Sunday, 12 August 2012

Top 10 Decent Remakes

The first top ten list on filmbore isn't hugely original, but tying into my recent article about like-for-like remakes this felt apt.

Below are my suggestion for the top 10 best remakes there's ever been, and this was a difficult one. Not because there are so many to look over (because there aren't really) but the of the re-do's that are good they were hard to pick from.

Some stipulations: no TV-to-big-screen to movie conversions only; the same goes for book adaptations; the new Star Trek is a re-imagining and not truly a remake, so that doesn't count; Star Wars only took influence from Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, so that was omitted also; Airplane! is only a parody of Airport and Zero Hour;  and Tarantino's brave but genius Inglourious Basterds is not a remake!

WARNING! Mild spoilers ahead.

10. The Departed (2006)
Remade from... 

Martin Scorsese's salute to the fantastic Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs is not only a great movie, but handles it's material fairly too. Yes, a lot of the film feels very similar to the original, but through great casting and incredible camera work and lighting, Scorsese has managed to create a stand alone feature in its own right. Well worthy of his long awaited Oscar!

Remade from...
Yojimbo (1961)
Sergio Leone's first instalment of the "Dollars Trilogy" was a pioneering film of the Westerns genre. It introduced us to The Man With No Name, which became synonymous with Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood. The original, Yojimbo is one of Kurosawa's best classics, and Leone's version is honourable in it's remake, taking the same sensibilities from the East and planting them firmly in the West.

8. Cape Fear (1991)
Remade from...
Cape Fear (1962) Scorsese makes the list a second time with his version of J. Lee Thompson's 60s thriller. Character traits are the most noticeable difference in Cape Fear Mk II besides the ever growing air of darkness seeping through the picture. De Niro supposedly took his body fat percentage to 4% to embody the brutal Cady, which is pretty good method acting if you ask me!

7. 13 Assassins (2010)
Remade from... only did Takashi Miike recreate Eiichi Kudo's classic samurai film with an injection of his own visceral action, but in honour of the way movies were made back then he tried to replicate iconic shots with a little bit of his own modern touch. Also taking some tints from Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, this is one of Miike's more approachable pieces in his impressive roster of nearly 80 feature length movies he's made since the early 90s.

Remade from... the voice-over narration from the first outing, Phillip Kaufman's 70's equivalent is edgier and creepier. Sometimes favoured by fans, Kaufman's attempt exposes more of the evolution of our invading doppelgangers and throws a curve ball with it's alternative twist ending that's enough to give you nightmare's for months. "That scream" still haunts me to this day... 

Remade from...
Just a hairline distance before Leone westernised Yojimbo (see above) John Sturges managed a western remix of the East by remaking Kurosawa's masterpiece Seven Samurai. There are lots of similarities between the films, but The Magnificent Seven stands alone as great feature down to it's production quality and incredible cast...and who can forget that epic score!

4. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Remade from... to make a good remake? Make it better than the original! With the 60's outing acting as a platform for The Rat Pack, Steven Soderbergh took the overall premise of Danny Ocean's crew taking on a major casino and imbued the heist with realistic security, twists, cons and acrobatics. Then, he employed one of the best ensemble casts in recent years. The chemistry between our stars of 2001 version is electrifying, and the dialogue is so solid that it will stand the test of time.

3. Scarface (1983)
Remade from...
Scarface (1932)
As a reflection of different eras, Brian De Palma's 1983 outing takes Tony (Montana in his version) out of the prohibition era and into the modern world of drug trafficking. In both, Tony wants "the world...and everything in it" as we see him clamber up the echelons of the crime syndicate until his timely downfall. De Palma's version is still one of the coolest and slickest films on the market, and is still fresh when watched today.

2. The Thing (1982)
Remade from...
John Carpenter's The Thing is one of the most important and iconic horrors of the 80's, not only for its incredibly tense plot but its pioneering special effects. Remade from the 50's classic, and keeping it's Tundra location, the change in the species of monster was inspired - taking it from a relentless monster of incredible strength and creating instead a creature that can morph itself into pretty much anything, including one of your comrades, creating instant paranoia and deceit. Bet you still jump during the blood testing scene! 

And the winner is...

1. The Fly (1986)
Remade from...
The Fly (1958) The Thing by a gnat's wing in this top ten is David Cronenberg's The Fly. The Vincent Price starring original is a good, classic fifties horror incorporating both noir and sci-fi elements (and who can forget the final scene..."Help Me! Help Meeee!"). However, Cronenberg took its 1958 cousin's concept of transportation and accidental mutation to the extreme in his superior version. Using his usual trademark of visceral gore, he also upped the ante on the sensitive factor by creating a beautiful romantic horror that has aged incredibly well.
Central to the whole piece is both the evolution and de-evolution of the relationship between Seth and Veronica (Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis respectively), which is mirrored with the physical improvements of our lead as he begins his transformation into the Brundle Fly (pinnacled in the unforgettable arm wrestling scene!) and then his degradation as the incompatible splicing of DNA between himself and his travel buddy slowly destroys him (the jars in the bathroom!!). He slowly loses control, as science, his ally for so many years, gets the better of him. The transmogrification continues until he his unrecognisable, leading to both an intense and emotional climax. 

A pure example of how to craft a proper remake, besting it's predecessor and becoming a cult classic. Be very afraid!

Just missed out: Insomnia, True Grit, The Crazies, Little Shop Of Horrors

If you disagree, and have other suggestions, please post comments at the bottom of the post.

And don't forget, you can tweet me @filmbore or post on my Facebook page here.


  1. Never a fan of The Fly or Oceans but kudos for Magnificent 7 and Fistfull of Dolllars-I did think Bruce Willis did a good version too. Personally I'd have had The Blob as that scared the hell out of me as a kid and the remake was good. Could possibly have argued Spiderman as it was better than the 70's original.

    And no The Grudge or The Ring?

  2. Spider-man isn't technically a remake but a re-adaptation of the comics, so it wouldn't count. But The Blob is a good shout...both versions scary and great fun.

    If you want to know why The Grudge and The Ring isn't on here, then see my article about remakes here...

  3. The other one I think is worth a shout is Casino Royale. I'd have this above Oceans any day. Give you the grudge and the riing.

  4. True Grit...good call, happy for that to be promoted to top 10, outstanding. And Ocean's cool, even Filmbore likes it!