Friday, May 29, 2009

The Best and Worst Remakes of All Time

More James Gunn polls I'm just purposelessly commenting on.

First, the 10 Worst Remakes of All Time:

1. Psycho (1998)
Agreed. Not only the worst remake ever, but just one of the biggest wastes of film in history. I mean, Gus Van Sant wanted to make a new version of Robert Bloch, that's one thing. Remaking Hitchcock... well, if you must, just do something original and of yourself with it. But timing every scene so that you're essentially making a photocopy of the original with new actors? How creatively bankrupt can you be? This movie alone is why Gus Van Sant will never rate very highly with me (although Elephant doesn't help, either). What a putz.

2. The Wicker Man (2006)
I planned to never see this movie, but I got caught up in the sheer awfulness of it on cable one night, and... yeah, it's terrible. The Wicker Man is one of my all time favorites, a wonderful classic, a masterful film. The remake would be a terrible movie on its own, but to call itself The Wicker Man is just adding insult to terrible filmmaking. I used to love Neil LaBute, too. Now it's like he's just looking for anything remotely misogynistic. I still love Leelee Sobieski, but come on. Britt Ekland took her clothes off. Top that.

3. The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
I didn't see it. I don't plan to. What do you think Keanu Reeves does in this movie that's differently wooden from his usual woodenness?

4. Planet of the Apes (2001)
I do agree that this is a horrible movie. The ending makes sense--Becca--but it's a shitty, shitty movie, and Tim Burton's never recovered from it creatively. The original is a science fiction classic, like a great feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone. The remake is, as per usual, a crappy action movie with nothing to say.

5. Godzilla (1998)
Another shit movie. Just 100% unlikable and awful, and some of the worst special effects. Godzilla is a hero, damn it. Watching Godzilla stuck in that suspension bridge and the military shooting missiles while it slowly died... guys, we like Godzilla. We don't take pleasure in watching him die. You know, that said, I've never liked the 1954 Godzilla at all. It's all of the stupid American stuff that takes me right out of the movie. I'd like to see the original Japanese version, the one without Raymond Burr. I just haven't yet. I think I need to go on a Godzilla binge this summer.

6. The Fog (2005)
I never saw the original or the remake.

7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Remake, or another version of the same book? It's a gray area for me. But Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a whimsical delight, and Tim Burton's movie is silly and small and surprisingly unimaginative. Great score, though.

8. Halloween (2007)
Absolutely not. The Rob Zombie version is superior.

9. The Haunting (1999)
Yeah, this was a really shitty movie, too. Shitty and entirely forgettable.

10. TIE: Guess Who (2005); The Omen (2006); and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
I only saw bits and pieces of Guess Who on cable. I couldn't get into it, didn't care. I didn't see The Omen; didn't like the original very much.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is just such a sore point with me, though. The original is one of the great horror movies of all time. It's about something. It touches on something elemental in the human condition. The remake has nothing to say. It's a cash-in, a slick action movie that revels in cruelty to no purpose. I hated the remake. Hated it.

Also mentioned:
* Death Race -- didn't see it.
* The Wiz -- I think that's kind of unfair; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the basis for a lot of movies, before and after the 1939 MGM version, and I don't consider The Wiz a remake of Judy Garland. The Wiz is a stage musical with the same source material. I mean, if we're talking inspired by something else, Zardoz is a much worse "version" of The Wizard of Oz. The Wiz is a great movie.
* The Last House on the Left -- I haven't seen the remake, but I plan on seeing it on DVD.
* Rollerball -- didn't see the remake.
* The Ladykillers -- still haven't seen the original, but I love the Coen Brothers movie.
* The Women -- I've never liked the original; didn't see the remake, but I might (Eva Mendes will do that to me).
* The Truth About Charlie -- I haven't seen this or Charade.

James Gunn also mentions:
* Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes -- I'm not sure I buy this as a remake, either. Gunn lists it as a remake of 1932's Tarzan, the Ape Man with Johnny Weismuller, but there were Tarzan movies before that one. Greystoke is just another version of the same novel to me. And there are parts of Greystoke I like, including Christopher Lambert's performance. It's not a good movie by any measure, but I appreciate the attempt at taking a serious approach. (Although there's part of me that echoes Ebert's review: "If this is a Tarzan movie, where are the ant men and the lost villages?")
* How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- this is kind of an unfair pick, too. It's a film version of a TV special. Not that Ron Howard's movie didn't suck, but still. Although I did enjoy parts of this movie, too, and it was something I actually liked Jim Carrey in.
* Sabrina -- haven't seen the original (I am not a fan of Audrey Hepburn). I didn't care for the one with Harrison Ford very much, though Greg Kinnear was alright in it.
* The Manchurian Candidate -- haven't seen the remake, but the original is fantastic.
* The Longest Yard -- haven't seen either version.

And second, the 11 Best Remakes of All Time:

1. The Thing (1982)
I haven't seen the original, but I love this movie. I also love the original short story it's based on.

2. The Fly (1986)
Haven't seen the original, loved this movie.

3. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Haven't seen the original, loved this movie (although, having seen the original ending to the musical--the work print version is on YouTube, go find it, you need to see it--they really should've stuck with that one; the happy ending seems like a mistake to me now).

4. The Departed (2006)
Haven't seen Infernal Affairs, but I thought The Departed was quite good.

5. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Haven't seen it, loved the original.

6. The Blob (1988)
Haven't seen either one.

7. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Excellent movie, but I also thought the original was great. They were pretty different in tone, but, come on, the 1960 version has Dean Martin. That's a lot of cool right there.

8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Thank you. The original is a good movie, but I think the 1978 version outclasses it entirely.

9. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
I've never seen the 1931 version. The Bogart version is one of the greatest films ever made.

10. Casino Royale (2006)
Another vote on a technicality. Who in their right mind considers the 1967 version a James Bond movie? They come from the same book and both have characters named James Bond. Otherwise, you can't even compare the two.

11. Scarface (1983)
The Brian De Palma movie is so wildly different from the Howard Hawks movie I can't think of De Palma's as a remake. Anyway, both of these movies are ridiculous. But De Palma's is much more over-the-top and ridiculous than the 1932 version, so I guess that's some kind of victory.

James Gunn also mentions Peter Jackson's "update" of Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings as being the best remake ever. Again, same source novel, but no one would accuse Jackson of simply remaking Bakshi's film (except for Bakshi, who did just that, to anyone who would listen). Personally, there are things I like about Bakshi's film, but it's not, you know, a good movie.


bwana said...

I think it's a huge stretch to call The Thing 82 a remake of the Hawks/Nyby version. I know people argue that it is on account of the same title but that makes about as much sense as calling every Dracula movie a remake of the Lugosi flick. Two completely different takes on the same story.

duros62 said...

In re: Little Shop of Horrors

Rumor has it it was Jack Nicholson's screen debut as the masochistic dental patient (Bill Murray's character int he remake).
He was brilliant.

bwana said...

I thought the American Godzilla to be more of a Beast fron 20,000 Fathoms remake than anything else, and the Japanese 54 Godzilla being a knockoff of Beast as well.

MC said...

I am surprised Assault on Precinct 13 didn't show up here.

SamuraiFrog said...

Bwana: I've heard people say that about The Thing; I just haven't seen the Hawks version. What I've mainly been told is that the Carpenter version only used the title and the logo and then went closer to the Campbell story.

I can really see the Godzilla/Beast from 20,000 Fathoms similarities. Beast isn't really a movie I'm a fan of, either.

Duros62: I'll always remember that Jack's screen debut was The Cry Baby Killer. It's just such a distinctive title.

MC: I forgot there was a remake. Apparently, so did a lot of other people. I don't think very highly of the original.

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, thanks for liftin' up the name of Dino..." the 1960 version has Dean Martin. That's a lot of cool right there." Never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool...oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth...