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Top 10 Remakes of Classic Movies That Are Actually Good

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Thomas O'Connor

Who says remakes have to suck? For this list, we’re looking at times that classic films were remade into fantastic modernized versions. Some of these entries are even head and shoulders above the originals. Our list includes “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001), “Dawn of the Dead” (2004), “The Fly” (1986), “True Grit” (2010), “Cape Fear” (1991), and more! Join WatchMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Remakes of Classic and Beloved Movies That Are Actually Good.

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Script written by Thomas O'Connor

Top 10 Remakes of Classic and Beloved Movies That Are Actually Good


Who says remakes have to suck? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Remakes of (Classic/Beloved) Movies That Are Actually Good.


For this list, we’re looking at times that classic films were remade into fantastic modernized versions. Some of these entries are even head and shoulders above the originals.



#10: “Dawn of the Dead” (2004)



George A. Romero’s landmark zombie opus got a modern update back in 2004 courtesy of director Zack Snyder, and in many ways the remake was just as influential as the original. Snyder’s film took the same basic premise as the first one, following a group of survivors taking shelter from a zombie outbreak in a shopping mall, but added some new wrinkles. These changes, particularly the addition of zombies that are able to run, set the trend for later zombie films. But then again, it also started the still ongoing “slow zombies vs fast zombies” argument, a heated debate among zombie aficionados that rages on to this day.





#9: “Cape Fear” (1991)



When a terrifying criminal is released from prison, he targets the lawyer who helped put him away, a dedicated family man who must protect his wife and children at all costs. While the 1962 original is heavily inspired by the works of Alfred Hitchcock, the remake from the early ‘90s positively oozes with Martin Scorsese’s trademark atmosphere, giving it an identity all its own. Add in an all-star cast including Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Lange, and it’s no wonder the remake has come to overshadow its predecessor in the public consciousness. After all, the original didn’t have an entire “Simpsons” episode dedicated to parodying it.







#8: “Hairspray” (2007)



Based on the 1988 movie of the same name by John Waters, this glitzy remake added a ton of star power, including John Travolta, Christopher Walken, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Following the story of a young girl rallying her fellow students against racial segregation in 1960s America, the film takes as much from the Broadway show adapted from the original film as the original itself. With color, energy, and camp to spare, the film is a surefire hit for musical fans, who flocked to see the film upon release. The movie shattered records when it hit theatres, becoming one of the most successful movie musicals at the time.





#7: “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001)



How do you possibly top a lavish heist movie starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr? With a lavish heist movie starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and a whole slew of other A-list names! Both films follow a crew of debonair master thieves, eleven to be exact, as they pull of the heist of a lifetime in a Las Vegas casino. While the classic caper starring the Rat Pack themselves will always hold a special place in our hearts, the remake by director Steven Soderbergh is just too much fun to pass up with its snappy dialogue, upbeat pace, and infectious energy.







#6: “The Fly” (1986)



This classic sci-fi horror begins when a scientist is horribly mutated after a normal house fly interferes in a teleportation experiment. In the original, the fly and the scientist become scrambled, with the fly’s head and mind on top of the body of the scientist and vice versa. The remake takes this premise and uses it as a vehicle for some fantastic special effects work, as Jeff Goldblum slowly transforms into a horrifying creature that’s neither fly nor man, but something in between. Fans of practical effects creature features shouldn’t pass this one up, as the special effects are as amazing as they are disgusting.






#5: “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986)



The original iteration of this cult favorite is a fairly typical, if exceptionally fun, creature feature by B-Movie icon Roger Corman. So naturally, it got adapted into an Off-Broadway musical. Makes sense to us! In 1986, the musical was brought to the big screen in a lavish horror/comedy/musical starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, with a slew of cameos by comedy legends likes Bill Murray. The songs by the great Howard Ashman and Alan Menken make this the most toe-tapping horror movie you’ve ever seen, and as much fun as the original is, the remake is superior in pretty much every regard. Oh, and did we mention it’s directed by Frank Oz, aka Yoda?





#4: “True Grit” (2010)



When it was announced that the Coen Brothers, the directing duo that brought us “No Country for Old Men,” “Fargo,” and others, were remaking the classic John Wayne Western with Jeff Bridges in the lead, we were excited to say the least. The Coens definitely put their stamp on the film, bringing a massive dose of grit and their signature intense violence to the classic tale of revenge on the frontier. The Dude has a long way to go if he wants to supplant The Duke in our hearts, but his turn as Rooster Cogburn definitely does justice to the original and blazes its own trail at the same time.




#3: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)



Originally released in 1956, this sci-fi classic drew on Cold War paranoia to weave a terrifying story of a covert alien invasion that slowly replaces normal humans with exact duplicates that are grown in mysterious pods. The film became an instant classic and was remade over twenty years later to critical acclaim. The remake stars Donald Sutherland and pretty much turns all of the creepiness and paranoia of the original up to eleven, with the alien doppelgangers now even more sinister than ever thanks to their tendency to let out a terrifying shriek when they identify a regular human. Well, no more sleep for us!





#2: “Scarface” (1983)



Perhaps one of the most quoted movies of all time, most people don’t even know that Brian De Palma’s coke-fueled gangster epic is even a remake at all. The original by the great Howard Hawks and producer Howard Hughes follows an especially brutal gangland boss’ rise to power and subsequent fall. The remake replaces the Prohibition-Era gangster action with the tale of an ‘80s drug lord, played with legendary gusto by Al Pacino. Bursting at the seams with ‘80s excess and De Palma’s usual stylistic flair, the new version has become a massive cultural touchstone since its release, overshadowing the original in most, if not all regards.





Before we pull back the curtain on our number one pick, here are some honorable mentions.



“Let Me In” (2010)


“A Star Is Born” (1954; 2018)


“Ben-Hur” (1959)




#1: “The Thing” (1982)



Years before John Carpenter brought his gore-filled magnum opus to screens, a very similar story was told in “The Thing from Another World.” This 1951 horror/sci-fi flick was adapted from the novella “Who Goes There?”, telling the story of an Arctic station beset by an alien creature. While the original has its fans, the 1982 remake by the director of “Halloween” is indisputably more well-known and popular, and is often cited as one of the greatest horror films ever. We can’t really argue with that assessment, given the film’s incredible effects, paranoid atmosphere, and absolutely world-class facial hair on star Kurt Russell. It really is the stuff of horror movie legends.
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