The Fly and Four More Horror Film Remakes That Don't Suck

Your remake sucks! But mine is sweet.
Your remake sucks! But mine is sweet.

Remakes are always dicey business, and horror remakes seem to be especially awful, despite -- or perhaps because of -- their ubiquity. Still, not every horror film remake is a total shit show. Every once in a while, one manages not to embarrass itself -- or even the film being remade. And once in a blue moon, the filmmaker manages to even exceed the original. One of those rare examples -- David Cronenberg's remake of The Fly -- is showing at Crash 45 tonight as part of Theresa Mercado's Cruel Autumn series. In honor of this auspicious occasion, here's our list of five remakes, The Fly included, that stand as fine films in their own right.

See also: Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead turns ten

5)

The Fly

Here's the rarest of all remakes -- the film that actually improves on the original by a wide margin. The original version of

The Fly

is a pretty typical '50s sci-fi/horror B-movie. It's got a cool premise and a bit more heart than most, but otherwise it's not miles removed from any drive-in flick from the era. Cronenberg's version takes the same basic plot -- scientist merges himself with a fly via teleportation accident, then tries to deal with the consequences with the help of his lover -- and turns it into a superbly gross vision of love and science gone horribly awry. Unforgettable and unique, this is one remake that will make you forget the original even existed.

4)

The Thing

Here's another one that exceeds the original (but don't worry, the trend stops here). Of course, we're talking about the 1982 remake exceeding the 1951 original -- the 2011 re-remake is mediocre at best. All three share the same basic plot -- scientists in a very cold place come across a hostile alien that wants them all dead. John Carpenter's 1982 version does the most with this set-up, building a taut epic of claustrophobia and paranoia out of a shapeshifting alien that can take the form of any living being it comes in contact with. More creative (and truer to the source material, a John W. Campbell novella) than either the version that preceded it or its successor, Carpenter's version is the definitive take on the idea, and the only version you really need.

Keep reading for three more horror movies that don't suck. 

3)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

You could make a reasonable case for either the original

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

or the remake being the superior film; both are considered landmark works of sci-fi/horror. The plot is the same -- alien clones hatched from weird-looking pods replace people as they sleep and only a few people are aware it's happening. The original has been said to be a metaphor for fears of Communism, fears of McCarthyism and fears of the creeping conformity of 1950s America. The remake plays on the same themes by and large, but features Donald Sutherland in all his '70s porn-mustachioed glory. It all comes down to a matter of preference, really.

2)

Dawn of the Dead

If you only see one film called

Dawn of the Dead

it had better goddamn be George A. Romero's 1978 original. That said, Zack Snyder's 2004 remake is actually a pretty good time, too, as long as your definition of a "pretty good time" includes lots of B-list character actors getting their faces chewed on by hyperkinetic zombies. It takes the basic premise -- a group of people hole up in a mall to hide from a zombie apocalypse -- and then goes its own way, with respectable results. It's dumber, sloppier and a hell of a lot less socially conscious than the original, but the remake features some incredible gore effects, and it channeled the comic-book action-movie vibe of Dario Argento's Euro edit of the original while launching the zombie craze of the past decade. That's not too bad for a remake.

1)

Maniac

The

original Maniac is a sleazy, disturbing look at the mind of a sadistic killer

who hunts women and scalps them in a terrifying, decaying New York City that seems like a mirror for his twisted psyche. The remake takes the same basic premise and moves it to Los Angeles while adding a new twist in showing the action through the killer's eyes. Both are great in their own ways, even if the original is a little more, well... original. It's also more disturbing, despite the remake placing you literally in the killer's place, for the simple fact that Joe Spinell is a lot more believable and frightening as the titular maniac than Elijah Wood. That guy still has the adorable stench of hobbit all over him, which makes his turn as a literal lady killer a little less punchy than Spinell's all too believable overweight, socially awkward killer.



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