The 15 Worst Horror Remakes Ever Made

5. Poltergeist

How it fails to understand the original:

Tobe Hooper (or maybe Steven Spielberg, depending on who you ask) created one of the most memorable, enjoyable haunted house films of all time with 1982’s Poltergeist – a loud, fun, effects-driven ride that puts a suburban Californian family through hell. Then there’s the 2015 remake, which has almost the same plot yet none of the charm. The original film worked so well because it felt almost believable – we related to the down-to-earth family at its center and felt for them because we thought, “Hey, that could be us. Coffins with skeletons could be bursting up through our floors!” The remake doesn’t manage to convey this, at all. The family never seems like a family – they seem like actors hired to do a job.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Sam Rockwell is a wonderful actor, and he works hard to make all this work, clearly ad-libbing a bunch of off-the-cuff remarks throughout. But it’s not enough. The film is as lifeless as the ghouls that haunt its frames. There’s nothing even slightly scary here, or memorable. I dare you to recall any particular scene from this film. Go ahead. I double dare you. You can’t. This film unfolds at a steady, unremarkable pace, then the credits roll, and it almost instantly vanishes from your mind.

4. The Fog

How it fails to understand the original:

John Carpenter’s 1980 The Fog is a spooky, moody ghost story, dripping with atmosphere and that shaggy dog charm that blankets all of Carpenter’s films. Carpenter himself wasn’t even that thrilled with it when it came out, but it’s since grown into classic status. Since all Carpenter films seem doomed to be remade, and since Carpenter himself loves getting the remake paychecks, a remake of The Fog hit theaters in 2005, and boy is it bad. The film de-ages the entire cast, who all seemed like over-the-hill adults in the original but here look like they’re barely out of high school. It trades Carpenter’s simple, in-camera effects for dumb CGI fog. Also there’s a scene where a monster hand comes out of a train and turns an old woman into a skeleton. How spooky! Wait, no, I mean, dumb.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Pirate ghosts who come out of an unearthly fog to seek bloody vengeance should be an easy home run, as far as storytelling goes. But this remake doesn’t even get that right, and instead adds some stupid nonsense about reincarnation to the plot. All of the actors here are dreadful, especially Tom Welling, who is like an used plank of wood from Home Depot dressed in a flannel shirt.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street

How it fails to understand the original:

Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street has by now become a horror classic, and rightfully so. Craven took a rather brilliant idea – people being stalked and killed in their dreams, which in turn kills them in the waking world as well – and created a nasty boogeyman in the process. The Freddy Krueger Craven created is an odious, unsympathetic monster. The 2010 remake, for some very strange reason, thought it would be a good idea to make it seem like Freddy was a sympathetic character to be pitied, only to change their mind at the last minute. It doesn’t work, at all. And try as he might, Jackie Earle Haley just can’t make his take on Freddy scary.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Rooney Mara is a great actress, but hoo boy does she stink in this movie. Mara later said she hated working on this film so much she almost quit acting afterward, and I can believe it. Her take on ultimate Final Girl Nancy is an utter snooze. I’m not sure if, since the character is supposed to be sleep-deprived in a quest to avoid Freddy, Mara intentionally played her as if she’s a zombie, or if the actress was just so bored with the role she didn’t even bother to emote. Either way, it doesn’t work. On top of that, director Samuel Bayer films the whole thing very bluntly, with no real style or grace.

2. Cabin Fever

How it fails to understand the original:

I’m not even a big fan of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever, and a lot of it – particularly the “humor” – has aged badly. Still, I appreciate that Roth was going for something, and was working hard to create a memorable, gross-out horror flick. For some strange reason I can’t quite figure out, Roth’s 2002 film was remade in 2016. Roth may not be that great of a filmmaker, but he’s a damn auteur when compared to the 2016 remake’s director, Travis Zariwny. Have you ever seen those videos on YouTube where someone takes a movie trailer and re-shoots it in their garage, using cardboard sets and mops for wigs? That’s what this film feels like – like Zariwny watched Roth’s film and said, “Let’s remake that, but with no budget or skill. Even the gross-out material, which is pretty much the only good part of the original, is watered-down and poorly put together.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Like I said, I’m not a big fan of the original Cabin Fever, so I was more than open to letting this film try to stand on its own. But it doesn’t. The cast, made up of actors you’ve never heard of and will likely never see again, are all uniformly awful, and ill equipped to carry your luggage from a hotel front desk to the elevator, let alone a movie. Shot with all the grace of a local used car lot commercial, this is one of the ugliest looking movies I’ve ever seen. It’s as if Instagram invented a filter called UGLY BULLSHIT and they ran this movie through it.

1. Day of the Dead

How it fails to understand the original:

Oh dear. What…what is this? What is this ugly, poorly acted, incompetently directed dreck? Is this some sort of prank? If it is, it isn’t funny. After the surprising success of the Dawn of the Dead remake, a Day of the Dead remake seemed inevitable. And we got one, in 2008, and it’s embarrassingly bad. As is the case with all of George Romero’s zombie films, the original Day of the Dead was more of a reflection on humanity and all its terrible flaws than a portrait of zombies, but the remake just wants to throw a bunch of over-the-top ghouls in your face for 86 minutes, until you have a headache and want to take a nap. The original film had Bub, one of the most interesting zombie creations to ever grace the silver screen – a zombie slowly learning to be human again, sort of. The remake gives us Bud, a character who keeps stressing he’s a vegetarian, which is all a set-up to have him be against eating humans once he becomes a zombie. Oh, how funny. Except, not at all.

Why it’s bad on its own:

Does this garbage even qualify as a movie? I don’t think it does. It’s more like an Adobe After Effects test reel set to music. There’s nothing even remotely enjoyable about this. It’s neither good nor “so bad it’s good.” It exists solely to cash-in on its famous title. No thought, or heart, or energy went into making this movie. No one was passionate about it. No one sat down, read this script, and said, “This is going to be a great movie.” It’s the bottom of the bottom of the barrel, and it should be ashamed for even existing. Have I mentioned this movie is bad?

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