The problem with remakes is that they’re usually made for movies that are already famous, otherwise known as good movies.
It’s an immediate disadvantage — one that the occasional remake will manage to overcome. We’re ranked the greatest examples of such redos that were equally good as (if not better than) their originals, in order from worst to best.
30. Ocean’s Eleven
It’s hard to beat a cast quite like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Cesar Romero, and like… ten other amazing people. But at least the Steven Soderbergh remake knew exactly what it was up against when it compiled the stellar cast that it did. And boy was that first movie fun for it.
Did it matter that the heist was as convoluted as a child cheating at Monopoly? Do we care that it had a plot hole so gaping that even the director couldn’t defend it? No of course not. It was fun and easy to follow — something we can’t exactly say about the sequels that followed.
29. Fright Night
This might be a controversial opinion, but we liked the Fright Night remake much more than the original film. For starters, it was directed by Craig Gillespie — whose other credits include Lars and the Real Girl and I, Tonya. And secondly there’s the crazy amazing cast, which includes Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, and David Tennant.
Oh right, and did we mention Colin Farrell as the freaking vampire? Because that’s who plays the vampire. It’s Colin Farrell… but as a sexy vampire who stalks teenagers, we can’t stress this enough. The movie went under a lot of radars, which is pretty crazy considering the list of names we just threw at your face.
28. The Woman in Black
Not enough people gave this film credit for its sheer creepiness alone — not to mention that you get to see Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) be relentlessly harassed by a ghost. And not a fun playful ghost like Nearly Headless Nick, but a weird and mean ghost like that pervy Moaning Myrtle.
And again — this is a genuinely creepy film. It’s classic horror, as in a story taking place on a foggy moor inside a creepy old house. You might call that basic, but when done correctly it can also be extremely effective. It’s the grilled cheese of movies; a quality standard.
27. The Wicker Man
Look, we’re not going to say that the 2006 version of The Wicker Man is better than the original. All we’re going to say is that it features Nicolas Cage jogging around an island village sucker-punching various women while dressed in a full-body bear outfit. It’s up to you to decide what value you place on that.
We would even argue that this remake is paramount in terms of quintessential moments in which Cage loses his beautiful mind. Not a single marble is left as his mighty maw wails in bee torment, only to be burned alive moments later. Do you think they ate his body? Lord knows you can’t waste a good Nicolas Cage.
26. The Jungle Book
Considering that he’s partially responsible for the success of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, we don’t give Jon Favreau enough credit. He’s very consistently delighted us with the silliness of Elf to the more personal Chef. He also gave us Cowboys & Aliens, which is kinda amazing in a very different way.
The Jungle Book is one of the few Disney remasters that was worthy of the original. With a cast like Bill Murray as Baloo, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, and of course Scarlett Johansson reprising her role from Under The Skin… it’s not hard to see why this movie had a lot of heart.
25. True Grit
Now that we’ve been reminded that John Wayne was a pretty problematic man, we think it’s safe to say that the 2010 Coen Brothers version of True Grit is officially more watchable than the original. That is assuming you put on the captions in order to understand Jeff Bridges.
But while it comes with all kinds of heavy hitters like Josh Brolin and Matt Damon, the obvious MVP is Hailee Steinfeld and her breakout role as Mattie Ross. It only makes sense that she would go from babysitting one incoherent murder machine to yet another one in Bumblebee.
24. Pet Sematary
We don’t care that it got terrible reviews; we’re here to tell you that the new Pet Sematary is a good movie. Better than the original? No, probably not — but the new ending was just as creepy (if not creepier). It also comes from the directors of Starry Eyes, a film any horror fan should absolutely see.
Also, and we know this seems silly, but the cat was a much better cat actor (cator?) in the new film. we truly believed his grumbling rage when abandoned on the side of a road, his clear intent to journey back for the soul purpose of killing his owner’s entire family — as all cats fantasize about occasionally.
Presented as yet another disaster movie, what strikes us about Poseidon is how surprisingly harrowing the struggle for survival plays out. It’s flat-out dark as our protagonists commit acts of sacrifice in order to escape their claustrophobic surroundings. There’s even a drowning sequence that will crush your heart. Seriously, it’s dark.
And what a cast! Avert your eyes as the likes of Richard Dreyfuss, Josh Lucas, and Kurt Russell attempt to narrowly avoid a watery grave. Not even Fergie is safe from this aquatic catastrophe incited by a rogue wave. This is why man was never meant to venture into the sea, a place that clearly doesn’t want us in it.
22. Vanilla Sky
If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing the original Open Your Eyes you already know that Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky is not the superior of the two movies. That said, it did a lot of things right — including casting Kurt Russell and Jason Lee. Also, Cameron Diaz is downright chilling in this version… like the literal stuff of nightmares.
And finally, there’s Tom Cruise, who is yet another great casting choice — especially evident if you’ve seen the original. This film marks one of the few eras where the action star was actually dabbling with complex roles, something he seriously needs to do more often than every ten freaking years.
21. Village of the Damned
The rules are simple: if you’re John Carpenter you are allowed to remake any film you want. We don’t care which. Shawshank Redemption? Do it, John. Sliding Doors? Weird choice, but sure. On the other hand, you should not — under any circumstance — remake a Carpenter film. There’s just no good reason to do it.
But again, for John there’s no wrong answer, obviously including his 1995 remake of Village of the Damned — featuring Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, and Mark Hamill in a cast list that sounds pulled from a hat. Now if we can only get him out of retirement to do a version of Splash where the Daryl Hannah character explodes into mandibles.
20. The Departed
On one hand, it’s a shame that an already prestigious film like Internal Affairs might get overshadowed by an a-list remake like The Departed. On the other hand, the latter film is an accomplishment of its own — specifically in the department of “a crazy amount of talent working with Martin Scorsese for the first time.”
It’s amazing to watch respected actors like Matt Damon, Vera Farmiga, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, and of course Jack Nicholson work with this director so late in the game. But the gravity of that insures that everyone is giving it their best. Even Mark Wahlberg absolutely kills it as “angry guy from Boston”, a role that’s obviously very far from his usual self.
19. The House On Haunted Hill
This might rattle a few cages, but we think the William Castle version of House on Haunted Hill is terrible. You can’t end your film with Vincent Price piloting a skeleton Muppet and expect us to feel anything but amused. That said, it’s not like the 1999 remake ended any better. In fact it ended much, much worse. So why do we think it’s the superior film? It’s tone + cast.
Overall, the 1999 one is more fun to watch and has far more scary moments. Not to mention the spectacular apery of Geoffrey Rush — who through amazing circumstance performs multiple tense scenes with Chris Kattan. Combine that with a love scene between Famke Janssen and Peter Gallagher and you got yourself a fever dream of an ensemble.
18. Dawn Of The Dead
No, of course this doesn’t top the original — but the Zack Snyder remake of this George A. Romero classic manages to carve out its own place in horror nostalgia. For his first movie, it takes all the good of Snyder’s style and places it front and center — especially when it comes to his talent toward effective opening credits.
Oh, and did you know that James Gunn wrote the screenplay? At the time he was more known for his antics over at Troma than making Guardians Of The Galaxy, still very much in the trenches of indie horror. For some cosmic reason, this film was apparently pivotal for the many superhero films to come.
17. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
It’s easy to forget that this 90s animal-endangerment film is actually based off a 1960’s animal-endangerment film from Disney, a company well versed in endangering animals both animated and live-action. In the original, the spunky cat and dog team are actually pitted against a bear, effectively ramping up the uh… animal endangerment.
Animal endangerment aside, the 1993 Homeward Bound taught kids the magic of profound sadness that comes with watching an old dog nearly die in a muddy pit. If you are one of the many psychologically damaged from this movie, it might not surprise you to learn that the director also helmed several episodes of Twin Peaks before this film.
16. The Fly
Personally, we find the 1958 version of The Fly to actually be a far more disturbing and grotesque than this David Cronenberg remake. But it would be bad manners to omit this 80s gross-out from the list. For starters, it has Jeff Goldblum in it, which automatically elevates any movie on the scale of greatness.
Another objectively true fact: this is the least strange movie that both Goldblum and Geena Davis have ever teamed up on — the other two films being Earth Girls Are Easy and Transylvania 6-5000, all made within a three-year span of time. Seriously go watch all these films and tell us The Fly isn’t the most normal of the Geenablumverse.
Based off the Norwegian thriller of the same name, Insomnia manages to be the most grounded work of Christopher Nolan while still featuring Robin Williams battling Al Pacino like a confusing episode of Celebrity Deathmatch. Sadly it never comes to direct blows, nor are they wearing their respective costumes from Dick Tracy and Popeye.
Still, in terms of old guys fighting it’s pretty good. But if it were up to us, we would’ve added more fisticuffs and stretched it out to Roddy Piper vs Keith David lengths of insanity. But we guess that’s why we’re not directing moody thrillers (or any movies), because Hollywood is just too scared of our artistic vision.
14. Casino Royale
It’s the only movie where James Bond gets repeatedly wacked in the groin and we salute its bravery for that. It’s also technically a remake since they made a comedy version back in 1967. So for a film that kicked off the era of the Daniel Craig Bond, it’s pretty darn huge in terms of accomplishments.
That said, it also holds the distinction of having one of the worst poker scenes in a movie, where 007 wins a giant pot with 5/7 suited. Seriously now, what kind of expert gambler stays for the flop with such low cards in a high stakes game with three other players? Shame on you, Bond.
You could argue that it’s more of a re-adaptation than a remake of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone version… but then we wouldn’t get to put it on this list. We must accept the premise that this is a remake of a film where Rob Schneider is the comic relief… otherwise we can’t talk about how great this new one is.
Hey. Did we mention how great this new one is? The 2012 Dredd is one of those films that only happens in a small window of opportunity. It is the rare occasion when producers decide to take an actual risk and scale down their franchise to more niche audience. And when it works it’s nothing short of fantastic.
12. The Magnificent Seven
Which version are we speaking of? The 1960s movie or the 2016? Technically they are both remakes of Seven Samurai — and while it seems obvious which one we’re going to choose, the answer is both of them. They are both pretty great films, the latter Antoine Fuqua-directed film an underrated Western.
Apart from Infinity War, how often do we get to see Chris Pratt play a straight up terrible person? Not only does this remake of a remake give us that, but Vincent D’Onofrio pulling off the craziest of voices a character ever did have. He sounds like a weird Old West angel in this movie, specifically one of the terrifying Biblical ones that smites people.
11. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
While we enjoyed The Invasion, we’re not going to subject you to a justification for that super bland movie — mainly because compared to the 1978 remake it’s an absolute snoozefest. You just can’t beat the Donald Sutherland do-over of a story so routinely reimagined that it’s practically a fable.
What is the moral of this Aesop-style tale? We suppose it’s that if your friend is acting slightly strange you should immediately kill them with fire. Also, and we can’t stress this enough, there’s no wrong way to put Jeff Goldblum in your movie. Try it sometime — we guarantee it’ll work out for you.
Along with being a great film, Scarface’s poster has spent many decades serving tirelessly as a marker for any apartment or dorm room housing terrible people. It’s right there next to the Fight Club and Boondock Saints posters in terms of framed items that might as well be literal red flags.
But what else can you expect from the paragon of an anti-hero tale? This movie is the ultimate in “cool-but-toxic bad guy” forever misinterpreted by garbage people trying to justify being a jerk. But of course the ambiguity is kind of why it’s an extremely well made film — much like the original.
9. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Imagine a world where Francis Ford Coppola directs Keanu Reeves in a Dracula film featuring Gary Oldman as the titular character. Now imagine that world is our world — because it is our world. You should feel blessed to live in such a bizarre world. The unfortunate catch is that not a single Dracula film was ever good after this one.
Undoubtedly the coolest trivia is that Coppola wanted to use antiquated special effects to properly capture the mood of the film. And when his modern special effects crew told him that was impossible, he replaced them with his son Roman Coppola, who proceeded to create entirely practical effects with minimal effort.
8. True Lies
It’s absolutely bonkers that what could be the best James Cameron action movie has yet to be released on blu-ray despite multiple false-rumors getting our hopes up. Seriously, what the hell is taking so long? Did they lose the original film reels? Can no one pry Cameron from his underwater lair?
Technically, we should be talking about how True Lies is a remake of a French comedy film called La Totale! but preserving this movie on some kind of modern format is a far more important topic of discussion. For some insane reason, it’s not even on streaming. Why hasn’t the government stepped in and forced 20th Century Fox to drop everything and handle this?
7. Apocalypse Now
Thanks to the 1958 TV movie Heart Of Darkness we can technically call the bonkers classic by Francis Ford Coppola a “remake” and therefore cheat it into this list. This movie is beyond special in its blundering success story of drugs and insanity. It’s the Hunter S. Thompson of movies in that it can’t possibly be replicated.
And did you know there’s a five-hour workprint of this movie still circulating? Also, it’s terrible. Also, this painfully long copy manages to cut scenes in the final version — meaning that there’s an even longer version that could possibly exist.
6. The Birdcage
Originally a French play titled La Cage aux Folles, the story was later adapted into a 1978 film of the same name before finally being turned into the Robin Williams film we all know and love. This is a film that absolutely holds up to modern standards and more than deserves a revisit.
Because while you can certainly celebrate this film as an LGBTQ milestone — it’s also simply a great piece of storytelling and comedy while managing to be heartwarming at the same time. And most importantly, it’s super fun and has a scene where Gene Hackman dresses in drag.
5. Little Shop Of Horrors
The trail of adaptations surrounding Little Shop Of Horrors is an odd one. Originally a dark 60s comedy by Roger Corman, the film was adapted into a musical in the early 80s. Technically-speaking the Rick Moranis/Ellen Greene version is an adaptation of the musical and not a direct remake of the original.
Whatever the case, this film definitely has a scene in which Steve Martin makes Bill Murray orgasm while he screams “candy bar”. That’s undisputed. That’s a thing that happens in this movie where Moranis later kills Martin to feed him to a giant plant. How any of this was allowed is beyond us.
4. The Wizard of Oz
A weird perspective on what is now considered one of the best films ever made: at the time, The Wizard Of Oz was one of several adaptations of the book made during the 20s and 30s. There was an animated and live-action version before it, and another one made a while after — the latter made by the director an adult film called The Sex Killer.
Our point here is that — much like we’re all pretty sick of Robin Hood and Peter Pan reimaginings, we have to wonder if audiences were like “oh great another freaking Oz film” when this came out. Lord knows the old-timey version of us would’ve had to eat our words the moment this movie became an instant masterpiece.
3. The Mummy
The five-year journey of how The Mummy came to be involved multiple potential directors including, but not limited to, Clive Barker, Wes Craven, and George A. Romero. At one point even Daniel Day-Lewis was considered to play the role of the mummy. Universal had no idea what they wanted, and was only willing to throw $10 million at the project.
Then came Stephen Sommers, and his pitch for an Indiana Jones-style adventure excited the studio enough to increase the budget up to $80 million. This was the single smartest decision they ever made — one that would ultimately not be replicated come 2017 when they thought it was a good idea to turn their classic monsters into crime-fighting Avengers.
2. 12 Monkeys
Taken from the short film La Jetée, this movie continues to be the most lucrative Terry Gilliam film ever made. And in what seems like a rare planetary alignment, it somehow stars Bruce Willis at his height of action fame — having just come off the third Die Hard. What a strange movie this is.
In fairness to Willis, it’s easy to forget how diverse his filmography was in the 90s — having also done everything from Pulp Fiction to the Paul Newman drama Nobody’s Fool. But 12 Monkeys manages to stand out for being one of the few unglamourous “tough guy” roles this actor has taken on. In fact he’s mostly a creep in this film.
1. The Thing
We’re saying it right here in no uncertain terms – The Thing is absolutely the best remake of all time. It might be one of the best horror films of all time. And it might be one of the best anythings of all times.
The story begins with a group of bearded Norwegians shooting at a dog from a helicopter and only gets crazier from there. Multiple people explode into Lovecraftian puppets and we’re pretty sure the main character is never sober for a second of the film. This is the height of human accomplishment.
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