9 Horror Movie Originals That Are Better Than Their Remake

Colette Smith
Horror Movies
Horror Movies

Hollywood sure loves a remake. Whether for good or bad, studios keep churning them out. With the success of the recent remake of IT, and Flatliners set to hit cinemas this week, horror movie remakes seem to be making a comeback in 2017. But these nine horror movies show that while there may be half-way decent remakes in the world, the original will always be superior.

Dawn of the Dead

dawn of the dead original vs remake
George Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead' (1978) vs Zach Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' (2004).

When Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead came out in theaters in 2004, horror was reborn. The director’s take on George A. Romero‘s zombie classic reignited a genre on its last legs. The undead came back in a big way. But now after more than a decade later, we can look back and say the original is indisputably better.

The remake has a lot going for it; great ensemble cast, big action sequences and a solid script from the now mega-famous writer/director of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, James Gunn. What the film doesn’t have is the timeless sincerity that the ’70s version has.

George A. Romero made a film that reflected the stresses and worries of a generation under duress. He struck a chord with his profound story and the actors in his film sell the tone incredibly well. The original Dawn of the Dead is more a tale of how good people make do when all hope is lost. It’s a bold statement underlined by a dark and gory narrative. Also, his zombies didn’t run.

[Andrew Hawkins, FANDOM Contributor]

Psycho

psycho_60_vs_psycho_98
The 'Psycho' shower scene in Hitchcock's 1968 original and the shot-for-shot 1998 Gus Van Sant remake.

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho changed the way we view cinema. Star Janet Leigh’s demise early in the film shocked audiences, and the final scene is still bone-chilling to this day. Unfortunately, in 1998, auteur Gus Van Sant attempted to remake the classic with Vince Vaughn in the role of killer Norman Bates. Anne Heche is a sad facsimile of Leigh’s Marion Crane, and Vaughn is laughable. For some reason, Van Sant made the film in lurid color, and he somehow made Psycho a visual mess.

The biggest problem Van Sant’s Psycho has is that Hitchcock’s film should never have been remade in the first place. It’s a classic, a touchstone that is taught in every Introduction to Film class. Trying to recapture that magic is like trying to rewrite a Beethoven symphony or repaint one of Degas’ ballerinas. Sometimes it’s better to leave the classics alone.

[Danielle Ryan, FANDOM Contributor]

A Nightmare on Elm Street

OG Freddy Krueger vs updated Freddy Krueger
OG Freddy Krueger vs updated Freddy Krueger.

2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is not a good movie, at all. Yet people still defend Jackie Earle Haley‘s version of Freddy Krueger and still think the new take on the series was a smart one. For me, I rented the remake a year after it came to theaters. Rather ironically, it put me to sleep.

The original Nightmare on Elm Street series is the best slasher franchise of them all. Freddy is a fun villain whose kills are infinitely inventive thanks to his dream powers. The 2010 movie decided that instead of a wacky clown as a villain, they would go a different direction. “Let’s make him a creepy child molester.” Which is a terrifying idea, but not terrifying in the “let’s watch teenagers get their heads smashed into TV sets”-way that summer slashers operate on.

Jackie is fine, but the rest of the movie is not. No surprise then that no sequel ever appeared. Robert Englund is and always will be the only Freddy. If you want a twisted sexual take on Nightmare on Elm Street, try the second movie instead.

[Eric Fuchs, FANDOM Contributor]

Oldboy

oldboy old v new
That famous hammer fight scene in Park Chan-wook's original and Spike Lee's remake.

Park Chan-wook’s 2003 original Oldboy is a modern classic. The story centers around a man who is randomly imprisoned for 15 years by an unknown figure. When he is mysteriously set free, he seeks answers about his captor and what their motives were. It’s a horrifying tale that’s full of brutality, sadness, gut-wrenching revelations, and maybe redemption.

The American remake, which manifested 10 years after the original Korean thriller, was helmed by renowned director Spike Lee. It starred a great cast, including Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, and Samuel L. Jackson. Most fans dismissed Lee’s take on the story, and it’s worth noting that his film didn’t quite have the same flourish and dark magic of the original. But, Spike Lee tweaked a few spoiler-y plot points that actually helped the story quite a bit.

Lee’s film is no match for Park Chan-wook’s masterpiece, but it’s an interesting gauge on what happens when trying to translate a dark, off-kilter foreign film to the American market. It’s certainly worth a look, but only after seeing the original.

[Drew Dietsch, Entertainment Editor]

Evil Dead

evil dead old v new
The original 'Evil Dead' vs the 2013 remake.

The 2013 Evil Dead remake was very well received at the time. 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and a lot of buzz at South by Southwest made me at least open to the idea that an Evil Dead remake could be worth seeing. Fede Alvarez was a hot director who is still doing great things. I was badly disappointed.

The new Evil Dead was ultra dark and ultra bloody, but far less scary. The genius of the original was not how visceral and real the scares were, but how un-real they were. Sam Raimi‘s version of the Deadites are as likely to laugh at you as stab you in the shin with a pencil. The gore works not because of the buckets of blood, but because of how strange and gooey the flesh is depicted. The first Evil Dead is one the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. It showed you can have fun and still be terrified.

The remake tried to take out all the silliness to add more scares but ended up neither fun nor scary. Four years later, the Evil Dead remake’s buzz has died down and the franchise has a new home on Starz with the Ash vs. Evil Dead series, where it is sillier than ever.

[Eric Fuchs, FANDOM Contributor]

The Shining

shining original v miniseries remake
Breaking down doors in Kubrick's 'The Shining' and the 1997 miniseries written by Stephen King.

While Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shining is notoriously hated by King, it is arguably one of the greatest films ever made. Kubrick weaves layers of nuance into the otherwise simple story of cabin fever. People are still arguing over what Kubrick was trying to say with The Shining. It’s a fantastic film, with beautiful cinematography, intense performances, and powerful, iconic imagery.

Mick Garris’ 1997 The Shining miniseries pales in comparison to Kubrick’s version. It is much more accurate to King’s book but suffers from a low budget, television censorship, and some extremely uneven acting. That’s not to say The Shining miniseries is without its strengths: it was shot in the Stanley Hotel where King actually stayed when he decided to write the novel, and it is much more faithful to the source material. The miniseries isn’t terrible, but it can never hold a candle to the 1980 original.

[Danielle Ryan, FANDOM Contributor]

Halloween

Halloween old v new
Michael Myers in John Carpenter's 'Halloween' vs Rob Zombie's 'Halloween' remake.

Rob Zombie butchered John Carpenter’s Halloween. It’s no wonder the master of horror told the White Zombie frontman to “make it his own.” I know I wouldn’t want my name on something so misguided and pathetic.

The 2007 Halloween remake does four things during the course of its runtime. We get the story of troubled kid Michael Myers, what happens when he’s confined to an asylum, the events of his attack on Laurie Strode, and a finale that tries to tie in the original Halloween II. It’s a bloated and ugly mess.

Zombie takes everything John Carpenter did right and overextends it. The deaths are more brutal, there’s significantly more nudity, and the gore is way bloodier. What we lose with so much excess are the connections to simple characters we care about and a brisk pace that keeps us on the edge of our seat.

This Halloween stinks despite being filled with wonderful character actors we know from decades of great horror movies. Rob Zombie had a shot at making a truly great remake and blew it. What’s worse is that he made a sequel.

[Andrew Hawkins, FANDOM Contributor]

The Eye

the eye hong kong vs american remake
The original Hong Kong horror 'The Eye' and the 2008 American remake starring Jessica Alba.

The Pang brothers’ 2002 film, The Eye, is a poignant and haunting story about a blind woman who develops the ability to see ghosts after having a corneal transplant. Kar Mun discovers that she not only sees ghosts but also grim reaper-esque figures that foretell impending death. Each ghost she sees has some sort of backstory, many with important ties to the Buddhist faith and local culture.

Due to the success of other Asian horror films, like Ju-On and Ringu, the R-rated Hong Kong horror movie was brought overseas in 2008. As with many of the Japanese and Korean counterparts that were remade around the same time, the American remake of The Eye was watered down and lacked the cultural context of the original. Scares and gore were toned down to get a more marketable PG-13 rating. With a popular star in the lead (Jessica Alba) and an ad campaign that related the film to other, more successful remakes, the studios had high hopes for The Eye. Unfortunately, they removed the most vital parts of the story to make it more palatable for westerners, making it a bland, by-the-numbers ghost story.

[Danielle Ryan, FANDOM Contributor]

The Fly

thefly old vs new
A transformed fly-scientist in the original 1958 'The Fly' vs the 1986 version.

David Cronenberg’s 1986 horror, The Fly, is a beloved horror gem and for good reason. It’s got great effects, excellent performances, and treats its genre story with utmost seriousness. Strangely, most people don’t acknowledge the 1958 original film for doing the same thing. Yes, it’s a product of its era, but it’s a high-caliber production that never devolves into B-movie ridiculousness.

The concept of an ambitious scientist becoming merged with a fly is seemingly ludicrous, but both films never look at it that way. They are examinations of man’s hubris and his tendency to quickly trust the potential of new technology. The 1958 film has a fantastic reveal and is much darker than its pastel colors might lead you to believe. If you’ve never checked out the first film, a double feature with Cronenberg’s body horror masterpiece is a great way to spend the day.

[Drew Dietsch, Entertainment Editor]

Colette Smith
Deputy Editor of the FANDOM Contributor Program currently obsessed with Rick and Morty, Mr. Robot, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Pearl Jam, Korean film, and everything Bryan Fuller touches. Secretly a fan of trashy rom-coms and K-dramas, but don't tell anyone.
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