Top 10 Horror Movie Remakes Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes


Remakes are a controversial topic among fans, especially in the horror genre. Many don’t like to see their beloved classics updated for modern audiences, because the results are oftentimes disastrous. While that may be the case, there are some remakes that not only do justice to the originals, but surpass them in every way possible. Let’s examine the 10 best horror remakes, as voted by the critics and users of Rotten Tomatoes.

10 Cape Fear (1991) – 75%

Robert De Niro and Juliette Lewis in Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear (1991)
Universal Pictures

Directed by Martin Scorsese, Cape Fear is a remake of the 1962 film that starred Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, and Polly Bergen. In this updated version, stars Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Lang take up the lead roles, with De Niro giving a chilling performance as Max Cady, a convicted rapist that uses his knowledge of the law to get revenge on the prosecutor that imprisoned him.

Relying heavily on psychological horror, Cape Fear was originally going to be directed by Steven Spielberg, who developed the project. When push came to shove, though, Spielberg ultimately thought the film was too violent, and gave it to Scorsese instead. In turn, Martin Scorsese passed on Schindler’s List, and gave it to Spielberg. The rest, as they say, is history, with both directors turning in projects that were commercial, and critical, successes.

9 Dawn of the Dead (2004) – 76%

The cast of Dawn of the Dead 2004 directed by Zack Snyder
Universal Pictures

When it was announced that Universal Pictures was going to be doing a remake of George Romero’s 1978 classic, fans were up in arms at the idea of someone taking their beloved zombie movie and updating it for modern audiences. Dawn of the Dead was a seminal film, how dare Universal have the audacity to mess with it? With a first-time director helming the project, too? Oh, the horror!

However, when Zack Snyder’s version hit the big screen on March 19th, 2004, zombie fanatics everywhere praised the film as a worthy successor to the original. With a screenplay by James Gunn, Dawn of the Dead blew everyone’s expectations out of the water, with many critics lauding the performance of star Sarah Polley. Though George Romero was dissatisfied with the film, to this day many still call it the best film of Zack Snyder’s long career.

8 The Thing (1982) – 85%

Kurt Russell in The Thing 1982
Universal Pictures

Leave it to director John Carpenter to take a 1951 classic, and completely turn it on its head by adding what some call the best practical effects in a movie, ever. Though he initially turned down the project, The Thing is now regarded as a classic in its own right, expanding on the original by showing more of the monster, and upping the tension between the ensemble cast.

With the likes of Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilfred Brimley, and Donald Moffat, The Thing received mostly negative reviews upon its release, and didn’t perform well at the box office. Because of this, Carpenter was forced off the Stephen King adaptation of Firestarter, which was set to be his next film. With the advent of VHS and home video, though, The Thing would become a cult favorite, and go on to influence such directors as Guillermo del Toro, J.J. Abrams, and Quentin Tarantino. Some have even deemed it Carpenter’s most important movie, even ranking above Halloween.

7 It (2017) – 86%

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in It Chapter One
Warner Bros. Pictures

While the 1990 television miniseries is regarded as a classic thanks to the performance of Tim Curry as Pennywise, the rest of the Stephen King adaptation remains largely forgettable. When director Andy Muschietti brought a big-screen remake of It to audiences in 2017, we held our collective breaths waiting for the results.

Thankfully, It exceeded expectations both critically, and commercially, becoming a box office sensation that has since given Muschietti carte blanche to pick and choose the projects he directs. With a young ensemble cast, It, and its sequel, made a household name out of Bill Skarsgård, who took up the mantle of Pennywise. Some have even compared his performance to that of Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Joker in The Dark Knight. Whatever the case may be, there’s no denying that the 2017 version of It far surpasses the original.

6 We Are What We Are (2013) – 86%

Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner in We Are What We Are
Entertainment One

This little-known remake is a retelling of the 2010 Mexican film of the same name that came before it. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, We Are What We Are had a limited release in New York and Los Angeles before going nationwide, though not many people saw it, as it only grossed $81,000 at the box office.

Taking place in the Catskill Mountains, the film centers around a religious family whose matriarch passes away at the beginning of the movie. With an upcoming ritual that’s been in the family for centuries set to take place, it’s up to the two young daughters to take over for their deceased mother, though they’re none too pleased about that, as the ritual involves cannibalism. Toss in some nosy characters poking around, and you have a recipe for family secrets being exposed to disastrous results.

5 Let Me In (2010) – 88%

Chloë Grace Moretz in Let Me In
Overture Films

While some questioned the need for an American remake of a Swedish film that was released just two years prior, director Matt Reeves put his own spin on Let Me In enough to differentiate the film from its European counterpart, Let the Right One In.

Though both movies were based on the 2004 novel by author John Ajvide Lindqvist, it was the American remake that brought widespread attention to the book. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby, a centuries-old vampire frozen in a child’s body that develops a relationship with a 12-year-old human boy, Let Me In was met with critical acclaim. Stephen King called it the best American horror film in the past 20 years, and rightfully so. Featuring commanding performances from the young stars, it’s a film that will sucker punch you in the gut, while at the same time bringing all kinds of emotions to the surface.

4 Evil Dead 2 (1987) – 88%

Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams in Evil Dead 2
Rosebud Releasing Corporation

Some call it a sequel, others call it a remake, and star Bruce Campbell calls it a re-quel. Whatever the case may be, the similarities between Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, and Evil Dead 2, are enough to garner it the top spot on the list.

Featuring more over-the-top gore than its predecessor, Evil Dead 2 was made with a much higher budget, allowing Raimi to cut loose with the special effects. With Campbell in the lead role of Ash Williams, we’re treated to a comedic horror performance that to this day is unmatched. It’s a film that dwarfs the 1981 original, and has since gone on to be a favorite among genre fans. It set the stage for an entire franchise to be built upon, with five films in total now released, as well as a critically acclaimed television series.

3 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – 92%

Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
United Artists

There are some remakes that are so good, we tend to forget an original film even existed. The 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of those remakes. Directed by Philip Kaufman, this classic features an all-star cast comprised of the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, Donald Sutherland, and Brooke Adams.

Dealing in themes of conformity and paranoia, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a chilling representation of an alien invasion, as these otherworldly beings don’t come to Earth with blasters, but rather slowly take over the human race by creating soulless duplicates of their victims. Not only lauded as one of the greatest remakes ever, the film has the distinction of being one of the best sci-fi horror films of all time.

2 The Fly (1986) – 93%

Gina Davis and Jeff Goldblum in The Fly
20th Century Fox

It may be regarded as a classic these days, but in 1986 the original version of The Fly wasn’t on too many people’s radar, so when David Cronenberg’s updated version was released, audiences were stunned into submission by the images they were seeing on the big screen.

Starring Jeff Goldblum and Gina Davis, who were a real-life couple at the time, The Fly features Cronenberg’s trademark body horror as we watch a man turn into a grotesque human/fly hybrid throughout the course of the film. It’s a remake that far surpasses the original in every conceivable way, allowing audiences to cozy up to Goldblum’s character before his abhorrent transformation, causing us to feel sympathy for him. By the end, we want to see Gina Davis put him out of his misery, and we’re not disappointed.

1 Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) – 95%

Kalus Kinski as Count Dracula in Nosferatu the Vampyre
20th Century Fox

Directed by famed German auteur, Werner Herzog, Nosferatu the Vampyre is an update of the classic 1922 silent version that starred Max Schreck as Count Orlok. This time around, troubled German actor, Klaus Kinski, took up the mantle of Count Dracula to chilling effect.

While the original version didn’t have permission to use the intellectual property of the Bram Stoker novel, the copyright had run its course by the time Herzog decided to make the film, giving him the ability to use the name of Dracula for the main character. Now deemed a classic in its own right, Nosferatu the Vampyre features stylish cinematography wrapped in a story we all know and love, while at the same time exploring the popular vampire more in depth, giving audiences access to his loneliness. Another remake featuring Bill Skarsgård in the titular role is set to be released in 2024.

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