Remakes can rightly be viewed as a Hollywood foreclosure of money on established property. From industry thought, something that first worked (and apparently worked in the sequels) will work as a remake.
While not all remakes match the original, some tweak the formula just enough to be self-sufficient. Sometimes these remakes even add a new scene or an effective plot point that was not found in the original.
The Fools (2010) – The Baseball Field
The remake of George A. Romero Crazypeople (1973) mainly adheres to the plot of the original. However, the filmmakers took the opportunity to intensify the first scenes where the city begins to realize that something is wrong.
Timothy Olyphant’s sheriff David Dutton notices a man reeling on the baseball field in the middle of the game. Then he sees the shotgun in the man’s arms. The exchange that follows is a distinct, original, and intense introduction to the central premise of a horror movie.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – The Explanation
This remake of a B horror movie that should be called classic makes several changes to the Wes Craven original, but it’s a plot point that is dramatically reinforced. The hills Have Eyes (2006) by Alexandre Aja (who directed the equally solid remake of Piranha) starts from the outset by letting the public know that there is going to be an increased focus on nuclear testing.
A textual introduction informs the viewer that the US government continues to deny any genetic ramifications of nuclear testing. A nearby base was hinted at in the Craven original, but the remake makes it more specific and political. It’s an adjustment that works, and it serves to explain why the film’s antagonists work the way they do.
Village of the Damned (1995) – The Grill
Village of the damned is another remake that sticks to the original for the most part (in this case, to lesser but still fun results). The blackout always occurs, where the whole city suddenly becomes unconscious for six hours. The big plus happens when they wake up.
Several shots of people getting up from concrete or grass, happy and healthy. But then there’s a photo of a man who passed out because of the wrong object: a grill. The picture is pretty gruesome, but the thought that being burned alive wasn’t enough to wake him up is terrifying.
Child’s Play (2019) – Reworking Chucky
A Child’s play movie without Brad Dourif made fans sweat, but the end result was a good little horror movie that stands on its own. If the filmmakers had tried to simply replace Dourif, it would have fallen flat. Instead, they changed the character from novice voodoo serial killer to tech gone bad.
Additionally, the decision to raise Andy’s age by a few years worried fans (why would a teenager want a doll?), But it plays out well in context. It’s not the best movie in the series, but it certainly wasn’t the worst way the original could have been remade.
Night Of The Living Dead (1990) – Give Barbara Something To Do
George A. Romero Night of the Living Dead (1968) is an undisputed masterpiece and a premonitory film in many ways. However, his characterization of Judith O’Dea’s Barbra was problematic and at times overbearing. The remake, which was also written by Romero (and directed by Friday 13 makeup artist Tom Savini) is a type of “blow-for-blow” remake that actually works.
Instead of fully adhering to the original like that of Gus Van Sant psychopath (1998), Night of the Living Dead (1990) refines very little. But these adjustments are well placed and sufficient to allow the film to have its own identity. Additionally, Patricia Tallman instills in Barbara (slightly renowned for the remake) a mixture of panic and agency that seems realistic given her situation. Tallman makes Barbara’s survival one of the best Night of the Living Dead (1990) moments.
Body Snatchers (1993) – The Kid
Body thieves isn’t the franchise’s best installment, but it’s an underrated and sad cooler. He also took risks not taken by the two previous installments. The domestic unrest plot with Meg Tilly’s stepmother was an interesting direction. Making the setting a military base (where the absence of emotions is a common practice) adds an extra layer of dread to the process as to who is still human. But the biggest and the best change is the sharp left turn the film takes in its third act.
The protagonist, Marti, and her brother, Andy, board an elevator to get to safety. The boy hadn’t been seen by Marti or the audience for several brief scenes, but his pod-person reveal is still a shock. Marti throwing him (sort of his brother) out of the helicopter is even more so.
Evil Dead (2013) – Removal
The photo of Deadite slicing his tongue in half with a knife is memorable, but it’s a prime plot point that comes across as evil Deadthe biggest contribution of the franchise. In Sam Raimi’s original fast-paced horror masterpiece, there are just five children who make it to a cabin. At Fede lvarez evil Dead, it’s a group of friends there to take a member’s younger sister, Mia, through heroin withdrawal.
It’s a brilliant plot revision of the original that gives the main character a logical reason to think he’s experiencing something supernatural. It also serves as a huge boost to Mia’s characterization, which is a real shame the character hasn’t made a comeback appearance.
The Blob (1988) – The change of protagonist
Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch) and Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) are very early protagonists of Chuck Russell’s The blob. Rough biker Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon) is an outlier. The original was simpler, with a focus mostly on Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut).
After Taylor and Penny take the man (and the blob) to the police station, it looks like the tale will continue to run its course. So when Penny walks in to see Taylor screaming in pain, reaching out inside the gooey pink layer, it’s a refreshing, jarring reminder that this remake will be a different animal than McQueen’s’ 50s original.
The Fly (1986) – The Tone
David Cronenberg’s reinvention of Fly (1958) retains the basic concept of this film of a scientist working on a teleportation device to be fused with a common house fly. Everything else is quite original. Fly (1986) is much more gruesome than the original, which featured a relatively understated Vincent Price and a man with a giant fly head.
Instead of a cartoonish costume, Jeff Goldblum’s Seth Brundle grapples with a much slower, more obnoxious transformation. Plus, Brundle succeeding in both science and love to get ripped off out of impatience is poignant for horror or any other genre.
Invasion of the Body Thieves (1978) – The Scream
that of Philip Kaufman Invasion of the Body Thieves (1978) is definitely superior to the solid 1956 original. Shifting paranoia from a relatively small town to a crowded city is a great change in and of itself, but there is something beyond the change of location. The shout that the people of the converted capsule use to signal that there is still a human is unique and very memorable.
In fact, it was such an effective addition that it was still used in Body thieves (1993). However, it’s the truly surprising ending to this movie that puts it in the upper echelon of horror remake improvements. At the very least, it is among the Body thieves scariest scenes in the franchise.
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