10 Really Rather Good Remakes

People hate remakes. It's a fact of the movie world. Typically this is justifiably because they're regarded as hopelessly cynical cash-ins (Nightmare On Elm Street) or destroyers of childhood favourites (The Karate Kid). Hopes, however, remain high for David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a re-adaptation of the Swedish original and, with that in mind, we delved into the vaults to find ten more remakes that made the world a better place.

One of many films in this list which feature the benefit of having remade what was actually a very good film in the first place, Martin Scorsese's Oscar winner has become the poster child for what a Western remake can do with an international property, successfully retaining the criminal paranoia of the original Hong Kong trilogy.

The Thing (1982)

One of the greatest horror films of all time, John Carpenter's 1982 offering has a little-known history as a fairly obscure creature feature from the 50s. Final word on this must go to James Arness, the actor tasked with bringing the original Thing to life, who felt his suit made him look like a 'giant carott'. A fact now reflected in several of the online reviews.

The Fly (1986)
Remake of: The Fly (1958)

Before George Langelaan's short story was picked up by David Cronenberg and turned into the Jeff Goldblum thriller with the tagline 'Something Went Wrong In The Lab Today... Very Wrong', The Fly had already been less-successfully adapted by Kurt Neumann, a prolific German-born director who produced over sixty films in the twenty-eight year period from 1931.

Remake of: The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965)

A loose remake but a remake nevertheless as John Singleton's fairly successful thriller (a sequel is on the way) borrowed its basic plot and premise from the mid-sixties Western starring John Wayne and Dean Martin, which made the slight mistake of listing Katie Elder as being 64 and 'son' John as 57.

Heat (1995)
Remake of: LA Takedown (1989)

Potentially one of the most successful remakes of all time saw Michael Mann take the plot and characters of his made-for-TV movie and turn it into the definitive entry in the 'cops and robbers' genre. Replacing Scott Plank and Alex McArthur with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro may have helped.

Remake of: Seven Samurai (1954)

Whilst it doesn't reach the heights of Akira Kurosawa's much revered classic, John Sturges' Western-set remake successfully transposed the plot of the original and made a Sunday afternoon matinee-type film to die for, blending Yul Brynner's presence with Steve McQueen's cool and Charles Bronson's threat to magnificent effect.

Remake of: Man On Fire (1987)

Arguably the most artistically successful of Tony Scott's recent films, the 2004 Denzel Washington vehicle was actually a remake of a not-very-successful French/Italian venture from the eighties in which Scott Glen took on the lead role of Creasy. Joe Pesci and Jonathan Pryce also featured.

Remake of: Ocean's Eleven (1960)

One of the more famous of the 'successful' remakes, it's still all too easy to forget the original brat-pack vehicle which had all of the star power of Steven Soderbergh's 2001 film, but none of the fizz, acting talent or clever dialogue. A re-release around the time of the original boosted its profile but not its value.

Remake of: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

One of the closest calls in the 'which version is better' category, the original wins on cast (Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway) but loses on stylish action and pace (the final heist scene in the John McTiernan film is particularly lip-smacking). Both remain entirely watchable efforts.

True Lies (1994)
Remake of: La Totale! (1991)

One of the more bizarre remakes saw James Cameron cast Arnie in his action extravaganza based on an obscure French film by Claude Zidi, the man who would later go on to direct GĂ©rard Depardieu in Asterix And Obelix Take On Caesar. We're not one of the few people to have seen Zidi's film but our bet is on Cameron's being superior.


  1. Love me some True Lies. Agree with many of the picks although Four Brothers is a bit borderline.

  2. I'm with you all the way, except for Four Brothers... I spent far too much time shaking my head during that one to call it a good film, let alone a good remake.

  3. Castor/Univarn - yes, that was always going to be the one that some people didn't agree with. I don't love it but I do think it's a perfectly serviceable thriller with some great cinematography not normally found in the genre.

  4. Wow, I didn't realize a few of these were remakes. I'll have to look for the French source of True Lies!

  5. Some of them surprised me, I must say. If you start looking, I'm sure you'll find plenty more that you didn't realise were based on something else - I certainly did!