There was a lot of backlash against the new Ghostbusters trailer. I think it was an average trailer but does not indicate that it will be a bad movie. I have a fair amount of faith in the creators behind it. But it got me thinking about what other remakes in the world of sci-fi, horror, fantasy, etc. worked and which ones didn’t. There’s a surprisingly large number of good remakes. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are better than the original, but that they are at the very least good in their own right. Below is our list of the best genre movie remakes, to remind us that sometimes it works. I couldn’t decide how to rank them: chronologically or arbitrarily from worst to best? So I ranked them by aggregate review score (which can fluctuate, admittedly).
Piranha 3D (2010)
Look, it delivers on expectations. It’s a pretty damn fun movie about killer fish in a lake. But do skip its terrible sequel, Piranha 3DD.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The original is a classic. But by not repeating the characters and just using the overall premise, James Gunn and Zack Snyder actually made one of the best zombie movies.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Even bad Spielberg is still miles better than most other competing big-budget movies. The effects and supporting characters are great and it pretty much follows all the big beats of the original H.G. Wells story.
The Ring (2002)
I slightly prefer the 1998 Japanese original but I think it’s only because I saw that one first. It’s very similar so the only big advantage to one over the other is either seeing one first for the big scares or maybe you just prefer no subtitles.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
This movie is SOOOOO much better than the 1990 shitshow. I mean… wow. This is a good movie. The original try was not. At all.
The Thing (1982)
I think John Carpenter’s remake is a big improvement on the original. Your mileage there may vary but this claustrophobic, intense potboiler set in a remote Antacrtic research outpost is fantastic.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
While the original is creepier, this version by Francis Ford Coppola is still very, very good. Gary Oldman is a great Dracula, bolstered by a great supporting cast. Well, and also Keanu Reeves, but whatever.
12 Monkeys (1995)
It’s a remake of a French film. Haven’t seen the original, so I can’t say how it compares. All I know is Terry Gilliam made a really, really good movie. And Bruce Willis actually seems to be invested in his performance, instead of phoning it in.
King Kong (2005)
The original is superior, no question. This movie by Peter Jackson is bloated and a few of the special effects are pretty dodgy. But I still think it’s a blast. Kong himself, at least, is very believable and expressive. It doesn’t have the charm of the original, but it is a pretty satisfying epic.
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman has been rebooted many times. But Nolan’s trilogy is a pretty accurate to the comics of the day interpretation that worked as a crowd pleaser.
Freaky Friday (2003)
I mean, it’s a kids’ movie but sometimes those make the most sense to update so that a new generation can better engage with the story.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Does it even count as a remake if it’s adapting the Broadway musical that was adapting the 1960 original movie? I mean, technically it’s a remake. Whatever. It’s got Rick Moranis and Steve Martin so it’s pretty good no matter what.
The Fly (1986)
The original 1958 movie with Vincent Price is fun but the David Cronenberg one is kind of a perfect fit for both Cronenberg’s fascination with body horror and Jeff Goldblum playing weirdo scientists. It’s a pretty dope movie. I’d call this one an improvement on the original, for sure.
Let Me In (2010)
This remake of Sweden’s Let the Right One In is sort of one of those cases where whichever one you see first is the one you prefer because they are pretty equal.
Director Werner Herzog and star Klaus Kinski’s remake is at least as disturbing as F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic silent film. I suppose it isn’t as innovative but it is a fascinating experiment and totally engaging.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
I’d argue that when you hear this title you think of this movie with Donald Sutherland, not the 1956 original. Because this one did it better.