Vince Vaughn in Psycho
Universal Pictures

Bad Movie Remakes That Shouldn’t Have Happened

These remakes will leave you asking why they were made. Some original films should have just been left alone!
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I will openly admit that I scoffed when a remake of The Exorcist was announced.

At this point, the 1973 film is iconic. It’s been almost fifty years since that first film hit theaters. It was unlike anything anyone had seen before. Audiences were shocked and horrified (that’s a good thing here) at the head-spinning, obscenity-hurling possessed child and that pea soup demon vomit. I’m pretty sure this movie is the sole reason my mom refuses to watch horror films, after seeing it in theaters.

I’m sure there are plenty of producers out there that would kill to do their own spin on The Exorcist. After all, the film completely changed the horror genre into what it is today – and it influenced countless directors and writers in the years since.

And I’m sure that at least some movie studios would be more than willing to greenlight a remake, with the right pitch from the right screenwriter or director. Studios certainly don’t shy away from remakes and reboots. It’s the same for both theatrical releases and TV series.

Why Studios Like Remakes and Reboots

When talking about revivals and reboots of TV series before, I noted that studios are becoming less likely to take a gamble on fresh content. That’s because creating original content is a costly risk, so studios are pulling from existing successful formulas that guarantee audiences will tune in.

Along those same lines, it’s probably a lot easier to convince a studio to remake an old movie than to get a greenlight for an original story. After all, old films probably already have built in audiences. Not only will you hopefully pick up new people, producers hope that fans of the old movie will show up, too.

Remaking movies certainly isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s as old as Hollywood itself. In fact, one of the films on our list – Ben-Hur – is a remake of a remake. The 1959 classic is actually a remake of the ‘20s silent film Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. And an improvement if I might add. Don’t worry, it all goes downhill when they remake it again in 2016.

Back to The Exorcist for a second. Someone is doing it. It’s writer/director David Gordon Green, the same guy behind the new Halloween franchise trilogy. The remake of The Exorcist will also take a similar form, coming as a trilogy as opposed to a single film. Will it be any good? I guess we’ll have to wait until October 2023 to find out!

Not all remakes are a good idea, regardless of how well the original performed at the box office. In fact, a successful movie might make a successful remake even harder. When you have a killer movie like The Exorcist, how can you really improve on it? That’s how you end up with a remake that leaves audiences asking why it was made at all. How do I know? Well, let’s just look at all the remakes over the years that should have never been made.

Total Recall (2012)

1990’s Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was a fascinating science fiction film set in the future. A bored construction worker (Schwarzenegger) visits a company that implants memories so he can virtually experience the thrill of Mars, but he discovers that his entire life is actually a false memory. He struggles to figure out who he really is as the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred. It’s amazing that someone could take that movie, decide to remake it, and wind up with something as bad as 2012’s Total Recall – but boy did Len Wiseman nail it.

House of Wax (2005)

1953’s horror flick House of Wax starred the incomparable Vincent Price himself. It was actually a remake itself, from 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum. But when they remade it again in 2005, it was less of a thrilling horror and more of a predictable teen slasher flick. Perhaps the casting of Paris Hilton was the first warning that the House of Wax remake might not be a masterpiece. All the gore in the world can’t make up for the time you’ll waste watching this one.

Point Break (2015)

On paper, the idea of a gang of surfers robbing banks while wearing masks of various former presidents sure sounds like a hot mess. Somehow it worked, and the original Point Break picked up quite the cult following. It probably helps that the cast includes Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Lori Petty, Gary Busey, John C. McGinley, and more. That magic just couldn’t be replicated with a new cast, though. The 2015 remake has some visually stunning action scenes but falls flat otherwise. 

Mr. Deeds (2002)

I’ve never been the biggest Adam Sandler fan, but even his biggest supporters can agree that this is project never, ever needed to happen. 2002’s Mr. Deeds is a remake of Frank Capra’s 1936 film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, in which Longfellow Deeds is leading a simple life during the Great Depression until he inherits a fortune from a late uncle. A reporter gets close to him so she can write a series of enormously popular (but not very truthful or nice) articles, but the whole thing ends as an unlikely love story. Deeds uses his fortune to help the poor, and everyone presumably lives happily ever after. But then in 2002, Sandler comes crashing in playing that same tired “regular guy” character he is in every film. It’s now set in the present day, and Sandler’s Deeds inherits stock in his uncle’s company that a businessman is trying to swindle him out of. The humor is awful, the dead uncle’s butler ends up being the true heir, and Deeds buys corvettes for everyone in town. End scene.

The Fog (2005)

Back in 1980, actress Jamie Lee Curtis and director John Carpenter teamed up again after Halloween for another film: 1980’s The Fog. Unlike gory and gross slashers, this supernatural horror film used suspense to hook audiences. When the fog seeped into the picturesque California coastal town, it also brought along putrid, vengeful zombies of mariners who were killed in a shipwreck. Although 2005’s remake was also produced by John Carpenter, it wasn’t anywhere near the original. Note that the film featured songs from the likes of Fall Out Boy, Petey Pablo, Morningwood, and OK Go. In a “horror” movie. I’m not sure who convinced Carpenter to do this remake, but at least he picked up two awards for it: the Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Worst Film, and the Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Least Scary Horror Movie.

Ben-Hur (2016)

The 1959 historical drama Ben-Hur is an iconic film that won eleven Academy Awards. Plus, it has that really impressive – and infamous – chariot race. So hey, why not make it again, right? After all, filmmaking is leaps and bounds above where it was in the ‘50s. Clearly, we could do so many cool new things. But instead of an incredible, epic historical drama, we ended up with… whatever this is. 2016’s Ben-Hur is comprised of the fumes left over from the 1959 classic, mixed with choppy editing and lackluster CGI effects. Where exactly did that $100 million production budget go? It picked up mostly negative reviews, and was a big ol’ box office failure.

The Wicker Man (2006)

If you have never seen the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, I seriously urge you to watch it. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad you literally can’t look away. That’s because it stars Nicolas Cage in one of his most unhinged performances ever. The original movie is an eerie story about a police sergeant investigating an isolated island cult to save a missing young girl. The remake is the same story, except with Cage screaming “not the bees!” Once you’ve seen him in a taxidermied bear suit while punching a lady in the face, you’ll never be able to unsee it.

Fame (2009)

Fame first hit the big screen in 1980, and is now considered a classic musical full of slouchy sweatshirts and high-energy performances. Sure, the musical numbers break the idea of reality, as is the case with any musical. But the characters are still relatable and sympathetic. They’re grappling with some heavy issues as they make their way through a prestigious school for performing arts. So what do we do with that? Remake it! It could have probably worked, had it been done differently. 2009’s Fame lacks any grit or authenticity that the original had. It feels too slick and polished, like a sanitized after-school special.

Psycho (1998)

If we are being honest, remaking such an iconic masterpiece like Psycho is nearly impossible to do successfully. And no, I’m not just saying that because I’m a big Alfred Hitchcock fan. Literally no one was begging for a redo of the chilling classic. Then director Gus Van Sant made some confusing choices. It’s basically a shot-for-shot copy of the original, so what was the point? Nothing new was added, besides maybe the addition of color. The most baffling choice, though? Norman Bates’ shoes are filled by Vince Vaughn. Yep, the same guy who starred in films like Wedding Crashers and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.