Since the early 2000s, the number of remakes that Hollywood has been pumping out have gone up pretty steadily. Remakes aren’t exactly a new thing. They’re not the product of Hollywood going, “Oh, we don’t have anything else to do” – there’s always some director or set of producers that think they can tackle something and make it far better than the original. Why? Probably because CGI, improvements to production standards, and bigger budgets.
They don’t always work out.
The people behind remakes that flop don’t seem to get that sometimes, they should have just left everything alone. Fans are finicky – messing with something they love is always a bad idea, and they’ll remember that for years to come. It also takes special formulas to make these remakes work. Let’s look at The Mummy, for example: a lot of people don’t look at that as a remake because it was different enough from the original to stand on its own. It was fun. Its effects made sense for the story, its story made sense, and it was pretty well-done as far as 90s adventures went.
But we’re here to look at absolute bombs and flicks that never, ever should have been re-made, or, in some cases, re-made over and over again. Hollywood isn’t particularly good at figuring out what the people actually want (even when it’s delivered to them by the fans – exceptions being things like Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Hollywood types also tend to not get it when they’re told exactly why their remake sucks. And now, come on a journey of absolutely horrible remakes and relive the horror with me.
15. The Flintstones (1994)
The Flintstones was a reboot of the classic Hanna-Barbara cartoon from the 1960s, and took something that was fun (and funny) and turned it into something else. The plot of this remake centered around an embezzlement scheme with shades of potential infidelity and the near-death of two of the main characters. It’s one thing to adapt a cartoon to the present-day in style and references, it’s another to take the spirit in which it was originally aired and punch it repeatedly in the face until it’s unrecognizable.
I never want to see Rick Moranis with blonde hair ever again.
14. Godzilla (1998)
This reboot’s attempt to breathe life into the franchise was so bad that this movie’s version of the titular monster was renamed to “Zilla” by the company that owned the licensing to the original. According to the guys that took over the franchise after Tomoyuki Tanaka passed on, Zilla “took the God out of Godzilla” and nobody wanted it to be mistaken for the real deal.
To be fair, Godzilla wasn’t terrible if you ignored the plot and were just there to watch a giant lizard smash things. For fans of the original beast, however, it was so horribly Americanized that anything remotely Godzilla no longer existed.
13. The Shaggy Dog (2006)
I am so, so sorry to inflict that poster on you all.
Tim Allen starred in this remake of the 1959 Disney movie of the same name which lacked the heart (and sense) of the original, which wasn’t a spectacular film to begin with. You know what they say: garbage in, garbage out. As it was, Tim Allen stopped being funny once Home Improvement finished, and having him crawl around on all fours with dogs sniffing his backside really didn’t improve things.
This one would have been better off getting thrown to the dogs.
12. The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Keanu Reeves more-or-less re-played Neo from The Matrix when he took on the role of Klaatu in this re-make of the sci-fi classic, which turned the message about the cold war and nuclear warfare into one about the environmental damage that humans are doing. This had potential – so much potential! Unfortunately, this film suffered from the same issues that other remakes have: lots of flashy special effects, but absolutely terrible everything else. The acting was wooden (I love Keanu as a person, but as an actor, nooot really), and the movie tries to recapture the elements that made the original so memorable – but fell flat in execution.
Complete and utter disappointment.
11. Psycho (1998)
Alfred Hitchcock should be rolling in his grave over the re-make of his classic Psycho.
The 1998 version just took everything about the original movie – right down to Hitchcock’s camera work, script, and even the music – and said “Okay, we’re just going to present it in color and put it in the present day” … and that’s it. If you played the old and the new side-by-side, there’d be very few differences. Why this was even bothered with isn’t entirely clear to me, most people don’t even realize this movie exists.
Vince Vaughn, for once, managed to not be playing a douchebag. He played Bates. Whether or not that’s an improvement is really up to you.
10. It’s Alive (2008)
In 1974, a really bizarre movie about a mutant baby that kills when it’s afraid was released. The film did quite well and may even have had a lesson to teach about medication testing, instances such as the Thalidomide tragedy, and companies’ desperate need to cover things up when they do wrong.
Fast-forward to 2008, and a remake goes directly to DVD with the creator of the original saying, quote, “It’s just beyond awful. I would advise anybody who likes my film to cross the street and avoid seeing the new enchilada.”
The creature went from having a reason for lashing out to just being a bloodthirsty monster that even attacked its parents – something it didn’t do in the original. The fact that it never had a theater release was probably a really good indication of just how bad it was.
9. Fantastic Four (2015 version)
It’s really hard to whittle this down to just one of Marvel’s repeated reboots, so I went with the one I didn’t realize had actually been redone. What really happened was probably that my brain self-excised that memory in the hopes of protecting me from the awful, but it didn’t work. Now I have to write about it.
To illustrate just how awful this attempt was: it has a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s gloomy enough that it can be mistaken for a DC comics movie. It promised to be a good movie, no really guys we’re going to do it right, but delivered a cardboard cast and forgettable blot. It makes the original Fantastic Four movies look good in comparison.
8. Clash of the Titans (2010)
A remake of the 1981 classic by the same name, it was raked over the coals by critics because of its flat acting, overuse of special effects, and really awful 3-D film. There was absolutely no attempt to create a coherent story, either, and the movie has gained meme status with just one line: RELEASE THE KRAKEN!
7. Mr. Deeds (2002)
Mr. Deeds was based on the movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, a romantic comedy, and replaces likable and talented Gary Cooper with immensely irritating Adam Sandler and his usual pack of twits. The plot was modernized slightly, but that couldn’t save it from the fact that it was headlined by a guy whose touch turns everything to crap, and suffered from Sandler’s overly stupid idea of “funny”.
6. Speed Racer (2008)
In 1998, Speed Racer was given the live-action American film treatment and was a massive flop. The film didn’t start out so well, being in development hell from 1992 until it was filmed, and it cost well over $120 million – which it never recouped. It was bright, shiny, and full of special effects, but lacked the danger that was portrayed in both manga and anime.
Critics now refer to Speed Racer as a “cult classic”. Those folks probably didn’t watch the same movie that everyone else did.
5. The Last Airbender (2010)
Based on a beloved animated series, The Last Airbender is referred to as, “Movie? What movie? There wasn’t a movie” by fans and the creators of the television show.
Plagued by casting issues (the show was predominantly Asian, the casting was not), a clunky script, and M. Night Shyamalan in general, it didn’t bomb but it did receive overwhelmingly negative reviews and has gone into the history books as one of the worst movies ever made.
4. Red Dawn (2012)
The first Red Dawn movie earned the Guinness World Record for “most violent film” when it was released in 1984. It painted a picture of an alternate 1980s USA under Soviet rule, in the midst of World War III and enemy occupation. It was considered a cult classic despite its “red scare” narrative, and could probably be considered interesting on its own, even if it is a Republican’s wet dream and ridiculously patriotic.
Then, the 2012 remake came along, which changed the invading army to Chinese and then to North Korean. “Red scare” became “yellow panic”, a vaguely passable, topical story became absolute nonsense, and everyone in the cast forgot how to act. The original wasn’t a great film to begin with – Hollywood, stop remaking crap.
3. The Lone Ranger (2013)
The Lone Ranger television series had something that the movie did not: an actual First Nations person in the role of Tonto. It also had a real slog of a script, a very painful set of interactions between The Lone Ranger and Tonto (we get it, it was about them learning to get along, okay, okay), and some very bizarre costume choices. The bird on Depp’s head was a running joke across several First Nations-run websites, even.
What it did right was put Tonto in the lead, telling the story more-or-less from his point of view, as well as giving a glimpse into how First Nations folk were – and are – treated by the public, as a sideshow instead of as people. It didn’t quite make up for the movie running an hour longer than it needed to, or the Ranger and Tonto’s uncharacteristic arguing, though.
2. Walking Tall (2004)
Let’s take a moment to compare the money involved in this film and its predecessor before we go into why the remake sucked: 1973’s Walking Tall had a budget of $500,000 and brought in $23 million; 2004’s Walking Tall had a budget of $46 million and only made $57 million. In today’s money, the 1973 version cost $2.7 million to make and earned $128 million.
That’s a pretty big difference.
Walking Tall is based on real-life wrestler-turned-sheriff Buford Pusser, who went up against the Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob – Tennessee crime rings. Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) played the role that was loosely based on Pusser. I love The Rock. This movie, not so much. Where the original was an interesting semi-biographical flick, the remake was a mindless action film that took way too many liberties and advertised itself as being better than what it was (which is typical, but it feels pretty awful to be lied to like that).
1. The Wicker Man (2006)
Oh, what can I say about The Wicker Man?
I almost feel bad for Nicolas Cage because every remake he stars in seems to do really, really horribly, and this movie has taken on meme status. Cage’s over-the-top performance was the best part, but did nothing to save it from being a massive flop: it didn’t even make enough to break even on its $40 million budget.
Since the job of a movie is to actually make money, not come up short, The Wicker Man turned out to be the most colossal failure on this list.