#FlashbackFriday Review: Worst Remakes


Melissa McCarthy;Kristen Wiig;Kate McKinnon;Leslie JonesJared McMillan // Film Critic

It’s upon us. The newest version of GHOSTBUSTERS has arrived, with all of the misogyny and inappropriate comments in tow (You can read our review here). Honestly, there are worse things that could’ve happened to the franchise than infuse it with flipped gender roles. But, we’re not here to give the umpteenth take on Ghostbros and their infinite trolling.

But the fact that the trailer for Paul Feig’s take is the most downvoted video in the history of YouTube brings up the fact that there are always going to be remakes that people don’t want. Even though Spielberg has put his foot down many a time, there is still a fear that Hollywood will remake JAWS, in which case there might be the nerdiest riot ever (stares at torch and pitchfork at the ready).

In the latest edition of Flashback Friday, we’re going to run through some of the worst remakes that Tinseltown has to offer. They are widely regarded as a terrible move, whether because it was just poorly planned, America trying to cash in on foreign success, or they had the audacity to mess with a classic. Here are the five worst remakes ever to come across an audience…

maxresdefaultPSYCHO (1998)

Starting this list off at number one with a bullet. Gus Van Sant’s remake of the horror classic had the makings of intrigue: Van Sant was white-hot from GOOD WILL HUNTING, Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche were stars on the rise, and the rest of the cast included Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, and William H. Macy.

But then everything went to hell quickly, as the movie was presented in a shot-for-shot remake. Vaughn’s acting came off as a terrible impression of Anthony Perkins, delivering Norman Bates’ haunting dialogue like a high-school student giving a monologue.

It just didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t an updated version; it wasn’t shown to be a commentary on anything…it was just plain awful. Watching this remake of PSYCHO is like someone rewrote “Slaughterhouse Five” word-for-word, and with crayon. Every scene was without meaning or life. After its release, the movie tanked, it was scathed by critics, and almost killed the careers of Van Sant and Vaughn. It’s widely considered to be the worst remake of all time.

Adam_Sandler_nel_film_Mr._DeedsMR. DEEDS (2002)

At this point, it’s almost impossible to have a list of worsts and not include Adam Sandler. While a lot of people might point to the 2005 remake of THE LONGEST YARD, there’s a personal disdain when it comes to MR. DEEDS, the Happy Madison reissue of Frank Capra’s 1936 Oscar-winning classic MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN.

Both versions sort of follow the same story: mild-mannered Longfellow Deeds is recognized as a long-lost heir to a fortune, moves to the big city only to be exploited; this exploitation is led by Babe Bennett, who is a big-time reporter tracking a story. But Deeds and Babe fall in love as she plays damsel-in-distress, and she must help Deeds before he loses everything.

Gary Cooper as Deeds was warm and inviting as a moral point amongst the immoral high society. They viewed him as a dimwit because of his doing the right thing; the movie is a big-hearted shot at high society. Adam Sandler as Deeds is a complete simpleton, nice but without any morals, and writes terrible poems. The movie is worsened by the third act, and is the typical Sandler “look at this weird thing, listen to this weird joke” motif.

I’d tell Hollywood to stop, but the public keep paying to see Adam Sandler movies. MR. DEEDS made $170 million worldwide.

7976c276fb09c804d63b3c716f305226CITY OF ANGELS (1998)

What’s with 1998 and terrible remakes? Here we have the American take on the modern classic WINGS OF DESIRE, starring Nicolas Cage as Seth, an angel who comes into an existential crisis upon seeing a doctor named Maggie (Meg Ryan). He develops an existential crisis and grows weary of staying on the sidelines. So he takes the leap to mortality to explore these feelings, as well as the world he’s been watching for an eternity.

I could spew non-stop about the melodramatic bore this movie is, but let’s just do a comparison: The original is breathtaking in its presentation of greys and color, Bruno Ganz carrying gravitas with subtle looks, heartbreaking romance, and a soundtrack by Nick Cave. The remake is a bland palette of 90s drama, Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan lacking chemistry, American plot devices, and a soundtrack highlighted by Goo Goo Dolls.

If that didn’t convince you how terrible the remake is compared to its original, look no further than its tagline – “She didn’t believe in angels, until she fell in love with one.”

kristen-bell018PULSE (2006)

With the exception of THE RING, a lot of American translations of movies from the J-horror (Japanese horror) subgenre are exceptionally weak…THE GRUDGE, ONE MISSED CALL, SHUTTER, THE EYE. It shows in comparison the structure differences in story development, as Japanese horror depends more on foreboding and atmosphere; the American counterpart relies on by-the-numbers storytelling and jump scares.

While the aforementioned remakes have their moments, none of them are as boring as the remake of PULSE starring Kristen Bell. A metaphor for technology taking over our lives until we are no longer ourselves, the story loses the sense of dread that dominated its predecessor. It has an empty atmosphere, and the entire presentation is just as plain, highlighted by terrible acting and dialogue. For a movie that goes by the name of PULSE, it would’ve been nice if it had one.


GHOSTBUSTERS is out now in IMAX 3D, 3D, and regular 2D formats.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.