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(Credit: Universal Pictures)

Film

The 10 worst horror remakes of all time

@Russellisation

Of all the established genres in cinema, horror is the one that feels as if it’s been flogged and juiced for all its creative ideas, ripped apart and recycled so many times that it’s often difficult to understand who came up with the original concept. Iconic characters of the genre have experienced several remakes, reboots and sequels, with the likes of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers seemingly impervious to such constant harm.

Netflix is the latest company to resurrect the legacy of a classic character, bringing Leatherface back to cinemas with the release of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, starring Elsie Fisher, Nell Hudson, Sarah Yarkin and Jacob Latimore. Having already received two remakes in 2013 with Texas Chainsaw 3D and Leatherface in 2017, it’s a wonder why the streaming service wishes to take on the seemingly already doomed project. 

Popularised in the late 1990s and early 2000s, these horror remakes pale in comparison to their often iconic original films and bring misery to fans of their respective series. Resurfacing painful old cinematic memories, let’s take a trip through ten of the very worst horror remakes of all time, from the reimagining of George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead to the unnecessary redesign of an Alfred Hitchcock game changer.

See the full list, below.

The 10 worst horror remakes of all time:

10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Marcus Nispel, 2003)

We begin with the very franchise that is due to be rebooted once more by Netflix in February 2022, with Marcus Nispel’s 2003 reimagining of the classic character doing absolutely nothing to add to the mystery of the original film. 

Though it may purport to have good intentions, Nispel’s film represents exactly what is wrong with modern commercial horror, diverting from the sense of realism inherent within Tobe Hooper’s terrifying original to tell an entirely more generic story. Forcing scares upon its audience, the entire makeup and path of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel totally telegraphed and make for an utterly boring trip.

9. Day of the Dead (Steve Miner, 2008)

Just why filmmakers like taking on the films of George Romero so much is a mystery, though Day of the Dead was certainly the worst of the director’s ‘trilogy of the dead’, so there was hope that Steve Miner’s remake could be OK. 

Barely even following the plot of the original film, Miner’s remake is so dull, so dry and so generic that you’ll be begging for it to be over before it’s even really begun. Heading straight to video, Day of the Dead features a surprisingly healthy cast including Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon, Michael Welch, AnnaLynne McCord and Ving Rhames, though sidelines each and every one of them in pursuit of truly terrible action scenes.

8. The Omen (John Moore, 2006)

The original Omen from British director Richard Donner is an eerie, sinister ride that relies on its slower moments to build a creeping tension that sends a shiver up the audience’s back. John Moore’s remake couldn’t be more different. 

Unable to capture exactly what it is that made the original 1976 film so special, Moore’s film is a total bore that adds nothing to the original story whilst relying upon tired horror movie tropes. Starring Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis and Michael Gambon, the impressive cast is entirely wasted in this pointless remake that feels more like an obscure action film than a tense horror. 

7. Poltergeist (Gil Kenan, 2015)

You’d have to be a brave filmmaker to challenge the directorial proficiency of Tobe Hooper, or indeed the screenwriting of Steven Spielberg, with Gil Kenan daring to do so as he set out to remake the classic 1982 horror Poltergeist

As much a horror film as it is an iconic Spielberg film about the strength of family love, the original Poltergeist is carefully constructed with groundbreaking special effects alongside impressive camerawork and a charming story at the centre. The remake is a loud, obnoxious mess that leans too heavily on CGI to deliver its blows which come thin and slow, almost never working its way up to properly frighten its audience. 

6. The Grudge (Takashi Shimizu, 2004)

If there’s one thing more popular than a Hollywood remake, it’s a foreign remake, with the Western industry often taking classic horror stories and adapting them for American audiences. 

Whilst films like The Ring demonstrate that this can sometimes work, Takashi Shimizu’s adaptation of his own original film simply doesn’t translate well for American audiences. Stilted and awkward, the film shuffles through its runtime with no real direction or point, sidelining the strong story of the original film in favour of something far more simplistic. There’s simply no point to this cliched, recycled film. 

5. Night of the Living Dead 3D (Jeff Broadstreet, 2006)

You’d be forgiven for not even knowing this sinful horror remake even existed in the first place, with Jeff Broadstreet doing the unthinkable as he tries to better the Godfather of zombie horror, George Romero.

In sickening 3D, Broadstreet casts the likes of the late Sid Haig, Brianna Brown and Joshua DesRoches to reimagine the iconic 1968 classic. Loud, excessively violent and poorly acted, the 3D update of Romero’s film is a genuine insult to the original that reeks of cynicism and totally ignores the pioneering efforts of the original film. Why try and better such a horror masterpiece?

4. Martyrs (Kevin Goetz, Michael Goetz, 2015)

Released in 2008, the original Martyrs from director Pascal Laugier is no easy watch, presenting a story that, on the surface, seems like ‘just another’ torture porn film, only to provide a fascinating final twist. 

It only achieves this so well with a careful narrative structure and strong acting performances, so when Kevin and Michael Goetz took this on for an American remake, it was destined to only go one way. Cheap and dumbed-down, the visceral graphic horror of the original film is lessened here to the detriment of the film itself that instead feels rather gutless, failing to commit to its existential core story. 

3. Psycho (Gus Van Sant, 1998)

Whilst not the worst of the worst, Gus Van Sant’s remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is certainly one of the most peculiar horror remakes of all time, being an exact shot-by-shot replica of the original film. 

The strangest part of all is that director Gus Van Sant is no fool, being responsible for some of the finest films of the modern era including Elephant, Good Will Hunting and To Die For. What exactly he was thinking in this Hitchcock remake is difficult to comprehend as it makes so few deviations from Hitchcock’s classic. It’s not bad, nor boring as it follows the exact path of the original film. What it is is utterly pointless. 

2. The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute, 2006)

Recently claiming that the film was actually an “absurdist” comedy, Nicolas Cage’s infamous performance in The Wicker Man is so poor that his claims that the remake of the horror classic was supposed to be funny sounds plausible.

Unrecognisable from the folk horror classic by Robin Hardy, Neil LaBute’s modern remake takes Cage along with Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Leelee Sobieski and Molly Parker to awful new lows. Bizarre, hilarious and poorly constructed, the remake of The Wicker Man may be bad but it’s also undeniably enjoyable, after all, who doesn’t love a classic Nicolas Cage freakout. 

1. The Fog (Rupert Wainwright, 2005)

For all its strange experimentation, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho is redeemable, as is Neil LaBute’s stunningly stupid The Wicker Man, though the worst horror remake of all time is quite simply an utter bore. 

Adapted from John Carpenter’s 1980 classic, Ruper Wainwright’s reimagining of The Fog is painfully boring, lacking any speck of originality as it plods through its own existence forgetting to even add scares to its dry narrative. Led by a cast including Tom Welling, Maggie Grace, Selma Blair and DeRay Davis, the actors seem bored by their own peril, yet who can blame them? The CGI used to recreate the zombie ghouls emerging from the fog are laughably unrealistic.