Every site’s gotta have at least ONE Top 10 list these days, right?
Here’s a list of the 10 best movie re-makes (that I could think of, it’s by no means definitive, but then again, what is? Everyone’s got an opinion). I hesitate to use the new term “Re-Boot”. I think that term is something that some Hollywood PR guy cooked up because of all the press and social ire towards the incredible lack of individuality being pumped out of the big studio movie making machines. I think for something to be called a Re-Boot, it needs to come out within the same decade as the last iteration of its license.
Either way, here’s a list of our favorite unoriginal films!
10) Death Race (2008)
Okay, before anyone starts going “What?! Have you even SEEN the original? They’re barely the same movie!!”, I know. I know. The changes between the two are vast. However, let’s be honest here, the original “Death Race 2000” (1975), like many Corman films, was remarkably cheesy and the only REAL draw to it was the point system (which they sort of hit on in the remake) and the funky cars.
The thing about this movie, and what most of its naysayers aren’t aware of, is that it’s not really a re-make or a re-boot, per se. It’s actually meant as a prequel to “Death Race 2000”. As a prequel, it fits rather nicely. I mean, of course there are inconsistencies, but they can be forgiven, if for no other reason than, are you REALLY going to take a movie about souped up death-cars that seriously? Bottom line is, this movie is an enjoyable action fest with all the bloody-explodey-gritty-boom-boom that makes such guilty pleasures in the genre so memorable.
9) I Am Legend (2007)
“Omega Man” (1971) is one of my all-time favorite films. I’m not saying it’s a great film, but it’s up there in a collection of movies that since I first saw it when I was about 6 years old, I can and have watched multiple times without getting tired of.
Vincent Price is one of my favorite actors, always has been. Perhaps because there was just something about him that reminded me a lot of a really classy version of my grandfather. Imagine my surprise when I found out while pouring through a video store at about 10 years old that he had made an earlier version of that story called “The Last Man on Earth” (1964)!
So yes, early on, one of my favorite tales of post-apocalyptic earth was the film versions of Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend”. Having finally gotten around to reading the source material for the films in my teens, I discovered that the movies I loved had little similarity to the book. The closest being “The Last Man on Earth”, the screenplay of which, I had found out, was originally written by Matheson. Alas, after many rewrites by the studio and production companies, he had his name taken off.
That leads us to 2007.
I’m not one of those big “Oh “f” Wil Smith” guys. I honestly quite like his movies. He’s really not a bad actor. Regardless, with the huge amount of stinker remakes coming out of Hollywood at the time, I was understandably cynical about this movie. It was probably the last time I allowed myself to act in such a way as to dismiss a film before seeing it.
“I Am Legend” is not the book. It’s neither “Omega Man” or “Last Man On Earth”. Rather it is a combining of all three while standing on its own. The beginning of the film, like the beginning of “Omega Man”, really captures the loneliness of the Smith’s Robert Neville. The flashback sequences, telling the story of how the world came to be in such a state, harkens back to “Last Man on Earth”. Lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, the ending…no, not the weird “butterfly glass”, explodey ending that was on the theatrical release, but the original, cut, ending of the movie, was a very big nod to the novel. Neville is made to realize that the creatures are attacking him because in actuality, HE is the monster. They’re defending themselves from him and Neville finally recognizes it. As the character in the book says before he dies, “[I am] a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend”.
8) Fright Night (2011)
“Oh you’re so cool Brewster!”
Say that to anyone who is or was a fan of 80’s horror films and they’ll know almost immediately where it’s from. At the absolute least, they’ll remember that squeaky voice of none other than Stephen Geoffreys’ “Evil Ed”.
“Fright Night” is a film that could only have been made when it was. In the mid-80’s, the larger corporations were starting to gobble up network TV, and the reign of the late-night horror host was coming to an end. The Horror Host shows as some younger readers may not know, where a big staple of late-night TV for about 20 years from the 60’s through the 80’s. The likes of Vampira, Zacherlie, Svengoolie, and of course, Elvira would host showings of (mostly low-budget) horror movies during the late hours on local tv stations as a pull to try to grab viewers that would normally have turned off the tube hours ago. Unfortunately, with the coming of the infomercial, stations found they could make more money from hours-long advertisers/ments, than something cheap just placed there to run more commercials.
The original “Fright Night” was definitely a film for its time, so you can imagine the hesitance when a re-make was announced. Nobody knew what kind of angle they could take. All the general public saw was another studio trying to cash in on a beloved favorite. Even if that’s what it was at its base, it was so much more.
“Fright Night” 2011, was just enough of a separation from the original to really let it stand on its own and feel fresh to new audiences while not feeling like an “insult” to the fans or the 80’s film.
David Tennant (who was brilliantly cast here. The producers knew who they had and really marketed him to the Doctor Who fans as this was his first big American film after coming off his run as the 10th Doctor) plays the spirit of the original “Peter Vincent” so well, replacing the washed up Horror Host with a washed up Vegas magician. Anton Yelchin’s “Charley Brewster” (which honestly surprised me since I’d only seen/noticed him as the garble-accent-mouthed Chekov in 2009’s “Star Trek”) was fantastic and very much like the original. Who now could you possibly get to play the geeky-weird friend other than “McLovin” himself? Well, I will say this, Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s “Ed” is definitely NOT as memorable as Geoffreys’ was, but good nonetheless. Lastly, Colin Farrell’s “Jerry Dandrige”? Creepy. Creepy in an almost realistic, unstoppable serial killer/predator way. Smart, manipulative, and brutal.
If you haven’t seen it yet, and you need a good Friday night creeper, I recommend it.
7) Invasion of the Body Snatchers
I’m not going to do a big write-up on this one. I’m just going to say that this remake of the classic 1956 film of the same name is not as well-known, not because it’s bad by any means, but rather because it’s so damned creepy that nobody wants to think about it anymore after seeing it. Seriously, maybe these are “spoiler-y”, but if you haven’t seen this movie in the past 30 years, I can hardly be blamed, but I’m going to leave you with just these two short clips to watch:
Okay? Now try to go to sleep. Can’t do it? Don’t worry, neither can I. *shudder*
6) Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The original “Dawn of the Dead” is, in the opinion of many, one of the greatest zombie films ever made. It is one of my personal favorites. As you can imagine, to this day, there are many, MANY who still complain about the changes made to the feel and especially to the zombies in Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake. I am not one of them.
This remake is only similar in very few ways to the orignal. The setting, (some of) the characters, and the undead are pretty much all that is kept. I’m okay with that. Why? Because I’ll always have my collection of all the different release versions of the original to watch. Also, if you take some “artistic license” and do it well, any changes can be made acceptable. This movie is most definitely acceptable. The human emotion and danger is captured very well. The theme that Romero puts forth in his films, that the “humans” can pose a bigger threat than the monsters is well engrained in this film. Think about it, if everyone just gave a moments thought to the consequence of their actions, they could have survived comfortably in that mall. But really, when does that ever happen in real life? Some concepts in this were brilliantly conceived. Having the other survivor so close, but so far, the “pregnancy”, the greedy power-mad mall workers, all led to the drama and thrill of this movie to the point where the zombies were almost…almost an afterthought.
If you happen to be one of those that have dismissed this movie and/or refuse to watch it because you’re so upset about what it does to the original, you really must get over that hurdle and allow yourself to enjoy this great entry into the genre.