After a weekend of spellcasting, bloodshed, and mayhem, it’s always nice to come home and kick back in the welcoming familiarity that comprises the cold, dark confines of Castle Blogferatu. That said, it’s getting on toward the latter portion of the evening, so I suppose one more wee list is in order. That way we can start things back up right and proper on Monday.
Anyway, one list that’s been simmering for a good minute has to do with remakes–not just remakes in general, or even remakes that were pretty good. No, I’m talking about Worst To Best: 10 Ranked Remakes.
#10 The Cabinet Of Caligari (Roger Kay, 1962)
I mean, I guess this is a remake? Apparently Samuel Goldwyn had acquired remake rights and brought Roger Kay on board to direct. He had at one time directed some Grand Guignol in Paris as well as New York, not that you’d know that from the contents of The Cabinet Of Caligari. There is very little tying to two films together aside from possibly the twist at the end which may have worked in 1962 but is pretty threadbare now. Robert Bloch did the screenplay, so I suppose there’s that. Wasn’t enough to keep the movie from getting on the train to Boring Town. There’s also Glynis Johns who’d show up a couple years later as Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins.
#9 Psycho (Gus Van Sant, 1998)
To quote Roger Ebert, one of my critic heroes, “I hated hated hated this movie.” It was a tough call whether to put this at the absolute bottom or not. I suppose the only reason I didn’t is because at least Gus Van Sant tried to remain faithful to the source material. The question is why. What exactly do you think you’re gonna do to improve on Hitchcock? There’s a Frontline documentary about advertising called The Persuaders. In one segment, Douglas Rushkoff talks to an airline exec about improvements his company was making to a plane. He said once the changes are made, they can be copied by other airlines, but if you don’t know why we did what we did, you won’t get it right. I feel like that about this remake. Plus, Van Sant pretty much replicated everything shot for shot. Why?
#8 Cabin Fever (Travis Z, 2016)
I’m not saying Eli Roth’s 2002 movie is on par with Psycho, but his original is a blast, and clearly Roth was having a great time with it. Like Van Sant’s Psycho, though, the question again is “Why?” Why remake something less than 20 years later? Why bother if you’re not in some way adding to, expanding, changing, or commenting on the original? And fer fuck’s sakes why take yourself so damn seriously? The fact that Roth produced it makes my inner cynic suspect a cash grab.
#7 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (any)
I have yet to see any remake, reboot, reworking, sequel, ripoff, etc. that can hold a candle to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original. I’m not saying some of them aren’t fun in their own right but, at least for me, there is no comparing or recreating the sense of dread I get from every minute of the source material. That thing I said about The Persuaders? Same here.
SKULLS- Variable, 2-5
#6 Halloween II (Rob Zombie, 2009)
I’ve been a huge Rob Zombie fan for a good long time, and I thoroughly enjoyed his take on the first two installments of the Michael Myers saga. Of the two, I found this one somewhat less effective than the first, but it still had plenty of enjoyable highlights.
#5 Evil Dead (Fede Álvarez, 2013)
Okay, now we’re turnin’ the corner into the ones I enjoyed significantly. Technically, Evil Dead II might be considered a reboot/remake of sorts, but that’s not the I’m talking about here. No I mean the 2013 remake. It certainly ups the gore factor and severely downplays Raimi’s silliness. But as a horror movie it’s still a pretty fun watch. I like it just fine.
#4 Halloween (Rob Zombie, 2007)
I liked this a whole helluvalot and think it got unreasonably thrashed. To me, the appeal of a remake is to try to bring something new or fun or fresh or different to the story. It doesn’t necessarily mean it works out or fires on all cylinders, but if it comes across to me as a legit attempt, I’m pretty much here for it. I liked the Michael Myers backstory.
#3 The Blob (Chuck Russell, 1988)
Despite the impossibility of buying Steve McQueen as a teenager, I still like the original a bunch. But the remake is just So. Much. Fun! Russell turns up the grossness factor by an order of magnitude that makes my heart sing. Or would. If I had one. And if it were inclined to sing, like ever. But back to The Blob. I mean come on, a guy gets sucked into a sink drain. Plus that tragically 80s Eddie Money style ‘do and actin’ chops of Matt Dillon’s younger brother Kevin.
#2 Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978)
It’s hard to believe that the director of such heady, artistic films as Henry & June, Quills, and The Unbearable Lightness Of Being also directed Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Not only does this version eclipse the original, it also stands, to me anyway, as the definitive version of a movie which has been done to absolute death more times than are worth mentioning. I even have an enamel pin of Donald Sutherland doing the point & scream thing at the end.
#1 The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
If I’m honest, my favorite movie on this list is actually Invasion Of The Body Snatchers so again I was torn in terms of list position. But seriously. In terms of remakes overshadowing the original to become the iconic version, nothing beats The Thing. Its status by now is legendary, the tension and confinement combine flawlessly, and the practical effects hold up surprisingly well after nearly 40 years.
Okay, last of this weekend’s lists. What remakes do you cherish or despise? As always, throw ’em in the Comments.