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VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Timothy MacAusland
These horror remakes surpassed their originals in surprising and terrifying ways. For this list, we'll be looking at the best updates Hollywood has to offer of classic horror films. Our countdown includes "Carrie", “Suspiria", "The Fly", “The Hills Have Eyes”, "The Ring", and more!

#20: “Child’s Play” (2019)

The “Chucky” franchise has enjoyed quite the late-career resurgence, with some direct-to-video outings being well received in the horror community. However, it’s this modern update that brought the killer doll back into the mainstream that’s perhaps the most commendable. We know what you’re thinking: taking a children’s toy possessed by a wisecracking serial killer and turning him into a technological monstrosity could’ve been lame, but 2019’s “Child’s Play” actually makes it work, giving Chucky fresh motivations and a host of new abilities. And while no one can replace Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky, Mark Hamill is a pretty inspired choice all the same.


#19: “Carrie” (2013)

There have been more than one lackluster follow-ups to Brian De Palma’s original adaptation of “Carrie,” from “The Rage: Carrie 2” to the 2002 TV movie. But if there’s one that comes the closest to replicating its success, it’s the 2013 version. Starring Chlöe Grace Moretz as the titular teenager, the remake actually sticks fairly closely to the story of the 1976 original (as did that one to Stephen King’s novella). That said, advancements in special effects did allow for a more elaborate prom scene and Carrie’s subsequent downtown rampage. Oh, and they apparently swapped the hair colors of characters Sue Snell and Chris Hargensen. Did we need this remake? Not particularly. But was it a neat update? Definitely.


#18: “Black Christmas” (2019)

It was kind of surprising to get another remake of the classic ‘70s horror film so soon after the 2006 version. But for better or worse, 2019’s “Black Christmas” justified its early existence with some really timely themes on collegiate relations and female agency. Stalwart fans of the first two incarnations may miss the simplicity of it all, but this one does what a lot of modern slashers have by playing around with the mechanics of the formula in an interesting way. Granted, it is PG-13, but as evidenced by a very popular later entry on this list, a restrictive rating can actually beget some really creative filmmaking, which is certainly on display here.

#17: “The Blob” (1988)

Here’s a sci-fi horror flick that had audiences running from the theater all the way back in 1958 before it was remade decades later. In “The Blob,” a jelly-like substance engulfs everything it encounters, gaining strength and size along the way and leaving a town in panic as the residents frantically attempt to defeat its approach. While the original film had the mysterious extra-terrestrial substance function as a lumbering ball of goo, this version had the creature invade the body of its victims and gave it the ability to split and attack in multiple locations at once, leaving no place safe from its grasp.

#16: “Piranha 3D” (2010)

Don’t let the “3D” in the title fool you: this movie is more than meets the eye. Literally. Similar to how the first “Piranha” was a light sendup of “Jaws,” this 2010 update throws everything and the kitchen sink at the prospect of making for a wet and wild ride, from blood, boobs, and everything in between. Make no mistake: “Piranha 3D” is trashy in every way imaginable and knows it, cherishing in the sheer frivolity of it all. It also won’t be the last remake on this list from Alexandre Aja, who has definitely cemented himself as one of the most kinetic horror directors of the century so far.


#15: “My Bloody Valentine 3D” (2009)

Speaking of 3D remakes, this one probably shouldn’t be as good as it is. Coming out at the end of a decade that saw nothing but horror remakes, “My Bloody Valentine 3D” distinguished itself by having a unique slasher villain and just being downright fun. Fair warning: it is extremely gory and not for the faint of heart (pun intended), but for those who love to revel in the bloodletting of films like these, the 3D technology will actually be to your liking. While the story and characterizations are nothing new, the movie is required viewing for fans of “Supernatural” due to the involvement of Jensen Ackles.

#14: “Suspiria” (2018)

Now here’s a remake that exists firmly outside the average moviegoer’s purview but is universally disturbing nonetheless. Dario Argento’s original “Suspiria” remains a seminal horror movie during a period in which the genre changed forever. Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 version may not reach the same heights, but it similarly feels quintessential as to where the genre is today. It is a thoroughly unsettling experience, with a palpable sense of dread that will give you the shivers while watching it. Expertly shot and edited, the film will stay with you long after you’ve seen it. Oh, and if you needed another reason to admire Tilda Swinton, her unrecognizable three-character performance here will provide it.


#13: “The Crazies” (2010)

Now here’s a remake that arguably surpasses its original. While George A. Romero’s “The Crazies” from 1973 is rife with biting commentary on epidemics and government intervention, it does want for the horror movie edge he’d become known for in the zombie genre. The 2010 version provides that and then some, giving us an alternative zombie apocalypse that feels much more savage and malignant. There are plenty of effective scares, but this one’s more concerned with generating tension through character investment than racking up a significant body count. It’s a shame we didn’t get more of these, because we’d be totally down for it.

#12: “Nosferatu the Vampyre” (1979)

Going by the name “Nosferatu,” but very much an adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel “Dracula,” “Nosferatu the Vampyre” is an entirely eerie retelling of the classic tale. Directed by Werner Herzog, the film holds a natural beauty, but it’s presented in the form of a chilling malevolence. Furthermore, it has what is perhaps the most underrated portrayal of Count Dracula ever, as Klaus Kinski’s almost tragically alluring performance suffuses a nuanced layer into the already familiar villain. While the original “Nosferatu” remains a masterclass achievement for its era, “Nosferatu the Vampyre” definitely gives it a run for its money.


#11: “Fright Night” (2011)

There are numerous ways one can go about remaking a film, from complete fidelity to a looser interpretation. But few remakes pay proper homage whilst still creating an identity of its own quite like 2011’s “Fright Night.” Keeping the timeless tale of a teenager who discovers his neighbor is a vampire, “Fright Night” adorns itself with a plethora of modern updates that reinvigorate the story. While most of those updates concern setting and mood, undeniably the biggest plus comes from the cast. Colin Farrell oozes confidence slipping into the role of the vampiric Jerry Dandrige, and having David Tennant play a Vegas-styled Peter Vincent is simply inspired. Paired against the gothic 1985 original, this punkish update gives us the best of both worlds.

#10: “Evil Dead” (2013)

While the first three movies in the “Evil Dead” franchise are more or less horror-comedies, the 2013 version plants its flag firmly in the horror camp, and we could not be more thrilled. Don’t get us wrong, we love us some wacky Ash Williams, but director Fede Álvarez realized a wholly bloody vision for the concept, and bloody it is. Emanating a dreadful maliciousness from the word go, the film never gives you a moment of respite. The events ratchet up the tension with its kills throughout up to the point that it almost becomes gorily operatic by the conclusion. Once again, this “Evil Dead” gave fans a delectable peek at the alternative potential of the franchise.


#9: “We Are What We Are” (2013)

You might be thinking to yourself that the title almost sounds like a play on the expression “You are what you eat.” And you’d be right, only the characters in this movie eat what they are, if you get our meaning. Indeed, the story follows two teenage sisters who have been raised in a cannibalistic household and seek to escape. From there, “We Are What We Are” becomes a stark and atmospheric picture that is sure to crawl under your skin, no pun intended. Adapted from the 2010 Mexican film of the same name, this won’t be the only Americanized remake on our list.

#8: “Night of the Living Dead” (1990)

A practically shot-by-shot color remake of the iconic 1968 indie flick that gave us the modern-day zombie, Tom Savini’s “Night of the Living Dead” featured much of the same crew from the original and even featured some production work by George A. Romero himself. One big difference was that this un-dead fest amped up the violence and gore, as opposed to the more subtle approach of the black and white film. As both an homage and strong example of horror in its own right, this 1990 remake took audiences on a bloodbath of zombie carnage with the support and encouragement of its source’s creators and left a trail of terrifying blood-splattered remains in its wake.

#7: “The Hills Have Eyes” (2006)

This reimagining of Wes Craven’s 1977 film left audiences just as terrified with its tale of mutant sadists living in the New Mexico desert. After being led into a trap by local townsfolk, a family is threatened by the gang of murderers in various examples of brutal violence, earning the film an NC-17 rating upon its initial release. Featuring massive amounts of gore, along with the monstrous appearances of the mutants, this remake made us all think twice before accepting help from strangers and taking short cuts on our next road trip.

#6: “Dawn of the Dead” (2004)

Zack Snyder’s remake of the 1978 horror classic had a lot to live up to, but proved to be anything but lazy in its recreation of the film that helped make the zombie genre infamous. With the shopping mall setting as its link to the source film, “Dawn of the Dead” offered an all-new cast of zombie bait, a fresh take on the creatures and subtle nods to its predecessor, all while creating a rich re-telling of George A. Romero’s original. This innovative and well thought-out flick gave die-hard fans the scares they craved and introduced a new crop of zombie fanatics to a film they couldn’t wait to sink their teeth into.

#5: “Let Me In” (2010)

This tale of a pre-teen and his supernatural neighbor began production before the original film it was based on was even released. An American version of the Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” this remake traded its Stockholm setting for a small New Mexican town in an attempt to make the source material appeal to a wider audience. While the original still holds up, “Let Me In” preserved its tale of friendship, love and violence without neglecting the horror and emotional connections between the characters that made “Let the Right One In” so rich and compelling. It was also widely praised by critics.

#4: “The Ring” (2002)

This chilling adaptation of the Japanese film of the same name made audiences everywhere want to look away from their television screens because of a vengeful spirit trapped on a morbid videotape that promises death within one week to all who view it. While many are skeptical at first, the creep factor goes up whenever one of the marked victims sees one of the videotaped images in their daily lives leading up to their demise. “The Ring” proved that horror can translate beyond cultures, languages and different sets of media, and that no one is safe from the grasp of death, making western moviegoers everywhere tremble in their seats.

#3: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)

This remake of the 1956 sci-fi flick of the same name took paranoia to a whole new level. An extraterrestrial race attempts to conquer Earth by cloning residents in a San Francisco neighborhood, turning them into emotionless replicas of their hosts. When some of the doomed Earthlings catch on to their plot, it is a battle of wits and minds as they attempt to not only discover who has already been replaced, but how to stop the impending invasion. While going deeper into themes explored in the original film and offering haunting special effects, this apocalyptic horror remains a potent example of a remake done right.

#2: “The Fly” (1986)

Director David Cronenberg is famous for his gory body horror special effects and this film is no exception. On the verge of creating a successful teleport device, scientist Seth Brundle experiments with transporting himself; however, a fly has come along for the ride. This results in him not only combining his DNA with the fly, but also to suffer a slow descent into madness as his body begins to change form into a grotesque and monstrous creature. The slow and heartbreaking deterioration of both mind and flesh make this Jekyll and Hyde-type tale a terrifying horror remake you don’t want to miss.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Maniac” (2012)
Elijah Wood Is Suitably Creepy in This Psychological Thriller

“House of Wax” (2005)
Very Unlike the Vincent Price Version, But Fun Nonetheless

“Funny Games” (2007)
Michael Haneke’s English-Language Remake of His Own Film Is Shrewd & Shocking


“Halloween” (2007)
If Nothing Else, Rob Zombie’s Take on the Franchise Is Wholly Unique

#1: “The Thing” (1982)

This remake of the 1951 horror-sci-fi film “The Thing from Another World” follows even more closely the John W. Campbell, Jr. novella “Who Goes There?” upon which they’re both based. It tells the story of a group of scientists in Antarctica that encounters a shape-shifting alien that can assume the identity of anyone it encounters. Filled with chilling suspense and horrific special effects, “The Thing” consistently leaves you on the edge of your seat, wondering which character to trust and who will reveal themselves as the alien next. Injected with just enough jump scares and mystery to keep you both watching and squirming, John Carpenter’s take also outshines the campy special effects of the original.

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