Monday, September 26, 2016

The Best of a Bad Situation - Top Ten Horror Remakes

I'm a horror snob. I am. I'm very proud of it, and I can normally wade through the garbage from the great with ease. But one thing deeply unsettles me: the preponderance of remakes out there. As an artist and horror enthusiast, really a film enthusiast of all kinds, I hate hate hate the idea of unoriginality. But, the end seems to be nowhere in sight, with a remake of the beloved classic It on the horizon. Despite my snobbery, I can admit that there are some beacons of hope out there, some remakes that, even if they don't outshine their predecessors, are great films. Here  are ten of them.

10. House of Wax (2005)

It's difficult for me to say that a movie with Paris Hilton in it is better than a film with Vincent Price in it. Very, very hard. But true. The 1953 film does not carry the suspense of Price's other works, and the modern remake had some truly gruesome effects. Skin coming off? Yeah, gross. Kudos.

9. The Hills Have Eyes: (2006)

Image result for the hills have eyes 2006

There's not too much that's original here, but it does disturb me just as much as the original. It hits the mark on the pervy, debased scale.

8. Halloween (2007)

Image result for halloween rob zombieSacrilege, I know, I know. Believe me, the importance of Jon Carpenter's 1978 film is not lost on me. That film is a masterpiece in many ways. But it doesn't stop me from preferring Rob Zombie's version on a purely subjective, personal level. I appreciate the psychodrama of Michael's pathology much more than slashing. It's done to great effect in both, but I enjoyed Zombie's depth and his attempt (and failure) to humanize Michael as even more disturbing. Also, giving Michael a mask of his own face?? Fucking genius.

7. Woman in Black (2012)

The original, made in Britain in 1989, is hands down the scariest goddamn thing I have ever seen in my life. And I own literally thousands of horror titles. The images burned in my retinas by this film make it hard for me to wash my hair without getting soap in my eyes in fear of her. But Daniel Radcliffe's performance in this new version was surprisingly excellent. They hit the mood right on the head, and the cinematography is more modern in a very sophisticated way. Great return for Hammer to the scene.

6. The Ring (2002)

I am such a big fan of international cinema, and of Asian cinema expressly, and you will never, ever hear me say an adaptation for American audiences is worth the effort. But goddamn it this is the better film. The forbidden film is much more disturbing, as is the effect of the dead girl in the closet. Still shivering.

5. The Wolfman (2010)

I never really was a huge Lon Chaney fan. Here's another instance of a film being important in so many ways, and yet the modern treatment of the same story is so much more wonderful. It also helps that it's much more beautiful too. Really, an artfully done film, wonderful color filters, top-notch acting on all fronts. Showing things like the gypsy camp (love love love Geraldine Chapman) and the asylum gave the story a context and depth that a lover of all things gothic like myself could really appreciate. And, the transformation effects were executed with a master hand.

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This single scene shot just oozes atmosphere

4. Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Image result for curse of frankensteinThis is one of Hammer Horror's very best films, and brings great tension to the story and characterization of the key players. Though Christopher Lee's makeup in this film cannot touch Boris Karloff's 1931 look, and the sound of his shoes scraping across the floor introduced the world to horror cinema, the artful coloration of this film, and, moreover, Peter Cushing's brilliance, is not to be outdone.

Image result for the fly film 1958 3. The Fly (1986)

Image result for the fly filmThe 1958 film is a great one. Great concept, and simple effects done quite well. But Jeff Goldblum's fly is something truly magnificent. The premise of the film plays out on a genetic level, becoming more and more horrifying as he loses his fingernails, his hair, and eventually his ability to think and behave humanly. All of this, done with excruciating finesse.

2. The Thing (2011)

I can never get enough of a good Thing. Effects and acting are tops here, just as in the original. The effects are top-notch, and the tension keeps you at the edge of your seat. And this remake did something absolutely wonderful. It gave an origin story to the mysterious axe in the wall in the 1982 film. This wasn't a remake made for a newer, younger audience who had never seen the original. It was made for people who had. Brilliant.

1. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Bela Lugosi's 1931 performance is iconic, yes. Yes yes yes. But have you seen that film? All of it? It's very slow for something that should be terrifying. Its mood is concentrated in a few short scenes, whereas Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the most accurate renditions of the essential vampire tale, with fantastic mood and cinematography. It's a beautiful story, beautifully told. There's fan edits out there that cut out the romance sections as well, making this film one of the very best pieces of horror cinema we have.

Image result for bram stoker's dracula

Your thoughts on this list are welcome as always, and, suggestions about future lists are encouraged as well. To reiterate, I have a private list in the thousands. Many of them wonderful, that I'd like to share with you. So you tell me, what kinds of lists do you want to see? Best monster flicks? Slashers? Found footage, maybe??

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