7 Horror Remakes that Outshined the Original

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When it comes to horror remakes, the consensus is usually negative. They are viewed as lazy, soulless, and a cheap way to cash in on a pre-existing fan base. Whether the film strays too far from the source material, or goes the complete opposite way and copies the original beat for beat, remakes are looked down upon by fans and critics alike.

Related:10 Most Terrifying Characters From Non-Horror Movies

However, as rare as they are, the occasional horror remake comes out and shocks the world. Whether the resurrection of a dead IP puts a new spin on the story or simply just ups the gore, every so often a horror remake will justify its existence in Hollywood.

Evil Dead (2013)

The original Evil Dead was a triumph of low-budget filmmaking and ingenuity, helmed by, at the time, a 20-year-old Sam Raimi. It turned out to be a surprise hit, making back over four times its original budget and spawning two sequels. These sequels, while excellent, toned down the scares and gore to appease the MPAA. However, 20 years after the trilogy’s conclusion, a new Evil Dead was released. Simply titled, Evil Dead, this remake switched out the cheesy effects and dark humor of the original for buckets full of blood and a dead serious tone.

Related:How Evil Dead II Reimagined the Horror Protagonist

Surprisingly though, it worked! Thanks to an abundance of practical gore effects, entertaining kills, and a genuinely charismatic cast, Evil Dead (2013) improved upon the rough edges of the original while still telling a unique story of its own. Despite being applauded by critics and audiences alike, it sadly underperformed at the box office. Unfortunately, a potential sequel has been stuck in development hell (no pun intended) ever since its initial release.

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The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a film that not many people are aware is a remake. The original film is actually from 1951, and was titled The Thing From Another World. While the 1982 remake strays pretty far from its namesake, certain similarities are still present. Both films take place on an isolated arctic base, and both teams of men find a strange, alien-like figure in the icy wasteland. Soon, both aliens begin to kill off the crew one by one. However, this is where the similarities stop.

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While the original alien is more akin in appearance to someone like Frankenstein, the 80s alien is less humanoid and much deadlier. Due to stunning practical effects work done by Rob Bottin, and a foreboding score by Ennio Morricone, The Thing (1982) creates a much darker and much scarier atmosphere. The original is not without its merits, but unfortunately, it has not aged well. John Carpenter’s The Thing has.

IT (2017)

When it comes to horror remakes, IT (2017) is the most well-known. Functioning as both a remake and an adaptation, IT remains to be the highest-grossing horror movie of all time. And for good reason. The first adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal novel came in 1990, in the form of a TV miniseries. Although it has its fans, this miniseries was bloated, overly long, and extremely cheesy. If it hadn’t been for the brilliant performance of Tim Curry, who played Pennywise, this “movie” would’ve made very little impact in pop culture. However, the reception of the 2017 adaptation proved that audiences were still clamoring for more Pennywise.

Unlike something like The Ring, IT (2017) had all the cards in its favor upon release. The “killer clown” craze was in full swing in 2017, as was setting films in the 80s. This retro setting was helped by the inclusion of Finn Wolfhard, who was fresh off of season one of Stranger Things. IT nailed the time period, creating an environment that was both nostalgic for older fans while still being exciting for the new. Of course, the real showstopper of IT (2017) was Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. Terrifying, chilling, and darkly comedic at times, Skarsgard stunned audiences with his portrayal. Thanks to his performance, an increase in scares, and excellent pacing, IT (2017) improved upon the original in every way. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for its sequel.

The Fly (1986)

Similar to The Thing, if it were not for this remake, the original Fly would’ve most likely been lost to time. The Fly follows Dr. Brundle as he accidentally merges his DNA with a housefly after testing a teleportation machine. The original’s VFX have not aged gracefully, nor is it all that scary. However, 28 years after its original release, director David Cronenberg decided to give The Fly a new life.

Cronenberg is known for body horror, and The Fly is no exception. Featuring Jeff Goldblum, this grotesque take shocked audiences and wowed critics. Thanks to some grisly practical effects and a career-defining performance by Goldblum, The Fly (1986) topped its predecessor in every way. Even now after over 30 years, The Fly is still well worth a watch.

13 Ghosts (2001)

Putting it bluntly, The 13 Ghosts remake is not all that good, which should give some indication of how awful the original film was. 13 Ghosts (1960) was unremarkable, forgettable, and critically panned upon release. For some unknown reason, in 2001, Dark Castle Pictures chose to remake this forgotten flick. Despite receiving equally bad reviews from critics, fans seemed to enjoy it, and in the years since, it has garnered something of a cult following.

The remake centers around a family who inherits a strange glass mansion from an estranged relative. Soon, they begin to notice strange things going on, and eventually find out that the house is a prison for the spirits of 13 unique ghosts (hence the title.) While the plot is nonsensical and the acting is more than a little cheesy, some decent CGI and excellent set design help make this remake stand above its predecessor, if only by a hair.

The Ring (2002)

The 2002 remake of the Japanese horror Ringu had no right to be as good as it was. The original is regarded as a seminal J-horror. Featuring an intriguing mystery revolving around a cursed videotape, as well as some spooky character design, Ringu was a hit with critics. Unsurprisingly, Hollywood sought to capitalize on the Japanese horror, and four years later, The Ring was released.

Related: The 40 Best Horror Movies of the 2000s

The Ring was a hit with both critics and audiences. Unlike many 2000s horror movies, The Ring had a sense of style and art to it. Actors and locations weren’t covered in a glossy sheen that would become so popular in remakes during the late 2000s. The color pallet and cinematography were vastly different from the original, giving the remake its own visual identity. The scares were heightened without sacrificing the sense of mystery and tension that was apparent in Ringu. Occasionally The Ring can fall into cliché territory, but overall, it improves on the source material without being disrespectful.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Both the original and the remake of Little Shop of Horrors toe the line between comedy and horror, similar to Scream and Cabin in the Woods. In both iterations, a young plant shop owner named Seymore discovers a carnivorous plant in his store. At the plant’s request, he nurtures it by feeding it dead bodies. However, this is where the similarities between the two films end.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986) in addition to being a remake, is also an adaptation of the 1982 Broadway musical of the same name. As a result, this version strays drastically from the original. Featuring multiple musical numbers, a vibrant color pallet, and exaggerated acting, Little Shop of Horrors has more differences from the original than similarities. In addition to being a musical, Audrey the plant is given a full personality, being brought to life using incredible animatronics and on-set puppetry. This more upbeat tone and increase in production quality help Little Shop of Horrors 1986 stand head and shoulders above its predecessor.

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