Autumn is (almost) in the air here in Houston. That means the tantalizing promise of sub-90 temperatures, pumpkin spice everything, and Halloween. You may regard Halloween as a kids' holiday, and you'd be terribly, terribly wrong. Sure, going door to door and asking demanding handouts like the little ones might get you an ass full of buckshot around these parts, but that shouldn't keep you from your seasonal fun.
For me, it's watching horror movies. Well, more horror movies than usual. Television networks can be relied upon to dust off their Betamax copies of Motel Hell and Night of the Living Dead, while those of us too...seasoned to go to a bunch of parties will host viewing parties of our own.
I was prompted to write this by the release of the new Carrie teaser. I hesitate to call the film a "remake," since it's a separate adaptation of the 1974 Stephen King novel, but it got me thinking about horror do-overs you should seek out (or avoid) this spooky season.
For the record, this was originally going to be the five best and worst, but that was before everyone in my family but me decided to get sick. First off, the best.
Dawn of the Dead I really had no hope for this, but from the opening credits (to Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around") to the escape from the mall, Zack Snyder nailed it. Too bad nothing he's done since measures up. Also, Modern Family's Ty Burrell plays a fantastic asshole.
The Fly "I'll hurt you if you stay." Leave it to David Cronenberg ro take a goofy '50s monster flick and produce a frightening treatise on human mortality. Jeff Goldblum would never be this good again.
The Thing John Carpenter's remake is still the go-to option when making your "not all remakes suck" argument. Fantastic characters, creature effects that are still some of the best ever filmed, and en ending that stays with you. This is how you make a fucking horror movie.
Piranha 3D Aw look, I'm a John Sayles fan, including the 1978 version of this he wrote (Joe Dante of Gremlins fame directed), but Alexandre Aja upped the ante with ample breasts, blood, and my as-yet unrequited high school love, Elisabeth Shue.
And now, the un-best:
When A Stranger Calls It's not the first PG-13 remake of an older R-rated horror movie, but it may just be the worst. And where exactly is the suspense if we already know the guy's in the house? At least Carol Kane knew how to freak out.
The Fog The original was no great shakes, but at least provided a few genuine scares. Between this and Rob Zombie's Halloween, I'd say we need to leave John Carpenter alone, but he signed off on this, which means a Big Trouble in Little China remake is probably just around the corner.
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Psycho Here's a thought: a shot-for-shot remake of the Alfred Hitchcock original, only this one will have Norman Bates masturbating while he watches Marion Crane take a shower. PROFIT (or not).
The Wicker Man I can't even. If you haven't seen this, count yourself lucky. Nicolas Cage's financial troubles make a lot more sense now.