Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Who's the Best... Horror Movie Remake?

Karen: Tis the season -for things creepy and scary. I was turning the dial on Sunday (well, clicking the remote, but you get my meaning) and I saw remakes of Frankenstein, and The Thing (actually that strange prequel to John Carpenter's remake...that's confusing), so I thought it might be time to toss out the question - Who's the Best remake? Or are you of the opinion that remakes stink?  And of course, are they really remakes, or just different versions from the same subject matter?


Anonymous said...
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William said...

You just can't go wrong with John Carpenter's "The Thing". One of the best re-imaginings of a film ever, and one of the greatest action-horror movies of all time, IMHO. Also some of the best practical creature effects ever filmed as well. Every "Thing" about that movie was entertaining from start to finish. And light years better than the original.

Anonymous said...
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Ace Hamilton said...

When a remake is better, it's usually because it's less of a remake than a return to the original source material. That is certainly the case with The Thing.

Metal Mikey said...

I'm not surprising anyone by mentioning John Carpenter's The Thing. It took the interesting concept of the first film, and cranked up the dramatics, effects, and ideas to maximum. It may be honestly one of the close to perfect movies of all time.

But a side mention that... While not better than the original, can at least stand on equal footing with it, is Tom Savini's Night of the Living Dead. It also places as a great 90's Horror film.

Humanbelly said...

A lot of the time it's really an apples/oranges comparison, even if a movie is technically a "remake". I mean, the original 13 GHOSTS and the remake from several years ago had the barest of central organizational elements in common, and that was about it. The original had a definite camp charm all its own (and a surprisingly interesting performance by a YOUNG Martin Milner), and the remake had a tremendous vision as far as art direction & design went (although it failed to really pull the viewer in emotionally).

And I guess the same could be said for THE FLY. The original and the Jeff Goldblum remake are both very, very good films (IMO), and they're both built around the same technological accident (and its consequences)-- but the treatments are so different that it's hard to compare them. The one thing that they do have in common, though, is capturing the tragic pathos of the central figure's hopeless situation. Man, the scene in the original where the poor guy's trying to kill himself, and his wife- in spite of her horror- is trying to prevent his doing so. . .

THE THING--? Pfft, whilst I love both movies a lot, it almost doesn't qualify for discussion. The "original" discarded the source material so thoroughly that I'm surprised there was any claim of source material at all. But it is a DELIGHTFUL piece of film-making on its own merits-- particularly great use of Howard Hawks' trademark rapid, over-lapping dialog. It's one of the films we saw in my college History of Cinema class. But the Carpenter "remake" brilliantly enhances the story it's drawn from-- really a great synthesis of gruesome shock-horror and Hitchcockian suspense. Carpenter at his best.

Does anyone remember that Roger Corman re-made THE BLOB in. . . the early 80's, I think? He was so thrilled to have effects at his disposal to truly "realize" the creature properly. Annnnnd it just wasn't a tenth as good as the original. Naturally the original was at its best when you couldn't see the Blob. . . but only its effects just off-camera. . . or the effects left in its wake. The original is a surprisingly smart film in how little bits of relevant info are dropped on you without ever being emphasized. Original wins big-time here.


Anonymous said...

I'm not really a big horror fan, so I'm not exactly qualified to answer this. I liked The Jeff Goldblum version of "The Fly", but I haven't seen the original, so I can't compare the two.

Mike Wilson

Redartz said...

Not really a remake per se, but I always liked the Brendan Fraser vehicle "The Mummy". The original film was my favorite monster pic as a youth, and hence I was eager to catch the updated version. I wasn't disappointed; perhaps more adventure film than horror- it was still a lot of fun. Frazer was great, and it had the added bonus of Rachel Weisz as the charming Evie. And Arnold Vosloo made a very creepy Imhotep.

HB- great call on "The Blob". The original is worth seeing if only for that quirky, jazzy theme by (appropriately) the Five Blobs. "Beware of the Blob, it creeps..."

Rip Jagger said...

I love all "Things". The original "The Thing from Outer Space" is on my top-five all-time list for the fantastic pacing and the no-nonsense plot. This one just races to the end and dares you to hold on. Love the snappy banter and all the sorta' science they spout on about. Eggheads confronted with the end of the world and they stop to study it...sheesh!

The remake by Carpenter of course hearkens back to the original "Who Goes There?" by John Campbell and is a snappy horror flick, though I've always been a bit disappointed by the critter when it does finally explode into some view. The ending is outrageous. The fact that original story is a stealth Doc Savage yarn also makes me smile.

Rip off

Rip Jagger said...

Aarrghh! That's "The Thing from Another World". Caught it just as I punched in publish. Sheesh.

Karen said...

HB, very nice evaluations of those films. I hadn't thought about the original Fly in ages, but you are right in calling out the suicide scene, and how utterly disturbing it is, despite the guy with the big fly mask on his head. The sense of sheer anguish seems oddly out of place for most 50s sci-fi/horror flicks, but this one had a little more depth than most.

I love both the Hawks and Carpenter versions of The Thing. I know the first doesn't cleave too closely to the story, but it is so well done, so exciting. The later one is a great nihilist film. Carpenter was at his best in that, I think.

Not sure how I didn't include the variations on Matheson's "I Am Legend." At least three films have been made based on that novella: the Vincent Price flick "Last Man on Earth," Chuck Heston's "Omega Man," and the Will Smith "I Am Legend." I like the first two. The terrible CGI took me out of the Smith film.

It occurs to me that if a film is based on an existing work, like a book, then it isn't really a remake, is it? Omega Man is not a remake of Last Man on Earth, it's another version of Matheson's novel. But the '76 King Kong and the Peter Jackson King Kong, those are definitely remakes, as they are based solely on the 1933 film. Right?

Warren JB said...

"It occurs to me that if a film is based on an existing work, like a book, then it isn't really a remake, is it?"

I'd agree. I think they can be described as reimaginings in that they 'reimagine' the source material rather than the earlier film.

I might skate close to being chucked off this blog just as I found it, but when I saw the original (film) of The Thing From Another World, it left me cold. I hear what's said about the pacing and whatnot, but for me the monster and the threat it presented fell flat. It's an intergalactic hybrid of Frankenstein's monster and a carrot, and it has all the agility of one too. It starts planting infants of it's own species to take over Earth's ecosystems, during which stage they present all the menace of a patch of venus flytraps. How long do they have to remain like that? Blimey, at the rate we decimate our own planet's plants from neglect or because they're just in the way, this antagonistic alien flora doesn't stand a chance. Even triffids needed a backup catastrophe to kickstart their own.

The existential/squick horror of the John Carpenter Thing wins out, IMO. When I finally found the original novella online, I was surprised just how 'modern' it seemed and how much the latter film stuck to the ideas. Worst thing is that even then, some of the effects couldn't live up to the 1938 story, particularly the last encounter with the Blair-thing. (Hm, sounds like a line from UK politics, about 2007) There are some storyboard panels by Mike Ploog, floating about the internet that would've made that and other scenes even more weird and squeamish.

Unknown said...

House on Haunted Hill

Legend of Hell House (a barely disguised 1st remake of 1963's The Haunting; the 90's remake of The Haunting sucked rotten sulphurous emu eggs)

and as others said, John Carpenter's The Thing, Conenberg's The Fly, and The Blob

Anonymous said...

The prize for desecration goes to that 1998 remake of Carnival of Souls.

I was quite scared by Rob Zombie’s slashtastic Hallowe’en, but I didn’t like it much or find it memorable and it’s not a patch on Carpenter’s. And the 2005 version of the Fog, really, why did they bother?

Having defended Carpenter twice there, his remake of Village of the Damned is pointless and way less scary than the creaky original.

I know it’s illegal to say you prefer the American remakes of Japanese films (or any other pseudo-European, wold cinema art house pics), but I really prefer Gore Verbinski’s remake of the Ring on every level. It was more exciting & better paced, but it just looked better as well. Having been told how much better the original was, I was shocked when I saw it. It seemed amateurish.

That version of the Omen with Julia Stiles and Liev Schreiber was completely pointless, but also practically a shot for shot remake. I literally had no idea why they made it.

Karen, you’re right about that Thing prequel. The weird thing is that it is practically a scene by scene re-tread of Carpenters, moving at the same pace to the same conclusion and you know what happens because you see it on film in the 1982 movie.


Humanbelly said...

Karen, I wonder if anyone besides you & I have seen the Price version of LAST MAN ON EARTH? As a film, it suffers from an obvious deficit of budget, and the fact that it was clearly filmed in. . .Mexico, maybe? Brazil? But Vincent Price commits admirably- even honorably- to the role, and the movie is easily the truest to the source material of any of them. Thus it gets my vote as the best of the three. Price has a breakdown scene (hysterical laughing that devolves into crying) that is probably the most emotionally raw thing I ever saw him do. It's very brief, but I found it most impressive, as it could so easily have skewed unintentionally comic.

Hey! You know the CLASSIC we've missed thus far? (Assuming we can keep this thread active for a bit longer?) INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS! At least a couple of remakes, yeah? Almost no horror effects to speak of in the original, yet that unknown, unseen menace is relentless and terrifying. Boy, and at a time when Hollywood was theoretically mandated to give us "happy" (or at least, "justified") endings-- this one left us screaming along with Kevin McCarthy at the uncaring traffic. . .


Unknown said...

i've seen LAST MAN ON EARTH twice; love it, better than the Omega Man (it's first remake) or I Am Legend. the original had more depth and mood. IRC, It was filmed in Italy.

ditto on INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS; the Donald Sutherland/Jeff Goldblum remake holds a special place in my heart for the neo cinema verite acting ensemble, and visual composition. comparing both versions is like comparing Kirby's late 1950's monster comics w/ Neal Adams' horror work. :)

also I agree re the horrendous remake of Carnival of Souls. and back then, I was a huge fan of Larry Miller's comedy routines. somebody was high when they conceived of that so-called remake.

one remake most ppl love is Herzog's version of Nosferatu with Klause Kinski. gr8 for cinophiles but as a kid it bored me compared to the silent original (most herzog films still bore me; I still love Murnau films too)

Karen said...

Yes, three of us have seen Last Man on Earth!! I'm sure there're more...but it's still somewhat obscure. I saw it when I was about 7 years old and it haunted me for years, particularly the scene where they are dumping the bodies of the deceased into that great smoking pit. I would have dreams about that for many years, although I couldn't remember what film it was from, or the name of the film. I finally saw the film again in my 20s. It has an almost 'documentary' feel to it (like the film that it inspired, Night of the Living Dead) because of the black and white starkness and (to be honest) the low production values. HB, it was filmed in Italy, I think as a cost-cutting measure.

Body Snatchers is another great comparison. I haven't seen the original in a very long time, but I rewatched the 1978 one just a year or two ago, and it was very well done, and probably as much a product of its time as the other one, but both managed to instill that sense of paranoia and fear of loss of identity.

How about the original Dawn of the Dead and the remake? I have to say, I loved the original, but I thought the new one worked too, although more as action-horror. Maybe similar to the difference between Alien and Aliens, although in no way am I elevating the DOTD remake to that level of quality!

Unknown said...

many ppl loathe the Zack Snyder DotD remake, but I dig it. I especially loved the 'newcast' featurettes in the dvd extras.

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