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10 Classic Horror Films that Should Be Remade

The Wolfman Just a Sign of Things to Come?

By Tim Janson     February 10, 2010

10 Classic Horror Films that Should Be Remade
© Mania/Bob Trate


On Friday, Universal’s remake of their 1940 horror classic The Wolfman will hit theaters. and in the spirit of remakes, we’ve scoured horror films from the past eight decades to come up with the 10 of our favorite horror classics that we’d love to see remade.  

10. M (1931)

M is a German film directed by Fritz Lang who also directed the silent classic Metropolis. The film introduced future horror star Peter Lorre who plays a pedophile and child killer, preying on kids in Berlin. As the police raid known criminal hideouts, the local crime lords decide to try and find the killer themselves as the police raids are hurting their business. M is dark, moody, and one of the most atmospheric films of the first half of the 20th century. The theme of child disappearances seems to be all too commonplace in our society today and a remake of M would be a chilling and sobering project.

9. Freaks (1932)

Directed by Tod Browning who also directed Universal’s Dracula, Freaks was one of the most controversial films of the 1930s. The film was banned in the UK for over 30 years and Browning was blackballed in Hollywood. The film used actual sideshow freaks and came under fire for its exploitation. These included The Human Torso, a dwarf with no arms or legs; conjoined twins, microcephalics a.k.a. pinheads, The Stork Woman, The Legless Man, and many others. The plot centers on the circus’ star trapeze artist Cleopatra marrying the midget Hans in order to kill him and steal his money. When the freaks find out about the plot, Cleopatra meets a gruesome fate at their hands. With the use of CGI the sideshow characters could be recreated without the need to exploit real people.


8. The Black Cat (1934)

One of the most perverse horror films of the 1930s it was also Universal’s biggest box office hit of 1934.  It was the first pairing of horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.  Karloff is Hjalmar Poelzig, the leader of a Satanic Cult who stole Vitus Werdegast’s (Lugosi) wife and daughter and left him to rot in a prison camp for 15 years.  Poelzig has a collection of his deceased wives he keeps preserved in clear coffins that line a hallway in his mansion.  When Werdegast’s wife dies, Poelzig then marries his teenage daughter.  The Censors had a field day with the hints of incest!  Werdegast eventually gets revenge on his archenemy by skinning him alive at the end.  This film begs for a grisly, modern remake with its themes of torture and a serial-killing Satanic cult leader whose ego drives him to keep his wives forever on display.


7. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Still terrifying after 40 years, Rosemary’s Baby tells the story of a young woman whose husband allows her to be raped by the devil in exchange for gaining a successful acting career.  Rosemary becomes pregnant but after she delivers she is told that her baby died in labor.  But she soon finds her baby in a crib, surrounded by members of a Satanic coven and is told her baby’s strange eyes are because ‘He has his father’s eyes!”  How this movie hasn’t been remade considering the number of bad horror remakes is astounding.  This should be at the top of the list!


6. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Vincent Price in one of his best roles plays Anton Phibes, a disfigured PhD.  When his wife dies on the operating table, Phibes blames the physicians and staff and begins to take a horrible revenge on each, mirroring the biblical plagues on Egypt .  A nurse is consumed by locusts, a doctor is killed by rats, another is stung to death by a horde of bees, one has all his blood drained from his body, etc Phibes was particularly unnerving when speaking as his disfigurement forced him to speak through a special voice box.  With the popularity of torture/horror films like Saw and Hostel, we’d love to see Phibes updated for the 21st century.


5. The Night Stalker (1972)

This film was, at the time, the highest rated made-for-TV movie ever.  It introduced monster-hunting reporter Carl Kolchak (played by Darren McGavin) and resulted in a sequel The Night Strangler, a 1974 series, and a 2005 series.  The script was written by horror icon Richard Matheson and centered on a vampire killing exotic dancers on the Las Vegas strip.  Kolchak makes the discovery that the killer is a vampire but the local authorities and his boss think he’s nuts.  It’s up to Kolchak to put an end to the killing spree. The 2005 series was a miserable failure but we’d love to see Kolchak brought to the big screen. 


4. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972)

This movie features maybe the greatest title ever for a horror film.  Made on a miniscule budget of just $70,000, the film was directed by Bob Clark who would gain fame as the director of Porky’s, Black Christmas, and the holiday classic, A Christmas Story.  A group of theater actors travel to an island that was used to bury criminals, for a night of partying.  They hold a séance for laughs but it’s not so funny when they accidentally bring the dead to life.  The group takes refuge in an old house, hoping to survive the night.  With the popularity of zombie films, this is one we’d love to see updated, although with a BIT more money available in the budget.


3. The Legend of Hell House (1973)

One of the great haunted house films of all-time.  This film features another script by Richard Matheson.  A physicist, his wife, and two spiritual mediums are hired to investigate the notorious Belasco House, the scene of several murders years earlier by the home’s owner who disappeared.  Filled with fantastic atmosphere and terrifying haunts, Hell House also features a terrific twist at the end of the story.  Just keep the guys who remade The Haunting away from this!


2. The Funhouse (1981)

It seems as if every slasher film of the 1980s is being remade and we’d like to see Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse added to the list.  Four teens head to a local carnival for a night of fun and rides.  When they witness a man in a Frankenstein’s monster costume murder the carny’s fortune teller, they flee into the funhouse and get locked inside where Frankenstein, the deformed son of the carnival’s operator, begins to hunt them down and kill them one by one.  Carnivals and clowns are inherently creepy and makes for a great horror filmsetting.  Perhaps Hooper might like another crack at this one.

1. Re-Animator (1985)

For whatever reason, there’s never been a good film made that is based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. However, Re-Animator, based on the Lovecraft story, Herbert West-Reanimator has gained cult status due to its campy humor and extreme gore. West, magnificently played by Jeffrey Combs, comes to Miskatonic University and begins using his re-animation formula on corpses. This includes decapitating the Dean of the school and bringing his severed head back to life. As much as we love the humor in Re-Animator, a remake that played it straight and completely for horror would be fantastic!
So there you have the list… Do you agree with our list? What films would you like to see remade? There were many more films under consideration that we must give honorable mentions to including Phantasm, Audrey Rose, Dressed to Kill, Motel Hell, Return of the Vampire, Race with the Devil, and The Old Dark House.


Love Horror Movies? Also try 10 Overlooked Horror Movies

 What about Werewolves? Read 10 Unforgettable Werewolf Transformation Scenes

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Showing items 1 - 10 of 35
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MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 2/10/2010 12:06:37 AM

I don't know if it counts as a horror movie but I'd like to see one of "Something Wicked This Way Comes".  I'm sure I can think of others in a bit.

themovielord 2/10/2010 12:07:47 AM

Re-Animator is perfect! No re-make necessary! Silver Bullet needs a re-make though.

death4sale 2/10/2010 4:00:34 AM

Re-Animator is pretty awesome. It doesn't need a remake. And Silver Bullet is still pretty badass. How do you recast someone as awesome as Gary Busey?

I'm a film student and I've actually been working on a sequel to M. I never really thought of a remake because I figure most people hate remakes including myself and I didn't want to contradict myself.

An actor I've always wanted to play the character from M is Paul Reubens. He's actually an excellent actor. And I think it would be creepy to see him play a pedophile.

But really, none of these horror flicks that are remembered as actual scary classic horror films should be remade. Look what happened to The Omen. The remake was a piece of crap.

Muenster 2/10/2010 5:34:32 AM

Hell Yes for Dr. Phibes, but not a reboot. Have it pick up years later after his escapde to find immortality in the original sequel.

Ryodin 2/10/2010 6:07:52 AM

Out of all these, only "M" seems fit for a good remake. I could see that being quite a gripping tale in this day and age, and if done by the right people.

The others are kinda on the "meh" side, especially "Freaks." I would never want to see something with that ridiculous a premise on the big screen again. Sounds like HBO's Carnivale gone horribly, horribly wrong.

parallaxview 2/10/2010 6:31:42 AM

I have to disagree with "Something Wicked This Way Comes."  I know it's older, and the effects maybe don't hold up to the test of time, but it's still just creepy as hell.  Those Brits know how to get into the mind of their viewers and make them afraid of the dark.  Ok, maybe if Steven Moffat had a try at it, I'd give it a shot.

VTGamehendge 2/10/2010 6:36:47 AM

They remade The Omen?  When did this happen?  I didn't even get a memo.

EagleManiac 2/10/2010 7:08:14 AM

VTGamehendge, don't even bother with The Omen remake. It's crap. Stick with the original. Much better film!



Krasch 2/10/2010 7:26:47 AM

A sequel to Phibes would rock, but so would an update not just to the original, but to it's sequel as well. Bring on the River of Life!

My sweet Vic..toria... you shall rise again once those who have wronged you have perished!

Actually I always thought Se7en was really an homage to Phibes...

LittleNell1824 2/10/2010 7:59:17 AM

The Funhouse... I remember that one. I read the book first, and the movie was terrible. They had Dean Koontz write the novelization hoping to cash in on the movie, but the book was so much better and outsold the film. Yeah, a remake could be fun.

"M" was a good movie, great idea, death4sale, to have Paul Reubens play the lead.

Rosemary's Baby did have a remake, kind of. There was "Blessed" with Heather Graham. It's not a masterpiece, but I liked it. It went with invitro fertilization instead of rape... You'd have to have a stellar cast to really remake Rosemary's Baby. It was the actors that made the movie there, and the set... the wonderful ordinariness of it all... which is the same reason that The Excorcist was so good.

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