Remakes. For many film buffs these days, that term has become about as welcome to hear as words like “syphilis” or “gonorrhoea”. For many years, it seemed like when Hollywood chose to do a remake, there was a purpose to them and the films were made with the intention of doing unique and interesting things with a concept that had already been explored, but would always be open to a new interpretation. Nowadays, it seems like remakes are being churned out just because Hollywood is out of new ideas. Hell, this weekend, an Americanized remake of the acclaimed Swedish horror film, Let the Right One In, is being released in theatres a mere two years after the original film came out!
However, despite my negative attitude, that isn’t to say that all remakes are unnecessary and there are a surprising number of them that have wound up being superior to the original. We have a recorded a “Shout from the Back Row” podcast about remakes that will be posted sometime in the future, so I decided to construct an epic column and take on the unenviable task of rating every remake I have ever seen and comparing it to the original film. After some painstaking reseach, I’ve compiled a list that contains a whopping 103 remakes! For starters, I am going to list what I consider to be my top three remakes of all time, then I’m going to sort all the remakes I’ve seen into five separate categories and provide a brief explanation for their placement. When that’s done, I will close this column off by listing what I consider to be the three worst remakes ever made. The categories are all as follows:
Superior Films: Remakes that are better than the original.
Good Efforts: Remakes that are not as good as the original, but still pretty solid films.
Carbon Copies: Remakes which are so similar to the original that there was no reason for them to have even been made. Many of these films are more pointless than bad, but could possibly be enjoyed if you watch them before you see the original.
Missed Opportunities: remakes of movies that were flawed or not very good to begin with, yet somehow managed to be equal to or worse than the original.
Highly Inferior: Remakes that are nowhere near as good as the original and just really aren’t good movies overall.
To prevent this list from becoming excessively long, I have a few rules for myself. I’m only ranking the remakes where I’ve also seen the original version, so that I can compare them. I’m not going to include the multiple adaptations of iconic works of literature (e.g. Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Oliver Twist etc.) since that’s a different category altogether. I don’t count films that are inspired by other films, but aren’t official remakes. For example, Wes Craven’s version of Last House on the Left is a modern variation of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, but since it was never really intended to be a remake, I won’t count it. I won’t be including reboots, like the new versions of Batman and Star Trek. Once again, that’s another category altogether.
For starters, here are my top three picks:
1. The Thing (1982) – Remake of The Thing (1951): While the original version of The Thing is considered a classic by some, I always thought it never lived up to its potential due to budgetary limitations and the Motion Picture Production Code, which is why I consider John Carpenter’s version to a be a great improvement and my personal favourite remake of all time. This is not just a great remake, but one of the greatest pure horror films I’ve ever seen, effectively conveying a creepy atmosphere, showcasing some fantastic gore and make-up effects, and delivering a plot that constantly leaves you guessing about who’s really human and who’s not. The climactic blood testing sequence is one of the greatest horror movie scenes of all time.
2. Scarface (1983) – Remake of Scarface (1932): The original version of Scarface was a highly influential gangster classic that was pretty daring for its time, but like many films from that era, it’s also very rather creaky and dated, which made it an ideal project for a remake. Brian DePalma took that assignment and wound up making a film that became a pop culture phenomenon. This effectively updates the original story to modern times and adds a lot of scope to proceedings, making this a true gangster epic. Featuring an iconic performance by Al Pacino as Tony Montana and one of the most spectacular climactic shootouts ever filmed.
3. The Departed (2006) – Remake of Infernal Affairs (2002): When I originally saw the superb Hong Kong thriller, Infernal Affairs, I cynically predicted it was inevitable that Hollywood would want to do a remake. However, my skepticism was completely squashed when I found out Martin Scorsese was going to direct it and had assembled a stellar A-list cast. In the end, The Departed actually turned out to be a superior movie, taking a clever premise, adding a lot of epic scope and depth to it, and updating the story into a delightfully colourful Boston setting. One of the best crime thrillers of the modern era, which finally garnered Scorsese his long-overdue Academy Award.
Note: I was going to place Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds at the top this list, but since the only thing it really has in common in with the original Inglorious Bastards is its title, I couldn’t really count it as a remake.
The Blob (1988) – Remake of The Blob (1958): The original version of The Blob was an ideal choice for a remake since it may have been a popular cult classic, but wasn’t actually a very good movie. A bigger budget and much better special effects technology do wonders for the silly story and the screenplay by Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell delivers some genuine surprises in order to make this a very entertaining B-movie.
Cat People (1982) – Remake of Cat People (1942): Most people think that the original is superior, but I think it’s another case of the old Production Code hampering the story. I have a real soft spot for Paul Schrader’s very stylish remake, which contains a lot of memorable and visually striking scenes and while some of its story elements are absurd, it actually works well as both a horror film and a piece of erotica.
The Crazies (2010) – Remake of The Crazies (1973): Because of a low budget and limited resources, George Romero’s original film doesn’t live up to the potential of its premise and consists of a lot of scenes of military officers sitting around in rooms yelling at each other. The remake is just a very solid horror-thriller with a number of good scare sequences and is a much better execution of the original story idea.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964) – Remake of Yojimbo (1960): A lot of people may consider Akira Kurosawa’s original samurai film to be the superior version, but I still prefer the Westernized remake for launching the careers of Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone, and giving birth to the wonderful spaghetti western genre.
House of Wax (1953) – Remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933): The original version is a decent enough horror film, but hasn’t aged well and is nowhere near as fun as its remake. House of Wax is tremendously fun and the fact it turned Vincent Price into a horror superstar and helped launch the career of Charles Bronson (in an early role as a mute manservant) is enough to make it superior on its own.
I Am Legend (2007) – Remake of The Last Man on Earth (1964): While not without its flaws, this is easily the best adaptation of Richard Matheson’s original novel and is far superior to The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man. Will Smith’s strong performance and a great post-apocalyptic setting help compensate for an abrupt ending.
Insomnia (2002) – Remake of Insomnia (1997): The original Norwegian film is a very solid thriller, but only someone with the immense talent of Christopher Nolan could successfully improve upon it. The remake is masterfully shot and crafted, and contains strong performances, including the surprisingly effective Robin Williams as a psycho.
The Italian Job (2003) – Remake of The Italian Job (1969): The original version is a lot of fun and has a nice quirky British sense of humour about itself (not to mention a very bizarre ending), but the remake works better as an overall movie by delivering more entertaining, well-rounded characters and some great chase scenes.
King Kong (2005) – Remake of King Kong (1933): A terrific epic remake from Peter Jackson that somehow manages to top the iconic, but somewhat dated original. It successfully reinvents the original while honouring it at the same time, delivering some truly spectacular special effects sequences and a wonderful sense of adventure, and its three-hour running time flies by just like that.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986) – Remake of Little Shop Horrors (1960): The Roger Corman original was shot in the span of two days and is a pretty fun low-budget B-movie, but this story really found its calling as a Broadway musical, so the remake easily tops the original with its delightful musical numbers and stellar special effects.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – Remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934): Even Sir Alfred Hitchcock himself was not above remaking his old films, but with a higher budget and many more years of filmmaking experience under his belt, I feel that the Master’s remake of his 1934 original is a better, more well-rounded film overall.
The Mummy (1999) – Remake of The Mummy (1932): Stephen Sommers’ remake may be a special effects-laden cheesefest, but it’s a really fun and entertaining one. The original version may be considered a classic, but it’s creaky and slow-paced and has not aged well, making the new version much more preferable viewing.
No Way Out (1987) – Remake of The Big Clock (1950): This remake is one hell of a terrific thriller that effectively updates its story into a top secret Pentagon setting and greatly surpasses the original. No Way Out features one of Kevin Costner’s better performances, a terrific villainous turn by Will Patton, and a plot that’s filled with a lot of ingenious twists and surprises.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – Remake of Ocean’s Eleven (1960): This is a case where the remake is better by a country mile since the original film was just an excuse for the Rat Pack to get together and goof off and its caper plot was highly underdeveloped. The remake fleshes out the characters a lot more and does a much better job at presenting the heist, making it a highly superior film.
Sorcerer (1977) – Remake of The Wages of Fear (1953): This remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s original French classic isn’t considered to be superior by most people, but I’m not most people. Sorcerer is just a better-paced, more exciting film that contains great direction by William Friedkin and really masterful suspense sequences. (Disclaimer: Sorcerer may not contain actual sorcerers.)
Three Men and a Baby (1987) – Remake of Three Men and a Cradle (1985): Believe it or not, this popular blockbuster is based on a French comedy that was extremely successful in its own country, but wasn’t actually a very good film at all. Believe it or not, the trio of Selleck, Guttenberg and Danson were a great deal funnier than their French counterparts.
3:10 to Yuma (2007) – Remake of 3:10 to Yuma (1957): The original film is a good little Western that makes the most out of its limited claustrophobic setting, but the remake does a stellar job at opening up the story, fleshing out the characters and delivers some great action sequences and a more satisfying ending.
Vanilla Sky (2001) – Remake of Open Your Eyes (1998): This is a fairly close remake of the original Spanish version, but while Vanilla Sky is not a favourite of everyone, I still consider it to be a very fascinating film which lends itself to many repeat viewings. The original is rather tedious and not as stylishly made.
Body Snatchers (1994) – Remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956): It’s not often that a film can get two very solid remakes, but this Abel Ferrara-directed version is an underrated gem. Setting the movie on a military base adds a neat new dimension to the original story and while this isn’t quite as good as the previous two versions, it still works well.
Cape Fear (1991) – Remake of Cape Fear (1962): Martin Scorsese’s remake of the 1962 original is a pretty worthwhile effort and adds some extra layers to the story by making its protagonists into more flawed, dysfunctional individuals. However, as a whole, the whole film is more campy than truly scary, and it’s pretty hard to take this too seriously after seeing the hilarious Simpsons parody.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) – Remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971): Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is still a timeless classic, but Tim Burton delivers a very noble effort that’s actually a more faithful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s original novel and adds a few new interesting ideas to the story.
Dawn of the Dead (2004) – Remake of Dawn of the Dead (1978): The original George Romero version is one of my favourite films of all time, which makes it virtually impossible to top for me, but this excellent remake tries its damned hardest and adds a lot of neat new ideas to the original premise. Being considered inferior only speaks to the strength of the original version and not the high quality of this film.
The Fly (1986) – Remake of The Fly (1958): I give David Cronenberg a lot of credit for taking a cheesy B-movie, doing a lot of unique and interesting things with it, and turning the story into an effective metaphor for terminal illness. However, the original film is a great deal of fun and for reasons I cannot explain, I still like it more.
Halloween (2007) – Remake of Halloween (1978): There’s no way Rob Zombie’s remake could possibly measure up to John Carpenter’s iconic original, but I give him a lot of points for trying and doing some very unique things, like delving deeper into the back story of Michael Myers. A flawed effort overall, but still worthwhile.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – Remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956): This is the case where I had the most difficulty deciding whether I liked the original or remake better. In the end, the original version won by a hair, but this is still one excellent horror film and one of the better remakes of all time.
Last House on the Left (2009) – Remake of Last House on the Left (1972): The remake is undeniably a better made film than Wes Craven’s low-budget original, but it lacks that version’s intense, documentary-like atmosphere and memorable villains. However, while I prefer the original, the remake is still a very good horror film.
The Magnificent Seven (1960) – Remake of The Seven Samurai (1954): While it’s not quite as good as its iconic Akira Kurosawa inspiration, this is still a pretty iconic film in its own right that became one of the most popular westerns of all time and helped launch the careers of a lot of great actors.
The Manchurian Candidate (2004) – Remake of The Manchurian Candidate (1962): The original film is all-time classic, but this Jonathan Demme-directed remake is a surprisingly solid modernized effort that effectively updates the original story from the Korean War to the Gulf War and contains some very strong performances.
Narrow Margin (1990) – Remake of Narrow Margin (1952): The original version is a very good thriller that does wonders with its claustrophobic train setting and while the remake is full of plot holes, it’s still a fairly solid effort. Gene Hackman’s solid performance and Peter Hyams’ typically skillful direction and witty dialogue make the film a lot of fun.
Payback (1999) – Remake of Point Blank (1967): This remake of the classic John Boorman film doesn’t include some of the more intriguing and mysterious dream-like elements of the original version, but it’s still a pretty entertaining and violent thriller. Mel Gibson makes a surprisingly satisfying substitute for Lee Marvin.
Planet of the Apes (2001) – Remake of Planet of the Apes (1968): A lot people hated this Tim Burton remake, but in spite of a questionable ending, I thought this was an entertaining and worthwhile effort, with a great cast and first-rate production values. The original is still the superior movie, however.
Piranha 3-D (2010) – Remake of Piranha (1978): This lacks the wit and self-referential humour of Joe Dante’s original and isn’t the better movie overall, but the delightfully excessive over-the-top gore and fun 3-D effects still make this remake a blast.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) – Remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): I’m not sure any horror film can top the documentary-like intensity of the iconic original film, but this remake gives it a good try. It adds a couple of surprising new twists to the original story and works pretty well as a standalone horror film.
War of the Worlds (2005) – Remake of War of the Worlds (1953): Spielberg makes the surprising decision to play down the worldwide perspective of the alien invasion and tell the story entirely from the point-of-view of one family. Not as good as the original version, but contains some great special effects sequences and works surprisingly well.
Bad News Bears (2005) – Remake of Bad News Bears (1976): Not the worst remake ever made, but it makes very few changes to the original, so what would be the point of watching this when you can just watch the older version? Watching children use swear words in a movie isn’t quite as edgy as it was in 1976!
Flight of the Phoenix (2004) – Remake of Flight of the Phoenix (1965): I saw the remake before I saw the original version and enjoyed it. Then I watched the original and found out that, except for the addition of a female character, the remake was exactly the same, which has made it completely dispensable.
Funny Games (2008) – Remake of Funny Games (1997): Michael Haneke’s remake of his own Austrian film is fine if you’ve never seen the original, but it’s pretty much an exact shot-by-shot replica and completely redundant.
The Getaway (1994) – Remake of The Getaway (1972): With the exception of a brief new prologue, this is pretty much a complete scene-by-scene remake of the Sam Peckinpah original. Not really bad, just completely by-the-numbers and dispensable.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – Remake of The Hills Have Eyes (1977): A brief prologue about nuclear testing in the desert gave me hope that this remake of Wes Craven’s film would try some interesting new things, but instead, it pretty much just replicates the original, scene-by-scene. Technically well-made, but redundant.
The Longest Yard (2005) – Remake of The Longest Yard (1974): A lazy carbon copy of the original version that doesn’t add anything new or interesting to make it worth watching. While I’ve never seen it, the British soccer remake of this story, Mean Machine, sounds like it’s a lot more worthwhile.
Nightwatch (1998) – Remake of Nightwatch (1994): I saw the American remake first and actually liked it, but once I saw the original Danish version, I realized the remake was almost a shot-by-shot carbon copy, so I no longer had any need for it.
The Omen (2006) – Remake of The Omen (1976): Except for a few details in some of the death scenes, the remake is EXACTLY the same! Not a bad film overall, but why waste your time with this when you could just watch the original instead?
Psycho (1998) – Remake of Psycho (1960): Gus Van Sant’s infamous experiment is the poster child for remakes that are shot-by-shot carbon copies of the original film. Nothing more to say except that it’s probably worth watching once for curiosity’s sake, but after that, you’ll just forget about it and go back to watch the original Hitchcock classic.
The Amityville Horror (2005) – Remake of The Amityville Horror (1979): The original film is interesting, but pretty unsatisfying overall. The remake had a golden opportunity to make a better version of this infamous story, but the end result was just dull and not interesting in the slightest.
Around the World in 80 Days (2004) – Remake of Around the World in 80 Days (1956): The original film is kind of fun, but very dated and overlong, and may be one of the least deserving Best Picture Oscar winners of all time. The remake could have improved upon it, but it’s mostly forgettable, despite the presence of Jackie Chan and a hilarious cameo by Arnold Schwarzenneger.
Dark Water (2005) – Remake of Dark Water (2002): The Japanese original is a stylish, but fairly tedious and forgettable horror film. The remake… is also a stylish, but fairly tedious and forgettable horror film. Not much more to say than that.
The Fog (2005) – Remake of The Fog (1980): John Carpenter’s original is atmospheric, but it’s really hard to create a really satisfying horror film that revolves around killer fog. The remake had its chance to improve upon it, but failed miserably.
Friday the 13th (2009) – Remake of Friday the 13th (1980): As famous as it is, the original version of Friday the 13th isn’t that great a movie overall. The remake is entertaining enough, but really isn’t that much better than the original or most of its sequels.
Godzilla (1998) – Remake of Godzilla (1956): You would think it wouldn’t be too difficult to make a superior remake to the iconic, but ultra-hokey Japanese original, but while this version does offer some campy fun, annoying characters and horrible writing pretty much sink it.
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) – Remake of Gone in 60 Seconds (1974): The original version has some good car chases, but plot and characterization are virtually non-existent. The remake has too much plot, too many characters and its car chases are mostly forgettable.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009) – Remake of My Bloody Valentine (1981): The original version is a pretty mediocre, forgettable slasher film and while the remake has some pretty fun 3-D effects, it isn’t much better as an overall movie.
Nosferatu (1979) – Remake of Nosferatu (1922): With so many more resources at his disposal, I would have expected Werner Herzog to do great things with his remake of the classic silent original. Surprisingly, this is just an okay horror film, with some effective moments but an awful lot of slow spots.
The Omega Man (1971) – Remake of The Last Man of Earth (1964): It shouldn’t have been too hard to top the mediocre first attempt at adapting Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend, but this version isn’t much better. It does have some fun camp value, but it really isn’t very good and the ghoulish villains in cloaks and sunglasses are just laughable.
Prom Night (2008) – Remake of Prom Night (1980): The original version of Prom Night is a bad movie, but it at least has some camp value. The remake is about as boring and generic as a slasher movie can get and is a complete waste of time.
Shaft (2000) – Remake of Shaft (1971): John Shaft may be an iconic character, but his original movie really just feels like some forgettable TV pilot. For the most part, the Samuel L. Jackson remake improves upon it, but pretty much falls apart after a very sloppy third act.
Solaris (2002) – Remake of Solaris (1972): The original Russian film is considered a masterpiece by some people, but I’ve always found it rather ponderous and boring. I expected that Steven Soderbergh would be able to do interesting things with this story, but his remake is also rather ponderous and boring.
The Stepford Wives (2004) – Remake of The Stepford Wives (1975): I have no idea why the original film is considered a classic by some people and don’t know how they managed to make the remake even worse. It tries for a more comedic, tongue-in-cheek approach, but the whole thing just falls flat on its face.
Thirteen Ghosts (2001) – Remake of Thirteen Ghosts (1960): A lot of William Castle’s films were not that great as movies, but they got people into the theatre by attaching cheesy gimmicks like “ghost viewers” to them. The remake contains no gimmicks and isn’t even a good movie on its accord, rendering its whole existence pointless.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) – Remake of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968): The original Steve McQueen film is a rather mediocre movie and while the remake does have its moments, it’s fairly forgettable overall. I think the central problem with this story is that it’s just really hard to identify with the main character.
When a Stranger Calls (2006) – Remake of When a Stranger Calls (1979): In spite of its classic opening sequence, the original version is a pretty mediocre film overall. The remake could have done a better job, but it’s just a completely bland and forgettable horror flick.
All the King’s Men (2006) – Remake of All the King’s Men (1949): A completely pointless remake of the classic original film that contains an excellent cast, but most of them give pretty disappointing performances. Combined with a messy, poorly structured plot and this just turns out to be a completely forgettable experience.
Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) – Remake of Assault of Precinct 13 (1976): This is a noble attempt to remake John Carpenter’s classic and it tries to do a lot of different things with the story. However, it lacks the style and atmosphere of the original and is nothing more than an average cop film overall.
The Big Sleep (1978) – Remake of The Big Sleep (1946): A lot of people probably don’t even know that they tried to remake the iconic Humphrey Bogart classic, but despite a good cast, this version falls flat and its convoluted plot is more frustrating than entertaining this time around.
Black Christmas (2006) – Remake of Black Christmas (1975): A completely disposable remake of the classic original that is seriously lacking in atmosphere and tension. I’d say more, but this movie is so forgettable that I can barely remember anything about it.
Day of the Dead (2008) – Remake of Day of the Dead (1985): I think this straight-to-video remake just had the name of George Romero’s classic original attached it to garner some extra attention because the two films really don’t have that much in common. This is just a strictly by-the-numbers zombie film with nothing new to offer.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) – Remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): I give it credit for its perfect casting of Keanu Reeves as the alien, but this is a pretty flat, dumbed-down version of the classic original that makes some pretty silly narrative decisions and shows that bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Death Race (2008) – Remake of Death Race 2000 (1975): A decent enough brainless action film, but lacks the over-the-top satirical black humour of the classic original. Setting the story within the confines of a prison instead of making it a full-fledged cross-country race where innocent people get run over robs the film of a lot of its fun.
D.O.A. (1988) – Remake of D.O.A. (1950): A decent enough remake of the classic film noir original, but the direction is way too stylized and overdone and the plot throws in way too many needless complications that add little to the story.
The Eye (2008) – Remake of The Eye (2003): The Japanese original is one of my favourite Asian horror films, but the remake is seriously lacking in tension and atmosphere and is just boring and forgettable, especially with the laughable casting of Jessica Alba in the lead role.
Get Carter (2000) – Remake of Get Carter (1971): A pretty disastrous remake of the classic British original with Sylvester Stallone a very inefficient substitute for Michael Caine. Filmed, edited and photographed so erratically that you’ll probably get a headache from watching it, and the story is seriously lacking the edge of the original version.
The Grudge (2004) – Remake of Ju-On: The Grudge (2003): I got pretty burned out on Asian horror movies real quick, so you can imagine how burned out I got on Asian horror remakes. Ju-On: The Grudge is a pretty solid horror film, however, but its remake is pretty redundant and suffers from trying to tell a more linear story.
The Haunting (1999) – Remake of The Haunting (1963): The original film succeeded at building up such an eerie atmosphere by not showing anything and leaving everything to the viewer’s imagination. The remake leaves nothing to the viewer’s imagination, bombarding them with cheesy special effects and making the film a tedious experience.
The Hitcher (2007) – Remake of The Hitcher (1986): The original film is a creepily effective minimalist thriller with a great performance by Rutger Hauer in the title role. This remake is completely forgettable and by-the-numbers and generates very little tension. Try as he might, Sean Bean just can’t measure up to Hauer.
House of Wax (2005) – Remake of House of Wax (1953): Gee, who would you rather watch, Vincent Price or Paris Hilton? Not a bad film overall and contains a couple of nifty ideas, but it’s mostly a forgettable experience.
The House on Haunted Hill (1999) – Remake of The House on Haunted Hill (1959): A pointless remake of William Castle’s classic original that replaces the fun gimmicky of the original with cheesy special effects. Pretty mediocre overall and Vincent Price is sorely missed.
The Invasion (2007) – Remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956): While the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers was lucky enough to have two very solid remakes, the third time was not the charm. This one had a very troubled production history and a lot re-shoots, exemplified by its very inexplicable decision to morph from a horror story into an action film near the end.
The Jackal (1997) – Remake of Day of the Jackal (1973): Just a sloppy, badly plotted remake of the very exciting and believable original film with a rather disappointing turn from Bruce Willis in the title role and too many lapses in credibility to count.
King Kong (1976) – Remake of King Kong (1933): The 2005 version of King Kong may have been superior to the original, but the 1976 remake is far, far inferior to both films. Campy performances, annoying characters and some surprisingly sub-par special effects make this a pretty tedious and below-average monster movie.
Kiss of Death (1995) – Remake of Kiss of Death (1947): A pretty forgettable remake of the original film noir classic that suffers greatly from an ultra-bland David Caruso in the lead role. Nicolas Cage makes a pretty bizarre and unique villain, but he can’t hold a candle to Richard Widmark, and the climax is as weak as weak can be.
Last Man Standing (1996) – Remake of Yojimbo (1961): Lightning did not strike twice as this remake of Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars tries to deliver a gangster version of the classic original story, but just falls flat and presents nothing more than a bunch of repetitive shootouts that quickly become monotonous.
Never Say Never Again (1983) – Remake of Thunderball (1965): This “unofficial” James Bond film got a lot of attention because it allowed Sean Connery to play the role of James Bond one last time. However, it’s one of the dullest 007 films out there with surprisingly little action and is seriously lacking the spectacle of Thunderball.
Night of the Living Dead (1990) – Remake of Night of the Living Dead (1968): A pretty faithful remake of the 1968 classic that kind of goes off the rails when it tries to add some new twists to the story. This is also lacking in tension and atmosphere and just goes to show that a higher budget and colour photography aren’t a better choice for this material.
Night of the Living Dead 3-D (2006) – Remake of Night of the Living Dead (1968): Sheesh, another Night of the Living Dead remake?! If it weren’t for the 3-D gimmick, this really wouldn’t have anything to distinguish it at all and even the 3-D isn’t anything special. A complete waste of time.
A Perfect Murder (1998) – Remake of Dial M for Murder (1954): A decent enough thriller, but it’s still inferior to Hitchcock’s version. The original did a far more efficient job at exploiting its stage origins and effectively confining its story to one setting, but while the original opens things up and adds a few new twists, it doesn’t really lead anywhere special.
Point of No Return (1993) – Remake of La Femme Nikita (1991): A very inferior remake of the Luc Besson’s classic French original that is nowhere near as stylish and completely by-the-numbers. What does it say that the eventual TV series decided to take the name of the French version instead of the Hollywood one?
Poseidon (2006) – Remake of The Poseidon Adventure (1972): Just a routine, by-the-numbers Hollywood product that may be technically well made, but has pretty flat characters and is fairly uninvolving. The over-the-top camp value of the original Poseidon Adventure made it ten times more fun.
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) – Remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946): Despite a great cast, this remake of the original film noir classic seems rather redundant and doesn’t pack the same punch. Even though the R rating gives Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange the chance to engage in some steamy sex scenes, they just don’t have the chemistry of John Garfield and Lana Turner.
The Producers (2005) – Remake of The Producers (1968): I’ve got no qualms with them turning Mel Brooks’ classic comedy into a hit Broadway musical, but trying to turn that into a feature film was not a good idea. The original director of the stage production helmed this remake and clearly had no idea how to properly direct a feature film.
Red Dragon (2002) – Remake of Manhunter (1986): This isn’t so much bad, but completely by-the-numbers and needless since Michael Mann’s Manhunter was already the definitive version of Thomas Harris’ novel. This was only made to cash in on Hannibal Lecter’s popularity and expand his role in the story, but otherwise, the whole thing is forgettable.
The Ring (2002) – Remake of Ringu (1998): The American version of The Ring is one of the most popular horror films of the last decade, but despite a few creepy scenes, it’s really just an average horror flick at best. The Japanese original, Ringu, is a much better horror film overall.
The Stepfather (2009) – Remake of The Stepfather (1987): A needless, generic PG-13 rated version of the original R-rated version. The original worked so well because of the outstanding performance of Terry O’Quinn in the title role, but the remake makes the inexplicable decision to use the ultra-bland Dylan Walsh. The film as a whole is ultra-bland.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) – Remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (1974): Tony Scott’s remake of the stellar original isn’t a bad film at all, but it lacks the older version’s wit, humour and clever plotting, and substitutes it for mindless action and Tony Scott’s usual A.D.D. visuals.
The Time Machine (2002) – Remake of The Time Machine (1960): The original film is pretty fun, but undeniably cheesy and dated. However, the remake already looks cheesy and dated even though it was made less than a decade ago, and it’s so forgettable that I can barely remember anything about it.
The Truth About Charlie (2002) – Remake of Charade (1963): This is a very weak remake of the original Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn classic. It lacks the previous film’s wit, excitement and clever plotting, and Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton just do not display the chemistry of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
Village of the Damned (1995) – Remake of Village of the Damned (1960): As much as I love John Carpenter, his attempt to remake the renowned original film is a pretty much a misfire. The evil villainous children are much more suited to black-and-white photography and look just laughable in colour.
Walking Tall (2004) – Remake of Walking Tall (1973): A heavily watered-down PG-13 rated version of the very dark and violent original that bares almost no resemblance to the true story it’s based on. I never thought I’d say this, but Joe Don Baker is a far more convincing leading man in this story than The Rock.
The Wolfman (2010) – Remake of The Wolf Man (1941): A surprisingly lackluster remake of the iconic original film with a disappointingly bland performance by Benicio Del Toro in the title role. Its biggest problem is that it just doesn’t contain enough scenes featuring the actual Wolfman!
And last but not least… here are my bottom three picks:
3. Rollerball (2002) – Remake of Rollerball (1975): The original film has some good action sequences, but is pretty flawed and dated, so you could have easily improved upon it. However, the remake is just a disastrous incoherent mess that is a real chore to follow. It’s impossible to care about anything that happens in the film, and it also reeks of the filmmakers not caring either. You can get the sense that they just got disillusioned with what they were doing and made a very half-assed attempt to salvage whatever they could from the footage. Replacing the rugged James Caan with the bland Chris Klein in the lead role has to be one of the worst casting decisions of all time.
2. The Vanishing (1993) – Remake of The Vanishing (1988): The original Dutch version of The Vanishing is a masterpiece and you’d think the Hollywood remake might have turned out alright after the original director, George Sluizer, was brought over to make it. While the remake is just a mediocre, forgettable film for most of its length, it becomes an outright disaster when it decides to abandon its original chilling ending in favour of a more upbeat conclusion. It then goes on turn its disturbing final scene into a really cheesy sitcom punchline.
1. The Wicker Man (2006) – Remake of The Wicker Man (1973): The original Wicker Man was an all-time classic because it was so unique and like nothing anybody had ever seen before. Its humour was completely intentional, but the remake would turn out to be one of the biggest unintentional comedies of the past decade. Quite simply, the whole thing is an abomination and my pick for the worst remake of all time. I’d talk more about it, but I think I’ll just let this clip speak for itself.
Conclusion: There are way too many remakes out there and I have also watched way too many of them! That’s all that really needs to be said.