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5 Horror Remakes Worth Watching

Remaking a film is a difficult task to say the least, and I can probably give you more examples of films that have completely missed the mark as opposed to got it right. But, with that said, I feel we have had a fair share of decent ones within the horror genre. So, I thought I'd pick five examples of the times I thought the film maker (or dare say I say it, studio) hit the mark.

The Wolfman (2010)

Directed by Joe Johnston
The Wolfman
Nobleman Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns to his ancestral home in Victorian-era England to search for his missing brother Ben (Simon Merrells), only to fall under a terrible curse that causes him to experience an unsettling transformation. Talbot soon discovers that a ravenous beast is on the loose and he must protect the woman he loves from its clutches.

Universal haven’t got the best track record when it comes to remaking one of their classic monsters. Their multiple failed attempts and the whole ‘Dark Universe’ idea are just examples of how much they’ve missed the mark. And of course, dealing with one of the most famous monsters to grace the silver screen was never going to be an easy task. For me, I’ll never be able to get my head round why this had as much hate as it did. Despite the multiple problems behind the scenes (various delays and directors whilst stuck in development hell from 2006) and a few issues I have with the film, I feel this is one they got right.

The cast were phenomenal, as were their performances. I wasn’t overly bothered by the changes to the story, it brought something new and exciting into the equation. There were some truly fantastic scenes and set-pieces in this as well. The scene featuring the hunters and gypsies where Talbot first gets attacked (watch for Rick Baker’s brief cameo), Talbot’s transformation and escape from asylum and subsequent American Werewolf-esque chase that follows (look out for that jump down from a rooftop; it was accomplished practically using stunt performers) and of course that werewolf vs werewolf fight sequence in the film’s finale was great fun! I mean who the hell wouldn’t want to see that?

My main gripe with this film was the CGI transformation and the feral wolf-boy that bit Hopkins’ character (Sir John Talbot). The computer-generated imagery throughout was poor in all fairness. And of course, when you employ legendary special effects make-up artist Rick Baker the real question is “Why the hell are they using CGI in the first place?”

bts the wolfman

Behind the scenes of The Wolfman

With director Joe Johnston only hired three weeks before principal photography, CGI was kind of the only way it could be done due to the small timescale the studio left Baker with. He later recalled in an interview with The Playlist he’s still not happy with it.

“The whole transformation was done on computers, but it was based a lot on ideas I had and sculptures that I did. But I was kind of pushed out of that, and I’m still kind of stinging about it. I so wanted to have that opportunity to do like what I did with ‘American Werewolf’ but 30 years later, utilizing the technology but still doing some old-school stuff. But it still was fun to do a ‘Wolf Man’ movie, an old-school gothic monster movie, and I think even though it didn’t do that well, I think it’s the closest thing to an old-school horror movie that’s been out in a long time. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing it, and it was fun.”

The only make-up effect he wasn't involved was the feral wolf-boy who bit Sir John Talbot. The reason for this is because he felt it was a mistake to show it the way it was seen in the film. He based his designs around the original design that was perfected in 1941 by Jack P. Pierce and refused to deviate too far from them. He later went onto win another Academy Award for his amazing designs in this film. He later compared his experience on this, as the same as his experience on making An American Werewolf in London. He said, about the werewolf make-up, "David Naughton basically had no body hair, but Benicio Del Toro is so hairy, making him up as the Wolfman was so easy."

The film could've given us an incredible sequel as well. Johnston later revealed the sequel would have followed Hugo Weaving's now cursed Detective Abernathy following the ending of the film as he was using his Wolfman abilities to hunt down criminals and investigate crimes- and he's just been assigned the Jack The Ripper case. If you can just let the crummy CGI slide, it’s a wonderful film that feels closer to the original, classic monster movies we all fell in love with in the first place.

Evil Dead (2013)

Directed by Fede Alvarez
Evil Dead
A reimagining of the classic tale surrounding five friends who isolate themselves in a desolate cabin only to find themselves fighting for their lives - and souls, after they unwittingly unleash angry demons from the passages of an ancient book.

I know some of you may think this is a controversial choice, but I think this one was great. I mean it's never going to get better than the OG with our beloved Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, but this is a strong film. You could argue his post credits cameo made it a sequel, but I see this much more of a remake. Even more so now we've had a sequel and there's a further two following after Rise.

Staying true to the nature of Evil Dead this film didn't shy away from the over the top guts and gore that fans have come to love since Sam Raimi's 1981 cult classic first released. There are some disgusting moments in this film, but the one that truly wins for me was Mia licking the Stanley knife; still makes me wince. Just felt more painful and realistic. Glad to see Alvarez opted for practical special effects over CGI, refreshing to see when so many opt for the easier option. It would have been a great way alienating and pissing off an already die hard fanbase had Alvarez flaked out.

It was reported by the press that the crew ended up using 70,000 gallons of fake blood during production, with director Fede Alvarez later recalling 50,000 were used for the end scene alone. Bit of a step up from the 200-300 gallons used in the original film. The increase in blood and gore also meant that around 95% of this film was shot in chronological order. This was done because a lot of the film takes place in a controlled environment and the level of blood and violence gets worse and worse as the film progresses. By shooting in order, the filmmakers could throw blood on the walls and not worry it would mess up another shot where it needed to be clean.

The Thing (1982)

Directed by John Carpenter
The Thing
During an exploration in Antarctica, a group of researchers come across a Norwegian facility near their research station. They soon come to realise something terrible happened there. After discovering that the Norwegians had stumbled across something horrific; they leave, but something comes back with them.

A drastically different version of Christian Nyby & Howard Hawks 1951 film The Thing From Another World. A benchmark film for the genre and for special effects, as well as arguably being on of the best horror films during the golden age of horror (the 80s). Carpenter pulls out all the stops to disgust, shock and terrify the audience as you witness this 'Thing' slowly make its way through an antarctic research station crew as chaos and paranoia runs.

Of course I can't talk about The Thing without touching on the jaw-dropping, incredible special effects from FX legend Rob Bottin. Unfortunately Bottin overworked himself and ended up being hospitalised due to exhaustion. Stan Winston stepped in to aid production and finish the film, but refused credit. That chest cavity scene is still an all time favourite special effect of mine. Scared the shit out of me the first time I saw it, but I was in awe....disgusted, sick awe.

It still baffles me that this film flopped when it came out...but E.T's can account for some of the blame. You can read more about that in our "10 Things You May Not Have Known About John Carpenter's The Thing" article. In regards to where I stand on the ending...Mac is the only human left. Childs was definitely The Thing.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Directed by Marcus Nispel
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
After picking up a traumatised young hitchhiker, five friends find themselves stalked and hunted by a deformed chainsaw-wielding loon and his family of equally psychopathic killers.

As far as modern horror remakes go, I'd probably say this is one of the best. The delightfully sick and macabre Hewitt family join an insanely brutal Leatherface on screen to make this film a must watch for horror fans. You could feel the love and effort that went into making this one. It didn't feel like a rushed, soulless cash-grab like so many other horror remakes before.

Some fantastic kills and special effects throughout, and a fantastic cast. Jessica Biel made for a kick-ass final girl, would've been nice to see a sequel with her. Bryniarski was such a hulking presence on screen and was a perfect casting choice for Leatherface.

"In my estimation, Leatherface is like a beaten dog -- he was ostracized and ridiculed, and treated harshly by his peers. The psychological damage they inflicted was immense -- there's no chance for him." - Andrew Bryniarski

He did bulk up for the role weighing nearly 300 pounds when filming started, he achieved this by reportedly eating a diet of brisket and white bread. I'd say this Leatherface is second to only Gunnar Hansen's portrayal in Hooper's original film. His brutality is relentless in this- only gets worse in the prequel.

Sheriff Hoyt

Let's be honest though R. Lee Ermey as Sheriff Hoyt was next level. I get genuinely uncomfortable watching some of his scenes in both this and Beginning. It is such a shame we never got to see more of him in this role par two films. I loved the throwbacks and easter eggs in the film, thought it was a great touch getting John Larroquette back to do the film's narration.

The original film's cinematography even returned for this. Cinematographer David Pearl got there by convincing director Marcus Nispel to take this film on. Nispel was offered the movie, but wanted to make his (American) debut an original movie, telling Pearl that remaking Texas Chainsaw Massacre was "blasphemy" and a sure failure. Pearl then told Nispel that that was the reason he should accept the offer, and hire him as cinematographer, so that Pearl could "make the same movie twice, once at the beginning of my career and once at the end of my career". Nispel then agreed.

Loved the true-crime angle they spun with this film as well. That crime-scene walkthrough where Leatherface comes out of nowhere still gives me the creeps. Funnily enough, it may have proved too much for some as it was banned in Ukraine by their Ministry of Culture.

The Crazies (2010)

Directed by Breck Eisner
The Crazies
As a toxin begins to turn the residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa into violent psychopaths, sheriff David Dutton tries to make sense of the situation while he, his wife, and two other unaffected townspeople band together in a fight for survival.

Welcome to Ogden Marsh, The Friendliest Place on Earth. Another incredible remake, and one I feel I prefer to the original. I know that's pretty blasphemous statement considering Romero's behind the original, but this is a more polished, bigger budget version shall we say. I think they stayed true to the original, but made it enough of its own film strong enough to stand on it's own.

Timothy Olyphant steals the show here as he tries to dodge a virus that turns local residents into complete psychopaths hell bent on killing anyone they come across and US Government officials and soldiers as they move in to contain the virus by purging the entire town of those both clean and infected. It makes for a pretty intense watch as you try to figure out if the characters would be safer coming face to face with a crazy or someone working for the US Government.

Very in keeping with the social commentary Romero displayed in the original, and the infected look amazing. It took around 3 hours in the make-up chair to turn each actor into a crazy. Look out for the car wash and trucker stop scenes- highlights for me. Loved the cameo as well- look out for Crazies original co-star Lynn Lowry riding a bike through town as a crazy.


What, if any, other horror remakes would you say are worth watching?


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