Remaking classic movies can be a fool’s errand. Updating iconic horror movies is an even taller task.
The best horror movies speak to their times just as much as our perennial need to be frightened. And the quest to remake a movie, horror or otherwise, often means the studio’s bottom line laps artistic considerations.
Not always, though.
These four horror films offered something vital above and beyond replicating the original shocks. And, in some cases, the remakes certifiably trump the source material
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Paranoia never goes out of style, but in the ’70s it reached a fever pitch. Enter this brilliant remake featuring a killer cast (Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartwright and Jeff Goldblum) and slick special effects.
Something isn’t quite right with some San Francisco dwellers as the story opens. Sutherland’s beleaguered health inspector stumbles onto the source of the problem, which quickly gets out of control.
Smart, sophisticated and capped by one of the best horror movie endings ever, this “Invasion” is the best take on Jack Finney’s 1955 novel “The Body Snatchers.”
The Thing (1982)
Director John Carpenter previously forged the slasher movie template with 1979’s “Halloween.” Three years later, he transformed the classic sci-fi yarn “The Thing from Another World” and gave it a serious FX upgrade.
Carpenter did more than that, though. He crafted a sneaky ensemble thriller that kept us guessing as to who we could trust in the isolated base camp.
Kurt Russell leads the way in a film often name-checked on those annual “best horror movies ever” lists.
The Fly (1986)
Digital technology was still a pipe dream when director David Cronenberg assembled his cast and crew in the mid-1980s. The results were a gloppy horror stew, one that shows its age in the final act. What makes this “Fly” matter is the humanity lurking beneath the sci-fi trappings.
Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis create a haunting love story caught in a scientist’s quest for knowledge. Watching “Brundlefly” slowly change into his new self is both shocking and tragic. What we also witness is a woman seeing the man she loves disappear before her eyes.
The Blob (1988)
The 1958 original gave Steve McQueen his first major gig, but critics of the era were hardly impressed. The same can be said for the film itself, which became a classic of sorts but not for the right reasons.
The ’80s reboot didn’t snare much attention during its release. The film’s lead, Kevin Dillon, would have to wait for audiences to appreciate him in a follow-up project.
We’re sorry, Drama.
The newer “Blob” is still grand B-movie fun. Fast-paced, smart and shocking, it even throws us a curveball early on by taking out a character we’re sure was slated to save the day. That’s Dillon’s job, thank you.