The 15 Worst Horror Remakes Ever Made

10. The Haunting

How it fails to understand the original:

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House was adapted into a sparse, super-creepy film by Robert Wise in 1963. It’s subtle, and psychological, and effective. The 1999 remake, from Speed director Jan de Bont, is none of those things. The 1999 film thinks more is better, and overloads itself with big, loud special effects, including a CGI skeleton that jumps out of a fireplace and a giant swinging pendulum that knocks someone’s head off. Jackson’s book and Wise’s film were all about the psychological elements of horror. The remake just wants to scream “BOO!” in your ears.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Even if de Bont weren’t working with the subtle original, this film is a pile of garbage. There’s nothing scary about a CGI ghost that jumps out of a painting, I’m sorry. There just isn’t. De Bont is an action filmmaker, and he shoots this thing like an action movie, not a horror film, and it suffers as a result. And Lili Taylor, a normally fantastic actress, was apparently ill equipped to work in such a special effects-driven feature, having come from a primarily indie background. It shows – she seems lost among all the bells and whistles of this junk.

9. The Thing

How it fails to understand the original:

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a remake itself, but it’s one of the best possible examples of a remake. The remake of Carpenter’s film, 2011’s The Thing, is not. The case can be made that this is technically a prequel, not a remake. But no, I refuse to accept that. This film is also called The Thing, so it’s therefore a remake. Don’t play your title games with me. While Carpenter’s film is an icy, gross-out work of terror, complete with some of the most mind-blowing special effects you’ve ever seen, the 2011 is rife with terrible CGI, none of it very convincing. What made the Carpenter film so disturbing was the fact that the practical effects really made it seem like it was all happening. Here, everything looks like a cartoon.

Why it’s bad on its own:

A story like this – involving a team of isolated scientists trapped in a claustrophobic space with an alien lifeform – should seem, well, claustrophobic. Instead, director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. shoots everything wide, giving the film the feeling of being shot on Hollywood backlot sets and not taking place somewhere remote. Also, while there are some good actors in this film, like Mary Elizabeth Winstead, none of them seem to know what they’re doing. Worse than that, these characters, who were meant to be isolated together for months, have zero chemistry together. It’s as if they just met the minute before the director yelled “Action!”

8. Halloween

How it fails to understand the original:

Okay, this is the one that’s going to get me in trouble. I know that many people actually like this movie. Some even have proclaimed it to be better than John Carpenter’s original (they’re wrong, by the way). I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. Rob Zombie, who has a pretty good visual eye, is a terrible screenwriter. He takes literally everything that made Carpenter’s sleek, low-key film special and butchers it. Worst of all, he gives Michael Myers some dumb backstory where he’s a sad boy from a broken family. The whole point of Michael Myers in Carpenter’s original was that he was the ultimate evil – a seemingly normal boy from a normal suburban family who was none the less a cold blooded killer. Zombie’s film wants us to feel bad for Michael; why? We’re not supposed to have sympathy for Michael Myers. We’re supposed to fear him as a cold, unfeeling, unstoppable monster.

Why it’s bad on its own:

I’ve seen some folks say that if this weren’t a remake of Halloween and just some new slasher movie, more people would like it. Can’t say that I agree. Again, Zombie does have a good directorial eye, but he stinks when it comes to script. His screenplay is littered with dumb lines and even dumber characters. At one point, Michael Myers literally holds a character’s photo up in front of someone as if he’s a private detective in some old film noir. What the hell is this? Also, even though the film is set in the suburbs, everyone here behaves as if they’re hillbillies running moonshine down from the mountain, because that’s the only type of character Zombie knows how to write. If he was making a movie set during the French Revolution, all the characters would still behave like inbred rednecks. The most distracting thing Zombie does, though, is pepper this film with familiar B-movie faces, mostly in small walk-on roles. It serves no purpose beyond getting horror movie fans to point at the screen and say “Oh, there’s Clint Howard!”

7. The Wicker Man

How it fails to understand the original:

Oh boy, where to even start? Robin Hardy 1973 The Wicker Man is an eerie, sun dappled bad dream, ominous and surreal. Neil LaBute’s 2006 remake is…none of those things. LaBute takes Hardy’s film and turns it into some sort of gonzo thriller, with Nicolas Cage running around the movie as if he’s on a coke binge, he’s just run out of coke, and he can’t find the car keys he needs to go drive somewhere to buy more coke. Oh, there’s something about bees too, which is…whatever, it doesn’t matter.

Why it’s bad on its own:

While The Wicker Man certainly isn’t a good movie, I will admit I kind of admire of off-the-walls goofy it is, and how committed Cage is to his freaky deaky performance. That said, the film is a mess, and while in later years Cage and LaBute have tried to claim they were intentionally trying to make the movie funny, I’m not buying it. The central mystery here, with Cage looking for a missing girl, never works. And as fun as it is to watch the actor behave like a loon, it just doesn’t really make sense in the context of the film.

6. Black Christmas

How it fails to understand the original:

Bob Clark’s 1974 Black Christmas is a moody, grainy 70s creeper that never lets up in terms of suspense and tension. The 2006 remake from Glen Morgan features a lot of close-ups and loud, banging sounds on the soundtrack. Morgan’s 2006 remake trades on Clark’s chills for gore, gore and more gore, as well as some really stupid nonsense thrown in for good measure. In one scene, a character takes some cookie cutters to someone’s skin and then turns the skin pieces into Christmas cookies. It’s enough to make you yell, “Hey, what the hell is this?” to the screen.

Why it’s bad on its own:

This is the only film I’ve ever walked out of. I saw Black Christmas on Christmas Day in 2006, and as I sat there, watching this mess unfold, I thought, “There’s probably something better I can be doing with my holiday.” And left. I eventually finished the film on home video, but that didn’t improve things. This movie is poorly pieced together, with the editing from Chris G. Willingham nearly incomprehensible. Anytime the film wants to get from one scene to the next, it uses a big, loud smash cut, complete with sound effects. It’s like someone creeps up behind you and blows an air horn in your ears with each scene change.  

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