There’s evidently an old saying in Hollywood: if it ain’t broke, break it.
Piggybacking on someone else’s success by milking an old idea for a quick buck — and dragging that once-great idea through the muck in the process — is a Tinseltown tradition as deep-rooted as rhinoplasty.
With some notable exceptions (The Coens’ 2010 True Grit, 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Cronenberg’s take on The Fly, to name a few), remakes are usually derivative at best, unwatchably redundant at worst.
Here are some entirely unnecessary rehashes that got green-lighted because there is no all-loving God to prevent evil from happening in the world.
10. Karate Kid
Why the 1984 original was awesome: Mr. Miyagi’s “wax on, wax off” mantra inspired countless children to polish their parents’ cars; middle-aged drunken men everywhere still attempt to unleash the crane kick with hilarious results; the film introduced the world to Joe Esposito’s inspirational cheese-pop anthem “You’re The Best“; the finale proved violence solves everything in the end.
Why the 2010 remake sucked: It’s not about karate, for starters (the martial art in question is kung fu); Will Smith’s son Jaden proves the showbiz gene skipped a generation; some heavy-handed production guidance from the state-run China Film Group lends the whole enterprise an air of propaganda.
9. Total Recall
Why the 2012 remake sucked: no former Austrian bodybuilder with bulging eyes and zingers like “Considah it a divorrrce”; although the triple-breasted hooker makes a cameo, her elapsed time onscreen works out to roughly one second per breast. Plus she’s a little too attractive, which makes us feel icky.
8. Straw Dogs
Why the 1971 original was awesome: a taut, brooding pyschodrama starring a feisty Dustin Hoffman long before he became Gaylord Focker’s dad; the film’s title is never explained, which adds to its coolness (it comes from a Chinese proverb by Lao Tzu, if you must know).
Why the 2011 remake sucked: the simmering suspense has been mostly replaced with gory violence, which itself would be fine if there weren’t already a bazillion movies that pull off gory violence with much greater aplomb; 40 years ago, a cinematic contemplation of the violent urges that lurk within the human psyche was innovative movie fodder, but nowadays Grand Theft Auto is the perfect mirror into our sadistic souls.
7. The Longest Yard
Why the 1974 original was awesome: Burt Reynolds, sans moustache.
Why the 2005 remake sucked: Adam Sandler, sans talent.
6. The Omen
Why the 1976 original was awesome: the little kid who is the physical embodiment of Satan looks a lot like AC/DC guitarist Angus Young; if that’s not enough, the movie is also effing scary.
Why the 2006 version sucked: this scene-for-scene remake copied everything about the original except its watchability; the demon-child looks more like Love Me Do-era Paul McCartney.
Why the 1981 original was awesome: it wasn’t, really, but it was a hell of a lot better than the remake.
Why the 2011 remake sucked: Russell Brand drains all the foppish charm out of the titular drunken playboy, stumbling from one pratfall to the next; even Dame Helen Mirren can’t lend any class to this IQ-reducer.
4. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Why the 1974 original was awesome: it was a genre-defining masterpiece in splatter cinema; it was actually a “black comedy” if you ask director Tobe Hooper, but censors didn’t see the humor, banning the film in several countries after its release; the “based on a true story” conceit (not really true, but not altogether false) adds extra chills.
Why the 2003 remake sucked: it lacks all the grit, washed-out colors and low-budget wonkiness that gave the original the off-putting feel of a snuff film; this rehash was even less relevant to the franchise than 1994’s The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is only noteworthy because of its then-unknown stars Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger.
Why the 1954 original, and the scads of Japanese spin-offs that followed, were awesome: an allegory about the dangers nuclear science created in post-war Japan after the atomic obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — that’s damn-near poetic; features unintentionally hilarious overdubbing; Godzilla can totally kick Mothra’s ass/venom-sac.
Why the 1998 remake sucked: we already saw Jurassic Park; Matthew Broderick is only believable as Ferris Bueller; no hilarious overdubbing.
2. Planet of the Apes
Why the 1968 original was awesome: talking monkeys; a gorgeous mute cave-woman wearing a skimpy animal hide; Chuck Heston desperately craving a gun in a wonderful dose of real-life foreshadowing.
Why the 2001 remake sucked: Marky Mark without his Funky Bunch; Tim Burton’s all-too-predictable casting of Helena Bonham Carter; overdone CGI that lacks all the charm of the original monkey make-up. Note: the series attained some redemption with the 2011’s mostly awesome Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Why the 1960 original was awesome: an excruciatingly suspenseful masterpiece that exemplifies Hitchcock at the top of his game; Janet Leigh in the shower, booyah; violins shrieking “REE REE REE” is still the universal sound of abject terror.
Why the 1998 version sucked: a shot-for-shot remake of the original, but with hokey gimmicks that add nothing but viewer rage. And in color, no less. Blasphemy!