Top 20 Worst Horror Movie Remakes
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Worst Horror Movie Remakes.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most widely unnecessary and disappointing horror movie remakes. The list will be ranked based on the qualities of both the original and the remake.
Which of these films had you shaking your head? Let us know in the comments below!
#20: “The Omen” (2006)
The only fun thing this remake had going for it was its release date - June 6, 2006, or 666. In fact, capitalizing on that date is probably the entire reason the remake was made. “The Omen” isn’t embarrassingly bad or incompetently made or anything like that. It’s just so lifeless and devoid of personality, especially when compared to the iconic original. And comparisons can’t help but be made, as the remake does very little to differentiate itself from the 1976 classic. If you’re not going to do anything new, then why remake a movie at all? Oh right, because 666.
#19: “The Eye” (2008)
In 2002, the Pang brothers delivered a successful Hong Kong-Singaporean ghost film called “The Eye.” It performed well and spawned two sequels, not to mention three international remakes. One was in Tamil, another in Hindi, and the third and final (and yes, the worst) was American. Jessica Alba stars as Sydney Wells, a blind woman who receives a cornea transplant and begins seeing dead people. Unfortunately, it’s Alba herself who received the most criticism. Her performance was widely denounced, and she received a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress. Among all the Americanized horror remakes, “The Eye” is certainly in the bottom tier.
#18: “Friday the 13th” (2009)
The first “Friday the 13th” is historic. Released after “Halloween” in the midst of the slasher craze, the film was enormously successful and spawned one of the most iconic franchises in movie history. After Jason fought Freddy Krueger, the series was rebooted with a 2009 remake, and it was not received well at all. It didn’t really do anything new for the franchise, which was quite the detraction considering that it was nearly thirty years old. Everyone had seen this sort of slicing and dicing before, and done better for that matter. Even the kill scenes lacked a certain flair. Like Jason himself, this remake was just a mindless and half-dead shell of a classic.
#17: “The Wolfman” (2010)
There are a ton of great Universal Monster movies, and “The Wolf Man” is undoubtedly one of them. Long-regarded as a classic, the 1941 film was acclaimed for its production values and the performance of Lon Chaney Jr. as the titular creature. It also helped popularize the werewolf mythos and has been endlessly copied throughout the decades. By contrast, the 2010 remake was instantly forgotten, having bombed at the box office and received poor reviews. The CGI was abysmal, and nothing about it particularly worked outside of Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning makeup. Even the then-president of Universal Studios, Ronald Meyer, called “The Wolfman” “one of the worst movies [they] ever made.” That stings worse than a werewolf bite.
#16: “The Amityville Horror” (2005)
While the supposedly “true” story is mostly a load of nonsense, “The Amityville Horror” is a cult favorite of the titular genre. While not a critical darling, the movie raked in an enormous profit and spawned a long-running franchise. It also helped popularize the Amityville story and house within the American consciousness. In 2005, a remake was released starring a grossly miscast Ryan Reynolds as George Lutz. The remake certainly improves on things like acting and visual effects, but it’s still an instantly forgettable experience that rips every cliché from the ghost movie handbook. It’s loud, confusing, and without an ounce of originality.
#15: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003)
The original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” was paramount in the establishment of the slasher genre. Made for pennies back in the mid ‘70s, the movie was instantly notable for its violence, and it originated countless tropes that the slasher genre is still adhering to to this day. Without Leatherface there would be no Jason, no Michael Myers. The remake goes for volume and graphic nastiness over the subtle intensity of the original. In the process, it loses much of the realistic griminess that made Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece so notorious. It’s a glossy slasher, but that is not what “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is all about.
#14: “The Stepfather” (2009)
Released in 1987, “The Stepfather” is a cult classic that’s loosely based on the life of killer John List. Terry O’Quinn, who would later find great success playing John Locke on “Lost,” plays the titular villain with great confidence and an eerie realism that really gets under the skin. Like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” the 2009 remake drops all forms of subtlety to present a by-the-numbers slasher devoid of personality or creativity. Maybe they should have stuck closer to the real story of List, or maybe it was just missing the spark that O’Quinn provided. Either way, “The Stepfather” is a dud.
#13: “Day of the Dead” (2008)
Released in July of 1985, “Day of the Dead” was considered the weakest of George A. Romero’s “Dead” trilogy. However, its reputation has slowly improved over the years, with many praising the movie’s interesting themes, apocalyptic tone, and stellar visual effects. But even the movie’s harshest critics admit that it’s miles better than whatever the 2008 version is. This is a “remake” in the loosest sense of the term imaginable, sharing very little in common with Romero’s original. It’s also a startlingly bad film with regrettable-looking zombies, poor acting, flat direction, and a formulaic script with nothing unique to show for it.
#12: “Firestarter” (2022)
Stephen King has always been popular, but he got really hot in the late 2010s thanks to many notable adaptations of some of his most famous works. The trend looked to continue with “Firestarter,” but this fire was extinguished upon arrival. The 1984 original isn’t a classic by any means, but it’s saved by some very interesting special effects and the performances of both Drew Barrymore and George C. Scott. The 2022 remake floundered without these stars or the original’s unique creativity. There’s just nothing to like here - even star Zac Efron seems like he’s already over it.
#11: “Black Christmas” (2006)
The original “Black Christmas” is up there with “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” in terms of influential slashers. Released on the very same day, “Black Christmas” adapted a famous urban legend and established countless slasher tropes in the process. Many film historians now regard it as an enormously important slasher that created, or at least greatly popularized, the subgenre. The 2006 remake is a glossy production that neuters the sleazy edge of the original. It’s also far louder and more visceral, perhaps hoping that the relentlessly graphic violence will serve as a suitable replacement for tension - it doesn’t. It’s also far too concerned with its own mythos. Some things are better left unexplored.
#10: “House of Wax” (2005)
This movie has a few good things going for it. The cast isn’t half-bad and is filled with famous actors, including Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, and Jared Padalecki. And even though Paris Hilton won the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress, her performance isn’t as bad as its reputation suggests. The movie also has some inventive scenes and a killer mid-2000s alt metal soundtrack. But it falters when compared to the 1953 classic. That oldie but goodie is historic for being the first color film to be presented in 3D. It’s also a great movie in its own right, complete with a gleefully horrifying atmosphere and a typically wonderful Vincent Price. The remake just doesn’t hold a wax candle to it.
#9: “Prom Night” (2008)
Some people may not even be aware that “Prom Night” was remade, so insignificant was its impact and reception. The original slasher became a cult classic after its release in 1980, noted for the performance of scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and its disco soundtrack. The remake has a fun-enough cast, featuring the likes of Brittany Snow and Idris Elba, but even their talents can’t save the hackneyed filmmaking. This is a flavorless slasher filled with painfully predictable story beats, a horrible script, and worst of all, really lame killing sequences. At least get that part right!
#8: “When a Stranger Calls” (2006)
The 1979 original is mainly remembered for one thing - that killer opening sequence (pun certainly intended). The setup being based on the same urban legend that inspired “Black Christmas,” babysitter Jill Johnson gets a threatening phone call from someone already inside the house. It’s a staggering sequence that Wes Craven famously borrowed for the opening of “Scream.” The tepid 2006 remake stretches the famous opening of the original over eighty-seven painfully long minutes and suffers horrible pacing issues in the process. It’s like stretching a perfectly taut short story into a bloated novel filled with unnecessary detail. It just doesn’t work. You can only get so much mileage out of the concept.
#7: “Halloween II” (2009)
The first “Halloween” remake from Rob Zombie was bad enough, but this retooling of the second film in the franchise ramps everything up to ludicrous levels. Props must be given to Zombie’s ambition, particularly when it comes to the characterizations. He wanted to humanize the characters and explore their psyches, but the script wasn’t smart enough to do it properly. He wanted to do what the eventual 2018 reboot/sequel/whatever actually did. Instead, the film mostly consists of boring yapping and sequences of incredibly grotesque violence that churned the stomachs of even the most hardcore slasher aficionados. Zombie knows how to film a gnarly kill, but the movie as a whole isn’t nearly as sharp as Michael’s knife.
#6: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010)
Enough good things can’t be said about Wes Craven’s iconic original. It’s undeniably one of the greatest horror films ever made, and in 2021, it was inducted into the National Film Registry. That alone says enough about its place in movie history. It’s a film that did not need to be remade, let alone remade so soullessly. The 2010 iteration is very corporate and lacks the auteur personality of the original. Filled with cheap jump scares, instantly forgettable characters, and a lame Freddy Krueger with a distracting CG-enhanced face, this “Nightmare on Elm Street” is a nightmare, indeed.
#5: “The Fog” (2005)
John Carpenter’s original wasn’t received well upon release, but it still has its fans. But even lower-tier Carpenter is a thousand times better than this 2005 remake. Carpenter helped produce this film alongside his creative partner Debra Hill, but their talents and creative flair are sorely missing. This movie has no discernible reason for existing and does absolutely nothing fun or original. Virtually every aspect of its production falls short in some way, and despite its $18 million budget, it seems like a cheap made-for-TV movie you’d stumble across at midnight and then immediately forget about in the morning.
#4: “One Missed Call” (2008)
“The Eye” may be a poor entry in the American horror canon, but it’s a masterpiece next to “One Missed Call.” This is a remake of Takashi Miike’s 2003 original, which contained some fun scares and the director’s signature visual style. By contrast, the 2008 remake is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made. It has a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and is one of the worst-reviewed movies of the 2000s. This is textbook “so bad it’s good” horror, complete with all the shoddy filmmaking and unintentional laughs one would expect. The J-horror subgenre has seen its share of head-shaking American remakes, but this is on a whole other level of terrible.
#3: “The Haunting” (1999)
Jan de Bont’s directed some great movies, including “Speed” and “Twister.” So what the heck happened with “The Haunting?” The movie had some sensational material to work with. Shirley Jackson’s novel is historic, and the 1963 adaptation from Robert Wise is one of the greatest haunted house movies ever created. Both the novel and film had intelligence behind them. They’re tantalizingly ambiguous and expertly crafted. This remake trades in rich characterizations, deep thematic material, and palpable tension for cheap haunted house clichés and bad CGI. The script is also a complete mess and makes little if any sense. Shirley Jackson is rolling in her grave.
#2: “The Wicker Man” (2006)
In 1973, British Lion Films and director Robin Hardy released “The Wicker Man.” While not enormously popular, it is arguably the greatest folk horror movie ever made. It contains kooky pagan-based frights, a magnificent Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, an intriguing mystery, and one of the most memorable endings in movie history. The remake has Nicolas Cage hamming it up and screaming about bees. The 2006 “Wicker Man” was widely criticized for being unintentionally funny, and some of its most outlandish scenes have lived on through the wonderful magic of memes. Memes can be a sign of affection. They can also be a method of derision. In this case, it’s the latter.
#1: “Psycho” (1998)
When it comes to the worst mistakes in movie history, making a shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho” has to be up there. Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece is one of the most celebrated films of all time, and it effectively changed the horror genre forever. In 109 minutes, Hitchcock created what could be considered the perfect horror movie. And Gus Van Sant had the audacity to remake it. And not just to remake it, but to make virtually the exact same movie, only with significantly worse acting and filmmaking. The movie has no good reason for existing, but at least it works as an experiment if nothing else - it proves that movies are made in the execution of ideas, not in the ideas themselves.