. Freddy Krueger is as well-known as Batman, Santa Claus, and Elvis. He is the horror icon of the 80’s, even more so than Jason or Michael Myers. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a labor of love and it gained back that love tenfold from audiences when it debuted in 1984. Freddy Krueger has been haunting our dreams ever since.
The Remake (2010): At least Rob Zombie’s film had a little bit of heart. This remake came from producer Michael Bay and it lacked heart and relied on the fact that audiences would go see it, simply based on name value. He was right, but almost every review declared this movie to be DOA. It wasn’t scary. It wasn’t thoughtful. It wasn’t, like, good. Michael Bay didn’t make this movie because he cared about the character. He made it because he wanted to make money, and that makes him a bigger villain than Freddy, Michael, Jason, Norman, and Chucky all put together.