With Halloween just around the corner, one cannot deny the importance of the holiday and the cinematic medium have had on each other. Horror films, in particular, have been around since the dawn of the silent era. As a genre, horror films have evolved countless times over with many franchises falling in and out of favor with the public. But with studios like New Line Cinema revamping +many 80’s franchises like Friday the 13th, it leaves one to wonder what other series could use a modern-day remake. Here is a list of the top 10 films that deserve to be remade for contemporary audiences.
10-Night of the Demon (1957)
This 1950s masterpiece by French director Jacque Tourneur is the epitome of the golden age of studio-era productions. Witty dialogue and continuity editing make the noir black and white cinematography come to life by legendary cameraman Ted Scaife. Stop motion animatronics came to life in this film and it truly was ahead of its time, most notably the look of the satanic parchment demon that attacks the protagonist, Dr. John Holden (Dana Andrews), as his car turns off a cliff in post-war Britain. Powerful, frightening, and brilliant lighting have made this film a timeless classic. But with the technological revolution gripping modern Hollywood productions, Night of the Demon could use a fresh coat of paint to an otherwise masterful canvas.
9-Black Christmas (1974)
Director Bob Clark made his mark on this 1970’s forerunner to the Halloween franchise. With a cast that included a young Margot Kidder and John Saxon, Black Christmas is a film that achieved respect in hindsight. At times the plot can be nonsensical and the violence senseless, but Clark still created a work that is both humorous and times Edgar Allen Poe inspired in its gothic scope. The reason why this film deserves an entry on the list is that it proved that big budgets do not necessarily equate cinematic excellence. With just a 600,000 dollar budget, the direct and Ambassador films grossed over 4 million dollars worldwide. In context, the return was meager but in the greater scheme of things, Black Christmas can still be remade by an independent production company. A shot in the arm to the mainstream, a retailored script can spark a renaissance in the independent horror movement that has been absent since the 1980s.
8-The Fly (1986)
More of a portrait on one man’s decline into deformity, The Fly is still considered a horror film even by the meagerest of definitions. Directed by the great David Cronenberg and starring Jeff Goldblum (Seth Brundle) alongside Geena Davis (Veronica Quaife), the film symbolizes the brilliance of its creator and script evoke true emotionality from its actors. The film is actually a remake of a campy 1950’s horror/sci-fi B movie of the same name. But Cronenberg knocked it out of the ballpark with his version of a scientist testing nature’s powers. Unfortunately, the real-time effects have not edged well and such is the problem that plagues most films of that decade. A cerebral meditation on the dangers of science consuming nature’s law, The fly is most certainly deserving of a remake in today’s era of mindless gore fests and horrific screenwriting.
A subversion of the magical creature’s mythos, Leprechaun jostles itself between being a black comedy and genuine horror. Warwick Davis delivers an exaggerated performance as the titular demon in search of his beloved pot of gold. But Davis’ over the top comedic terror did little to prevent this franchise from descending into the abyss of subpar sequels. More bawdy comedy than anything else, Leprechaun can seriously use a revamping with a darker tone and better script. Attempts have been made at proper origins film but a complete overhaul would be in order to keep the film’s devoted fanbase.
6-The Omen (1976)
The counterpart to The Exorcist and Amityville Horror, The Omen is the pinnacle of a British style suspense film. Gregory Peck delivers a virtuoso performance as an American diplomat who adopts a child who is born the product of Satan, ironically named Damien. Richar Donner of Superman fame directed this psychological thriller that sought to replace gore for the sake of emotional engagement. But four decades later, The Omen has not seen the light of day, and demonic based films are becoming a phenomena thanks to franchises like The Conjuring. A remake would show the world where these contemporary films get their pedigree from. The Omen is progenitor, the forebearer to all the paranormal horror films that came after. History is meant to be revisited and more than should be with this Donner classic.
5-An American Werewolf in London (1981)
John Landis turned rural America into the English countryside in this gorefest of a 1980s classic. An ancient terror in the night kills one American traveler as his friend is made to watch in this dreamlike neo-realist horror film. Using visual effects makeup team that gave legendary artist Tom Savini a run for his money, Landis brilliantly mixed fantasy and nightmare in a noir-inspired Welsh town. Foggy textures, dim lighting, and an ironically upbeat soundtrack turned this low budget thriller into a classic. Spiritual successors and sequels did not do this film justice in terms of its proper context. A full remake is definitely needed to showcase the brilliance of a director can have on establishing the tone of a film, even if the main villain is a common run of the mill werewolf.
One of the greatest horror films of the 1980’s, and a gratuitous lesson in the haunted house genre, Poltergeist is the brainchild of Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg with the former directed and the latter producing. Known mainly for gore and sexploitation films, Hooper decided to plunge into the psychological ramifications of a family tortured by supernatural forces. The quintessential paranormal drama, Poltergeist is remarkable for its effects and acting, mainly Craig T. Nelson’s as Steven Freeling. Hooper never really directed anything of significance or the same magnitude after Poltergeist, which is easy to see why. The film went on to produce a series of sequels that detracted from the original. Perhaps a fresh reboot from a top horror director would reaffirm the excellence of Hooper and Spielberg’s masterwork.
3-Sleepaway Camp (1983)
With an ending that both horrified and baffled its audience, Sleepaway Camp represents everything that made 80s horror charming. The film feels like the unwanted offspring of other gore films of the time, placing together the woodland setting of Friday the 13th with the juvenile anguish of Carrie. This is not necessarily a great film but rather charming in its incorporation of other horror tropes and perhaps with a bit more finesse, Sleepaway Camp could have gone on to become a franchise of its own. Ensconced in 80’s campiness, director Robert Hiltzick created work that truly is a product of its time and a remake would help propel the originality of the piece into the modern era.
2-The Howling (1981)
Another romp through the decade produces yet another gem in the horror genre, this time in the form of Joe Dante’s The Howling. Not necessarily a werewolf monster vehicle piece, the film diverges greatly from its source material and becomes a work that is both terrifying and erotic. Rather than a direct adaptation of the novel, Dante instead created a psychologically horrifying thriller about a group of residents who seek sadomasochistic gratification through animalistic transformation. Lacking the garish visuals of other werewolf films, Dante propelled the film into the realm of fantasy as a vehicle of social criticism. A remake would shed light on this oddity of a horror film, its thinly veiled skepticism of humanity’s true nature having to be the centerpiece of a reboot. Without proper understanding or a rebirth, The Howling will lose its place among the pantheon of great social commentary disguised as horror.
In the context of social critique, Candyman, much like The Howling, brilliantly uses the horror medium to convey a deeper message. Director Bernard Rose created a work that deviated greatly from the films of its time. Rather than shooting for low ball dark comedy and cheap special effects, Rose delivered a film whose central villain is sympathetic and sleek. Tony Todd is mesmerizing as the first African American supernatural killer that stalks his prey out of vengeance against the racist hierarchy that killed him for having a child with a white woman in the South during the 19th century. A true parable for the horrors of American racism and serious film within the horror milieu, Candyman definitely needs a remake to spur the public consciousness on such a hot-button issue. Tony Todd is an actor of the highest caliber and Rose’s decision to cast him is a phenomenal choice. The modern cinema rarely touches upon such depths of social complexity within the horror genre as Rose’s film did over 25 years ago. Such a masterwork is definitely timeless but there are times when history needs to be revisited for the sake of understanding and a remake is most warranted with the Candyman series.