BEST: The Fly (1986)
Original: The Fly (1958)
Your rank: #10 (3.1% of vote)
We say: Director David Cronenberg located the terror and real tragedy in the schlocky B-movie tale of a scientist (Jeff Goldblum) who mutates into an insect after a disastrous experiment. The special effects still have the potential to gross out, if not terrify, but the line ”Be afraid…be very afraid” is delightfully timeless.
BEST: Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Original: Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Your rank: #9 (3.33% of vote)
We say: Director Zack Snyder turned George A. Romero’s fun but low-tech frightfest into a glossy Hollywood thrill-ride that delivered even more chills than the original. (Plus, I can no longer listen to Johnny Cash’s ”The Man Comes Around” without craving brains.)
BEST: The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Original: The Seven Samurai (1954)
Your rank: #8 (4.54% of vote)
We say: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, et al, defend a helpless Mexican village against an onslaught of bandits, with the assistance of Elmer Bernstein’s rousing, rambling score. It doesn’t approach Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, but it’s still loads of fun.
BEST: 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Original: 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
Your rank: #7 (4.91% of vote)
We say: Russell Crowe is the captured outlaw, and Christian Bale is the wounded Civil War vet tasked with escorting the ruthless bandit to the authorities, via the 3:10 train. Tracing the original’s plot but amplifying themes and sequences also found in 1952’s High Noon, director James Mangold crafted the best Western since Unforgiven.
BEST: The Birdcage (1996)
Original: La Cage aux Folles (1978)
Your rank: #6 (5.08% of vote)
We say: Does it shock you that we’re still arguing about same-sex marriage 16 years after this Mike Nichols comedy had the entire country laughing? His adaptation of Jean Poiret’s 1973 play featured Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a flamboyantly gay couple pretending to be straight for their son’s future Republican in-laws, played by Dianne Wiest and an unwavering Gene Hackman, who looked great in drag.
BEST: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
Original: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Your rank: #5 (5.37% of vote)
We say: Pierce Brosnan is double-O-my! charming, but it’s the underrated Rene Russo who gives director John McTiernan’s ode to coolness its heat. She matches Brosnan’s suave art thief step-for-step, making this elaborate tango more complex and more fulfilling than the original’s unabashed paean to the tao of Steve McQueen.
BEST: The Thing (1982)
Original: The Thing From Another World (1951)
Your rank: #4 (6.13% of vote)
We say: John Carpenter’s cult classic closely resembled Howard Hawks’ Cold War-era masterpiece, but gruesome special effects helped add a welcome dose of horror to the original’s eerie paranoia. I love to imagine the terrified moviegoer who errantly wandered into The Thing instead of E.T., which ironically opened to wider acclaim two weeks earlier.
BEST: True Grit (2010)
Original: True Grit (1969)
Your rank: #3 (7.96% of vote)
We say: Perhaps the greatest evidence of the Coen Brothers’ genius. They remastered a beloved — but flawed — John Wayne western, changed very little, yet created something entirely their own. Jeff Bridges and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld were honored with Oscar nominations, and Matt Damon and Josh Brolin filled every frame with quirky variations of good and evil.
BEST: The Departed (2006)
Original: Infernal Affairs (2002)
Your rank: #2 (21.73% of vote)
We say: Director Martin Scorsese transplanted the original cat-and-mouse thriller from gleaming Hong Kong to the gritty streets of South Boston, where Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio play a gangster pretending to be a cop or vice versa. It’s not thought of as Scorsese’s finest work, but it did win him his long-overdue Oscar.
BEST: Ocean's 11 (2001)
Original: Ocean’s 11 (1960)
Your rank: #1 (32.6% of vote)
We say: It wasn’t enough that George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and their merry band of grifters made this entire Vegas heist production seem like adult summer camp — no, Clooney also had to woo Julia Roberts. Their characters’ painful history, conveyed in just a handful of scenes (masterfully directed by Steven Soderbergh), provides the perfect dose of depth.
NEXT: Your picks for the 10 worst remakes
WORST: Conan the Barbarian (2011)
Original: Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Your rank: #10 (4.41% of vote)
We say: That Morgan Freeman narrated this brutal — in every sense — film should make Andy Dufresne weep. That Jason Momoa and director Marcus Nispel made viewers pine for the meatheaded camp of Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Milius is quite an achievement — but not a boastful one.
WORST: The Longest Yard (2005)
Original: The Longest Yard (1974)
Your rank: #9 (4.78% of vote)
We say: Just because some current Hollywood star is going to defile your work doesn’t mean you have to lend a hand. When Burt Reynolds appears — in football pads — in this Adam Sandler gridiron sham, part of me was hoping his character would break the Sandman’s freakin’ neck.
WORST: Clash of the Titans (2010)
Original: Clash of the Titans (1981)
Your rank: #8 (4.86% of vote)
We say: The cheesy original was hardly sacred, but it was revered as one of the last great examples of stop-motion special effects from the guru himself, Ray Harryhausen. Twenty-first century CGI and 3-D steamrolled such clankiness, but the result lacked flavor, character, thrills, charm…I could go on.
WORST: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Original: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Your rank: #7 (5.94% of vote)
We say: Aliens visit Earth and force mankind to confront their destructive behavior. In the 1951 movie, apocalyptic fears were nuclear based. In the remake, which starred Keanu Reeves as the avenging alien, it’s environmental annihilation. Though earnest in its deference to the original, the remake’s pace drags and its telegraphed climax disappoints.
WORST: The Women (2008)
Original: The Women (1939)
Your rank: #6 (6.43% of vote)
We say: A lot has changed for women since Claire Boothe Luce’s play about female rivalries and camaraderie was a smash hit on Broadway. But according to director Diane English, her sex has devolved into annoying stereotypes cribbed from television sitcoms.
WORST: Planet of the Apes (2001)
Original: Planet of the Apes (1968)
Your rank: #5 (11.01% of vote)
We say: ”You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you, Tim Burton! God damn you all to hell!” Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But simply upgrading Charlton Heston’s classic B-movie with modern-day special effects doesn’t make it better. Or even necessary. And did anyone really think the Lincoln Monkee-morial would trump the Statue of Liberty reveal?
WORST: The Pink Panther (2006)
Original: The Pink Panther (1963)
Your rank: #4 (11.29% of vote)
We say: Which was worse? Slapping together footage of the deceased Peter Sellers for 1982’s Trail of the Pink Panther, or Steve Martin resurrecting the bumbling Clouseau behind a bad accent and mustache. Hold on…I’m still thinking.
WORST: The Stepford Wives (2004)
Original: The Stepford Wives (1975)
Your rank: #3 (13.95% of vote)
We say: The 1975 women’s lib satire is hardly a classic, but director Frank Oz’s rehash is a Stepford Wife in its own right. The lobotomized redo (starring Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick) soft-pedals any sociopolitical relevance. But, hey, how about those shiny special effects!
WORST: Arthur (2011)
Original: Arthur (1981)
Your rank: #2 (14.38% of vote)
We say: Dudley Moore’s childish booze hound was lovable and whimsical, but Russell Brand’s updated Arthur paled in comparison by being a cruder sort that played to Brand’s off-screen persona. Rather than fully embrace its dark side, the flaccid update was undone by political correctness and never really located the heart of the original.
WORST: Psycho (1998)
Original: Psycho (1960)
Your rank: #1 (16.52% of vote)
We say: Chutzpah would’ve been a more appropriate title for director Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s genre-defining classic. (It’s like Norman Rockwell attempting to copy Munch’s ”The Scream.”) Just a bad idea all around, and the cast, led by Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche, is a curious collection of misused talent.