I'm not entirely against remakes – at least in the horror genre. Sometimes an old B-movie has a decent concept but squandered potential. Later, an interesting director may find hidden depths to that movie and a good reason to remake it, and thus the copy surpasses the original. David Cronenberg's The Fly is the quintessential example, but I also prefer the American version of The Ring over its Japanese predecessor. But by and large, the impetus behind remakes is just to make a quick buck, especially when a studio can leech off its old properties by serving them up in louder, bloodier versions. But these nine classic films should have been left alone:
- Village of the Damned. Wolf Rilla's spooky 1960 chiller, about an English hamlet besieged by strange blonde children with the power of mind control, was worthlessly redone in 1995 by John Carpenter, who added some well-known actors (including Christopher Reeve, shortly before his accident), color film, an American setting, and explosions. The spare, creepy, expertly-made original didn't deserve this. But then it didn't deserve its own unwelcome sequel (1963's Children of the Damned) either.
- The Haunting. Robert Wise's 1963 psychological thriller, about a group of people attempting to stay in a haunted mansion for a few nights, isn't perfect. But it's got rich atmosphere, excellent sound effects, and strong performances by Julie Harris and Claire Bloom. The 1999 version is the stereotypical Big Stupid Hollywood Remake. Despite its A-list cast, it's already forgotten. Meanwhile, Wise's 1963 film lives on.
- Psycho. Gus Van Sant's 1998 shot-for-shot clone of Hitchcock's 1960 classic is the very definition of the word "unnecessary".
- House of Wax. It's disturbing, it's in 3D, it has Vincent Price. What more could you ask of a 1953 horror movie? And why did anyone think that redoing it as a 2005 gore fest (costarring Paris Hilton, no less) would add anything – even camp value?
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Remaking Tobe Hooper's 1974 landmark splatter film in 2003 is as much of an insult to the horror genre as remaking High Noon would be to the Western. (And of course High Noon was remade – as a 2000 TV movie.) The jury's still out, however, on whether it was wise to contract "Chain Saw" into "Chainsaw".
- The Omen. The original version of The Omen wasn't that great. A good filmmaker could have delved deeper into the story and done away with its bad-haired '70s-ness. But it seems like the only reason The Omen was remade – poorly, I might add – was so that 20th Century Fox could score extra box office with a "Satanic" release date of 6-6-06. Weak.
- Cat People. Jacques Tourneur's moody 1942 movie about a woman who turns into a panther was ridiculously sexed up in 1982. Funny thing is, if they remade it now, they'd take out the sex and put a pack of CGI panthers in it.
- King Kong. Considered one of the greatest movies of all time, 1933's King Kong retains a charm and mystery unmatched by both its notoriously bad 1976 remake and even Peter Jackson's earnest 2005 version. What Jackson didn't foresee is that three-plus hours of wall-to-wall computer effects won't generate any more magic than 100 minutes of puppets, miniatures, Fay Wray's lissome figure, and Max Steiner's legendary score, more than seventy years earlier.
- The Wicker Man. It may be too early to write off Neil LaBute's upcoming remake of this 1973 thriller (and call it a detective story, call it a religious satire, call it a musical, but despite its last shocking minutes, there's nothing in this film that deserves the "horror" label), and I can even see the rationale behind it: the old movie's thick '70s stench of folk music, pagan rituals, and naked hippie women may not play to today's audiences. But take out the songs and the free love and you have no Wicker Man, a flawless – even timeless – film.