January is fast becoming the month to rival the more appropriate October for the release of horror films. So we conclude our countdown, (which began HERE yesterday), of our Top Ten Horror Remakes. We’ve also decided to mention a few titles that just missed the cut, but deserve a special mention for attempting to add something different to their respective source material.
Breck Eisner seemed another peculiar choice to helm the remake of cult Geroge R. Romero favourite, THE CRAZIES. After all, his Matthew McConnaughey-led adventure SAHARA, died on its arse in 2005, while his debut feature – the action-thriller THOUGHTCRIMES (2003) – was little seen to say the least. However, the son of former Disney chief Michael Eisner assembled a terrific cast, led by the ever-captivating Timothy Olyphant and Aussie beauty Radha Mitchell. They gave us a gripping chiller, which sees the band of survivors of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, besieged by its remaining psychopathic population, when a man-made toxin is accidentally (or is it), unleashed in the water supply of the quaint town. Romero was also on-board as executive producer.
Director Zack Snyder’s debut feature was a startling one as he took on another Romero classic, from a vicious screenplay by James Gunn. Again the majority of the action takes place in the monotonous mall, but these undead legions are faster and more ferocious than we’d seen previously, and bolster a great emotional and central performance from the underrated Sarah Polley. Snyder’s unforgiving film certainly has bite, even seeing baby zombies put to the sword, as survivors battle to escape the horde outside, as well as those in their group no longer willing to play by the set rules.
The second Alexandre Aja effort on the list is as far away as you could get from his previous addition (see part 1). This time, Wes Craven personally requested Aja to take on his 1977 cannibalistic classic, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, for the Frenchman’s English-language debut. Coming hot off his divisive and intense slasher SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE (aka HAUTE/HIGH TENSION), he crafted a brutal, graphic and shocking film which pushed boundaries for the modern genre, and in doing so, gave us easily the best horror remake of the last 25 years. Its harsh tone sees the Carter family endure the most horrific of experiences imaginable at the hands of a family of demented and deformed mutant maniacs, before the tables are eventually turned by the surviving members. Never has a tagline been more appropriate!
David Cronenberg’s body-horror style seemed the perfect choice for the new take on 1958 scientific horror film, THE FLY. What may surprise many is only the tragic events surrounding original choice Robert Bierman allowed Cronenberg to take the picture, following his departure from the in-development TOTAL RECALL. Giving the project an entire overhaul, the director’s vision of a metamorphosis between man and insect with some stomach-churning, Oscar-winning prosthetics and make-up effects, led to the classic we now know and love. Jeff Goldblum’s eccentric scientist Seth Brundle makes the mistake of trying out his teleportation device, and slowly begins to realise he wasn’t alone inside. Geena Davis and John Getz give strong support along with Howard Shore’s booming score.
John Carpenter’s adaptation of John W. Campbell Jr. short story ‘Who Goes There’, was previously given a big-screen treatment with Howard Hawkes’ THE THING (FROM ANOTHER WORLD). Despite an initial box-office failure, Carpenter’s film was a huge hit on home video and is now cemented as a groundbreaking genre classic, thanks to some still-astounding practical effects from Rob Bottin and Carpenter’s suspenseful direction. An Antarctic team discover a deserted Norwegian outpost and unknowingly bring along a shape-shifting alien being. As nail-biting dread seeps through the film’s long, dark corridors, there is a top performance from Kurt Russell, a foreboding score from Ennio Morricone, and a perfectly ambiguous ending. Fuck you CGI!
The first half of Rob Zombie’s reboot brings something new and refreshing to the diminishing slasher series, but ultimately descends into a chaotic and muddled mess when retracing the steps of the majority of Carpenter’s classic in the final third. The usually dependable Malcolm McDowell is horribly miscast as an ‘asshole’ Loomis, and the legion of cameos are often distracting, as is the decision to make Myers a hulking headcase as opposed to a silent stalker hiding amongst the shadows.
Wes Craven’s savage re-imagining of Ingmar Bergman’s THE VIRGIN SPRING was unofficially remade via David DeFalco’s notorious CHAOS in 2005. However, Greek filmmaker Dennis Iliadis was tasked with using the infamous title in the 2009 effort, which is led by the brilliant character actor Garrett Dillahunt as the sadistic Krug, a role previously played by the late David Hess (who co-incidentally was dropped from DeFalco’s film just before shooting a cameo).
The shocking opening to Marcus Nispel’s remake contains a breathtaking tracking shot for Lauren German’s suicide scene. This stylish remake of Tobe Hooper’s notorious effort is still the best thing producers Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller’s Platinum Dunes have accomplished. It’s a shame R. Lee Ermy’s memorable Sheriff Hoyt comes across as more threatening than our chainsaw-wielding madman, Leatherface. The attributes of Jessica Biel in a tiny vest isn’t too bad either.
Agree or disagree? We’d love to hear your thoughts.