Like most nerds who can name the entire roster of the Justice League of America, I hold the original 1978 zombie classic Dawn of the Dead on a pedestal that few films can reach. Which is why I was so shocked that Zack Snyder‘s 2004 remake kicked as much ass as it did. The film succeeds not by slavishly copying the original, but by stressing the new complications that would come with the core concept – zombies attacking a small group of survivors trapped in a shopping mall – when revisited through a modern point of view. Snyder’s film by no means replaces the original, and it never quite reaches the same depth in its storytelling, but it’s as shocking and intense a ride as you’ll have watching a movie, and helped to kick off the revitalized zombie craze.
John Carpenter’s cred among film buffs was growing by 1982. He had already crafted the massively successful Halloween and the cult hit Escape From New York. But even those fans were wary of him remaking the beloved sci-fi classic The Thing From Another World. Carpenter’s remedy was to revisit the original source material, the John W. Cambell Jr. short story Who Goes There?, and focus on the creepy paranoia and psychological horror found in that story. The end result is considered by many to be Carpenter’s masterwork. A prequel is due to hit theaters in October, but already many fans are crying foul, claiming it’s a thinly disguised remake of Carpenter’s movie. I’m happy to give it a chance, however. It’s very possible it could add new facets to the concept- just like Carpenter did in 1982.
I Am Legend is another “re-remake.” The story was first covered in 1964’s The Last Man on Earth, and again in 1971, when it was called The Omega Man. The latest version, however, is the first to really capture the feelings of loneliness and loss inherent in the premise. It’s not a perfect film, but it gets way more right than wrong, and is worth a second look.