Hollywood's 10 worst horror movie remakes

Nick Schager
Photos, from left: Dimension Films; DreamWorks; New Line Cinema
Photos, from left: Dimension Films; DreamWorks; New Line Cinema

This weekend, Inside, a redo of French filmmakers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s stunning 2007 maternal nightmare, will attempt to become that rare cinematic creature a horror remake that comes close to approximating its predecessor’s terrifying power. To be sure, such efforts do exist, as evidenced by The Thing, The Ring, Let Me In, Fright Night, and — yes — Rob Zombie’s Halloween. But more often than not, such endeavors fail to understand what made the original so effective, instead relying on loud-noise gimmicks and excessive gore for cheap jolts. The list of such duds is a depressingly long one, to the point that many deservingly awful candidates (When a Stranger Calls, Cabin Fever, April Fool’s Day, Martyrs, Black Christmas, and Poltergeist, to name a few) didn’t make our cut. Nonetheless, these are our picks for the 10 all-time worst horror movie remakes.

10. The Omen (2006)

John Moore’s rehash of the Gregory Peck-headlined 1976 demon-seed saga is, from a technical standpoint, both competent and faithful. Yet its slavishness means that it’s unoriginal to the point of being painfully pointless — and its attempt to cast the 9/11 WTC attacks as a sign of the apocalypse is, let’s just say, ill advised.

9. The Amityville Horror (2005)

Ryan Reynolds grows a James Brolin-ish beard and broods with quip-free leadenness in this update of the 1979 film, about a haunted Long Island house that drives its new owner family-killing crazy. Run-of-the-mill shock tactics only further turn this into a loud, assaultive, unnecessary riff on The Shining.

8. The Hitcher (2007)

Sean Bean is no stranger to embodying menace, but in this terrible remake from Platinum Dunes (Michael Bay’s notorious horror-remaking production company), he proves just a pale imitation of his cinematic ancestor, Rutger Hauer. Car-commercial slick and full of grating characters, it’s a don’t-pick-up-strangers tale that should itself be left on the side of the road.

7. Mirrors (2008)

Alexandre Aja has made one sturdy horror remake (Piranha 3D), one subpar one (The Hills Have Eyes), and one outright terrible one specifically, this loose adaptation of a South Korean thriller about an ex-cop turned department store security guard dealing with a series of strange mirror-related deaths. Aja delivers lots of new twists, but the result is so confused, even star Kiefer Sutherland seems at a loss as to what’s going on.

6. Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

It’s not clear how F. Murray Abraham and Tony Shalhoub stumbled into this intolerable redo of William Castle’s 1960 horror show, about a house that serves as a prison for 13 malevolent spirits. But they do little to alleviate the self-seriousness of the “scares” here, which are almost as awful as the stereotypical characters (played by, among others, Matthew Lillard and Elizabeth Shannon).

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Far worse than its modernized takes on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th (not that those are great), Platinum Dunes’ A Nightmare on Elm Street botches just about everything — a hallucinatory mood, a sense of mystery, engaging characters — that made Wes Craven’s original a classic. Jackie Earle Haley does little of interest as Freddy Krueger (here saddled with a fleshed-out backstory), while lead Rooney Mara manages to look even more uninterested in the film than the audience.

4. The Haunting (1999)

It’s unclear why anyone thought Jan de Bont — cinematographer turned director of Speed and Twister — was a good fit to remake Robert Wise’s effectively stripped-down 1963 The Haunting. Alas, someone did, and the result was this bloated, CGI-drenched mess that boasts lots of big names (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor) and even more unintentional laughs.

3. The Fog (2005)

Devoid of John Carpenter’s gorgeous widescreen imagery, yet full of unnecessary exposition that seeks to explain its supernatural mysteries, this rendition of The Fog shuffles along with all the grace of a drunken sailor. Maggie Grace and Tom Welling have absolutely zero chemistry, the CGI effects are chintzy, and Selma Blair — as the fog-plagued seaside town’s lighthouse DJ — is no Adrienne Barbeau.

2. One Missed Call (2008)

There have been many J-horror remakes, and none are as unwatchable as One Missed Call, in which a group of unbearable ciphers (led by the undynamic duo of Shannyn Sossamon and Edward Burns) are terrorized by cellphone voicemails from the future that immediately presage their own deaths. Inept beyond all reason, it has a 0 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes (after 80 reviews!) — and, somehow, even that seems too kind.

1. Prom Night (2008)

No one is going to proclaim 1980’s original Prom Night a great movie. And yet it’s practically Citizen Kane when compared with this do-over, a PG-13 fiasco — about a group of kids being offed at, you guessed it, the prom — that’s devoid of scares, blood, basic logic or a single character you might want to see survive the end-of-high-school festivities. One hopes Idris Elba (as a cop, alongside his The Wire co-star James Ransone) had a stern talk with his agent for landing him in this terrible teen mess.

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