5. “Dawn of the Dead” (Zack Snyder, 2004)
Who doesn’t love a good zombie flick? Romero managed to bring us a number of fantastic undead stories. That said, his 1978 “Dawn of the Dead” was… okay. It just didn”t pack the same thematic punch as “Night of the Living Dead,” but not every movie can. In 2004, Zack Snyder’s take on the “Dawn” story brought us a fresh, gritty, and terrifically violent version. With a charming cast that meshed perfectly, and just the right amount of grim humour, Snyder’s remake blows the original away and breathed some new life into the zombie genre.
4. “The Birdcage” (Mike Nichols, 1996)
Comedy remakes have a bit of a bad track record – it’s true. But with Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, and Hank Azaria, how can you really go wrong? Simply put, you can’t. Based on the ’73 Franco-Italian film, “La Cage aux Folles,” this is a classic tale of two gay men, their son, and their Guatemalan house-man trying to pass off as a normal, conservative American family. The original is a fantastically outrageous comedy. Mike Nichols remake, however, contains three of the greatest comedic performances in film history (Lane and Williams were both tragically overlooked at awards season). This is comedy modernization done right for once.
3. “The Departed” (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
Hong Kong knows how to do action. They know how to do thrillers. Hong Kong knows how to do movies, essentially. “The “Infernal Affairs” trilogy is a testament to the ingenuity of their cinema. America has a bad habit of snatching up and remaking any semi-successful foreign film (“Let the Right One In,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Ring,” etc). Sometimes, though, just sometimes, everything comes together perfectly and can make for one hell of a movie. Scorsese’s “The Departed” continues his fantastic record of crime masterpieces. It also marks his first Oscar wins for Best Director and Best Picture (some weren’t pleased, but I was). Great performances from Leo, Damon, Nicholson, and it helped bring Ray Winstone into the Hollywood mainstream (thank you!).
2. “The Fly” (David Cronenberg, 1986)
The fifties had some weird horror flicks. “The Fly,” about a man who swaps heads (to scale) with a common housefly was among the strangest. It did contain the now classic “Help me! Help meeeee!” scene, but still. In true form, David Cronenberg took that bag of weird and turned it into an even weirder and more spectacular tale of terror. In his remake, Goldblum’s scientist has his DNA horribly altered and slowly changes into a human-fly hybrid creature. With a tour-de-force from Goldblum, and great, charming chemistry with Geena Davis, the performances help make this movie. Even more impressive though, is the film’s fantastically grotesque makeup and effects. The monstrous effects would cause any audience to be afraid… be very afraid.
1. “The Thing” (John Carpenter, 1982)
This is how you remake a film. You take what works, throw out the rest. “The Thing From Another World” was a half-decent alien story in 1951, but thirty years later, it took a different kind of terror to scare the masses. And as usual, the most terrifying monster is always found within. Taking a more faithful route in adapting the story “Who Goes There?,” Carpenter’s “The Thing” departs from the classic monster movie of the original, and brings us a fresh, horrifying monster that hadn’t been seen before in film. This alien can strike at any time, anywhere, and be anybody, and you’d never know until it was too late. An all-male cast, led by Kurt Russell and Wilfred Brimley, bring a real, humble feeling to this monster flick, whose effects and design still hold up to this day.