10 Best Improvements Made In Horror Movie Remakes

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Remakes can be somewhat fairly be seen as a Hollywood cash grab on an established property. Of the industry thinking something that worked the first time (and ostensibly worked in sequels) will work as a remake.

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While not all remakes come close to matching the original, some alter the formula just enough to stand on their own. Sometimes, these remakes even add an effective new scene or plot point that wasn’t found in the original.

The Crazies (2010) – The Baseball Field

The Crazies 2010 David

The Remake of George A. Romero’s The Crazies (1973) mostly adheres to the plot of the original. However, the filmmakers took the opportunity to intensify the earliest scenes where the town begins to realize that something’s wrong.


Timothy Olyphant’s Sheriff David Dutton notices a man staggering onto the baseball field in the middle of the game. Then he sees the shotgun in the man’s arms. The exchange that follows is a distinct, original, and intense introduction to a horror film’s central premise.

The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – The Explanation

The Hills Have Eyes 2006 Doug Bukowski

This remake of a B-horror movie that should be called classic makes several changes to Wes Craven’s original, but it’s one plot point that is strengthened considerably. The Hills Have Eyes (2006) from Alexandre Aja (who directed the equally solid remake of Piranha) starts right off the bat by letting the audience know there’s going to be an increased focus on nuclear testing.

A text intro informs the viewer that the U.S. government continues to deny any genetic ramifications from nuclear testing. A nearby base of some sort was alluded to in Craven’s original, but the remake makes it more specific and political. It’s a tweak that works, and it serves to flesh out why the film’s antagonists operate in the way they do.

Village Of The Damned (1995) – The Grill

Village Of The Damned (1995) by John Carpenter

Village of the Damned is another remake that sticks to the original for the most part (in this case, to lesser but still fun results). The blackout still occurs, where the entire town suddenly becomes unconscious for six hours. The great addition happens when they wake up.

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Several shots of people rising from concrete or grass, happy and healthy. But then there’s a shot of a man who had fainted over the wrong object: a grill. The image is gruesome enough, but the thought that being burned alive wasn’t enough to wake him up is terrifying.

Child’s Play (2019) – Reworking Chucky

Child’s Play movie without Brad Dourif had fans sweating, but the end result was a fine little horror movie that stands on its own. Had the filmmakers tried to simply replace Dourif, it would have fallen flat. Instead, they changed the character from voodoo novice serial killer to tech gone wrong.

Furthermore, the decision to bump up Andy’s age by a few years was worrying to fans (why would a teen want a doll?) but it plays well in context. It’s not the best film of the series, but certainly wasn’t the worst way the original could have been remade.

Night Of The Living Dead (1990) – Giving Barbara Something To Do

George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) is an undisputed masterpiece and a prescient film in several ways. However, its characterization of Judith O’Dea’s Barbra was problematic and occasionally overbearing.The remake, which was also written by Romero (and directed by Friday the 13th makeup artist Tom Savini) is a “shot-for-shot” type of remake that actually works.

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Instead of exhaustively adhering to the original like Gus Van Sant’s Psycho (1998), Night of the Living Dead (1990) tweaks very little. But these tweaks are well placed and enough to allow the film an identity of its own. Furthermore, Patricia Tallman instills Barbara (slightly renamed for the remake) with a mixture of panic and agency that feels realistic given her situation. Tallman makes Barbara’s survival one of the best Night of the Living Dead (1990) moments.

Body Snatchers (1993) – The Kid

Body Snatchers isn’t the best installment of the franchise, but it’s an underrated and dreary chiller. It also took risks not taken by the two previous installments. The domestic troubles plot with Meg Tilly’s pod-person stepmother was an interesting direction. Making the setting a military base (where not emoting is standard practice) adds an extra layer of dread to the proceedings as to who is still human. But the biggest and best change is the sharp left turn the film takes in its third act.

The protagonist, Marti, and her brother, Andy, hop on an elevator to get to safety. The boy hadn’t been seen by either Marti or the audience for several brief scenes but his pod-person revelation is still a shock. Marti chucking him (in a way her brother) out of the helicopter is even more so.

Evil Dead (2013) – Withdrawal

Mia looking at the horror of the Deadites.

The shot of the Deadite splitting its tongue in two with a knife is memorable but it’s an overarching plot point that stands as Evil Dead‘s greatest contribution to the franchise. In Sam Raimi’s fast-paced original horror masterpiece, it’s just five kids going to a cabin. In Fede Álvarez’s Evil Dead, it’s a friend group there to get one member’s younger sister, Mia, through heroin withdrawal.

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It’s a brilliant revision to the original’s plot that gives the lead character a logical reason to think they’re experiencing something supernatural. It also serves to strengthen Mia’s characterization considerably, making it a true shame the character hasn’t made a return appearance.

The Blob (1988) – The Protagonist Switch-Up

A young girl trapped by a pink blob in 1998's The Blob

Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch) and Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) are set up early on as the protagonists in Chuck Russell’s The Blob. Rough around the edges biker Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon) is an outlier. The original was simpler, with a focus primarily on Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut).

After Taylor and Penny take the man (and the blob) into the police station, it seems like the narrative is just going to continue on a normal course. So when Penny walks in to see Taylor screaming in pain, reaching out from within the viscous pink layer, it’s a refreshing and jarring reminder that this remake will be a different animal from the McQueen ’50s original.

The Fly (1986) – The Tone

Jeff Goldblum becoming The Fly.

David Cronenberg’s reimagining of The Fly (1958) retains that film’s core concept of a scientist working on a teleportation device only to be merged with a common housefly. Everything else is wholly original. The Fly (1986) is far more gruesome than the original, which featured a relatively restrained Vincent Price and a man with a giant fly head.

Instead of a cartoonish costume, Jeff Goldblum’s Seth Brundle is saddled with a far slower and odious transformation. Furthermore, Brundle achieving success both in science and love only to have it ripped away from him due to impatience is poignant for horror or any other genre.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) – The Scream

Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is definitively superior to the solid 1956 original. Moving the paranoia from a relatively small town to a jam-packed city is an excellent change in and of itself, but there’s something that surpasses the location change. The scream that the converted pod people use to signal that there’s a remaining human is unique and highly memorable.

In fact, it was such an effective addition that it was further utilized in the aforementioned Body Snatchers (1993). However, it’s this film’s genuinely surprising all-timer of an ending that puts it in the upper echelon of horror remake improvements. At the very least, it’s among the Body Snatchers franchise’s scariest scenes.

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