Either the entertainment industry is running dry on material, or there is certain thrill to remaking a film. Remaking is like gambling; you could lose big or hit the jackpot. The chances of the latter are slim at best. However, because of the existence of a previous film, a certain amount of ticket sales and publicity are guaranteed. That’s most likely why remakes continue to be made.
Horror is a particularly vulnerable genre, ready to be taken apart into tiny pieces and remade to death. With special effects and technological advances, horror films are also the perfect target. Filmmakers are convinced that by amping up the gore and the body count, the actual plot becomes a secondary element.
In other cases, films are changed in such dramatic ways that the essence of what once was a decent horror movie is now a hollow two-hour series of bloody images. Here are ten examples of the worst horror remakes ever made.
1. Dawn of Dead (2004)
The remake of Dawn of the Dead has created its own group of followers, and it’s rated above average for a horror flick. There is no denying that this movie is solid in many aspects, and it provides the right amount of gore and zombies to satisfy the fans, but it fails to faithfully convey Romero’s original theme: consumerism.
The new Dawn of the Dead takes place in a mall, but it doesn’t take full advantage of its location. There is a campy montage of the survivors indulging in the metropolis pleasures while the outside world falls to pieces, but this sequence feels out of place. It serves no purpose, and it feels like it had to be there to somewhat resemble the original.
Romero’s film also creates a tense atmosphere without relying on fast, enraged zombies, which is ultimately what makes it so great. A group of smart, abled adults are trapped in a shopping mall filled with slow, brainless creatures. One zombie in Romero’s film is not dangerous; it’s the herd that characters must fear. The remake completely missed the point there.
2. Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
For everyone who grew up with the fear of going to sleep and not waking up, or for those who still experience a mild panic attack upon the sight of red and green clothing, the new Nightmare on Elm Street will be a total disappointment.
Wes Craven’s Nightmare keeps the number of characters to a minimum because its intention was not a high body count, but psychological horror. The new Nightmare introduces a number of disposable and undeveloped characters for the mere purpose of giving Freddy more bodies to rip apart.
The first 30 minutes are complete fluff. While the need to have a death in the opening scene has become almost mandatory for horror films, Freddy’s first victim (whatever his name was) is forgettable and completely takes away the mystery of the original. Are these just dreams? Can Freddy actually hurt me? The blurred line between dreams and reality doesn’t exist in the new Nightmare. It all gets too real too soon.
3. Quarantine (2008)
Remakes on foreign horror films never turn out well. Although Quarantine is almost a shot by shot copy of the original, it fails to grab the audience and deliver genuine scares in the same way. Quarantine is a Hollywood remake, and just like any other, it feels more staged; it also attempts to improve upon the quality of visual effects, actor looks, and just the overall feel of the film.
However a movie that aims to be found footage doesn’t need such improvement; it needs realism, a combination of dark shots, shaky camera effects and authentic delivery from the actors. REC succeeds at these. Quarantine does not.
4. Psycho (1998)
If you’re going to attempt to remake one of Hitchock’s masterpieces, you’d better realize it’s just a bad idea and not even try it. Gus Van Sant’s Psycho tries to be faithful to the original from a camera and soundtrack perspective. However, all the elements on the screen don’t click.
The soundtrack makes you feel uneasy but not the type of uneasiness a horror movie should trigger, but rather an uncomfortable feeling caused by witnessing someone make a fool of himself. It’s hard to take the film seriously, especially with the weak acting.
Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche’s performances are overdone. They try to imitate the original tone of the film, which makes their characters feel cartoon-like. It’s almost as if the film forgets that it’s set in 1998 and not in the 60’s. Psycho set the foundation for the modern slasher genre. It has been referenced and paid homage to by many filmmakers. Some have succeeded, some not so much, but they all respectfully kept their distance.
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The main problem with the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre is its dependability on gore and torture porn techniques to instill fear in the audience.
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is disturbing not because of the amount of blood shed on screen or the realism used to show a chainsaw cut through muscle and bones, but because it takes its time to develop a deranged group of villains; the most infamous of all being leatherface, who in the original version seems as disturbed by the presence of intruders as his victims are by his weapon of choice.
The remake portrays leatherface as a psychotic killer who enjoys mutilating teenagers for a living; the film fails to give depth to its villain and instead tries to compensate by exponentially raising the gore level.