In the horror genre, there are a few hard-and-fast rules: The killer always comes back for one more scare, you can't kill Michael Myers, and remakes are inevitable. Usually, when a beloved horror film is remade, rebooted, or retooled, the old cast is tossed aside for fresh blood.
In many instances, when a new actor takes over a beloved role from a fan favorite, it doesn't really work out. Typically, the worse the remake, the worse the recasting, but some of the least-loved horror remakes actually recast roles in the best way possible.
Even if you love some of the remakes that we're talking about today, they have more detractors than they do people who shout their praises from the rooftops. At least they perfectly recast these key roles.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
The very nature of the two timelines in It means that just about every character has to be cast twice in any given adaptation of this Stephen King classic. The wisecracking Richie Tozier is a tough character to cast - if he's too funny, he undercuts the scares, but if he's not funny enough, he doesn't sell the character.
If there's one thing that the It remakes of 2017 and 2019 get right, it's Richie, specifically in It Chapter Two. Bill Hader is able to ground the character in realism because he's a legitimately famous funny person. Not only that, but when he's faced with whatever CGI concoctions Pennywise comes up with, Hader actually looks terrified. We can't say the same for some of the other adult actors in this remake.
- Photo: New Line Cinema
No one needed a remake of Willard, the 1971 movie about a schlubby guy who's able to command rats to take out his enemies. It's a weird little movie that perfectly fits into the "anything goes" 1970s world of filmmaking - but why did we need this in 2003?
Presented as a re-adaptation of the source material (Ratman's Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert), Willard 2K3 plays out like an extended episode of The X-Files, which makes sense because it was written and directed by Glen Morgan - one of the main architects of the beloved sci-fi series. The movie isn't pure trash, but it's not a movie that needs to exist.
All of that being said, Crispin Glover rocks so hard in Willard. Glover brings his gonzo sensibilities to an inherently pulpy film, and he's clearly the only person (or rat!) who knows what kind of movie he's in. He twitches and slinks around like a giant, stretched-out rodent, and whoo, boy, is it weird. The man makes the movie worth watching.
Malcolm McDowell is not in the 2007 remake of Halloween to give a nuanced take on the role of Dr. Loomis, and he's not just here to cash a paycheck. McDowell is in this movie to chew scenery and lose his mind in the third act.
Rather than start out completely unhinged like one Mr. Donald Pleasance, McDowell's take on Loomis eases into the idea that Michael is the embodiment of pure evil. Watching him get to the point is a genuine pleasure, but McDowell never feels out of step with Zombie's tone or his regulars. It's genuinely fascinating to watch him mix so well with this cast of crazies.
Rob Zombie's Halloween remake is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of movie. It's brutal, it's gruesome, and it's filled with Zombie's white trash stock characters. Even if all of that appeals to you, the movie is still kind of lopsided in its first half. It's not until the second half that the Halloween of it all really kicks into gear, and one of the actors that turns the movie around is Danielle Harris as Annie.
Harris became horror royalty before she was a teenager for her star-making roles in the fourth and fifth entries in the Halloween series, so it makes perfect sense that she would be brought in for Zombie's remake. He loves working with genre vets (the cast of this film is basically a horror convention), and Harris fits in perfectly as the sheriff's daughter, Annie.
If anyone feels grounded in this remake of Halloween, it's Harris. Whenever she's on-screen, she makes the story feel real. Everyone else may be playing to the back of the theater, but Harris is subdued and subtle.
- Photo: MGM Distribution Co.
The Amityville Horror rocked the world in 1979 with its story of a Long Island family inundated with ghosts and demons after moving into their dream home. The film does a great job of showing how a family can be ripped apart by outside forces, with James Brolin doing an especially admirable job as the world-weary George Lutz. And sure he's hot, but in a realistic way.
In 2005, Ryan Reynolds was really f*cking hot. He was shredded after starring in Blade: Trinity, a film that's mostly his abs and quips piled on top of Parker Posey trying her hardest to hold everything together like human super glue, so why he was cast as an all-American dad in the 1970s is confusing. That being said, Reynolds is absolutely fantastic in this movie. Over the course of the film, he goes from being a cool stepdad who loves his family to a demon-infested villain who wants to kill everyone with an ax, and it's totally believable.
On top of it all, the man looks so movie-star hot here that it's impossible to take your eyes off him. Okay, so maybe this movie is secretly really good? Or maybe he's just really hot.
- Photo: IFC Midnight6124 VOTES
There's no reason for the remake of Maniac to exist. None. Everything that needed to be said about a serial killer who scalps women and puts their hair on a mannequin was said in 1980, but good gravy, if Elijah Wood doesn't give his all as Frank, the aforementioned serial killer.
No one was clamoring for a Maniac remake, but the allure of seeing Wood start at a 10 and crank himself up to 5,000 is the No. 1 reason to watch this movie. That, and the fact that it's mostly filmed from Wood's POV is absolutely bananas.