Seven Remakes That Were Actually Better Than the Originals

If there’s one thing I do on this site quite a bit it’s bitch about how much I can’t stand movie remakes.  Well to be perfectly honest that isn’t entirely true.   There are definitely times where a good concept may not have met its potential with a film and someone comes along to do that concept justice.

I just can’t stand when a remake is made that seems meaningless.  As if the creators had zero ideas on their own.  But like I said, it can be done.  And it can be done well.

Here are seven examples where I think the remake was better than the original…..

Ocean’s Eleven – 2001

About nine years ago, it seemed entirely reasonable that this film was to be little more than an excuse to get a bunch of Hollywood A-listers together for a little partying in the desert while they “worked” on a film for a few weeks. It turned out that while the second installment was just that (except trade Las Vegas for Amsterdam), the first was actually a refreshing, well-acted, wonderfully executed movie with an enticing plot and slick moves from beginning to end.   And it was a damned site better than the original.

The Manchurian Candidate – 2004

Many people would argue that the 1962 movie was a better picture but I disagree.   When you take Jonathan Demme and combine him with Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, and Meryl Streep?  Forget about it.  Demme is just as freaky as he is in Silence of the Lambs.   It’s incredible how dark and “realistic” this film is.   It makes you feel as if the scenario is entirely plausible in today’s world.  1962’s film explores that too but I just find that today, with our technology this crap can actually happen.

Village of the Damned – 1995

I gotta go with John Carpenter here.  Granted the one from 1962 was pretty damned freaky, I just love Carpenter’s movies.  Plus take a Christopher Reeve, an attractive Kirstie Alley and Luke Skywalker (!) and you’ve got yourself a film.

The Birdcage – 1996

I really miss Gene Hackman.   In this remake of the 1978 classic French fill La Cage Aux Folles we see a more modern realistic depiction of gays and politics.  And not to mention “family.”   Plus most Americans never saw the original film.

Cape Fear – 1991

Of all these films the original Cape Fear was pretty damned close to the 1991 version.   Robert Mitchum was a stone-cold pimp, and there will be no argument about that fact.  However, old movies that are meant to be fearful aren’t quite as powerful as more modern films, especially those directed by Martin Scorsese.  While older films have that vintage quality, it doesn’t bode all that well for horror.   Also, having Robert Deniro play the psychotic role isn’t such a bad thing either.

The Fly – 1986

I have to quote a website called Scene Stealers here which sums it up quite nicely.

You took a somewhat creepy, albeit campy 50s horror classic and shot the thing full of steroids and meth. Once mildly disturbing, you turned this horror staple into an unholy nightmare from which there is no escape or shelter, because once a fella’s seen Jeff Goldblume puke-eat and tear the fingernails off his hands, there’s no going back.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – 1988

Hard to believe this one is a remake right?  It was a remake of a 1964 movie called “Bedtime Stories.” Though one would think Marlon Brando and David Niven would be a tough act to follow, the 1988 remake did pretty damn good in Steve Martin and Michael Caine.   The plots are pretty similar but there’s something about the 80s era that made it much more appealing.  That and the fancy allure of France.   And let’s not forget that Michael Caine was amazing in this movie.

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  1. @Sam
    How is “The Departed” significantly better than its HK original? I felt like the original’s suspense was more subtle and less meandering. Martin Sheen’s death scene almost ruined “The Departed” for me. The slow-mo was ridiculous. And the rat crawling across the windowsill at the end… it was almost amateurish. I think it’s far from Scorcese’s best film and it’s kind of obscene that his only Oscar came out of this.

  2. Thank you random Leon. I actually hate the departed the original is just so much better done. Everyone talks shit about the original when most have never seen it.

  3. “And it was a damned site better than the original.” – this should be a damned SIGHT better than the original.

    I also refuse to believe that Kirstie Alley was ever attractive.

  4. You forgot “Man on Fire”. Yeah, I didn’t know that was a remake either until last week. I kept passing it on the movie channel (compulsive channel surfer here), but when the next film going on after it was something I wanted to watch, I turn on the channel playing “Man on Fire” and I’m greeted to…someone who is NOT Denzel Washington. I’m like WTF? I check the description: “CIA agent must protect…”yadayadayada. 1987. One star out of four.

    Well, at least they remade an obscure movie that no one remembers. 1987, 2004. A remake of a movie that was less than 20 years old.

  5. Look…I know you write for a blog, so no one will ever mistake you for an ACTUAL writer…but even a blog writer should have high school level knowlege of the English language and shouldn’t resort to trying to use words that you heard smarter people use. At least not when you don’t understand when they are supposed to be used.

    Many people say that the original Manchurian Candidate was better…And you DISAGREE. You do not digress.

  6. Of course, some of the movies we think of as “original” were remakes. Who remembers the 1931 version of _The Maltese Falcon”? We remember the 1941 remake.

  7. Lakawak, really?
    I do notice that their are plenty of grammatical misteps in some of these articles, but your taking this a bitt personally.

    NOTE: I’m not one for Paul Tassi and his editorial styled musings, but the more relaxed tone is exactly why I come to this site. It’s not meant to be seen as academic or scholarly.
    I find it funny when people hold entertainment sites to an unrealistic standard, rather than, you know, be entertained.

  8. I would personally include 3:10 to Yuma in this. The original is really good and Glenn Ford did take on the “villain” role which was something he’d really never done. The new one just had so much more story though. If you haven’t seen either one, they’re both worth watching.

  9. “I gotta go with John Carpenter here. ”

    Sorry WHAT???

    Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m a massive Carpenter fan. However, Village of the Damned is by far the worst film he has made. I know that shows what a great track record the guy has, but seriously that remake is horrendous and the idea that it is better than the original is just daft.

    1) The bit where we see the less human baby that dies – laugh out loud stupid.
    2) The performance from Kirstie Allie? Horrendous.
    3) Random explosions for the sake of having explosions? Loads of em! (A truck crashes into some hay. KABOOM! Lol.)
    4) In the original they hear about another case of children taking over an area. The children turned the guns back on the police, we are told. In the remake? They show police turning their guns back on themselves and it isn’t anything like as effective as it should be.
    5) The addition of a child who doesn’t want to be evil. Oh ffs!

    (BTW If anyone wants to check out my own blog they will find my views on each of the Carpenter movies.)

  10. You left out Dune. Granted the “remake” was a mini-series, and the “original” (film-wise) was based on a book, but let’s be honest here: the movie version of Dune from the 1980s was probably the single worst science fiction ever made, in no small part due to how incredibly amazing the book was. The remake actually did the book justice and didn’t insert bizarre, meaningless, random crap into the plot. Enough said.

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