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?

The Kubrick Project: Part Three

Now we come to Stanley’s answer to Hollywood’s favourite war – Vietnam!

Full Metal Jacket  (1987)


The war movie has always been a popular choice for directors, but in the eighties, the war in Vietnam seemed to become a genre all its own…what with its green camo’d G.I. the use of 70s rock to convey atmosphere, and the destroyed beauty of Vietnam with its dense jungles…even today these movies look brilliantly iconic.

When Stanley Kubrick delivered his take on the war, he was already following in the wake of Oliver Stone’s seminal Platoon, and before that Francis Ford Coppola’s operatic Apocalypse Now.  Yet again, Kubrick didn’t go the route of those past glories, and chose to tell the story very differently, focusing more on the G.I.’s and their personalities, their training, with the actual conflict seemingly on the back burner throughout. 

We open with a tour-de-force performance from Lee R Ermey as the tough-as-nails drill instructor with a never ending vocabulary of (often comical) put-downs and insults, and his effect on one G.I. in particular (Vincent D’Onofrio) proves truly unnerving cinema.  This startling opening 45 minutes grabs you by the throat so strongly that once we finally hit the killing fields of ‘Nam its almost a relief.  Then we get into the heart of darkness as our young G.I.’s are faced with the hell of war, and the brilliantly named Joker (Mathew Modine) sucks us in with a friendly, likable anti-hero lead, that helps us through the tougher moments.

At times Full Metal Jacket feels like a documentary, the choice to make a military reporter (Modine) your eyes and ears on the conflict was bold but fresh compared to what we’ve been used to before; some marine trying to get home in one piece (see Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July etc), and throughout this is a beautiful film to look at, with Kubrick’s unflinching eye for detail and setting never missing a beat.  Also the film feels a little lighter in tone compared to its brethren, and the claustrophobia of Platoon is thankfully missing.  It also delivers where we want it to, in some excellent battle scenes, a superb final act involving a lone sniper pinning down a squad of G.I.’s, and perfect choices of music (Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black should have you coming away totally satisfied). 


The DVD is referred to as the ‘deluxe edition’, but I fail to see what’s so deluxe about it.  We get one (admittedly interesting) half hour documentary, a trailer and most valuable of all, a cast commentary, that is very informative.  When compared to the other films in the box set though, the extra material here is severely lacking.  Shame because the picture is sharp and vivid in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio (anamorphic) and the sound in 5.1 is suitably powerful.

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