A little over a week ago, we gave you the first half of this list, here is its conclusion, the Nerd-Base’s top 10 Best Remakes/Reboots #5-#1!!!
5) Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
The first true “reboot” on this list, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” blew me away.
I don’t really know what I was expecting. The original “Planet of the Apes” series is one of my all time favorite films. One of my earliest TV memories is of watching the live action TV series and being so amazed and excited about these “ape-men” on the screen. Not to mention, those movies are simply great fun to watch. I’m not one of those guys who immediately hems and haws first thing when I hear a film or show I love is being remade. I had high hopes for the Tim Burton travesty, but as we all know, it was a severe disappointment. So you can imagine, despite the pedigree behind this movie, my trepidation going into the theater. Thankfully, I was more than pleasantly surprised at what I beheld.
More of a re-telling of the story of “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (1972), this movie’s strength lays less in trying to recapture and pay fan-service to the original, not to say it doesn’t, but rather, it focuses on telling a great story and character building. There are some scenes with the ape, “Caesar” (played by CGI/Mo-cap veteran, Andy Serkis), that convey such strong emotion, glee, heartache, frustration, anger and determination, that you will truly let him carry your heart in his furry hands throughout the film to its ultimate, intense and moving conclusion that will leave you begging for more.
4) Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
What to say about “Little Shop of Horrors”?
To start, it’s a questionable film to include on this list. Perhaps it’s the most deeply ingrained as a remake? Perhaps it doesn’t count? This little horror musical about a boy and his carnivorous alien plant is a remake of an off-broadway play, which itself is a remake of the original 1960 Roger Corman movie. So, I suppose, in a weird way, this is a wrap around, traced back, remake of the original film…kinda…
At any rate, the movie itself is a blast. The music is fun, catchy, kitschy, and hilariously dark. It stars the inimitable Rick Moranis and Steve Martin plays the scene chewing role of the “evil” masochistic dentist. It also has some great cameos by 1980’s legends, Bill Murray, John Candy, and Jim Belushi…okay, well, two legends. Actually, the dentist’s office scene between Martin and Murray is comedy gold.
Interesting tidbits, Ellen Greene who plays Audrey (1) was the only actor in the film that performed with the Broadway musical cast, and the voice of Audrey II was Levi Stubbs, better known as the frontman/lead singer of the legendary Motown group, the Four Tops.
The film originally had an incredibly dark ending which was changed when the test audiences almost unanimously hated it. This 23 minute original ending footage, included from the B&W work-print. was released VERY briefly on DVD in 1998 and subsequently pulled from the shelves almost immediately when David Geffen found out about the release (he owns the rights) and said, “They put out a black-and-white, unscored, undubbed video copy of the original ending that looked like shit.” Thankfully, due to the incredible powers of the internet, we don’t have to pay $150+ for ebay copies of this rare DVD, you can watch it right here:
3) The Blob (1988)
Were it even possible to argue this movie’s entry in the top three, the only person who would do so would most likely be one who has never seen it, or didn’t understand how to truly appreciate it. Oh yeah, also, all you’d have to do is mention that it’s one of the first few studio pictures written by one Mr. Frank Darabont. If you don’t know that name, well, you need to get educated. You can start by watching this fantastic remake of 1958’s “The Blob” (then, watch “The Mist” and make sure you have a box of tissues nearby at the end).
In this film as our hero, in lieu of the clean-cut Steve McQueen, we get Kevin (brother of Matt) Dillon’s Brian Flagg (a tribute by Darabont to Steven King’s “Randall Flagg” character from “The Stand”) who is played as an “Outsiders”-y, mulleted bad boy.
The discovery of the Blob sequence is pretty much on par with the 1958 version. Some random old man living in the woods is beset upon by a meteorite that cracks open upon impact and which he proceeds to poke at with a stick. The goop rides up the stick and “consumes” his hand….then his body….then, well then everyone else in the most cringe inducing manners seen in a movie before or since.
If you’ve seen it, more than anything else, I think you’ll remember “the sink”.
Oh, and don’t forget to look for a cameo by David Lynch’s own Jack Nance early in the film!
2) David Cronenberg’s “The Fly”
If you’ve seen this film and the original, the only comparison you can really draw is the theme. The only thing that could possibly be said might be better in the original is the inclusion of the legendary Vincent Price. Aside from that, the 1958 version might as well not even exist…well, except to give us jokes where we say, “Heeelp meeee!! Heeeellllp Meee!”
If you haven’t seen this movie, I hate to tell you to not finish this article, but stop reading now, grab a copy and watch it. If you are a fan of horror, science fiction, or thrillers, you owe it to yourself to see this film.
David Cronenberg is doubtlessly one of my favorite directors. When he was tapped to direct this film, he looked at the script and practically re-wrote the entire thing leaving only the concept that a man and a fly are joined at a molecular level. What he put in is some of the most psychologically visceral storytelling in a horror movie ever seen. Which, we would find after this movie put his name firmly on the map of cinema, would become his trademark style.
This is also Jeff Goldblum at his best. Often enough in his films, he plays it either remarkably quirky or stoically straight, in this film, like Brundle and the fly, he merges the two and creates a character that is charismatic and uncomfortable to watch yet at the same time almost completely believable. Geena Davis, who I’m not normally a fan of, plays her role here better than just about anything else I’ve seen her in and their chemistry is SOLID.
If you don’t know the story of this film and you’re reading this article, I’m not going to say anything more other than to reiterate what I said to begin with, go watch it now, but you might want to bring a friend along because you will be afraid, you will be VERY afraid…
1) John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)
If you ask me, the 80’s film industry was ruled by three guys named John. John Hughes, John Landis, and John Carpenter. For me and my burgeoning geeky love of horror and science fiction, ESPECIALLY John Carpenter.
Like “The Fly”, Carpenter’s “The Thing” practically erased it’s predecessor from memory, 1951’s “The Thing From Another World” starring Gunsmoke’s James Arness as the titular creature.
To describe this film, the words, thrilling, claustrophobic, paranoid, dramatic, suspenseful, and ultimately, DEFINITELY frightening are the first to come to mind. This movie was a horror and science fiction game-changer. So much so that to date, very little in the genre has been able to overshadow it or recreate the authentic terror the film exudes.
Also, this film is Kurt Russell in his heyday. He had recently come off “Escape From New York” where he breathed life into the anti-hero, “Snake Plisskin”, and would soon become one of my personal hero’s in a movie that will forever be in my top five favorites, “Jack Burton” in “Big Trouble in Little China”. Notice something there? No? Both of those films were directed by John Carpenter as well. A note of interest often overlooked is that in the mid-70’s, Kurt Russell was in an episode of “Gunsmoke” starring James Arness who, again, played the role of the monster in the original “Thing From Another World”.
Carpenter’s “The Thing” unfortunately didn’t do very well in the box office as it had just so happened to release at the same time as another, more family friendly, alien-centric film, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”. It also didn’t help that in 1982, film-goers weren’t used to such excessive scenes of gore, although most will tell you, they aren’t really all that excessive when watched in the context of the film. The horrific, suspenseful ambiance is actually enhanced by the discomfort given by seeing such viscera.
And there you have it! I’m sure not everyone is going to agree with all of these, it was hard enough for me to pick from so many great films, but I feel pretty good about this list. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!