The 15 Worst Horror Remakes Ever Made

halloween remake

This week, a remake of Flatliners will hit theaters and leave us all wondering: “Why?” Look, remakes of horror films are nothing new, but was anyone actually eager for a Flatliners remake? Besides, there already was a film that came very close to being a Flatliners remake; it was called The Lazarus Effect, and it was terrible.

Speaking of terrible, in honor (maybe?) of Flatliners, I’ve gone ahead and broken down the 15 Worst Horror Remakes. You may disagree with these picks; in fact, I know for certain that many people enjoy at least one or two of these films. That’s fine! I welcome your defense of them! But these are the bottom of the barrel. The rotten apples. The major disappointments. These are the worst horror remakes.

15. Thirteen Ghosts

How it fails to understand the original:

Look, I won’t sit here and tell you William Castle’s 1960 fright flick 13 Ghosts is some sort of masterpiece, but it might as well be when you compare it to the 2001 remake Thirteen Ghosts, or Thir13een Ghosts, if you want to be a jerk about it. Castle’s chills and thrills are traded in for bombast, unfunny jokes and Matthew Lillard stumbling around the film like he’s about to lose his damn mind.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Even if Thirteen Ghosts wasn’t a remake, it still stinks. There’s no nuance to the film, which is fine, but it also doesn’t understand how to be an over-the-top spookshow either. It just sort of exists, occasionally hurling shrieking ghouls at you. Which is a shame, because the makeup work created for the ghosts is actually quite impressive. Too bad we barely get to see any of it, since the ghosts are constantly filmed in jittery, quick cuts, which I guess is supposed to be scary but will probably just give you a headache.

14. Friday the 13th

How it fails to understand the original:

It really shouldn’t be that hard to remake a Friday the 13th film. The formula is painfully simple: Jason, a hulking, hockey masked ghoul, runs around offing horny teens who have dared to invade his summer camp. There, that’s it. Why is that so hard to grasp? This 2009 remake doesn’t get it. It’s slick where it should be gritty, and while it strives to achieve some of the playfulness of the original franchise, it’s way too far up its own ass to pull that off. There’s a scene in this movie where Jason shoots someone with a bow and arrow, then the scene cuts to Jason’s childhood bedroom, where an archery trophy can be viewed. As if the filmmakers had a meeting and said “Okay, we really need to explain why Jason knows how to shoot a bow and arrow.” No you don’t!

Why it’s bad on its own:

There’s not a single character in this movie worth paying attention to. Yes, the original Friday films were loaded with disposable characters, but they always had at least one or two people you gave some sort of a crap about. Here, it doesn’t matter which of these goons Jason goes after first. There’s also an abundance of pot-based humor which feels completely out of place; the entire opening of the film is a group of youngsters trying to find a mythical marijuana field. Which I guess Jason is growing? Who the hell knows.

13. The Hitcher

How it fails to understand the original:

Robert Harmon’s queasy 1986 thriller The Hitcher pitted Rutger Hauer against C. Thomas Howell, and it was kind of wonderful. This 2007 remake trades in the things that made the 86 film unique, including a not-so-subtle queer subtext, for a boring chase movie. Sean Bean is pretty good as the murderous Hitcher, but he can’t hold a candle to Rutger Hauer’s almost otherworldly performance.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Do you like point-and-shoot movies, where the director apparently sets up their camera, lets it roll and then knocks off a bit for a nap while the actors are performing? If so, you’ll love The Hitcher! The film’s director,  Dave Meyers, has never made another feature film after this, and I’m not even a little surprised about that.

12. When A Stranger Calls

How it fails to understand the original:

The 1979 When A Stranger Calls is another one of those films that isn’t exactly great, but has a lot of charm. The film takes the urban legend about crank calls coming from inside the house, and turns it into a concise little thriller. The 2006 remake, from Con Air director Simon West, is just an excuse to crank the soundtrack up with loud noises with the hopes of making tweens squirm in their seats. The original film may be a bit tame in terms of gore, but it’s also kind of a mean little movie. The remake is toothless.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Here are some things the 2006 When A Stranger Calls remake considers to be scary: lights going on; quick close-ups on unringing phones; wind blowing some bushes. There’s absolutely nothing here that even approaches frightening, or even tense. At one point, our heroine (Camilla Belle) runs past some bushes that are violently shaking in the wind, and the soundtrack booms, as if this is supposed to be scary. They’re bushes! Get out of here.

11. The Omen

How it fails to understand the original:

Richard Donner’s 1976 chiller about the offspring of Satan becomes…whatever this is. It seems like the only reason The Omen was remade in 2006 was because someone realized they could release it on 6/6/2006, build a marketing campaign around that, and assume that’s good enough. Donner’s original slowly builds itself up with dread, punctuated by occasionally shocking death scenes. It also plays around with the notion that maybe, just maybe, the kid at the center of it all isn’t the spawn of Satan, and that his father (Gregory Peck) might be going crazy. The remake doesn’t have time for any of that. It somehow both speeds the narrative up while also remaining painfully slow.

Why it’s bad on its own:

How do you take a movie about a child that may be the son of the devil and somehow make it boring? Ask John Moore, who directs this remake as if he has a bet going on with the crew about which scene he can make the most lifeless. Poor Liev Schreiber is trying his best to carry this remake on his back over the finish line, but he just can’t get there.

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