Poster for TNT's Snowpiercer

(Photo by TNT)

On May 17, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer will become a TNT television series starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs. It’s not the first property to jump from the big screen to the small one (it was technically a French graphic novel first), and it certainly won’t be the last. For decades now, television producers have been going to the movies and asking themselves if they could make what they’re watching work in an episodic format. Who needs writers to come up with ideas when the movies can do it for you?

The resulting series have been all over the map critically, from projects that were canceled early to ones that ran for years, nearly obliterating the original film from viewers’ minds. It got us thinking about the variety of approaches that creative voices have taken when they try to sing a cinematic song on TV. The jury is still out on whether or not the futuristic vision of Snowpiercer will translate into a multi-season hit, but here are the eight approaches that have worked in the past with an example from the top tier of the film-to-TV canon for each.


Make It Your Own: Fargo

Ewan McGregor in Season 3 of Fargo

(Photo by ©FX)

When Noah Hawley entered the world of Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1995 masterpiece, he knew a literal approach wouldn’t work (and not just because it had already been attempted in 2003 with Edie Falco as Marge Gunderson in a failed TV pilot). He decided to use the atmosphere and language of the Coen-verse to tell his own stories, and the result became an award-winning critical darling. The best singers don’t just cover a song, they make it their own, reworking it in a way that redefines it. Fargo wouldn’t exist without the work of the Coen brothers, but no one would argue that it’s a direct interpretation of their creativity either. As much as Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal stands alongside both the Thomas Harris books and films, these shows use their cinematic sources as inspirations instead of a template waiting to be copied.


Make It a Prequel: Bates Motel

Freddie Highmore in Season 5 of Bates Motel

(Photo by Sergei Bachlakov/©A&E)

Sometimes the best way to adapt a cinematic property is to go back to the beginning. On paper, a young adult version of Norman Bates in contemporary times sounded like a horrible idea; it could have ended up just another teen drama like Gossip Girl, but with a little more murder. But the creators of Bates Motel deftly balanced nods to the Robert Bloch book and influential Alfred Hitchcock film throughout, culminating in a stellar final season that really tied it all together in unexpectedly moving ways. By going the prequel route, the creators had the freedom to tell a new story, even if it ultimately led to a familiar set of stairs.


Make It a Corrective: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(Photo by © 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

It may have a cult following now, but writer Joss Whedon notoriously disliked the way his 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer was altered from his original intention. And so he convinced a fledgling network called The WB to give him a second shot at the character in weekly form, and the rest is TV history. It’s funny to watch the film now and see echoes of it in the series, which is darker, denser and more nuanced in ways that Whedon wasn’t allowed to be on the big screen. It’s a case in which the film probably should have been a TV series from the very beginning.


Make It Fun: Ash vs. Evil Dead

Lucy Lawless, Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, and Ray Santiago in Ash vs. Evil Dead

(Photo by Matt Klitscher/©Starz)

Twenty-three years after Army of Darkness, no one expected to return to the world of Ash and the Deadites, but along came Starz’s gloriously gory Ash vs. Evil Dead, which carries in every frame an air of “can you believe we’re doing this?” Much like the Netflix reboot of Wet Hot American Summer, this show recognizes the fact that most people involved never thought they’d get the chance to make it, and so they’re going to have as much fun as possible while they can. And that fun can be infectious. Not everything needs to be “Prestige TV;” sometimes fans of a film just want to rekindle that fun sensibility that made movies like Evil Dead 2 and Wet Hot into cult hits in the first place.


Make It Feel New: Westworld

Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld

(Photo by John P. Johnson/HBO)

One wonders how many people trying to decipher the current season of Westworld have any idea it’s even based on a movie. While some adaptations exist to call back to their cinematic fan bases (see previous entry), others barely acknowledge the existence of the original property. The back story of a show like Teen Wolf doesn’t depend on knowing the Michael J. Fox original, and you don’t need to have seen the 1973 Yul Brynner film (or its truly dire 1976 sequel, Futureworld) to be invested in the saga of Dolores Abernathy and the Man in Black. And that’s just the way HBO likes it.


Make It Unexpected: The Girlfriend Experience

Riley Keough in The Girlfriend Experience

(Photo by Kerry Hayes/©Starz)

Sometimes the best shows are developed from films that no one involved ever thought would become a TV show (Snowpiercer might fall into this category). Steven Soderbergh’s drama about a high-priced escort didn’t exactly scream weekly drama, but the Starz adaptation found new stories to tell within this concept. Sometimes TV shows can even build on their source in ways that make them feel more creatively accomplished, such as Netflix’s Dear White People, which unexpectedly turned a good film into a great series. Going the blockbuster-to-show route can often lead to mediocre product, but shows like The Girlfriend Experience prove that there’s no specific “type” of movie that will succeed as a series.


Make It the Same: What We Do in the Shadows

The cast of What We Do in the Shadows

(Photo by )

The most common creative tenet of film-to-TV adaptations seems to be “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” After all, if people liked it on the big screen, they’re bound to like it on the small screen, right? While this often produces faded carbon copies of creative ideas, it also just works sometimes. The dynamic between Oscar and Felix in The Odd Couple that went from stage to screen to TV didn’t need to change. The movie Fame practically played like a pilot for the show. And the Taika Waititi hit that blended reality TV filmmaking with vampire lore was a perfect fit for the series, now on FX, without much alteration to the formula other than dividing the storytelling into bloody chunks and a change in location from New Zealand to Staten Island.


Make It Emotional: Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights

(Photo by ©NBC)

The main thing the best TV adaptations do is provide a recurring emotional connection that usually naturally dissipates after the credits have rolled on a film. Millions of people spent years with the families on shows like Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, two programs that are arguably on the Mt. Rushmore of film-to-TV because they treated the source material as something not just to copy but to emotionally enrich. The format allowed the creators of these shows to go deeper and make these characters a part of viewers’ families for multiple seasons. People may have first checked out FNL because of the movie, but they hung around because of their emotional connection to the show. If only more film-to-TV adaptations were this good.

Horror has a way of making an unlit hallway look like a trek through hell, inducing heart attacks though jumping cats, and transforming everyday tools like chainsaws and double-barrel shotguns into instruments of doom. The marketing and posters for Us suggests that Jordan Peele’s new horror flick will do for golden scissors what Get Out did for tea cups, which also happens to be one of selections for the 25 most iconic props from horror movie history! Read on to get your fill of creaky carriages, demonic dolls, and bloody blades.


Following the news coming from Starz that there would not be a fourth season of Ash Vs. Evil Dead on the premium cable network, Bruce Campbell made it official that he was retiring as Ash, writing Monday on Facebook, “Good people, Evil Dead fans everywhere, I bid you a heartfelt farewell playing Ash — the character I took acting lessons with for 39 years.

“I am hereby retiring from that portrayal. It’s time. I followed Ash from his formative years thru his mid-life crisis and decline. What a thrill! What a privilege!” Campbell wrote.

The news of his retirement means Sunday’s series finale of Ash vs Evil Dead will be the last fans ever see of Campell’s Ash Williams, and the journey the actor began in 1981 will conclude for good. Or not. His costar Ray Santiago, speaking with Rotten Tomatoes by phone, pointed out retirement is often temporary.

“I don’t buy it,” Santiago said. “I think Ash always comes to save the day. Just give us a little bit of time. I feel like it’s like Cher, when Cher’s like, ‘This is my final performance,’ and then two years later or six months later, she’s back.”

As part of the new generation of deadite hunters, Dana DeLorenzo is also optimistic that the end isn’t really the end.

“I concur with every analogy that Ray has said,” DeLorenzo said. “Never say ‘never.’ Heroes never die and certainly, Ash Williams and his indestructible blue shirt, if that gets passed down, this could run forever and ever — that is my analogy. Ray’s can be Cher. Mine is: Let’s look at it like Bruce’s hero uniform. If that blue shirt can last for 30 plus years after all its been through, then I feel like so can this show and so can this franchise.”


Starz’s series gave Ash some allies in Kelly Maxwell (DeLorenzo) and Pablo Simon Bolivar (Santiago). Pablo looks up to Ash and calls him “El Jefe.” He even came up with the team name “Ghost Beaters,” and it stuck with fans even though Ash and Kelly hated it.

If Campbell doesn’t pull a Cher and come out of retirement, there could be a passing of the torch to the Ghost Beaters to continue adventures in a film or other format.

“Ash is retired, so it would certainly lead us to believe that he’s opening up the throne for grabs,” Santiago said. “If El Jefe is no longer with us, would the Ghost Beaters go on to fight evil and fulfill his destiny? Absolutely. Would we come back, Dana and I, to the Scooby gang in a different way? I think we absolutely would. That would be something that would be fantastic and is not off the table.”


Evil Dead fans just don’t take no for an answer. No matter how final the series finale appears to be, fans still hope a streaming service can save Ash Vs. Evil Dead, or just go ahead and make Evil Dead 4.

“I know a lot of fans have been clamoring for [us to take over] or even bringing in Jane Levy from the 2013 remake,” DeLorenzo said. “I would say, ‘Why not?’ For sure. I can’t say yes or no. I haven’t heard anything either way, but I’m open to it. Maybe in another 30 years, you’ll see Pablo and Kelly alive and well, having their dance.”


Even if there had been a season 4, the finale was set to change the course of the franchise forever. Perhaps that will stoke demand for an Evil Dead 4. If not, it’ll be a hell of a place to leave Ash and the gang.

“We wrap it up, but nothing will ever be the same,” DeLorenzo said. “It’s actually very appropriate [to end here], because out of all the season finales, this one in particular goes off the rails in the best way that totally changes where this would go if there was another season. Now that we know there’s not, it’s like, ‘Wow, OK, now that’s an ending.’ We won’t leave you hanging. We won’t cut to black where you don’t know what’s happening.”

Ash has been the same old idiot for decades. Maybe the moment he grows even a little is the moment he should retire.

“You don’t want to change him too much because we love him,” DeLorenzo said. “This finale, I love that there is some real emotion from him, from all the characters, but I just love — because Ash Williams never shows emotion — I love that we get to see that little bit of a new layer with him in the final moments.”


So if there is an Evil Dead 4 one day, it would end up a very different movie based on the series finale.

“I certainly was really excited about it, because the way that it ends opens it up for a really great fourth season or different movie,” Santiago said. “Do we tie things up? Yes. Is there a possibility that we could ever pick up where we left off if the franchise were to make another movie with the Scooby gang? Absolutely. Would things be different? Absolutely. Do we set it up in a way that we’ve never explored before? Absolutely.”

Maybe fans should wait and see who survives Ash Vs. Evil Dead on Sunday. The final confrontation between Ash and the forces of evil looks like it will have some casualties on both sides.

“It was a war zone,” DeLorenzo said. “They were blowing up blank cannons. I had earplugs in and I would ruin shots from the sidelines because I would scream.”

Santiago hinted at some bittersweet moments himself.

“I think we all story of try to be a hero on the show and for Pablo, that comes full circle,” Santiago said. “Is there going to be some sadness in this finale? Absolutely.”


Kelly and Pablo were sort of the Evil Dead version of Ross and Rachel. While they were fighting deadites, there was a whole will they/won’t they thing going on. Even when they kissed, Pablo got possessed and Kelly got killed. The actors promise some romantic satisfaction in the finale.

“It is done in such an Evil Dead way,” DeLorenzo said. “So I’m smiling because when you see it, you’ll know exactly what I’m implying.”

Again, whatever fulfillment Kelly and Pablo find only made Santiago more excited about the potential of a fourth season.

“I will say that we definitely get what we want from Pablo and Kelly this season,” Santiago said. “I was really excited for potentially what would happen in season 4. I was really hoping for a little Pablo baby that had Pablo hair with Kelly’s voice. There was this idea of little weird demon Pablo-Kelly baby that came up in the makeup trailer.”


Horror fans are going to see Santiago again soon in Blumhouse’s Hulu anthology series. He’ll be in the pilot revolving around Halloween.

“It has kernels of Matthew Lillard in Scream for my character,” he said. He is also in the upcoming movie Speed of Life.

DeLorenzo’s upcoming projects are still in the works, so she couldn’t say. In the meantime, her previous series Impress Me is now on Amazon Prime and her movie The Mad Ones is available on VOD.

The series finale of Ash Vs. Evil Dead airs Sunday night on Starz.

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) may be the greatest survivor in horror history. Nobody else, except for maybe Jamie Lee Curtis, has survived three movies in a franchise, and not even she got a Halloween TV series. Entering season 3 of Ash vs Evil Dead, Campbell says they may have finally found Ash’s breaking point.

Chopping up all of his demonically possessed friends in the woods didn’t break him. Traveling back to medieval times to fight more “Deadites” didn’t do it. Returning to Elk Grove, and the 1980s, didn’t do it. So what could season 3 have in store that Ash hasn’t faced yet?

Bruce Campbell spoke with Rotten Tomatoes by phone while he was on a book tour for his second autobiography, Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor. Campbell teased Ash’s breakdown and eight other things about the new season and the Evil Dead franchise as a whole.


1. ASH GOES FROM MEDIEVAL TO SHAKESPEAREAN

Army of Darkness let Ash go medieval on an army of Deadites. The Bard comes a little later in history, but Campbell says Ash will feel the burden of a Hamlet or Macbeth.

“Wait ‘til you see season 3, man,” Campbell said. “It’s going to be Shakespearean this year.”

To chainsaw or not to chainsaw. That is the question.

“Ash is finally going to be pushed over the edge which is really fun to do,” Campbell continued. “He’s going to become unhinged. It’s pretty edgy. It’s pretty out there. Ash is going to become unhinged essentially.”


2. HE’S CASHING IN ON FAME

Since Ash became a hero of Elk Grove, he stuck around to capitalize on it. What other kind of store could Ash Williams open but a hardware store? You’ll see his commercial for Ashy Slashy’s Hardware in the season premiere.

“The fun there was to imitate every sh–y commercial you’ve ever seen,” Campbell said. “We’ve all seen ‘em. ‘Or your mattress is freeeeeee.’ Every local town has ‘em, so we figured Ash would fall right into the same trap, try and capitalize on his fame in the cheapest way possible.”


3. THERE ARE MORE LITTLE ASHES THAN WE THOUGHT

The Williams family keeps growing. Ash’s dad (Lee Majors) is promised a return, even though he splattered in season 2. In season 3, Ash meets his long-lost daughter, Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), and — wouldn’t you know it? — she takes after Dad.

“She does in many ways, and I love the fact that Ash doesn’t like it when she swears,” Williams said. “He’s becoming the paternal figure. He will be against his better nature. He’s got to rise to the occasion. What’s fun is to see a guy who is so over all this, he has to not only save the world, but raise an unruly daughter at the same time. I love that dynamic.”

Honestly, it’s surprising that this is Ash’s first offspring. If he’d hung around the Middle Ages another nine months, he might’ve found out about more.

“I would expect that he might have some lineage back then, yeah,” Campbell speculated.


4. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY

It’s been some 35 years of Ash chainsawing demons. At a certain point, he’s got to face the facts. It’s not just a coincidence he keeps reading from the Necronomicon.

“It all comes to a head at the end of the season where we start to pay off some of the mythology,” Campbell said. “Who is Ash? Why is he foretold in an ancient book? It was time to get into that. The myth combined with sh– getting weirder and bigger and worse, it’s one big pressure cooker of a season.”


5. ASH GETS TO TAKE A BREAK

With new cast members joining the fight, there isn’t quite so much pressure on Campbell to do all the gore and action. You’ll see him in an epic Deadite battle using all the instruments of a high school music room in the season premiere, but then his costars share the load.

“My daughter this year get probably more blood than I do,” Campbell said. “Dana [DeLorenzo] and Ray [Santiago], who I call The Kids, they get hammered this year too. Everyone gets it. I might be slightly blood-lighter this year. We’ll see. I’m not sure what the stats are. There’s plenty of blood to go around, no question about it.”

But it’s all integral to the plot, of course.

“Yeah, we don’t play the ‘can you top this’ game,” Campbell said. “We don’t shy away from gore but we don’t chase it too much either. Overall, there’s more focus on the big story this season but plenty of sh– happens in between and plenty of twisted stuff on top of that, I might add.”


6. ASH WILL NEVER QUITE LOSE THE AUDIENCE

“Ash is an idiot,” Campbell said. So he admits that and embraces Ash’s most bonehead moves. But the important thing is that Ash remains the good guy. He’ll always be our man with the chainsaw.

“If you don’t give a sh– about your lead character, you’re doomed,” Williams said. “There has to be enough qualities about him that you go ‘OK, I’ll root for the guy.’ He is a good guy. That’s what sets him apart in the horror world. There are very few good guys in horror franchises. As flawed as he is, he’s still a good guy you can root for.”


7. DON’T PAY TOO MUCH ATTENTION TO THE TIMELINE

Bruce Campbell in Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 2018

Season 2 had Ash return to the cabin in the woods in the ’80s. This was after he returned to Elk Grove to answer for the town’s suspicions when he returned alone from the camping trip in Evil Dead 2. Williams suggested the audience not concern themselves too much with the chronology of events. That’s not what’s important here.

“Look, timelines are all screwed up anyway, so none of that really matters,” Campbell said. “It was fun just to explore his hometown, go into his room, meet his girlfriend, meet his family. That to me was the fun part. Just going to Elk Grove was awesome.”

It did answer a question everyone had to be wondering though: What would regular people think of his missing friends and this crazy story about demons and time travel?

“That’s right,” Campbell said. “What would be his myth? Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Misunderstood or heroic?”


8. THEY’RE NEVER GOING BACK TO EVIL DEAD 1’S TONE

THE EVIL DEAD, Bruce Campbell, 1981. ©New Line/courtesy Everett Collection

The Evil Dead served its purpose. It launched director Sam Raimi, producer Rob Tapert, and Campbell’s careers. But they’ve all moved on. The original The Evil Dead was more of a straight horror movie, but they’re not nostalgic for that. They’re happy with the transition to comedy in the sequels and TV series.

“Nah, to me the first Evil Dead was just kind of failed melodrama,” Campbell said. “Very earnest, clunky dialogue said by earnest, inexperienced actors. That’s what that was. No, I don’t need to go back to that. I actually like the tone that we’ve hit with Ash vs Evil Dead, which is basically 50/50: 50 percent humor, 50 percent horror.”


9. THEY WANT TO DO SEASON 4 BEFORE A FOURTH MOVIE

The Evil Dead movies were locked in a trilogy for decades. There was a remake that could’ve started a new film series, but it’s been Ash vs Evil Dead that brought back hope for a new Ash movie.

Campbell says keep waiting. By the end of season 3, this story line will beg to continue with another season.

“Well, at the end of season 3, we’re free to go anywhere because it’s going to be a game changer,” Campbell said. “Yes, we’re willing to take these leaps. We’ve just taken a leap.”

Nothing is guaranteed on television, but Campbell is pushing for a fourth season with all his might.

“Well, we’ll be lucky to get a fourth season,” Campbell said. “We teed it up huge. Now we just want to see if Starz/Lionsgate wants to pull the trigger. This is the TV game. It’s a rough game, so we’re waiting to hear about a fourth season. One crisis at a time.”

Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 premieres on Sunday, February 25 on Starz.

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, girls in tan speedsuits! Mass hysteria has gripped the nation since the hyperventilating presence of a femme Ghostbusters swooped in with a trailer, becoming the most disliked in YouTube history. Would a Mannequin remake cause the same tribulation? Only time will tell.

For now, as the Ghostbusters franchise crosses the mainstream once again, we look at 24 more ’80s movie remakes, ranked worst to best by Tomatometer! (Only original properties included — no Annie or Conan — while movies like 2011’s The Thing, which explicitly extend the original plot, are excluded.)

After a blockbuster detour with Furious 7, director James Wan returns to his horror roots for like the fifth time in his career with The Conjuring 2, which follows Conju-Uno‘s Ed and Lorraine Warren into their next really true scary case. The original 2013 film was a Certified Fresh smash for Wan and company, notable because it’s rare for horror movies to get Fresh Tomatometer scores, and even rarer for their franchise sequels. So the fact Conjuring 2 is drawing sorta the same praise as its predecessor…well, that inspires this week’s gallery: 24 best-reviewed horror sequels!

 

Hollywood director Sam Raimi is going back to where it all began with Ash vs. Evil Dead, the Starz series that unfolds 30-plus years after audiences first encountered Ash Williams and his college buddies being tortured by an ancient curse in a frisky forest in The Evil Dead. We sat down with the sports coat-wearing, infallibly polite Raimi on the Auckland, New Zealand, set, where he was reunited with fellow Michigan natives Bruce Campbell (Ash) and longtime producing partner, Rob Tapert. Raimi’s oldest child, Lorne, was directing a splinter unit for Dad, who co-wrote and directed the series premiere.


Lori Rackl for Rotten Tomatoes: What made you want to resurrect the Evil Dead franchise?

Sam Raimi: There’s a small but very dedicated fan base for the Evil Dead films. At every other film promotion we’d do throughout the years, we kept hearing, “When’s the next Evil Dead film?” We tried to satisfy them by doing a [2013] remake with a really good filmmaker, Fede Alvarez. I really liked his movie. I think the audience really liked it, too. We thought that would end it. It didn’t. We heard, “That’s good, but we really want to see Bruce Campbell playing that role again.” That’s why we’re making this. We’ve never done this before, where we’re answering the fans.

Rotten Tomatoes: Why do it on the small screen?

Raimi: The Evil Dead movies have been mildly successful, but there’s never been an Evil Dead movie that’s a hit. Through time they’ve developed a following. What’s great is we don’t have to make a movie that’s going to be a hit — a movie that’ll be taken off the screens if it isn’t — and Evil Dead movies never are. With this scenario, we’ll be on TV for 10 episodes. It’s going to have a chance to develop an audience, which is a good thing for Evil Dead.

 

 

Rotten Tomatoes: Evil Dead has spawned sequels, comic book series, video games — even a musical. Why does it resonate?

Raimi: I don’t know exactly, but I’d guess that it’s Ash. He’s a monster-fighting hero, something that shouldn’t be so rare. A lot of horror movies have really good characters like Jason or Freddy. They’re the villains of the piece. This is more of an old-fashioned guy who fights monsters. People like a horror movie with a hero. I think they also really like Bruce Campbell. He’s funny, charismatic. They like that he’s an idiot and selfish and a blowhard. He’s the one they’re stuck with, the one who has to rise up and do battle with these monsters. He’s an unusual choice for a hero.

Rotten Tomatoes: Your beloved 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 is back for another cameo…

Raimi: That was my mother’s car. When it came time to make Evil Dead, we needed a car we could endanger and possibly hurt. It was the old family car so we used it. When it came time to make the sequel, that car had to be in it. Whenever we needed a car for a movie, we’d borrow it. It’s run over a lot of dummies. It’s had love scenes played in it. It’s had chase scenes. It’s traveled through time. It’s been turned into a death-coaster in Army of Darkness. And now, it’s traveled to New Zealand to make an appearance.

 

 

Rotten Tomatoes: You went to high school with Bruce. When did Rob enter the picture?

Raimi: He was a friend of my brother Ivan. Rob saw that I was a moviemaker and I think that titillated him. We made a film with Ivan my freshman year at Michigan State University. We charged admission and made a tremendous amount of money, even though that wasn’t our goal. We thought we’d make enough to pay back the cost of the room and the advertisements. All of a sudden, instead of making $4.50 an hour being a projectionist for the school, we’d split a pot of $300 just for showing our movie. We started to learn there’s a public out there and they buy tickets. Sitting in those shows at Michigan State was a great learning experience. People would tell you, “This sucks,” and you’d think, ‘I better cut that scene down.’ Or, if they really laughed at a scene, we’d go out that weekend and shoot more of those jokes and cut them in for the next week’s show. We really learned what a paying audience liked and didn’t like.

Rotten Tomatoes: You’ve been involved with so many movies over the years. Where do you rank the Evil Dead franchise in your career?

Raimi: It’s probably the closest to my heart. It’s something we conceived ourselves. It’s where I got my start. As much as I loved working with the great cast of Spider-Man or great [actors] like Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe, I really like the down-home quality of the Evil Dead films and their pure desire for rock ‘n’ roll entertainment for the audience.

Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres this Saturday, Oct. 31, on Starz at 9 p.m. Read season one reviews here.

Ash vs Evil Dead

 

B-movie star and best-selling author Bruce Campbell is ready to kick some Ash as the eponymous hero of Starz’s new Evil Dead series. We caught up with Groovy Bruce on the set of Ash vs. Evil Dead in Auckland, New Zealand, where the actor with the killer chin talked about what’s wrong with today’s horror shows and why Standards & Practices can kiss his ass.


Lori Rackl for Rotten Tomatoes: It’s been a long time since we last saw Ash. What’s he been up to all these years?

Campbell: Jack s–t. Hiding from responsibility in Michigan, which is a good place to hide. He’s had some sex over the last 30 years — always meaningless. He’s been living what he thinks is a normal life, but it’s really kind of a depressing life. Now, he’s had greatness thrust upon him through the actions of his own misdeeds.

Rotten Tomatoes: Does it blow your mind that you’re here in New Zealand with your high school buddy (director Sam Raimi), making a TV show based on a film you shot in 1979?

Campbell: How could it not? It’s even weirder being directed by Sam again as that character. I’m as astounded as anyone that we’re here. It’s ridiculous. Just the fact that all the pieces came together … Rob [Tapert] had established a really good set-up here as a producer for years. Sam had become a big feature guy. I’d just finished seven years on Burn Notice, which at the time was the number-one show on cable. We were all busy, but it all came together.

 

 

Rotten Tomatoes: How much pressure did fans put on you for more Evil Dead?

Campbell: I get tormented at all these conventions I go to. I’ve been going to them since ’88, and even then they were saying, “Give us another one,” because we’d only done two at that point. We did Army of Darkness 24 years ago, which is a lifetime in and of itself. We did the Evil Dead remake two years ago. It was well received but people still weren’t fully satisfied. They’re like, “Thanks for trying to distract us. We want the real thing.”

Rotten Tomatoes: Is there an upside to doing this as a TV series instead of another movie?

Campbell: The characterization we have to do for Ash for 10 episodes is so much more than we’d do in one movie. I’ve only done six hours worth of this character. At the end of one season, there will be five new hours — almost as much as three movies. I’ll probably have more dialogue in this than I had in the Evil Dead movies combined.”

Rotten Tomatoes: Sam has been known to put his actors through the wringer, physically. At 57, you’re a little older than when you guys started. Is it tough to keep up?

Campbell: I’ll do more than the average actor, but I’m smart enough to know why stunt guys exist.

 

Ash vs Evil Dead

 

Rotten Tomatoes: You and Sam go way back as childhood friends growing up in suburban Detroit. Did you bond over a love of horror movies?

Campbell: Horror had nothing to do with it. All the early, amateur stuff we did in high school — the Super 8s — it was all comedy based on, like, The Three Stooges. All broad, slapstick comedy. Sam is one of the funniest guys you’ll ever see on camera. He just ended up behind the camera. Sam claims it was Rob who said, “If you’re going to make a movie, you’ve got to make a horror movie, something people will pay to see.” That’s why we threw down with horror. We weren’t even really interested in it.

Rotten Tomatoes: What’s the ratio of horror-to-comedy in Ash vs Evil Dead?

Campbell: It’s 70/30 in horror’s favor. You have to take the horror seriously but there’s gags aplenty. Most people, when they do horror it’s just grim. It’s The Walking Dead. No jokes allowed. That never really appealed to us. The first Evil Dead movie isn’t meant to be camp, although it’s hokey dialogue said by inexperienced actors, so you’re going to get unintentional laughs. And the movie has really extreme violence. Sometimes that will create giggles in and of itself. But the second one was co-written by Scott Spiegel, who’s the biggest fan of the The Three Stooges. That one took on the first hint of weirdness. And Army of Darkness is really just an adventure movie. It’s not even really horror.

 

Ash vs Evil Dead

 

Rotten Tomatoes: Did the network ask you to tone anything down for TV?

Campbell: We found a good home on Starz. We had multiple suitors for this — it’s a good, under-exploited property — but Starz is the only company we went to. Story-wise they’re involved, but in the execution of it they never go, “Golly, do we need to say the F word?” Or, “Should that character be smoking?” Standards & Practices, they can kiss my ass because it relates to freedom of expression. Creative freedom is everything in this business. Without it, you have nothing.

Rotten Tomatoes: Starz also has a reputation for quickly giving new shows a second season.

Campbell: From your lips to Starz’s ears.

Ash vs. Evil Dead, which was renewed for a second season on Wednesday, premieres this Saturday, Oct. 31, on Starz at 9 p.m. Read season one reviews here.

Survivors-Hall-of-Fame

The most successful horror franchises tend to feature protagonists audiences can root for — heroes that viewers hope will beat the odds and emerge from their respective situations victorious and, well, alive. With that in mind, we here at RT decided to look back at some of cinema’s most stubborn survivors, those characters that somehow managed to avoid being offed in multiple horror movies.

Needless to say, you may want to avoid what follows below if you’re allergic to spoilers. Without further ado, here are our choices for the Horror Movie Survivor Hall of Fame!


Ellen Ripley

Ellen-Ripley

Survived: The Alien Franchise

You can’t keep a good woman down. Case in point: Ellen Ripley. Even if she only survived two-and-three-quarters of the first three Alien films, the DNA in her blood cells was enough to create a pretty killer replica (which gives us all hope for future Chuck Norris clones, but we digress).

Ripley could have gone the way of Dr. Frank Poole a whole bunch of times throughout the series. As the only survivor of the Nostromo (not counting Jones the cat), she still could have been torn to shreds when the alien hid on her shuttle. In Aliens, Ripley and a few of her compatriots survived a tough battle with the Alien Queen aboard the Sulaco. Even a universe-saving suicide in Alien 3 barely slows Ripley down — the follow-up isn’t called Alien Resurrection for nothing. How does she do it? Our guess is those decades-long stasis naps do a body good.


Ash Williams

Ash-Williams

Survived: The Evil Dead Franchise

You can possess him with a few demons. You can chop off his hand. Hell, you can even send him back through time. But the one thing you cannot do to Ashley “Ash” Williams: keep him down for good.The same can’t be said of Ash’s friends, who, in the first two Evil Deads offer up a survival rate of exactly zero. Ash is actually supposed to have died in the final frames of The Evil Dead, but the sequel retcons the whole thing, causing him to re-endure a gory getaway in the forest cabin. In the process, he loses his hand, but hey, chainsaw hand as replacement.

In the final Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Ash is sent to 1300 AD. His only way to get back to the present time and his job at S-Mart: Going through a horde of the undead (led by an Ash clone) to retrieve the Necronomicon, the book of the dead. Groovy.


 Dr. Frankenstein

Dr-Frankenstein

Survived: The Frankenstein Series by Hammer Films

Some folks just don’t know when to quit. You’d think that Baron Victor von Frankenstein would reconsider his diabolical experiments in reanimation after nearly getting his dome lopped off in The Curse of Frankenstein, but no; this guy’s got a one-track mind. Unlike the Frankenstein of Mary Shelley and the Universal movies, our man Vic (played with eyebrow-raised relish by Peter Cushing) doesn’t evolve from hubristic to guilt-ridden — he’s pretty much a murderous mad scientist from minute one. After surviving the guillotine in The Curse of Frankenstein, the Baron continued his artificial life experiments in a bunch of Hammer films (either five or six, depending on whether you count the Cushing-free The Horror of Frankenstein as part of the cannon — many don’t). It’s pretty amazing that Frankenstein can perpetually stay one step ahead of death, given that angry townspeople, public officials, and even his own stitched-up creations are always trying to kill him.


Tommy Jarvis

Tommy-Jarvis

Survived: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th, Part V – A New Beginning, Friday the 13th, Part VI – Jason Lives

The Friday the 13th series only had two protagonists who would carry themselves into sequels. The first was the original camp survivor who would be unceremoniously offed in Part II‘s opening sequence. The other: Tommy Jarvis. He first appeared in arguably the series’ best installment, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, as a young boy vacationing with his single mother and sister. With a penchant for masks, he and his sister succeed in confusing Jason, before Tommy is taken over by madness and hacks poor ol’ Jason Voorhees to death. The ambigious final shot of The Final Chapter suggests he has taken on an evil spirit.

In the godawful sequel, A New Beginning, Tommy is a taciturn mental patient, drifting in and out of institutions. As copycat murders begin around him, he suspects that his psychosis is taking over under the cover of night. Turns out the killer was just a disgruntled paramedic. In his final appearance, Jason Lives, Tommy attempts to tear Jason’s corpse asunder, but a steel pipe left in his heart attracts a bolt of lightning and Jason is resurrected. Ultimately, Tommy lures him back to the lake and to a watery grave. But we all know how long the dead stay dead in horror movies, don’t we?


Laurie Strode

Laurie-Strode

Survived: Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween H20Halloween (2007)

It’s no wonder that Laurie Strode takes a breather every couple of Halloween installments; neither sleep nor time nor even a franchise reboot can rid her of Michael Myers. In the original Halloween, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived the babysitting gig from hell, successfully keeping Michael Myers at bay (though he killed a couple of her friends). In Halloween II, she learned why she’d been stalked — it turned out that she was a blood relative of the knife-wielding psycho.

Laurie lay low for the next four Halloweens, but reemerged in Halloween H2O; she had faked her own death and changed her name, but she couldn’t stay hidden from her brother forever. Unfortunately, Myers finally got the best of Laurie in Halloween: Resurrection. Rob Zombie’s 2007 franchise reboot began at the beginning of the Laurie Strode story, with Scout Taylor-Compton stepping into the role; whether this incarnation of Laurie Strode shows the same survival instinct as the first remains to be seen.


Dr. Loomis

Dr-Loomis

Survived: The Halloween Franchise

Most psychology PhDs don’t receive gun training in school, tranquilizer or otherwise. Not sure about cursed zombie entrapment (that could be covered during mandatory intern hours), but Dr. Samuel James Loomis is somehow capable of all these things. At one point in Halloween 4, he agilely escaped death by diving behind some convenient barrels while his unkillable former patient took out a gas tank with a truck, causing a near-fatal explosion.

Dr. Loomis’ constant attempts at shooting Michael Myers really only impeded the guy’s momentum. It only took the first two films for Loomis to realize that bullets just wouldn’t work. At the end of II, he decided to be the martyr and blow both Michael and himself up using a combo of oxygen and ether.

Oh wait… but they both survive — somehow. Maybe Loomis got the explosive recipe wrong. But that’s great because then we got him for four more films! In those films we saw him use Michael’s female prey as bait to lure him into a trap consisting of a metal net, a tranquilizer gun, and his fists. But it was when he used his shrink skills to reason with the monster that we thought, “Oh yeah, that’s what he was trained to do.”


Kirsty Cotton

Kristy-Cotton

Survived: The Hellraiser Franchise

Puzzle boxes were all the rage in the 1980s. Of course, when Kirsty Cotton played with one, she suffered the consequences: the opening of another realm filled with sado-masochistic Cenobytes led by none other than Pinhead himself. Pinhead’s posse included Butterball, Chatterer, and the Female. After attacks from a deceptive dead-skin-wearing uncle, a group of deal-reneging “explorers” from another realm, and a stepmother hell-bent on devouring her boyfriend, Kirsty even withstood a trip to the Cenobyte realm. In Hellraiser III, she existed only through old interview footage, but she returned in Hellseeker with some gruesome tricks up her sleeve.

Being orphaned could inspire one to focus on new hobbies and interests, like mastering such a puzzle box, incidentally called the “Lament Configuration.” That, and a propensity for turning the tables on your loved ones, could be all you need to survive when confronted by violent unearthly beings that thrive on the pleasures of pain.


Nancy Thompson

Nancy-Thompson

Survived: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

How exactly does one defeat a nemesis who manifests himself in the dream world and makes nightmares come true? Nancy Thompson seemed to have figured out the trick, but not before notorious burn victim Freddy Krueger dispatched a good number of her friends and family in gruesome ways.

After Freddy skewered her BFFs and effectively turned her boyfriend into a bloody geyser in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy somehow managed to escape, only to meet her end in Part 3: Dream Warriors. But here’s the kicker: Freddy actually came after the actress who played Nancy, Heather Langenkamp, in Wes Craven’s [very meta] New Nightmare, in which he also terrorized director Craven himself and the man who portrayed him in the movies, Robert Englund. Whoa… And maybe, you might think, a name change would help protect poor Nancy, but Freddy’s too smart for that.


Jill Tuck

Jill-Tuck

Survived: Saw III through Saw 3D

Throughout all the twists and turns of the Saw franchise, one woman emerged as the series’ unlikely hero (seriously, the bad guys got waaay more screen time than the goodies): Jill Tuck, the ex-wife of serial killer Jigsaw. Jill was a rehabilitation clinic director who suffered a miscarriage after an assault from a junkie, prompting Jigsaw’s descent into madness.

Despite the Saw series’ brutally high body count, Jill survived five filmed appearances. After Jigsaw’s death in Saw III, she received a mysterious box via his will. For a while, her role as either protagonist or antagonist was up in the air, making her the most compelling character outside of Jigsaw himself. Then it was revealed her final role in Jigsaw’s twisted blueprint was to “test” his apprentice, crazy corrupt cop Mark Hoffman. Jill almost took him out, but was eventually killed in the final Saw with the infamous reverse bear trap.


Cindy Campbell

Cindy-Campbell

Survived: The first four Scary Movie movies

A high-school-student-turned-college-student-turned-anchorwoman-turned-professional-boxer-turned-caregiver, Cindy Campbell knows how to throw down and maybe even snap some necks. Her response to a home-attack by Ghostface? What else? Throw a HOUSE PARTY! That would be the safest thing to do, right? But everyone ended up dead. Go figure. Her Matrix-like aerial fighting skills got her through another night, but could she survive a wedgie in Scary Movie 2? Turns out… she could and did!

This one was handy though. Only Cindy Campbell could MacGyver random objects into a tractor, allowing her to crash through the door of a refrigerator she was locked in. Even a UN nude-ray couldn’t stop this savvy ingénue. At one point, an alien Command tripod ensnared her with Venus flytraps in a grimy old bathroom, and she was instructed to find the key to free herself and her friend Brenda. The key was located behind her eye, but it wasn’t a problem for Cindy. She’s got a glass eye (old bar fight injury).

Cindy has survived a lot. She’s slick and sagacious. But we’re still not sure whether she’s still with us, since she sat out Scary Movie 5.


Sidney Prescott

Sidney-Prescott

Survived: The Scream Franchise

Poor Sidney Prescott. She survived an entire franchise dedicated to her demise, and it really all came down to reasons that were far beyond her control. What’s that saying about “the sins of the father” (or, in this case, mother)? Yeah, Sidney sort of represents the epitome of the adage.

Consider this: Sidney’s own boyfriend, Billy, played the long con on her and ultimately tried to off her in the first Scream because Sidney’s mom broke apart his parents’ marriage — yikes. But it got worse: who should come around for revenge in Scream 2 but Billy’s mom herself, understandably upset, along with an accomplice who just wanted to be famous for killing Sidney. Scream 3 saw Sidney terrorized by a half brother she never knew she had, upset about being rejected by their mother, and 4‘s Ghostface Killer turned out to be Sidney’s own cousin, itching to get a taste of Sidney’s fame. Sidney is safe and sound as of now, of course, but you never know; there might be a great granduncle or a step-niece just rarin’ for a go at her.


Alice

Alice

Survived: The Resident Evil Franchise

At first, it wouldn’t appear that the Umbrella Corporation of the Resident Evil films planned very well for a possible outbreak of their zombifying T-virus. In fact, the soldiers sent to Umbrella’s secret lab in 2002’s Resident Evil spent most of their time simply trying to survive.

But even in the face of this population-decimating epidemic, there was one particular survivor who eventually went on the offensive for the good of all mankind, and her name was Alice. The folks at Umbrella must have spotted her potential, too, because in Apocalypse (2004), they outfitted Alice with some genetic modifications, and in Extinction (2007), they even cloned her in hopes of building a butt-kicking army. She’s survived attacks by all kinds of mutations, speedy, strong, and grotesque, but she hasn’t fallen yet. Alice and Umbrella both know the whole ordeal is Umbrella’s fault, and her quest to bring them to justice continues through to the franchise’s sixth installment, which is scheduled to open next year.

Check out some of the scariest and sexy-scariest horror posters ever unleashed by the true terrors of filmmaking: the marketing department.


There have been so many horror remakes that there’s no way we could cover them all at once. We did, however, decide to collect a sampling list, making room for some of the best, worst, and most puzzlingly misguided examples from the genre. Let’s get started, shall we?


The Amityville Horror (2005) 23%

Amytville
Like many of the movies on this week’s list, the latter-day Amityville Horror was produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes — and like more than a few of them, it suffered in comparison to the original. Which is a shame, because Amityville‘s central story — about a young family moving into a horrifically haunted house — is both devilishly simple and allegedly fact-based, which has helped the franchise retain its aura even through a series of sometimes-silly sequels and spinoffs. Unfortunately, despite a talented cast that included Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, and a young(er) Chloe Grace Moretz, this Horror was mainly scary for the studio execs who had to account for its $64 million domestic gross, which sentenced the franchise to years of direct-to-DVD purgatory.

 


The Blob (1988) 62%

The-Blob
Inspired by the way David Cronenberg used modern special effects and less-campy storytelling to amp up the horror in The Fly, Hollywood spent a portion of the late 1980s rushing to the vaults and searching for other long-dormant properties that might benefit from the remake treatment. Hence 1988’s The Blob, in which an alien goo plops down in a small town and starts gorging on its unsuspecting residents. It was just as fantastically cheesy a premise as it had been in 1958, when Steve McQueen starred in the original — but thanks to a solid screenplay from future Shawshank Redemption director/adapter Frank Darabont, as well as a (slightly) more believable Blob, it managed to just about reach the rather low bar set by its predecessor, which is about all one can hope for when making a film about hungry interstellar plasma.

 


Cat People (1982) 61%

Cat-Peopl-1982
The original Cat People, produced on the cheap by Val Lewton in 1942, emphasized suggestion over explicit horror; four decades later, director Paul Schrader used the movie’s central idea — about people whose sexual desires trigger a sometimes-deadly feline transformation — as the basis for a steamy softcore flick that made up for its lack of genuine scares with an abundance of Natassja Kinski and a cool soundtrack featuring David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder. While it may not be the most terrifying movie on this list, it’s probably one of the hardest to turn away from if you happen across it on the cable dial during a bout of late-night viewing.

 


The Crazies (2010) 70%

The-crazies
“WHY ARE THE GOOD PEOPLE DYING?” screamed the poster for George A. Romero’s paranoid The Crazies about the side effects of a military accident that resulted in a small American town being poisoned with a biological weapon that turns people into violent lunatics. Sadly, the tagline for Romero’s 1973 effort might as well have been “WHY WON’T MOST THEATERS SHOW THE CRAZIES?,” because the picture died with a whimper at the box office — but a good idea always turns up again in the horror genre, and in 2010, director Breck Eisner repurposed Romero’s original to create a sleek, gleefully nasty update that managed a surprisingly robust 71 percent on the Tomatometer. Alas, while Eisner’s Crazies at least made it to wide release, they didn’t fare a whole lot better at the box office, managing to slash together ony $54 million worldwide. The result of a military-industrial conspiracy, perhaps?

 


Dawn of the Dead (2004) 76%

Dawn-of-the-Dead
Did George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead really need a remake? Perhaps not. But if we were going to get one, it might as well have been one that blended the the visual wizardry of director Zack Snyder with a screenplay from future Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn, and that’s just what we got with this 2004 “re-envisioning” of the zombie classic. Using the original’s basic framework as an effective delivery mechanism for a fresh round of gruesome gore and heart-pumping action, the new Dawn proved surprisingly bright for most critics, including Aisle Seat’s Mike McGranaghan, who wrote, “Dawn of the Dead is ultra-violent, excessively bloody, and extremely gory — all in a good way. I left the theater feeling pumped full of adrenaline.”

 


Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010) 60%

Dont-Be-Afraid
It might seem a little odd to base a horror remake on a TV movie from the 1970s, but the original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark — starring Kim Darby as a housewife whose new home comes with some nasty little tenants lurking in the basement — is a cult classic for aficionados of the genre, so a theatrical version was probably inevitable. Given that the 2011 edition was co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, fans had reason to be hopeful that the remade Dark would be even scarier than the first; alas, after being trapped in studio limbo for months due to Miramax’s shuttering, director Troy Nixey’s update on the story — which focused on an eight-year-old (Bailee Madison) and her father’s girlfriend (Katie Holmes) — was greeted with lukewarm indifference by audiences and critics alike. Perhaps some things are just more frightening on the boob tube.

 


Evil Dead (2013) 63%

Evil-Dead-Remake
How in the world do you put together a remake of one of the most beloved horror-comedy cult classics of the last 40 years? If you’re director Fede Alvarez, you film a new version of Evil Dead with production input from creator Sam Raimi and original star Bruce Campbell, a much bigger budget, and a far more serious take on the story of young campers who unwittingly unleash a demon plague while goofing around with the Book of the Dead. The amped-up gore in Alvarez’s Evil Dead certainly wasn’t for everyone, but it arguably made more sense, given the film’s narrative outline — and the resultant uptick in attention to the franchise helped lead to the subsequent TV series Ash vs. Evil Dead.

 


The Fly (1986) 93%

The-Fly-1984
The original version of The Fly, released in 1958, was a Vincent Price classic that didn’t really need to be remade, but that didn’t stop producer Stuart Cornfield (working with an uncredited Mel Brooks) from getting the ball rolling on a new version. After several years in development, plenty of studio struggle, and some turnover at the screenwriter and director positions, Cornfield had his movie: David Cronenberg’s gorier, more suspenseful take on The Fly, which went back to George Langelaan’s 1957 short story and emerged with one of the more delightfully suspenseful horror/sci-fi movies of the 1980s. Unfortunately, Cronenberg’s Fly — starring Jeff Goldblum as the ill-fated scientist whose experiments leave his DNA accidentally intertwined with the titular pest, and Geena Davis as the woman who loves him — was too successful to prevent a sequel: 1989’s rather uninspired The Fly II. Rumors of another remake (and a quasi-sequel penned by Cronenberg) have popped up over the years, but it’s all been for naught. So far, anyway.

 


Friday the 13th (2009) 26%

Friday
Featuring a “star” hidden behind a hockey mask and a brilliantly low-budget conceit that needed nothing more than anonymous young actors capable of screaming in various states of undress, the Friday the 13th series was one of the most reliably profitable horror franchises of the 1980s — and ripe for the reboot treatment in the 21st century. Platinum Dunes did the honors in 2009, reimagining the murderous Jason Voorhees as more of a lethal maniac and less of a lumbering dolt, with cooler special effects and plenty of T&A; once again, the formula worked, producing plenty of pure profit for the studio and signaling that perhaps a new slew of sequels was on the horizon. Alas, Jason slumbered for the next several years, although he’s currently set to terrorize a fresh batch of Crystal Lake campers on May 13, 2016.

 


Fright Night (2011) 72%

Fright-Night
If director Craig Gillespie had polled horror fans in 2011 and asked them if he really needed to remake 1985’s Fright Night, the answer probably would have been a resounding “no”; after all, the original was not only a surprise hit, it had matured into a solid favorite among scary movie lovers, and little seemed to be gained by updating the story of a horror-loving teen (William Ragsdale) who makes the awful discovery that his new neighbor (Chris Sarandon) is secretly a vampire. While it may not have been strictly necessary, the new Fright Night — starring Anton Yelchin as young Charley Brewster and Colin Farrell as the undead addition to the neighborhood — proved surprisingly potent, with Farrell’s charismatic performance matching Gillespie’s confident lens. While box office returns were fairly weak, the remake brought the Fright Night franchise back to life, with a direct-to-video sequel arriving in 2013.

 


Halloween (2007) 28%

Halloween-Remake
By the 2000s, producer Moustapha Akkad’s once-proud Halloween franchise had fallen on hard times, with deathless serial killer Michael Myers resurfacing in a series of low-budget sequels that bore little resemblance to John Carpenter’s classic 1978 original. All that was left was to start over from the beginning — and that’s what director Rob Zombie did with 2007’s Halloween, which retold Myers’ gruesome origin story and returned him to poor, unfortunate Haddonfield, Illinois for a gorier version of his first grown-up killing spree. While Zombie had previously flirted with critical respectability with 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects, his Halloween mustered a mere 25 percent on the Tomatometer — not as high as 1982’s much-maligned Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but still better than the sixth installment in the series, 1995’s The Curse of Michael Myers, and good enough to greenlight a sequel (dubbed H2) in 2009. A planned 3D follow-up eventually fell off the schedule, but the next sequel, reportedly titled Halloween Returns, is currently in development.

 


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) 92%

Body-Snatchers

If Gus Van Sant’s Psycho serves as an argument against remakes, then the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers offers an equally persuasive rebuttal. While the 1956 original is one of the most highly regarded sci-fi/horror movies of its era, director Philip Kaufman’s update matched it with a thrillingly gritty, ensemble-driven look at what might happen if alien spores landed on Earth and started sprouting eerily emotionless replicas of our friends and loved ones. Sharpening up the special effects without overly relying on them, the new-look Body Snatchers featured solid performances from a stellar cast that included Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum — and although it definitely made its share of money at the box office in 1978, if anything it’s even more highly regarded today. Here’s hoping Kaufman’s Snatchers continues to stand as the most recent version of the movie for many more years to come.

 


My Bloody Valentine (2009) 61%

My-Bloody-Valentine
If you’re looking for fright value, bad guys don’t come much more elegantly brutal than a bloodthirsty lunatic with a pickaxe, which might be why the low-budget 1981 Canadian slasher flick My Bloody Valentine — about a miner who survives a collapse by dining on his fellow crew members, goes crazy before being rescued, and wages murderous revenge — proved even more potent when its 3D remake surfaced in 2009. And although it may not have generated blockbuster numbers at the box office, it fared surprisingly well with critics; it can’t be long before we’re treated to yet another Bloody Valentine.

 


A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) 15%

Nightmare-on-Elm-Street-Remake
Given how much money the Nightmare on Elm Street movies made for New Line during the 1980s and early 1990s, remakes and/or reboots were probably always a matter of course; problem was, the series was just as memorable for Robert Englund’s outstanding performance in the role of series killer Freddy Krueger as it was for its scores of inventive on-screen murders. Faced with the unsolvable problem of replacing Englund, the folks at Platinum Dunes hired Jackie Earle Haley to take over the part for their 2010 reboot — and although Haley is certainly a talented actor, and more than capable of exuding a sinister aura, he isn’t as physically imposing as Englund. Add that to a story that hit many of the same beats as the original, and the end result was a movie that, while certainly profitable, failed to land with as much impact as it had the first (eight) time(s) around.

 


Nosferatu (1979) 95%

Nosferatu
Werner Herzog’s filmography offers more than a few case studies in audaciousness, not the least of which is 1979’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht. Occasionally referred to by its less cool English title, Nosferatu the Vampyre, this remake of F.W. Murnau’s classic 1922 silent film finds Klaus Kinski stepping into the bloodsucking role so memorably inhabited by Max Schreck, with all parties involved acquitting themselves admirably. No less a cinematic authority than Roger Ebert agreed, writing that “To say of someone that they were born to play a vampire is a strange compliment, but if you will compare the two versions of Nosferatu you might agree with me that only Kinski could have equaled or rivaled Max Schreck’s performance.”

 


Psycho (1998) 39%

Psycho
Of all the remakes on our list, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho embraces the concept more eagerly than most, delivering a somewhat bafflingly precise update on the 1960 Hitchcock classic with a shot-for-shot replication that, while assembled and acted by talented creative types, exhibited no real creativity of its own. But while Van Sant’s Psycho wound up bottoming out at a rather miserable 37 percent on the Tomatometer, he dodged a few bullets in at least one sense — unlike a lot of remakes of classic films, his attempt to re-Hitchcock Hitchcock inspired more critical bafflement than anger or derision. Ultimately, the 1998 Psycho serves as a perfectly persuasive (albeit most likely unintentional) argument against remakes in general.

 


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) 37%

Texas-Massacre
A man, a plan, a chainsaw. Oh, and a facemask made out of human skin. It may not sound like much, but from the moment 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre terrified its first audiences, it’s served as the basis for one of the horror genre’s more surprisingly durable franchises — in spite of the mostly miserable track record suffered by its spate of periodic prequels, sequels, and spinoffs. The horror remake enthusiasts at Platinum Dunes tried to take things back to the beginning (again) with their 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and although most critics claimed time had dulled Leatherface’s blade, audiences still turned out to the tune of more than $100 million in box office grosses. Yet another prequel followed in 2006,  followed by a 3D sequel to the original in 2013, and the origin story Leatherface is currently scheduled for 2016. Confused? Don’t think too hard; in the end, it all goes back to those first simple ingredients.

 


The Wicker Man (2006) 15%

Wicker
There are worse (and far, far better) horror remakes than Neil LaBute’s update on The Wicker Man, but we absolutely had to include it here, because no other film provides its particular brand of sheer, cackling lunacy. While it’s misguided on just about every level, the 2006 Wicker is chiefly noteworthy thanks to Nicolas Cage’s presence as police detective Edward Malus, whose journey to a secluded island in search of his abducted daughter ends very badly for all concerned — including any audience members not prepared for the unforgettable sight of Cage punching a woman in the face while wearing a bear suit, or the equally memorable sound of Cage screaming “Oh God! Not the bees!” Avoid it if you’re looking for truly scary viewing, but it still needs to be seen in order to be believed.


En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.

Sometimes they come back from the dead…again! And sometimes…they never come back at all. That’s what happened to the horror movies in this gallery: they never got the sequel they deserved, so we’re dreaming up our own. You’re welcome, Hollywood!


[Spoiler alert for the whole gallery!]


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