KILL, REPEAT, KILL: A Guide to Horror Remakes
BYT at large | Oct 20, 2014 | 9:00AM |

This piece originally ran October 23, 2013.

Contributors: Svetlana Legetic, Stephanie Breijo, Jenn Tisdale, Brandon Wetherbee, Alan Zilberman, Emily Catino, Ross Bonaime, Kaylee Dugan

When it comes to horror films, most at the BYT office live every month like it’s October. Between the love of cinema serial killers, witless teens, monsters, hauntings and endless gore, when the real Halloween deal rolls around, you’d better believe we’re ready to talk scary movies. While we love a good scare in the theatre, there’s nothing quite like appreciating the roots of horror–especially when Hollywood’s shelled out yet another remake, which is, as predicted, almost always to be avoided. Enter our guide, your map to the best of horror originals vs. remakes just in time for prime Halloween marathoning.

  • THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979) vs. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (2005)
    In 2014, the best Amytiville Horror-related movie you can see is “The Conjuring” which tells the tale of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal investigators best known for dealing with the case, but that’s neither here nor there since it is about another case and whatnot (Still, SEE IT–out on DVD as we speak). The 1979 version of the tale stars Margot Kidder and James Brolin as the dreamboat couple buying their dream home (that just so happens to be a site of a previous mass murder) and watching it change them. Add a touch of always unsettling Rod Steiger in for good measure, and this tale of of a house WITH memories is a classic of the genre.

    In 2005 a mostly unnecessary remake was made with Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George which repeats the tale almost exactly (it IS a true story after all) and is probably most notable for the latter part of the movie where Reynolds is just shirtless all the time (the main reason for this me even remembering it). Because, why the hell (and in hell) not?
    -Svetlana Legetic
  • CARRIE (1970) vs. CARRIE (2013)
    First things first- I am a huge fan of the 1976 original . I remember being a kid, reading the book, then watching the movie and thinking that I WILL NOT get scared because I ALREADY KNOW WHAT IS COMING, and yet still freaking out around every corner of it. I have not been able to see a Piper Laurie movie since because her Carrie’s mother is permanently etched in my memory. But, lets face it, the key to the success there was Sissy Spacek. Brian De Palma cast a fresh faced, translucent skinned grown up (Spacek was 26, and a former Texas homecoming queen) in the role of a frightened 17 year old, and it was a gamble that paid off. The scariest part of “Carrie” is that hell, despite what you’ve been told by your insane Mother, is actually and truly, OTHER PEOPLE, and – in that sense, it is the most relatable of scares. Spacek does very little in terms of showiness (that is fully left to Laurie). All she needs to say is done in her posture (has there ever been an actress who looked quite so breakable?) and those eyes. The prom is all about the eyes. Those big, wide, afraid-yet-mad pools of watercolor blue becoming larger than her, than that night, than life. That spareness, in the middle of the gore, is what made the original unforgettable.

    The 2013 re-make of “Carrie” starts out strongly. It is a mini-prologue of sorts and it works on all levels: it is creepy, it pushes the boundaries of what we as a viewer are comfortable seeing even in the jaded 2013, and for a brief three minutes, you actually believe that this new play on the classic teen psycho-horror-drama will be worth the ride. That hope extends ever so fleetingly into the proper first scene of the film, where Carrie White and her classmates are playing volleyball in the pool, their teen crotches jumping up and down in pristine, sterilized water, and as the camera closes in on Carrie’s, you cannot help but think: THIS is how IT is going to happen this time around, THIS is where Carrie will get her first period, and an uncomfortable sense of creeped-out-joy to come washes over you. You can almost see the shot: a sliver of red infecting the pool, the perfect little teenage bodies ALL being touched by it, the premonition of things to come. But it doesn’t. That moment never happens and no moments approaching anything close to that effectiveness make it anywhere near the screen. What could have served as a perfect setting-of-stage for a riskier, more sexualized “Carrie,” ends up being a setting-of-stage for what we end up getting: a cop out, a paint-by-the-numbers remake that we didn’t need.
    -Svetlana Legetic
  • DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) vs. DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)
    The sequel to “Night of the Living Dead” is a comedy. All you have to do is watch the last three minutes to realize it’s “Waiting For Godot” with zombies. The theatrical version ends with a dated score and a choice of future death over suicide. The director’s cut ends with circus music. If you don’t think it doesn’t scream nothing matters, you’re deaf. The tagline of the film, “When there’s no more room in HELL the dead will walk the EARTH,” means HELL is a mall. A mall just outside of Pittsburgh. This is believable. No matter how hard you fight to survive, you’re going to perish so you might as well live like a king for a few weeks in a mall. This is also the premise to the 2012 documentary “The Queen of Versailles.”
    Far from perfect but much more than watchable, this remake turned the low-key, comedic take on being trapped in a mall and turned it into the template for a video game. Zack Snyder (“Watchmen,” “Man of Steel,” “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”) brought Romero’s classic into the 21st century with not-so-bad results. It’s difficult to imagine the first season of The Walking Dead or the video game Dead Rising without this film. The updates are what makes it more commercially viable than the original. The zombies aren’t undead, just bit. The zombies are fast, making them much more deadly. The time span is only one month, making the end of the world feel more imminent. Modern Family dad Ty Burrell plays a creep. All of this is why I’m able to keep the movie on when it pops up on cable. And Sarah Polley. Sarah Polley is great. Go see “Away From Her”! Get it?!? Sorry. I’m going to go trap myself in a mall.Side note: Could this movie be made in 2013? Who goes to the mall? Are malls even being built? Would it be set in an Amazon warehouse? Does the Amazon warehouse have a large food court?
    -Brandon Wetherbee
  • THE EVIL DEAD (1981) vs. THE EVIL DEAD (2013)
    Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” is a horror classic. Before the franchise became about fully embracing campiness, it was about Ash and a few friends in a cabin with the Book of the Dead. And of course buckets and buckets of blood. Raimi’s film is low-budget, brilliantly edited and still incredibly over-the-top, with taxidermied animals coming to life, hands being cut off and yes, tree rapes.
    Last year’s “Evil Dead” remake isn’t quite as good, occasionally succumbing to the tropes that “Evil Dead” wannabe films would reinforce and films like “The Cabin in the Woods” have mocked. However it does feature genuinely eerie moments, ridiculous humor and disturbing scenes, such as Mia (basically the remake’s version of Ash) cutting off her own tongue after becoming possessed. Maybe the most brilliant moment of the remake is an after-credits sequence, in which it is hinted that in some upcoming film, we will have a team up of sorts between Ash and Mia. With old blood and new blood combining, you know what that means? MORE BLOOD!!!
    -Ross Bonaime
  • FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) vs. FRIGHT NIGHT (2011)
    Finally, a remake I can get behind. You’re always going to be nervous when someone takes a stab at something you know and love and have strong feelings for and okay I still really really love vampires at the age of 33. The original “Fright Night” is really more night than fright but that’s what makes it so awesome. It is an interesting take on a done-to-undeath genre that is campy yet endearing.
     
    The remake starring the very ridiculously attractive Colin Farrell kept a few of my favorite quirks: Jerry’s bizarre interest in apples, Amy’s insane transformation in the end Jesus that mouth, and the delightful Peter Vincent. That was the largest discrepancy between the films. In the original Vincent was a washed out actor barely holding onto his former glory of cinematic vampire hunter while in the remake Vincent (played by David Tennant/Dr. Who) is a glorified Criss Angel (who is already a glorified Criss Angel) and a reluctant believer in vampires because as a child his family was slaughtered by one. Plus the always fabulous Toni Collette plays the role of Charly’s mother who in this movie is not left blissfully unaware of what’s going on around her. The one thing I miss the most in the remake is the incredibly awkward romance between Amy and Jerry which REALLY showed its colors in the bizarre club scene where Jerry is wearing the worst sweater in the world and anyone born after a certain year can’t help but think of Amy as Marcy from “Married with Children.”

    The new version is just as funny, just as entertaining, and wasn’t ravaged by Hollywood’s annoying need to over-produce everything. The extra great bonus is a sweet cameo by Chris Sarandon (the original Jerry Dandridge, vampire extraordinaire) getting killed by the new Jerry (hot as fuck Colin Farrell). The (vampire) mark of a decent remake is keeping what makes it good and only making changes for the better. Well done, “Fright Night” 2011; two fangs up.
    -Jenn Tisdale
  • HALLOWEEN (1978) vs. HALLOWEEN (2007)
    When John Carpenter decided to bless us with one of the best horror movies of all time, he unknowingly opened up a hellmouth for terrrrrrrrrible sequels and remakes. But who could blame him? The first “Halloween” is so good, it was definitely worth it. In fact, “Halloween” is so legendary that as a kid, one of my cousins, who had seen the movie before me, believed that Michael Myers truly existed and was able to persuade my brother and I that he lived next door to my Uncle (full disclosure: we were dumb kids).

    So, if Johnny C’s “Halloween” is a 10/10,  than the 2007 remake by Rob Zombie is probably a -10/10. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hellbilly Deluxe like any other good american, but someone needs to stop telling Rob Zombie that he’s good at making movies. Because he isn’t. Now, there are some good things about the reboot, like how Malcolm McDowell of “A Clockwork Orange” plays Michael’s psychologist, Dr. Sam Loomis. I can even appreciate that Zombie tried to make the movie his own by having it function as both a prequel and a remake, but that’s also what completely ruined it. The main problem with the film is that Zombie tries to delve into the psyche of Michael, which ruins his status as a urban legend figure. Michael is way scarier as a mysterious, silent behemoth than as a sad little boy trapped in a papier-mâché obsessed adults body. In conclusion, I’m pretty sure John Carpenter had to sell his soul to the devil to create a movie so perfect and Rob Zombie should stick to making Hellbilly Deluxe sequels.
    – Kaylee Dugan
  • MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1933) vs. THE HOUSE OF WAX (1953) vs. HOUSE OF WAX (2005)
    As if wax museums weren’t already creepy enough, Hollywood added an extra level of terror: beneath those smooth-skinned facades there are real, decaying bodies trapped beneath. I never quite understood the science of the wax horror movies (“Waxworks” not included because, let’s face it, science has no home there) but the concept never ceases to pique my macabre interest–a masterful madman kills to finish his creations. The bodies disappear. A perfect murder. “Mystery of the Wax Museum,” more mystery-thriller than horror, is a 1933 flick that follows a reporter hot on the trail of a series of disappearances. Eventually we learn that Ivan Igor, a wax artist, has been employing disfigured henchmen to steal bodies and murder, covering the cadavers with wax and displaying them in public at his museum. The pace is slow and there are long periods of unnecessary silence but we can forgive; these were the early days of sound in film, after all. For all intents and purposes, the second and (hopefully) most famous of three wax museum films nails it best.

    Vincent Price breathes some verging-on-psycopathic life into the role of obsessed wax craftsman, adding a layer of neediness you truly feel when he proclaims  his wax figures speak to him. (Jesus.) “The House of Wax” begins just as “Mystery of the Wax Museum” does, with a disagreement between the film’s soon-to-be villain and his investment partner, and his cherished museum going up in flames. Just like the first film, Price’s character is thought dead and resurfaces years later with a new museum but this time he includes a Chamber of Horrors depicting famous murders (including that of his former business partner). He is soon discovered and thwarted and police save the girl (not a reporter, just a friend of another victim) before she becomes his wax Marie Antoinette. The ’53 adaptation wins points not only for Price’s new levels of creepy and nixing any love subplot but also for the studio’s first foray into 3D: “The House of Wax” was the first color 3D film from a large studio; if you hate the trend, I guess you can start the blame here.

    In 2005 Hollywood unleashed “House of Wax,” a “remake” that remakes only the film in the most basic sense: someone kills people and covers them in wax. The film is essentially a Dead Teens horror trip down slasher film memory lane with obvious tropes and zero character development; we later learn that the creepy town these friends wander into is abandoned (which renders the brilliance of hiding bodies on display in plain sight totally obsolete) though it provides some awesome, gruesome visuals of wax dripping down dead faces and Paris Hilton getting skewered through the head–almost a playful nod to her opening road head scene. (See? The world’s not all bad.)
    -Stephanie Breijo
  • THE HAUNTING (1963) vs. THE HAUNTING (1999)
    “The Haunting” is your basic haunted house story: evil house where lots of evil stuff has happened and you know will happen again. It’s really too bad that someone felt the need to remake “The Haunting” and by remake I mean seriously remake because the 1999 version hardly even resembles its 1968 predecessor. Having just watched the original, I can say that I was A LOT more scared of the original. 1968’s “The Haunting” starts off the way you would expect any classic horror film to begin: with a ghost story and a super creepy looking house. And that’s kind of how the rest of the film went, it played like a ghost story. I think the reason that ghost work so well to scare people is because the audience never gets to see the ghost/ghoul/monster/serial killer or whatever is going bump in the night—it forever stays the fear of the unknown. Everyone who has ever watched a horror film knows that the second you are shown the “monster,” whatever that may be, all the fear you were experiencing either goes away entirely or is lessened by at least half (mostly because the monster looks super fake), but also because you can now put a face to what is scaring you. The original “The Haunting” never does that and it works so well.

    Now we come to the 1999 version. Whoever said that special effects are a good idea for scary movies was SO WRONG. I found myself literally laughing out loud at parts that I can only assume were meant to be frightening, not to mention the fact that the premise of the original made much more sense and was actually done better (on the part of the actors and the director) despite it being made 30 years prior. I won’t even talk about the ending to the remake (no spoilers, I promise) but if you, like me, want to leave the theater/couch still being scared PLEASE watch the original and avoid the remake at all costs. Don’t let Liam Neeson’s presence in the remake fool you—this is not a “Taken” situation; he does not kick ass. But the 1968 version of “The Haunting” does. And it is prime Halloween viewing.
    -Emily Catino
  • MANIAC (1980) vs. MANIAC (2012)
    He’s a maniac maniac on the floor and he’s scalping ladies like they’ve never been scalped before. The original film was released in 1980 which is a solid year to be released (speaking as someone who was born that year). We were right in the middle of that sweet slasher film spot and director William Lustig delivered the goods. The special FX were done by Tom Savini, everyone’s favorite (after Rick Baker of course), who plays a pivotal role in the film’s most gruesome scene. He gets his head blown off, point blank, by the aforementioned Maniac and it’s so damn realistic it was almost cut from the movie. That’s what the remake lacked…well that and a truly creepy bad guy. Joe Spinell played the original Maniac. The role was later played in 2012 by Elijah Wood. You see the maniac was horribly abused as a child and doesn’t have a way with women unless that way is murder. Spinell is fucking creepy.
    Elijah Wood is just too damn good-looking to be believable. Plus the remake was shot entirely in first person view and I found myself feeling very unsettled but not the way in which the director intended. I was mostly annoyed the entire time. The new film comes across as too clean whereas the original was gritty, gory, and God-awful in the best way possible. Skip this remake and get FUCKING CRAZY with the original “Maniac.”
  • A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) vs. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010)
    The method behind the madness of remaking a movie that is not just a single film but an entire wonderful franchise is beyond me. Would you recut a flawless diamond? Would you throw out a perfectly cooked steak and start anew? As I sit here staring at the four Freddy Krueger collectible dolls I own (all in their original packaging to preserve their integrity) I can’t help but feel Hollywood doesn’t know what it’s fucking doing. The remake was released in 2010, 26 years after the original. That’s 26 years of Robert Englund playing the role of Freddy Krueger… and playing it pretty goddamn spectacularly. Maybe I’m crazy but I prefer child killers to child molesters (okay I prefer neither but you get what I’m saying). It was an incredibly odd, unsettling decision to change Freddy’s origin story. Were they trying to frighten us more? Was someone under the impression that a man trying to kill you in your dreams was somehow less scary than some creep who likes to sleep with kids? If they were going for a gross factor here they nailed it.
     
    I also can’t figure out what’s more annoying: if they had changed Freddy’s physical appearance entirely or just the little bit they opted for. The packaging was the same but they went with a more realistic-looking burn victim look. Yes. Right. While watching a movie about a supernatural being who is murdering teens while they slumber the one thing I can’t get past is how unrealistic his burns looked. COME ON, HOLLYWOOD. Assholes. Do you know what’s frightening? Freddy’s profile in the dark. You know what isn’t frightening? Old No Nose McGee in the remake. Plus let us never forget Johnny Depp getting sucked into a bed and being spit out in the form of more gallons of blood than one human body could ever hold. And finally one of my favorite things about the original film is the score, that haunting music that accompanied every brush with Freddy. The remake couldn’t use it of course so it ended up churning out another modern-day polished piece of shit. You know what, Hollywood? Stay away from Freddy because you know what they say: 1, 2 Freddy’s Coming For You…
    -Jenn Tisdale
  • THE OMEN (1976) vs. THE OMEN (2006)
    First comes the happy couple, then the promotion in politics, then the devil spawn. You know, the classic tale of when one baby dies and then gets replaced with a demon seed—that old chestnut. But so begins the tale of “The Omen,” probably one of the most well-known and well-reviewed horror films ever made; that is, until someone decided to remake it in 2006. While I didn’t find the remake so terrible, it was completely unnecessary. It was a shot-by-shot (and sometimes word-for-word) copy of the classic, which left me questioning why anyone would think it was a good idea. The only reason I can see is so they could remake this movie in another year ending in six (1976, 2006) so they could continue the trope of the 666.“The Omen” made in 1976 was definitely scary. I loved the use of the extremely creepy religious chanting that was introduced in the beginning and then used throughout the film to help build upon the impending doom and horror that you just knew was going to happen since Damien (devil baby) first smiled his perfectly sinister smile. Something that I love about horror films and that is intrinsic to the success of them is the art of the build up. Masters of the horror genre, like Hitchcock, use the idea of tension and release to make every subsequent scary situation more frightening than the last. “The Omen” implements this technique perfectly, and without the gross and cheap use of extreme gore that so many other horror films resort to. But that’s not to say that you won’t be left with some pretty nasty images to creep into your nightmares later—the nanny’s eyes, the graveyard scene, and the ending are perfect uses of terror that make you forget some of the cheesier moments in the film. But it was 1976 so I can forgive them that. What I can’t forgive is the 2006 remake.

    All of the thoughtful simplicity that helped to make the first imagination (and only, I guess, since the remake was EXACTLY THE SAME) of “The Omen” the classic that it is was stupidly exchanged for random and unnecessary additions of gimmicky imagery that were terribly overdone (the scenes in the Vatican and SO MUCH RED). Then there were the dream sequences where Mr. and Mrs. Thorn were having nightmares about Damien with some lame devil characters and suicide and murder. Oh, and more red imagery. So even though the two were essentially like watching the same movie since you’re getting all the same information with the same results, its much more worth you time to stick with the original because it gives you just what you want in a horror movie and nothing more.
    -Emily Catino
  • PSYCHO (1960) vs. PSYCHO (1998)
    As I noted in my review of the film “Hitchcock,” it is literally impossible to recreate the awesome conditions of “Psycho’s” initial release. Hitchcock famously bought all the copies on which the book is based, then burned them. His goal was to frighten audiences in ways they’ve quite experienced, and he did it with twists that were downright revolutionary for the time period.

    Gus Van Sant’s remake is not just a re-imagining of the original: for all intents and purposes, it’s a shot-by-shot remake with the occasional modern flourish. It literally has no reason to exist, except to indulge the actors and filmmakers. There is no reason to watch this, and it’s a stain on the career of everyone involved. The only way they could have improved the original is if they cut out the final scene with the forensic psychologist – even Hitchcock later admitted it was a mistake – but Van Sant and co. just HAD to include it, too. Fuck this remake forever.
    -Alan Zilberman
  • RINGU (1998) vs. THE RING (2002)
    I am a firm believer that whichever version you saw first, that’s the version you prefer. In 2002, I watched the remake without having seen the original. I remember it like it was yesterday: a dark movie theatre, a death grip on my boyfriend’s hand, and upon the discovery of that first girl’s petrified body in the closet, a loosely knit scarf over my head for the duration of the experience. The perfect touches were all around: the cast was way better than any horror deserves, the Pacific Northwest setting flawless, and the only thing scarier than a scary kid is a scary kid whose face you can’t see from their scary hair. It is still one of my favorite big screen horror movie experiences, and I am a sucker for big screen horrormovie experiences. Still, we walked out, and as I proceeded to recommend this to anyone and everyone who would listen, the Japanese horror mafia (whatever, I went to art school, that clique was totally a real thing) scoffed at me and said that they were NOT AFRAID OF IT AT ALL AND IF I WANTED TO KNOW A REAL SCARE I SHOULD SEE THE ORIGINAL RINGU AND STFU.

    So I did. And guys, I didn’t think it was that scary. Maybe because I knew what was coming, maybe because my weird westernized sensibilities were not in tune with the Asian scares (though my reaction to Audition would beg to differ), maybe because… I don’t know, but in my book the horror of the remake stands head and shoulders above the original. Please feel free to argue with me in the comments.
    -Svetlana Legetic
  • SISTERS (1973)  vs. SISTERS (2006) 
    They certainly knew how to make a thriller WORK in the 1970s. The opening sequence of Brian De Palma’s cult classic is still one of the most goose-bump-raising prologues to a film I’ve ever experienced, and Margot Kidder, as the beautiful but obviously troubled (or is she?) model whose apartment is the scene of a gruesome crime is that perfect balance of vulnerable and dangerous. Her hooded eyes and topsy turvy mouth always seemed like they could be hiding all manner of sins and somehow she sells us the oldest plot trick in the horror book: the evil twin vs. the good twin one. And unlike some of the other ’70s murderous psychodramas (“Alice, Sweet, Alice,” anyone?) the jumps and scares are very much still there no matter when you revisit it.
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    So, when I stumbled upon the remake of Sisters from 2006 with a promising pedigree (Brian De Palma did the script) and a strong cast (Lou Dillon fits the vulnerable/dangerous mold perfectly and we all know Stephen Rea and Chloe Sevigny show up only in films that are not going to be comfortable for anyone), I was optimistic. Still, despite an intriguing French setting (I mean, if that kind of stuff could happen in Staten Island in 1973, WHO ONLY KNOWS what the French are capable of in 2006), an a fair amount of foreign sex-kitten thrills for those into that kind of stuff, it lacks the stark effectiveness of the original. Still, not unworthy.
    -Svetlana Legetic
  • THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) vs. TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION (1995) vs. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003)
    I both blame this movie for my distrust of secluded areas and thank it for a slew of neuroses which I’m going to call “Life Lessons That Might Come in Handy Someday.” Never will I travel alone down back-country roads without a cell phone. Never will I pick up a hitchhiker. Never will I order BBQ from a ramshackle gas station. Never will I trust a human being when I’m already on the run from another human being, who happens to be wearing human skin and wielding a chainsaw. The original “Texas Chainsaw,” arguably the best slasher film ever made, almost created the genre itself with a terrifying, faceless nightmare of a killer and, you know, cannibalism, power tools, a group of hapless teenagers, a horrifying family, etc. It is such a good film, in fact, that it’s spawned roughly seven remakes, sequels and reboots (one in 3D), and that’s not even including the number of spinoffs it inspired (hello, Rob Zombie’s “House of 1,000 Corpses”). The original is shot with such grace that sometimes I forget it’s even a horror film. (The sound of gravedigging in the dark and those beginning shots illuminated and synced with the sound a flash warming up get me every time.) So how could something so perfect launch a franchise so riddled with laziness? I’d imagine the answer lies somewhere in simplicity.
    In 1995, both Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey starred in the independent “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation,” as much as they’d like everyone to forget it. Despite a few minor details (it’s prom night; creative), this could and should be included in the canon as a sequel to the original due to near-exact deaths and plot of the first film. Is it any good? Not particularly, though it does involve somewhat of a conspiracy theory twist at the end, which is, you know, bizarre. Also bizarre: Leatherface drag. Cut to 2003, when a strict remake starring Jessica Biel rebooted the franchise. While it’s more frightening than “The Next Generation,” the second remake still eschews the artful direction in Tobe Hooper’s original. The fear at times feels more weighted in reality than ’95’s take, despite being produced by Michael Bay, so the film is, while not a complete success, at least not as shameful a failure as the prior attempt. Both tend to overplay and overstate the insanity of both Leatherface and surrounding family, feeling some need to explain the terrible nature of humanity; this is where the original succeeds in spades–there is no need to rationalize what happened in that near-abandoned spot on the map. All you have to know is that evil is there and it will find you.
    -Stephanie Breijo
  • WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979) vs WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (2006)
    As I mentioned before, they certainly knew how to make a thriller WORK in the 1970s. In the original When a Stranger Calls, the cute babysitter (Carol Kane, with THAT voice and THOSE eyes, playing the perfect victim) is tortured by a prank caller. And then, yes, it turns out-the calls are coming from WITHIN THE HOUSE. What was so great and memorable about this twist in 1979 was so done and overdone (and successfully parodied in all the opening scenes of all the Scream movies) by 2006 that when Camille Belle and her cell phone rolled into the movie theaters it just had no effect on anyone anymore.

    A simple lesson the movie industry seems reluctant to learn: If the success of the film depends on the big twist/reveal, by remaking the film with that exact same big twist/reveal you are eliminating all of the original audience as a potential fan in one fell swoop. To sum up, don’t be quite so lazy/greedy with your remakes, Hollywood, work on it at least A LITTLE.
    -Svetlana Legetic
  • THE WICKER MAN (1973) VS. THE WICKER MAN (2006)
    The original “Wicker Man” was a weird-ass musical about hippies versus squares. In it, a police officer heads to an island where he discovers a creepy Pagan-like society. They’re nice to him, sorta, at least until they gleefully burn him alive. It’s more weird than scary, although the end is downright unnerving.

    Neil Labute’s remake of “The Wicker Man” is something else entirely: a giant, inimitable fiasco. There are famously bad scenes where star Nicolas Cage punches a woman while wearing a bear costume, and another where he keeps shouting, “HOW’D IT GET BURNED?” Labute was trying to make some larger point about the perils of matriarchy (or something), and instead he helped Cage’s transition from star to demigod. This remake deserves to exist because all the crap on the internet it inspired. More horror remakes should include Nicolas Cage losing his shit.
    -Alan Zilberman

 

Got any favorites we left out? Kill Tell us in the comments section.