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10 horror classics that were remade for a modern audience

With Halloween just around the corner it’s time to dig out your scary movie collection, turn the lights down low and enjoy some good old-fashioned scares.

Alongside the classics, there’s a flood of remakes and reimaginings on both the big and the small screen. Some have been box office successes whilst others have sunk without a trace.

We’ve selected 10 classics (in no particular order) that have been updated over the last two decades for a modern audience…

1. Sleepy Hollow (2013 – present)

Ichabod Crane has been resurrected many times over the years but more recently he’s been entertaining audiences on the small screen in Sleepy Hollow. Tom Mison stars as Crane opposite Nicole Beharie as police officer Abbie. The second season of the show arrived on DVD in the UK this week and it picks up from the season one cliffhanger, when it was revealed that Henry (John Noble) is one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and also the son of Ichabod and Katrina (Katia Winter). Sleepy Hollow may have struggled in the ratings over its three season run but it remains a favourite with critics.

2. Halloween (2007)

John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the best horror movies ever made so it was with some trepidation that we watched this remake. Directed by Rob Zombie, this remake actually tried to do something a bit different with the source material digging into Michael Myers’ upbringing and trying to understand why he turned into the killer we all know and fear. Malcolm McDowell put his own spin on Myers’ pursuer Loomis and Scout Taylor-Compton put in a feisty turn as Laurie Strode.

3. Poltergeist (2015)

Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist is pretty iconic so we were pretty surprised when a remake was announced. Gil Kenan teamed up with producer Sam Raimi to contemporise the 1982 classic about a family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces. When terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and hold the youngest daughter captive, the family must come together to rescue her before she disappears forever. Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Jared Harris led the cast and you can find out for yourself how it compares to the original as it arrived on Blu-ray and DVD this week.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Director Samuel Bayer’s reimagining of Wes Craven’s classic horror was a real mixed bag. On the one hand Bayer brought Freddy Krueger’s original origin story to life – that he was a paedophile rather than a child killer – but that wasn’t enough to save the movie. Despite a cast that boasted Connie Britton, Rooney Mara, Kellan Lutz and Katie Cassidy, A Nightmare on Elm Street simply didn’t need to be remade. The film really lacked the presence of original Freddy Robert Englund and Jackie Earle Haley) just didn’t portray the character with the gusto it needed.

5. Friday the 13th (2009)

One of the longest-running and most-successful horror franchises of all-time, Friday the 13th returned to cinemas after 6 years of being away. The reboot started off solidly with a genuinely scary opening sequence involving a camper being burned alive in her sleeping bag but that’s as good as it got. After that the film descended into generic stalk and slash wasting the talents of its promising cast. It took enough money at the box office but it didn’t resurrect the series sadly.

6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

The original version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is undoubtedly a horror classic so it was a brave person who tried to remake it. Director Marcus Nispel took the helm and honestly we think he did a pretty good job. Despite the movie getting mauled by critics, his version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was actually a very enjoyable stalk and slash romp. It wrapped more story around Leatherface and his family, and it was genuinely very scary.

7. Evil Dead (2013)

Note to Fede Alvarez – if you’re going to remake a classic horror that starred Bruce Campbell, you’re pretty much onto a losing streak. Despite Campbell and original director Sam Raimi on board as producers, the 2013 Evil Dead remake was a complete and utter disaster. It failed to be scary, it didn’t capture the humour of the original, and the performances of the cast were pretty dull. At least Campbell popped up in a post credits sequence.

8. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Disturbing, shocking and horrifying are just some ways we can describe this remake. Director Alexandre Aja managed to best the original, in our opinion, with his tense and uber-violent vision. The Hills Have Eyes had us glimpsing from behind a cushion and it’s one of the only remakes on this list that really impressed us. Just be warned, it’s definitely not for the faint hearted so watch with caution.

9. The Ring (2002)

It may have been a box office success but the US version of The Ring wasn’t a patch on the original Japanese movie. It had a few cheap thrills but it didn’t capture the psychological fear that the original delivered. Gore Verbinski directed Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson, with both actors giving solid performances, but the end result was a bit of a let down. It also tried too hard to elaborate on source material that benefitted from being fairly simple.

10. Psycho (1998)

This is the one remake on the list that should never have happened. Gus Van Sant made a shot-by-shot remake of the Hitchcock classic and to say it was awful would be to put it mildly. Vince Vaughn was woefully miscast as Norman Bates and not even Anne Heche and Julianne Moore could save this mess. We’d recommend you avoid this one.

Which is your favourite horror remake? Vote in our poll below:

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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