Sometimes the re-making of a film set to contemporary times or adding special effects not available during the original or adapting a foreign film to another culture has been very successful. However, when those movie remakes received critical and box office acclaim it does not necessarily mean all remakes will be like that. You definitely need talent and creativity to take a beloved film and make it your own that the audience will embrace, not thinking at all about the original version.
Sometimes an idea for a movie remake sounds good on paper, but making the movie and then releasing it to the public is a whole another thing. There is a saying that goes: “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Why take a classic film that everyone knows and loves, then try to fix it? Unfortunately in the past two decades just about every other film has been a remake of a television series or classic film. Here now are five of the worst movie remakes ever that came from the ’90’s and 2000s. Three are from cult classic films and the other two were from foreign films. Why some of them were made into remakes remains a mystery.
5.) Godzilla (1998)
This is a prime example of not fixing something if it isn’t broken. Many people may be aware of this Japanese film classic that was shown on TV for years, especially the baby boomer generation. Of course the special effects back then were rudimentary to say the least. Yet, there was something appealing about the original Godzilla that has since become a cult classic. I remember as a kid there was a Saturday afternoon TV program showcasing horror films. They always showed Godzilla and its other minion films. However, this version is completely unrecognizable from the original.
The only thing it has going for this remake were the special effects. Its story line is of a massive creature who came out of nowhere, but is believed to be a mutant resulting from nuclear testing in French Polynesia. Godzilla starts wrecking havoc all over the world. It then descends upon New York City where a team of scientists and journalists try to lure the dinosaur-like monster out into the open. They discover hundreds of eggs from Godzilla they must destroy before these babies start taking over the world. The problem with this film is they severely tampered with the original story. Otherwise, the movie could have been more successful. It was a big box office hit overseas. I was living in Japan when this remake version of Godzilla came out.
4.) Vanilla Sky (2001)
The first of two foreign film remakes where this one comes from the 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos or Open Your Eyes. Penelope Cruz, the female lead in this remake, was also in the Spanish film reprising her role. Vanilla Sky is by far the weirdest movie I have ever seen. It absolutely made no sense to me whatsoever. I’m all for arty, cerebral, intellectual and introspective type movies, but this one was not well executed for some reason. Many theories have been speculated Vanilla Sky is either based on a dream from the main character, David Aames, played by the ever toothy-smile Tom Cruise or his visions while in a coma. The English title was inspired by cloud paintings from the French impressionist painter, Claude Monet.
Vanilla Sky is about a wealthy guy breaking up with his girlfriend and then finds another, Sofia, played by Penelope Cruz. The former girlfriend seeks revenge by offering David a ride in her car only to crash it on purpose where she dies, but David is severely disfigured. He miraculously gets plastic surgery, but sees images of his former girlfriend. David suffocates her and is then arrested. Meanwhile, he is found to be insane. While watching TV he sees an ad for a program called “Life Extension” that can change your life. It is based on lucid dreams. To me it reeks of Scientology, oddly enough. I wonder who came up with that idea in the storyline. Some foreign films have transcended well into successful American films such as The Departed based on the one from Hong Kong, Internal Affairs. Unfortunately this film did not make a smooth transition to American audiences. A lot of European films are too abstract.
3.) Swept Away (2002)
It is based on the classic Italian film of the same name from 1974. The male lead of the original, Giancarlo Giannini, features his son, Adriano Giannini, as the male lead in the remake. One huge mistake regarding this remake was having Madonna starring in it. She is not an actress. Another big mistake was having Madonna’s then-husband, Guy Ritchie direct this box office bombshell of a film. Ritchie was on his way to becoming a stellar director in his own right until Swept Away came along and changed everything. The story is of a poor rich woman played by Madonna. This role was certainly not a stretch for her, yet she still couldn’t act her way out of it.
Life is a bore for her and her wealthy husband. They both decide to take a private cruise on their yacht from Greece to Italy. Amber, played by Madonna, takes her frustrations out on the yacht’s first mate, Giuseppe. A storm takes Amber and Giuseppe off the boat where they end up on a deserted island. At first they fight, but eventually fall in love. This movie was awarded five Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Actress and Worst Director. Even though this was a British production the film was never shown in theaters in the UK. Instead it went to straight-to-video. I think you get the picture this was deservedly one of the worst movie remakes.
2.) Planet of the Apes (2001)
Once again why touch a great classic sci-fi film? This remake is altered in many ways. It is more violent, darker, and foreboding. One director I’m certainly not a fan of, except for his film Ed Wood, is Tim Burton. He directed this remake of Planet of the Apes. It’s about an astronaut who works with primates on space missions. He then lands on a planet, along with his chimpanzee Pericles that is inhabited by highly intelligent human-like apes. They treat humans like pets and slaves. Pericles the chimp is treated like a long lost god. Leo, the astronaut, decides to rebel against this treatment. He sides up with another female ape who empathizes with Leo. Eventually he is able to escape the planet only to return to a far more ominous future. It lacked the awe factor that was present in the original. The ending was no where near as powerful. In fact the ending in the remake is very depressing. This was not a good remake at all.
1.) House of Wax (2005)
Whose idea was it to hire Paris Hilton for this classic horror film? This remake was definitely a horror flick of a different kind. During my childhood watching those old horror film classics on TV that starred Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing were awesome in comparison to this piece of garbage. However, this remake of House of Wax only shares the name of the 1953 original, but it’s actually a remake of the 1933 film Mystery of the Wax Museum. The 2005 version starts off with a woman making a wax sculpture in 1974 with a screaming kid. In present day some teenagers are stranded in a ghost town when their car breaks down while going to a football game. One by one the teens are captured and become part of the wax museum. It features a bunch of actors I have never heard of except for Paris Hilton, whom we all know cannot act her way out of a paper bag. Obviously they hired her for name recognition only. This is your typical slash/thriller film. Did you know the remake was going to be titled Wax House, Baby? I kid you not.
Of course I do not recommend you purchase the remake versions of these diabolical movies. Instead, you can get their outstanding original versions that are what made them become a remake in the first place, though unsuccessfully. You can find these DVDs at a great price from www.amazon.com. Godzilla, Open Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos), Swept Away, Planet of the Apes and House of Wax/Mystery of the Wax Museum are better the first time around.