The Horror Honeys: Your Remake Makes Me Want to Die...

Your Remake Makes Me Want to Die...

The Worst Remakes of the Best Films: A Revenge Honey List!

You sir, are the literal worst. 
Taking shots at horror/thriller remakes is easy: not only are they too lazy to come up with their own material, but 75% of the time, they are atrocious. We've become a generation of people who roll our eyes at the mere mention of a remake. And with good reason. Did we need a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street? Nope. Were TWO Halloween remakes necessary? Not remotely. Does ANYONE remember ANYTHING about the Friday the 13th remake? I sure don't and I saw it twice in the theater for some odd reason.

But sometimes, a remake comes along that is so painfully offensive, you want to find copies of the film and burn them as a sacrifice to the original. These remakes take everything beautiful and unique and remarkable about the first film, and crap all over it. The following are the top (bottom?) five worst imaginable remakes of the most amazing films in order, with a few dis-honorable mentions thrown in at the end for good measure.

Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy list...

Number Five: Village of the Damned (1960)/ Village of the Damned (1995)

Some films were simply not meant to updated. In 1960, Village of the Damned introduced horror/sci-fi lovers to the little English town of Midwich, where every woman capable of becoming pregnant suddenly finds herself knocked up with a ten pound baby that is too smart for its own good. As these miraculous babies age faster than normal children, Midwich is suddenly faced with a little roving gang of blonde-haired, blue-eyed know-it-alls with a lust for power. Even today, the original Village of the Damned is terrifying: terrifying if you have children and even more terrifying if you never ever want them.

Additionally, the world in the 1950s (when the novel upon which the film is based) and the 60s was rapidly changing. Adults were watching helplessly as their children were becoming independent minded and freeing themselves of the gentile confines of their parent's upbringing. Village wasn't just a creepy-as-hell vision of the fears of parenting, but it's a brilliant snapshot of a period in history right before serious generational turmoil.

So why did Village of the Damned need to be remade in 1995? Beats the hell out of me. I have nothing but respect for John Carpenter, and truth be told, this movie has a bit of sentimental value as it was the last film completed by Christopher Reeve before the horse-riding accident that paralyzed him. But everything about this remake felt so empty, and so unnecessary, that it does a disservice to the original. I actually saw this version when it came out, when I was 12, and it still didn't scare me. All I can say is, if you haven't seen the 1960 Village of the Damned, do so immediately. You will never look at a blonde kid the same way again.

Four: The Stepford Wives (1975)/ The Stepford Wives (2004)

Once again, we have an original film that is so brilliant and dark that there was no way it was going to be re-made properly by a modern-day Hollywood. The Stepford Wives follows Joanna Eberhart as she explores the town of Stepford, Connecticut, where the wives are all just a little too perfect. When Stepford came out, gender roles were really starting to see their first major shift. Women were working more, becoming less concerned with outward appearance and more with education, and far less interested in spending their days as subservient housewives. For men who were used to having their women in the kitchen, this was terrifying. So The Stepford Wives played not only on the fear that husbands might actually replace their wives with soulless robots if given the chance, but also acts magnificently as a vision of what life was like in the changing era of the 70s. Excluding Rosemary's Baby, is there anymore terrifying moment for women in all of horror cinema than this?

Soul? Tish-tosh! Let me rub your feet, my darling!
So clearly, it was 100% necessary that The Stepford Wives be remade in 2004 when almost nothing of interest was going on and be turned into a madcap comedy (she said sarcastically.) If one was willing to stretch their minds, it IS possible that there could be a connection to the women of Stepford and the American women of today. When supermodels and porn stars dominate the discourse, could men be interested in replacing their wives with literal models of perfection? The problem was... director Frank Oz (you know, Miss Piggy) didn't think of this angle, admittedly fucked up the entire works, and left audiences with a cringe-worthy mess.

The fact that the set of the Stepford remake was almost crippled by onset arguments is obvious from the outset, as there is no chemistry between leads Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick, and the entire film feels pieced together from fragments of salvageable material. Now, let us add on the fact that this horribly written film spits in the face of everything the original stood in ways that I won't even deign to explain, and you have a remake that is so painfully offensive, Oz and company should have been legally obligated to supply a copy of the original film to every poor sucker who bought a ticket to this train wreck.

Shame, shame, shame on them.

Number Three: Black Christmas (1974)/ Black X-Mas (2006)

Some people celebrate Christmas Eve by watching a Rankin/Bass animated special, while others may watch It's A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story. But me? I ring in the holiday by curling up with 1974 classic Black Christmas. It doesn't matter how many times I watch the original "the call is coming from inside the house" horror movie, it is always utterly and totally terrifying. Set inside a sorority house on Christmas Eve, not only is a (deeply) obscene caller making life hell for a group of sorority sisters (made up of a diverse cast of wonderful actresses), but one by one the girls are being murdered in close-up, skin-crawling detail. Bob Clark so perfectly directed this movie that no matter how many repeat viewings you subject it to, it is still easily one of the most horrifying slasher films ever made.

And because the 2000s have pretty much been all about taking an amazing thing and trying to ruin it, Black Christmas was remade in 2006 with the title Black X-mas, which somehow just makes it so much worse. The remake cast a ton of obnoxiously pretty and uninteresting actresses (with the exception of Mary Elizabeth Winstead who BARELY gets a pass) in roles that were originated by the likes of Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, and Andrea Martin. It took a vague and wonderfully creepy concept from the original and expanded it with a nonsensical backstory filled with incest, random coincidences, and shrieking victims. It was boring, it was tacky, and worst of all, it seemed to have no concept of what made the original so terrifying. If one of your actresses calls it the worst film ever made, you've failed.

Two: The Haunting (1963)/ The Haunting (1999)

This sad, sad pairing just barely missed out on the number one spot. The Haunting, released in 1963, was based on The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and is, to this day, one of the most perfect adaptions ever created. Starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn, and Richard Johnson, The Haunting is a prime example of how to make a terrifying film while leaving almost everything to the imagination. The story, about a group invited to stay at a haunted castle by a paranormal investigator, is still absolutely unsettling to this day. The origin of Hill House's haunting is beautiful/terrifying and still one of the best in horror history. But The Haunting is also notable for one of its main characters...

Even as society has been slow to change in terms of its acceptance of the LGBT community, film censors always seem to be about ten steps behind the times. The psychic character of Theodora (Bloom) was, in Shirley Jackson's novel, a lesbian, and director Robert Wise intended to carry that over to the screen as well. He wanted Theo to be one of the first feminine and beautiful, not predatory, lesbians to be seen in cinema. However, according to star Julie Harris, the censors demanded that Theodora's lesbianism be subtle, and that Harris and Bloom never touch in the film.

Thus, the original version of The Haunting wasn't just a perfect example of subtle horror filmmaking, but it forged a brave path for the future of LGBT characters in horror cinema.

So obviously, when director Jan de Bont remade The Haunting in 1999, he filled it with cheesy and awful CGI, made Theo a predatory and hornball lesbian, and loaded it with awkward and unsympathetic backstory. Because if you're going to trust anyone with a subtle horror film, it should be the guy who directed Speed and Twister.

The Haunting remake was critically panned, and nominated for five Razzie awards. So at least there is that.

And now, I present to you, the number one most offensively bad remake in the history of horrible remakes...

Number One: Abre los ojos (1997)/ Vanilla Sky (2001)

How can a film that is virtually a shot for shot remake (just in a different language) be significantly inferior the original? Just ask Cameron Crowe! Alejandro Amenábar's Abre los ojos is one of the most brilliantly trippy sci-fi films ever made. Starring Eduardo Noriega, Abre is about a disfigured man in prison who is unable to differentiate which parts of his life are real and which are a dream. This is one of those films that to delve too deeply in to is to do a real disservice to those who haven't yet seen it. But trust me when I say it is one of the most gorgeous science-fiction films made in the last 20-ish years.

And then... there is Vanilla Sky. A.k.a. a vanity project for Tom Cruise's stupid face. (Yeah, this is going to get personal.) Cameron Crowe and producer Cruise waited just four years to take Amenábar's exceptional script and turn it into some sort of narcissistic love letter/Rolling Stone fanboy's wet dream. The only possible reason that I can imagine for Penélope Cruz reprising her role from the original film in this dumpster fire is that The Church of Scientology paid her to do so, as shortly after filming she became Cruise's "girlfriend."

Yeah, well, back at ya, douchebag.
Anyway. Vanilla Sky commits what I think is the cardinal sin of remakes: it pretties up the story and tries to make it more accessible and lovely for an audience it has no faith in. If Amenábar had intended to make a feel good film about Tom Cruise learning to be a better man, he would have made Jerry Effing Maguire. The fact that Crowe and Cruise had the nads to think they could make a better film than Abre los ojos never ceases to cheese me off and earns it the sad number one spot on this list.

Dishonorable Mentions:

House of Wax (2005): Some clever kills, a hot villain, and watching Paris Hilton die don't make up for the remake's lack of true chills.

My Bloody Valentine (2009): An unnecessary remake where the majority of the cast seemed as bored as the audience. Someone find Jensen Ackles a worthy film role, STAT!

The Fog (2005): A lame ending and cheesy CGI missed the point of what made Carpenter's original so eerie.

The Wicker Man (2006): As an unintentional comedy, it's brilliant. But as a remake of the terrifying original, it's a joke.