Oh the 2000’s, what a time for horror movies. Just filled to the brim with endless remakes and so-so ideas, which clearly are still happening today. It occurred to me the other day when I was watching one of the many remakes from the 00’s, that there’s enough of those damn remakes to make a post about them. It also occurred to me that I kind of grew up with a lot of these mostly shitty remakes of older horror classics and have seen a large chunk of them. But while a lot of them may have been less than great, some of them definitely formed my opinion and taste for scary movies today, and while I love the classics, sometimes these crappy remakes are what I crave when the Halloween season kicks up again. And what better way to start off the month of October than with a compilation of some bad and some just okay horror remakes? Your answer, like always, is none.
11. When a Stranger Calls (2006)
Yikes this movie! Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call the 1979 original a classic but I would say it’s worth watching for Carol Kane’s performance alone. We also got an actual sense of terror that this babysitter was stuck in the house with a psycho, but in this washed down 2006 snoozefest we get Camilla Belle giving a sub par performance. Look, I really don’t have anything wrong with Camilla Belle (I mean I don’t remember her from anything else other than The Lost World but still), but man she really does nothing for this movie especially considering that she’s meant to carry it. Also, when I said snoozefest before I really meant it, this thing is a slow, meandering hour and a half with really no payoff in the end. There isn’t really much else I can say about this forgettable piece other than just don’t even try with this one.
10. Prom Night (2008)
Once again, the original version of this film is really nothing special other than the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis is in it, and like Carol Kane in the previous entry, she carries most of it. In this updated version we have Brittany Snow looking pretty in her prom dress and screaming/running away from Johnathan Schaech. If you haven’t already noticed, there’s a pattern throughout all these movies, crazy serial killers chasing pretty girls around and for the most part all of the girls are helpless. Helpless is a perfect word for Brittany Snow’s Donna in this, she kind of just runs around and screams a lot…and when I say scream a lot I mean a LOT. And okay, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be stupid and scream my ass off if I was being stalked and chased by a lunatic but still, this is a horror movie and I like when the main female antagonist has at least a few interesting qualities to offer. I have nothing against Brittany Snow, (she’s great and gives the performance of her career in The Vicious Kind), but she really isn’t given anything to do. Like I said, the 1980 version isn’t really that special either and I don’t know if I could even recommend it, but this is merely a waste of your time.
9. Black Christmas (2006)
Now this one is really hard to sit through knowing that there is an original version that is so much better and you’re stuck with this. Why they had to remake a perfectly chilling horror classic, I really don’t know. This remake is the prime example of changing things and having new ideas with the original story gone wrong. Similar to how I feel about the Halloween remake, this version of Black Christmas explains way too much. Adding a little bit of explanation is one thing, but they just went too overboard in this, the use of not knowing who this crazy killer is in the original is what made it scary. There’s definitely a studded cast of young actresses like Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Windstead, Lacey Chabert and Katie Cassidy along with a warmly welcomed Andrea Martin (who was also in the 1974 original). I actually didn’t really have a problem with any of the casting in this, they all do what they’re there to do, they scream a lot and have some good lines here and there, but it’s really with the killer (or killers, spoiler alert), where they messed up. It just gets to the point of being silly in the end and it doesn’t even feel like a horror movie anymore, it feels like a parody of one.
8. Halloween (2007)
Where do I start with this movie? It’s not that I hate it, I just really don’t love it..I do have thoughts though! When this came out, I do remember actually enjoying it quite a bit, I was also younger and wasn’t really sure what to expect. But seeing it now, it kind of leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Like I said with Black Christmas, TOO MUCH EXPLANATION. There’s nothing wrong with fleshing out a specific character in a movie but there’s a fine line you can cross and I think Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween crosses that line. With Zombie’s Michael we get a full back story on him and get to see him as a child and on in the institution, which I think can work in a few scenes but it really goes on too long for my taste, I mean it takes up a good 20, 30 minutes of the movie for god’s sake! And then there’s the amount of meanness, which once again, you can have but there’s a fine line. In the beginning scenes with Michael’s family alone (which also go on for what seem like forever), we get this over the top abusive stepdad and what feels like Rob Zombie saying “be as white trash and nasty as you can”, and it’s just too much. I think for me, it would’ve been so much more effective if we got maybe one scene that showed this man has fucked up Michael’s childhood, or that his home life isn’t great, but instead we get beat over the head with it for 20 minutes. It’s clear that I’m not a huge fan of this one (don’t get me started on the sequel), but I think if you’ve seen the original and want another take on it, maybe check it out?
7. Friday the 13th (2009)
I think I’ve said it before but, I really don’t love the Friday the 13th movies much. Part 2 is the one I can sit through the most, but it’s really a series that never stuck with me and was always just there to be a slasher franchise, which is fine but not particularly for me. Sure, this remake has plenty of the character tropes (horny stoner, asshole jock, dumb blonde, smart nerd, final girl), that we see so perfectly displayed in something like Cabin in the Woods, but for the most part I kind of had a good time with this. It’s nowhere near perfect but I think the makers of this one did a good job blending a lot of the aspects from the first three original movies and making a jumpy good time. Is it super scary? no, but it has some genuinely good jump scares and a few likeable characters. There’s not really much to say about this one because it really is just rehashing what we’ve already seen with Jason Vorhees in a modern setting, but I think I could possibly see myself recommending this to someone who knows the genre well.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
This one really surprised me with how much I actually kind of enjoyed it! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the Wes Craven original, but it’s not nearly as bad as most have said it is. It’s nowhere near perfect, especially in the third act where I feel like it drags, but it has a promising setup and kept me interested throughout. Another example of changing things enough to differentiate them from the original in some ways, we get a Freddy (played by Jackie Earle Haley this time around), that talks more and is more of a child molestor than a child murderer. I was skeptical with the change at first but I think they did a pretty good job with it, and Jackie Earle Haley is no Robert Englund but he gives it his all. I think it’s worth giving our young cast a shout out too, Rooney Mara was very good as always even if she regrets the movie, Kyle Gallner is a nice Johnny Depp replacement and Katie Cassidy plays a good scream queen in the beginning. Like I said, it doesn’t get close to the greatness of the ’84 original, but it’s definitely not bad. So I’d say this is proof that critics and other reviews aren’t always 100% right, you have to kind of just go for it with movies sometimes and see what you get…that’s what I did with this movie and I’d say it wasn’t so bad.
5. Sorority Row (2009)
I don’t know what it is, but I think Sorority Row is a really cool name for a horror movie, it has a ring to it that I really like. This little movie is a remake of the 1983 slasher, The House on Sorority Row. The general plot is pretty much the same for both of them, I’d just say both movies differ from when they were made and released. The original being made in the 80s, definitely has the feeling of all the slashers that were coming out in the 80s and the 2009 version is very much the updated one with more sex and violence. This was another one I shockingly didn’t hate! It’s fun when it wants to be and has some pretty good kills in there. Briana Evigan as Cassidy, who’s basically the final girl of the movie, is a nice combo of scared and fierce. The rest of the girls are also great (including a few scenes with the great Carrie Fisher), and are definitely what stand out most. The weakest point has to be the ending/the reveal of the killer. I’m not gonna give it away but it seemed more like a cop out and just sort of happened, very anti climactic. It’s fun in the way that something like Jennifer’s Body or Heathers is, so I’d say if you want a fun horror movie then this is the choice for you.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
I remember seeing this movie in middle school and just kind of being blown away by it. I’ll just say it, I saw this before I saw the original, which I’m not proud of trust me. With that being said, I do think the original is far superior…but this one isn’t all bad either! Sure it’s a lot more violent and has a lot more blood (which the original surprisingly has very little of and is still effective), but somehow it works. Jessica Biel is a great final girl (with her insanely skimpy top), and gives a good holy shit/what the fuck/scared face. The rest of the cast is mostly forgettable because they kind of mesh together and a lot of them get killed off so quickly but they’re serviceable. While it is an effective remake, my least favorite aspect of it has to be the version of the cannibalistic family that they created, they weirdly weren’t as freaky or scary as they wanted to be. None of the casting is bad or anything, they just weren’t anything close to how creepy that family is in the ’74 version. So I guess that’s what I’d say this one is missing; a little bit of that raw creepiness that the Tobe Hooper version was able to capture.
3. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
There is a scene in this movie that scarred me and really stayed in my head for a while when I first saw it (it involves a trailer, you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it). Alexandra Aja has remade two movies (this and 2010’s Piranha 3D), and I actually liked both of them more than their originals. While I do think Wes Craven was the best horror director out there, this ’06 version really stuck with me. I’ve only seen it twice and I’m not really sure if I’d ever go back and visit it again. There’s that scene I mentioned that happens pretty early on and it really hits a nerve with me for some reason, there’s just something about the way it’s shot and acted. But just because I won’t go back and watch doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s good. Aja’s interpretation of Hills Have Eyes is much darker, less silly than the original and has more guts (and blood), and I think if you love intense, graphic, grungy horror than you’ll be into this.
2. The Last House on the Left (2009)
This movie has something in it that is in a lot of horror that I don’t like at all, rape. Yet, I still think it’s a great remake and update of a just alright horror movie from the 70’s. The original is once again, a Wes Craven film, one of his first actually, and it shows that it’s his first because it’s not exactly the best quality and has it’s share of faults. In the ’09 go at it, it felt like there was that same strong plot but they made it even stronger. Like I said, I don’t really love the whole rape thing, but it does lead to what is a stellar third act. Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn are great as the parents seeking revenge for their daughter that’s been brutally taken advantage of and Garret Dillahunt is good as our main baddie. Like Hills Have Eyes and a lot of Craven’s earlier work, it’s not the easiest to sit through at times, but it definitely has some strong scenes in there and top notch acting so I’d say check it out if you have the guts for it.
1. House of Wax (2005)
Out of all the movies that are on this list, this is the one that stands out to me the most, hence me putting it in the #1 slot. I’ve seen it multiple times and each time I just have a great time with it. Maybe it’s the sexiness of Chad Michael Murry or the loveliness of Elisha Cuthbert, I don’t know, but I really like it. Fun is the key word here, this movie is a good time, it’s that popcorn horror movie that is just easy to sit down and watch with some friends. You could say it’s serviceable, which it is, but it feels like it’s even more than that, I don’t find it forgettable or bland at all. It could be the wax people that freak me out or watching a finger get yanked off like it’s nothing, but I find that certain parts of this are genuinely terrifying. There’s also something about that damn ghost town that a few of our characters walk into that I find intriguing in a strange way. Sure, our villains are a little cliche and could’ve been fleshed out a tad more, but other than that I can’t find much else wrong with this. It’s not really that similar to the Vincent Price movie other than the wax people and it knows what it is. So I would say if you’re with a bunch of friends on Halloween and you don’t know what to watch with them, check out House of Wax, it’s a damn good time.
Hope you liked the list and make sure to stay around during October because I plan on posting plenty more Halloween type of things!