Good Movie Remakes

Generally movie remakes have a bad name despite Hollywood’s insistence on making them.  However in my experience there are a few that while not always improving on the original, at least do a good enough job to be worth seeing, without insulting the memory of a classic.  Find below a few I personally have enjoyed.

Little Shop Of Horrors


Although not familiar with the Roger Corman original, this Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, John Candy starring musical is a riot … very memorable tunes and great practical effects.  I really need to watch this again… soon!

Evil Dead


Was really expecting this to just not get what made the original so good – but it ramped up the gore and violence to epic proportions, had a great cast and was scary … maybe not as tongue-in-cheek as the series is famous for, but still felt like an Evil Dead movie.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Am I alone in thinking this version rocks?  Tons of gore (which the original lacked, even though I know that wasn’t the entire point) a perfectly mad performance by R. Lee Ermey and a twenty something bunch of ‘victims’ you don’t immediately hate.

Miracle On 34th Street


Charming with a great performance by Richard Attenborough.  A star making turn by the where is she now Mara Wilson (see also Mathilda).  Haven’t seen original but this was a perfect Christmas treat.



Am I cheating by including this?  A deserved genre classic with a (possible) career best from both Pacino and DeNiro, and yes it’s a remake of TV movie L.A. Takedown.

The Assassin (aka Point of No Return)


Perhaps sacrilege to remake Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita, and another I think I’m alone in loving.  I had a major crush on Bridget Fonda in this… but its a competent thriller with several decent performances, including a cameo by Harvey Keitel that’s worth seeing!

Piranha 3D


Breasts and naked skinny-dipping porn stars aside, this has gore by the bucket and a fast energetic pace that makes for one of the most fun horror movies in a long while.  Director Alexandre Aja cements his reputation as the go to guy for horror remakes!  (see also: The Hills Have Eyes).



Easy one this.  Not seen the original but with a powerhouse performance by Al Pacino and that line ‘say hello to my little fiend’ this took a basic blue print and seriously went to town with it!

The Thing


This shouldn’t have worked, but with a strong lead by the mouth-watering Mary Elizabeth Winstead  and half decent and freaky CGI, as well as all the atmosphere the original had (ok this is technically a prequel…but it still counts…I think), this really surprised me.

I am starting to think that although they get the worst press, horror remakes have got it right a fair few times going by the list above.  That’s just my opinion though and you may differ.  So what would your choices be?

Evil Dead 2

Viewed – 03 May 2013  Blu-ray

Special Edition

After viewing the recent remake, and coming away suitably entertained … naturally thoughts went to seeking out this much loved classic, which I am happy to admit has been one of my favorite horror movies for many years.  Starring Bruce Campbell and directed by Sam Raimi (Spider Man 1-3, Drag Me To Hell), this simple tail of a young couple who go to a cabin in the woods for a romantic weekend, quickly turns into a roller coaster of  demons, possession and gore as the forces of darkness are awakened when Campbell’s character ‘Ash’ unwittingly plays back a recording of a translation from the book of the dead (!).


Fast, packed with ideas and with some of the most outlandish and daring steady-cam work that has ever been devised – this is inventive director Raimi playing at full throttle.  Aided by a comedic, physical performance by Campbell and at times almost Tex Avery style violence and slapstick, this echoes those dodgy, low-budget b-movies of the fifties, whilst throwing at the screen the blood splattered excess of the video-nasty era.  The tone here is tongue-in-cheek comedy-horror, and although that can sometimes not work, as in movies like An American Werewolf In London, the balance is just right, making the movie creepy and scary whilst at times laugh out loud funny.  Really, try not cracking a smile when Campbell is beating himself up with his possessed hand, then shriek as a body gets literally eaten by the cellar door, resulting in buckets of blood spraying out.

Acting is not the selling point here, but the cast do their best to handle increasingly outrageous situations, with plenty of screaming and perfectly delivered one-liners (‘groovy’).  Effects-wise the optical effects are showing their age, but were never that great anyway, and the make-up seriously outshine the recent remake for demonic freakishness.  Along with Raimi’s endless imagination, this fired on all cylinders from beginning to end, making for an iconic, very entertaining and a much deserved classic of the genre.  Just watch it!

This newly released Blu-ray boasts a very nice remastered image, that may suffer from slight softness and blurriness at times, still manages to make the movie look better than it has done in years.  Sound-wise we get a 5.1 DTS Master Audio soundtrack that delivers good clarity even if it sounded a little soft during dialogue, although a 2.0 PCM Stereo soundtrack retains the movie’s original sound for beefier results on a 2 channel system.  Extras are exhaustive, with a welcome audio commentary from Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and various production members, and we also get several featurettes and picture galleries among other bits and bobs.  Very commendable!


(the movie): 5 /5

(the Blu-ray):  4 /5

Evil Dead

Viewed – 23 April 2013  Cinema

Big fan of the Evil Dead movies, especially Evil Dead 2, the wonderfully inventive slap-stick splatter fest from Sam (Oz The Great and Powerful) Raimi that made a cult hero of actor Bruce Campbell and cemented Raimi’s reputation as one of the most imaginative directors around.  Of course the remake was inevitable, and so step forth director Fede Alvarez, to hopefully breathe new life into a long (ahem) dead franchise.


A group of twenty-somethings arrive at a log cabin in the woods intent on helping their heroine addicted friend dry out.  Only problem is they stumble upon a book bound in human flesh (!) and one idiot thinks its a good idea to start reading from it – bring on the forces of evil!  Yes Evil Dead isn’t about deep plot or great characterization   What we are here for is to watch our gradually disbanding group of pretty-young-things turn against one another and freaky shit happen – hopefully involving a chainsaw and a few dismembered body parts.

Alvarez’ movie is shot with no lack of style and eerie atmosphere.  This is one creepy setting, but I knew that going into this.  What I wasn’t expecting was a rather believable and emotional brother / sister relationship that helped carry the movie through a series of increasingly brutal, violent and show-stopping set pieces … yes we have a tongue split down the middle, an arm sawn off, lots and lots and lots of blood and yes, we have a chainsaw (groovy!).  Gone is the slapstick humor of Evil Dead 2 in place of hardcore violence and no name actors doing a fairly good job at screaming and fighting, and turning into the possessed.  Homages to movies like The Ring, The Exorcist etc were welcome, but I would have liked some better effects for the possessed folk bar some weird contact lenses and grimy skin and hair … and the whole deal was a little short on genuine scares (not sure if it was how this one was filmed, but almost all the big jumps did nothing for me).  That being said when going into this, I wanted a fast, gory and effective horror movie, old-school 80s video nasty style – and for the most part … this delivered.

Verdict:  3.5 /5