I have seen the remakes and the originals and I have a top three of the best remakes (thus far... 'cause Gosh knows there are going to be more). The best remake is not necessarily my favorite, but we'll get to that later.
The number one best horror remake is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In terms of sticking to the original storyline but making improvements where need be; characters; actors; and directing, TCM 2003 was a huge success. As much as you may love that classic original first film by Poltergeist-man himself, Tobe Hooper, you have to admit that the film is seriously flawed. It's a low-budget movie from the 70s with actors that are still unknown to this day. Yes, it has some creepy and gross-out moments (Grandpa sucking the blood off of Marilyn Burns finger?????? So wrong.) and the whole concept of this whacked-out cannibal family and a giant 'tard with a chainsaw is incredibly disturbing, but it doesn't really hold up well over time.
The remake improved the TCM legacy in so many ways. First of all, the characters. The most annoying film character I can think of right now is Franklin (the guy in the wheelchair) from the original. So they totally cut him out. Yea! Now add in Jessica Biel, a hippy chick, and three modestly good-looking guys and you've got a pretty good cast. There's no overly blatant stereotypes among the kids, no bitch or slut, or douchebag dude that the girls seem to love even if he is a douchebag... just some normal people in their 20s. They got good actors who took the film and their characters seriously and really turned it out.
The best and most memorable characters, though, are of course the members of the Hewitt family. In the original they were all kind of skanky, dirty, back woods dudes. They gave these new characters some real thought and got great actors, again, to play these roles. R Lee Ermy as the sheriff is the most memorable. An awesome character actor who really gets into his roles (maybe a little too much) and makes them special. Uncle Monty, no legs man in the wheelchair, is perhaps not as well developed, we just see him as a pervert because he keeps grabbing Jessica Biel's ass while she's helping him into his wheelchair. I don't know who the actress is who played the mother but she was absolutely fantastic. An old crone, the HBIC, just as disgusting and depraved as the men in her family. She can hold her own. Leatherface's character didn't really change much, but he didn't need to. Big guy, mind of a child, but knows how to work his power tools. You feel sorry for him, maybe, but not really when he's chasing you around the house with a chainsaw.
The action and chase sequences were awesome (although we didn't get a reboot of the famous dinner table scene until Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), with great set design and locations. The Hewitt house, its basement, the slaughterhouse, the crazy neighbors' trailer... they all give you a great sense of time and place in the context of the film. Set design was especially helpful in getting the real feel of the film. The whole movie is just DIRTY. Dirty characters, dirty deeds, dirty houses. The people in the movie are sweaty and dirty like they haven't showered in a few weeks. The house and other sets are dirty, cluttered, dripping with water, covered in dried blood - ook! I just wanted to jump into the movie and hose down everybody and everything I could touch.
They totally upped the gore and violence and I loooooove that. The movie can't be called Texas Chainsaw Massacre and not have someone getting their leg cut off or getting split down the crotch with a chainsaw. So thank you, filmmakers, for that. You know what we want.
All in all, great improvement on character, great actions, great gore and violence. Awesome horror film, that is just as good as, if not better than, the original.
The number 2 remake is coming next blog.