Remakes of films and television shows are tricky. Some are watchable, like War of The Worlds, and others are horrid like The Bionic Woman.

There's a built-in audience of people looking to relive memories, so Hollywood loves remakes. We hate them because it destroys our memories of the originals.

However, some actually manage to improve on the original in some way. Feast your eyes on our Deja Vu list of remakes that have managed to surpass the original movie or TV show.

1. Battlestar Galactica (2003) / Battlestar Galactica (1978)
In 1978, Glen Larson created a show about the last survivors of the human race searching for a home while being pursued by the evil robotic Cylons. Catching Star Wars' wave of popularity, the show got a lot of attention. Lorne Green, Dirk Benedict and other popular actors starred and the show became a cult classic. We rarely use the word "cult" to describe something popular though. The show was canceled after 34 episodes. Decades later, the show was "reimagined" by Ron Moore into a gritty, dark and more realistic series. A new classic, the show ran for four seasons and won 32 awards. Bryan Singer is working on a film closer to the original concept, but well see if it takes off.
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2. The Fly (1986) / The Fly (1958)
The 1958 horror film about a transporter accident that changed a scientist into a hybrid fly man is one of the most beloved science-fiction films ever made. Master director David Cronenberg took the film and found new material in the decades old film. He asked questions like "Why would a transporter just swap the head and arm of the fly? How would a human fly think and eat? Could you really love a man that was falling apart before your eyes?  He hired the brilliant Jeff Goldblum, amped up the gore and produced a film that stands as one of his greatest works. There was a remake of the sequel, Son of the Fly, but we'll just pretend that never happened. Sequel? What are you talking about? Starring Eric who?
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3. One Million Years B.C. (1966) / One Million B.C. (1940)
One Million B.C. was a 1940s film about a caveman trying to unite two warring tribes. Directed by Hal Roach, the film stars the famous Victor Mature and your favorite pin-up girl Carole Landis. Wait? You've never heard of them? That's strange. The 1960s remake One Million Years B.C. gave us Rachel Welch in a fur bikini. Sound familiar? Plus, awesome dinosaur stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen. The rest, as they say, is history.
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4. The Omega Man (1971) \ The Last Man On Earth (1964)
The brilliant 1960s novel I Am Omega, about the last human left after a plague has changed the world into vampire-like creatures, spawned three movies. The first, 1964's The Last Man On Earth starring Vincent Price is good. The second, The Omega Man starring Charleston Heston, is the most well-known and popular version. There's a third film, of course, the 2007 blockbuster I Am Legend starring Will Smith. Its watchable, but is the least faithful to the novel.
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5. Little Shop of Horrors (1986) / Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
In 1960, Roger Corman made a cheesy horror film about a guy with a man-eating plant in his flower shop.  Jack Nicholson guest starred as a masochistic dental patient. The whole idea was laughably ridiculous, which is why someone had a bright idea to make it into a comedy. In the late eighties out was remade after a successful run on Broadway as a musical comedy. Special effects by Henson and dynamite music makes it unrecognizable as the schlocky Corman film.
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6. King Kong (2005) / King Kong (1976)
The movie about a giant ape going crazy in New York touched the heart of millions. The  stop motion special effects Ray Harryhausen are still amazing even by today's standards. In 1976, they decided to remake the film using a guy in a very realistic suit, but really didn't capture the magic of the original. In 2005, Peter Jackson remade the film using cutting edge computer effects and using scenes based on ones cut from the original 1933 film. Jackson's film isn't better than the first film, but its better than the 1976 remake.
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7. The Thing (1982) / The Thing From Another World (1951)

The 1951 film The Thing From Another World is based on a 1938 novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell. The story follows a crew in the arctic fending off a blood-thirsty alien plant. Yep. A plant. The film is another science-fiction classic. In 1982, John Carpenter took the idea of being trapped in a remote Arctic outpost with a shape-shifting alien to the furthest level possible. Where else could you see blobs made out of dogs to heads running around on their own. The remake explored the paranoia and fear like no one else could.
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8. 12 Monkeys (1996) / La Jetée (1962)
Nobody watches snooty French films, so we're forgiven for not watching the French short film La Jetée (1962). But a lot of people watched the Terry Gilliam film 12 Monkeys starring Bruce Willis as a mental patient sent back in time to figure out the cause of a pandemic. Artful, visually stunning and deep characterization made the film accessible to many and another great remake.
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Is there a remake you liked better than the original? Let us know in the comments.


TheyCallMeVarmit said...

Total agreement! I can think of one though it doesn't fit in this list (since the first was a TV show and the second a film)...but Land of the Lost. Now, while I do love the old episodes because of how campy and corny they are....that movie they made was just uber funny.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Reid, thanks for catching that. I updated the video clip.

Pinkerton said...

12 Monkeys is an Amazing film... except, if you havent seen the original it doesnt seem right to compare the 2 and claim the remake to be better?

Maurice Mitchell said...

Agreed. I only saw part of the French version and it is striking in it's visuals although slow. If someone has seen the original and could weigh in I'd love to hear about it.

AlexJCavanaugh said...

Carpenter's The Thing is light-years ahead of the original. And Peter Jackson's King Kong was very well done.
Bottom line, anytime you could put Rachel Welch in a bikini, it was going to be a better movie!


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