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BOOOO! Brandon’s Top 10 Modern Horror Remakes

Top 10 Modern Horror Remakes thumbTake the “Booo!” in the title as either the ghostly scare sound or the hoards of fanboys’ reactions when something gets remade.  Over the last 15 years or so we’ve seen plenty of reboots, reimaginings and remakes come to fruition throughout each film going year.  The horror genre has certainly been the genre the most privy to getting remake-itis.  but, it has always made a name for itself in that fashion.  Its characters and stories have always been something of legend and folklore.  How many times have we seen Dracula brought back in some way, shape or form (most recently this past weekend)?  Yes, remaking everything is a bit tiresome, but I’ve never been one to turn my nose up at it.  Aside from the remake film itself, it does many good things outside of that.  It brings the original films and characters to the forefront of the conversation once again.  People get the itch to go back and rediscover these old films (not all, but some do).  They also give us terrific new versions of the films on home video with either stunning transfers or the bonus material interviews, deleted scenes and the like that we’ve always wanted.

I’m not going to argue that some remakes are merely cashing in on name brand and there’s just no passion behind them.  Just a slicked up version of the old one with modern name brand actors and production values.  But, given the right talent and passion behind the camera, these can be good movies in their own right.  Some wind up better than their original counterparts.  And if some people could separate nostalgia and judge a remake on its own terms, you might enjoy it more.  People bark and snarl about remakes, then recount stuff like John Carpenter’s The Thing, the 1970s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and David Cronenberg’s The Fly as some of their favorite films and BEST all time horror films.  Heck, some films basically remake other films ideas and plots without straight up calling themselves a remake.  You can’t really have it both ways.  If you’re going to “hate” remakes or be in protest of them, then you must apply that to those films.  Why So Blu colleague Aaron Neuwirth has one of the best mindsets and quotes about remakes that I’ll share with you now “I’m not against remakes.  I’m against bad movies”.

For this list, I’m compiling remakes in the “modern era”.  I’d say more like post 2000 to the present.  If we go all time, then its probably going to look like every other list you could find by Googling about horror remakes.  This list includes reboots, reimaginings, remakes all that hub bub.  I simple named the list “remakes” for the shear simplicity of it.  These aren’t in any sort of ranking order, just alphabetical, but I’m sure some of the movies listed’s presence is enough to make some fanboy blood boil.  Let me know if there’s a remake I didn’t list that you think is worth mentioning, or how I’m a terrible person for listing such and such a movie.  We’d love to hear about.  Without further adieu here’s my TOP 10 MODERN HORROR REMAKES!

Crazies

The Crazies (2010)

I’m actually pretty fond of George Romero’s original film in a somewhat stylistic fashion.  But, this new film was able to up the intensity and scare factor to a level that really wasn’t ever present in it.  Timothy Olyphant is someone I general enjoy in a lead anytime he’s cast.  The one thing I like a lot about this one is how, among many reboot/remake films, this one DOESN’T try to over-complicate and “add depth” to the mythology of the original film.  This is a straight up B level horror movie and it has no shame about it.  Its refreshing to see something pretty straightforward like this one.  I’d even go as far to say it lives up to that of the original and I wouldn’t argue anyone who enjoys it more.

Dawn Of The Dead 2004

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Two films in, Two remakes of George Romero’s catalog.  Zack Snyder and James Gunn’s zombie action film does what a lot of remakes really should do.  Take the general concept of the movie and truly do your own thing with it.  Aside from a zombie apocalypse and a group of people being holed up in a mall, this really doesn’t much resemble George Romero’s classic.  For me, its hard to even compare the two as separate as they.  My preference is Romero’s, but this film is not some dead beat.  Its an extremely entertaining film.  Plus, you get Sarah Polley as not only the lead in a film, but kicking some zombie butt to boot.  I know a lot of people credit this film with the “running zombie” but we all know they sort of borrowed it form 28 Days Later.  This is more zombies for a modern era and the one popular film that kick started the zombie craze we are still living in 10 years later.

Evil Dead 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

Its really surprising to me that there were plenty of people out there that didn’t care for this film.  There’s a lot of passion and care of the original on display here.  A common complaint was that the characters were lacking some depth, but they’re acting as if there was much depth for them in the original.  Here we actually have a circumstance bringing them to the cabin and some actual reasoning and background to their friendships.  Plus, this film went for the blood and guts.  And they did it with a crazy amount of practical effects, leaning in the most light of ways on CG effects.  Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were very much involved in Fede Alvarez feature debut, and the care and loyalty to the series seemed very much intact.  Plus, that shower of blood and the end battle I found to be incredibly awesome.

Friday the 13th 2009

Friday The 13th (2009)

My biggest compliment to the remake for Friday The 13th, which is really a combining of elements for Fridays part 1-4, is that I didn’t feel like I was ever watching a remake.  Marcus Nispel’s film felt like “just another one”.  You’ll here people complain about Jason’s underground tunnels, but they were just trying to shed light on a possibility on how he could pop up everywhere.  They think that’s just not plausible, yet a beloved film in the series where Jason as a zombie resurrected by a telekinetic girl is totally logical.  I feel like the script totally is fan friendly and really understands what people would have wanted.  Top that off with Derek Mears giving a fantastic physical performance as our hockey masked killer and you a pretty worthy entry into this series.  Its a reboot-remake-whatever, but it never felt like that to me, it felt like I got just another Crystal Lake sequel, which was welcome!

Fright Night 2011

Fright Night (2011)

This aint your daddy’s Fright Night.  And it shouldn’t be.  The era which Fright Night happened has long since changed for teens.  I enjoyed David Tennant’s new take on Peter Vincent and I think it was a smart way to go with the character.  This is a very fun movie that starts out like we’re going to be seeing a modern telling of the same story, but then somewhere in act II it really takes off and becomes its own thing.  Its almost like one big fun chase-horror movie.  There is even a fun scene that borrows from Children Of Men.  Toni Collette is a bit underutilized but, you never know, she could have been there because of the director/writer, not had the time or been a red herring for us thinking she’d be a bigger part.  Anton Yelchin is a terrific Charlie Brewster and definitely an upgrade from William Ragsdale (sorry Rag-ites).  The real star though, is Colin Farrell who looks like he’s having a blast and really chews up every scene he’s in.  He’s a more ferocious and aggressive Jerry, but he does know how to turn on the smolder too.   My heart stays with the original, but this is a really fun companion.

Halloween 2007

Halloween:  A Rob Zombie Film (2007)

Probably the most polarizing film to a fanbase on the list.  Had this list been conducted in 2007 or even shortly after, the Zombie film would probably not have made the list.  But with the passage of time and so many dull and uninspired rehashes out there, this one suddenly started sticking out as one of the better ones.  Love or hate the film, you can’t deny that this one at least has some passion and care behind the camera.  And you’re not getting the same thing just update and polished with modern sensibilities.  Nope, this is a dirty, grungy, ruthless being.  The scene where little Michael kills the bully after school may be one of the most effective moments in the entire series.  It wants to be more than a remake.  The second half of the film doesn’t feel as strongly in that direction and there are some unbelievable mistakes (Dr. Loomis gouged eyes for example), but its still holding true to what Zombie can bring.  Murder and horrific attacks aren’t supposed to be a fun thing, and instead of the suspense route Carpenter had already mastered, Zombie opted for the disturbing things and brutality.

Last House On The Left 2009

The Last House On The Left (2009)

Last House, bitch!  The original film was a pinnacle moment in 70s cinema and we were told you had to keep telling yourself “it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie”.  Today, the film still works to a degree, but it has sort of been dated.  And those cop characters are pretty unforgivable.  This remake may not have had the effect on the public being that its 2009 and not 1972, but it still manages to keep the focal event of the rape/murder disturbing.  It makes you feel like you need to take a bath afterward just for watching it.  The film is also pretty well cast.  We get Aaron Paul and Garrett Dillahunt in some creeper roles.  This film had no right being as good as it is.  Its actually pretty suspenseful and has some shocking violence.  I know I’ll sound blasphemous here, but aside from the ludicrous post credits/ending to the film, I prefer it to Wes Craven’s original.

Maniac 2013

Maniac (2013)

This made my Top 10 Films Of 2013 list.  And I really can’t say it better than I did there.  This experimental first person perspective with Elijah Wood in the lead sounds like something that might not work, but it absolutely did for me.  This movie became an experience.  The original was a piece of sleezy early 80s low budget cinema featuring one of my favorite character actors.  This takes the same idea and puts a whole new spin on it, including Wood’s portrayal.  Elijah perfectly fits the bill of a guy that you would think would attract sort of hipster girls without being too creepy or gross looking.  Another thing to note on this one is that it has an absolutely mesmerizing score that I fell in love with and was on constant rotation in my car in 2013.  This is a very style-heavy and artful film and one of the more unique takes on the slasher genre in years.

My Bloody Valentine 3D 2009

My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Holy funballs!  The combination of director Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer have been one of my favorite duos in more recent years.  What they brought to the remake of one of my all time favorite 80s slashers, My Bloody Valentine, was a real loose sense of fun for the slasher genre and respect for the original film.  One of the best things about this movie is that its not afraid of just being a slasher film.  It wears that badge with plenty of honor.  There are holes and goofs, but this movie doesn’t care.  There’s, a killer dressed like a coal miner with a pick axe and he is going to go to town on it.  It also employed the 3-D gimmick and used it to early 1980s style proportions.  Not to be undone, it does have some really good suspense scenes thrown in for good measure as well.  I think they work mainly because you and the movie are getting along so well that you’re swept up in everything its handing you.  Oh yeah, and this movie employs Tom F***ing Atkins!  What more can I say, its got the same idea and character basis as the original but is its own thing.  Seriously, you can watch both back to back and not be bored.  This movie was a big hit too, and sadly like the early 80s we never got My Bloody Valentine – Part 2: Roses Are Dead And So Are You.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Ah, the one that you could probably point to that started the whole remake bonanza.  This film has no idea what truly made the original film tick (Seriously, who was it that forgot the cannibalism?), but that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining.  2003’s Chainsaw works best as an intense horror thriller featuring the backdrop and character of Leatherface from Tobe Hooper’s classic.  It may contain fan favorite Leatherface, but R Lee Ermey steals the show as the evil sheriff.  One of my favorite suspense moments features Ermey and the character of Morgan reenacting the suicide he witnessed in the van.  Its a tense moment and I still get built up on it to this day.  The film also managed to make Leatherface scary again after he’d become somewhat of a joke in his own movie series.  Jessica Biel and her fellow castmates were also characters that seemed like a little bit of breath of fresh air being unassuming, letting us not have the, almost mandated at the time, self-aware Scream-inspired teen characters in a horror film for once.  No, this movie is a far cry and doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but as a modern horror thriller, it works quite well.

Well, that’s my list.  Thank you for reading.  Now its your turn.  What are some of your favorite horror remakes and what is it that you enjoy about them?  I’m not really interested in what ones you don’t like.  I don’t even have to type full titles in a search engine to get those tired opinions.  Let me know below!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

8 Responses to “BOOOO! Brandon’s Top 10 Modern Horror Remakes”


  1. Brian White

    Good list.
    Actually I can find zero flaws with any of your logic here. I like every remake you mentioned up above.
    Four films that I did not hate the U.S. remake of that immediately come to mind are The Eye, The Ring, The Grudge and even Mirrors.
    Come to think of it I do like the remake of The Hills Have Eyes.
    What say you?

  2. Brandon Peters

    Actually never saw Mirrors. The Ring was pretty solid. The Grudge I just wasn’t a fan of and I didn’t like The Eye (the original film was REALLY good though).

    There’s nothing really wrong with The Hills Have Eyes. It felt like the exact same thing again and that was a little boring to me.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Solid list. I could do without Platinum Dunes, but I certainly respect them for trying. I do think Last House on the Left is a strong entry and The Crazies is pretty fun, but yeah Dawn of the Dead rules it for me. And Fright Night – You’re So Cool Brewster!.

    And just to add to Brian’s thought – Aja does very little for me, but I did really like Piranha 3D

  4. Brandon Peters

    Thanks Aaron! Platinum Dunes is hit and miss for me. I kinda have always thought of them as the Hammer for the 70s/80s horror of the 00s.

    Oh yeah, I liked Piranha 3D! Fun movie!

  5. Brian White

    True. I forgot Piranha. I just liked The Eye for Alba 🙂

  6. Eric Ashley

    I think I’m the only one of my friends who actually liked the Dawn of the Dead remake. And Maniac was pretty good, and, as noted, has a fantastic soundtrack!

  7. Laura Peters

    I am probably in a small crowd, but I prefer Fright Night (2011) to the original…and it has nothing to do with my grudge against Chris “where’s your money” Sarandon.

  8. Aaron Neuwirth

    Well we can conclude that Eric’s friends suck 😉

    I’m also sorta with Laura on Fright Night. It does have some really cool makeup effects that outdo some of the work in the remake, but I have more affinity towards the actors in this new one.