When Hollywood producers run out of ideas for new, engaging film concepts, they inevitably start scouring the past for a popular movie to remake. Unfortunately, the results are often terrible, and lead to appalling re-imaginings of some pretty great cult films.
If you’re wondering which of these ridiculously bad remakes you need to avoid like the plague, we’ve got your back. Pretty much everything in this list is a crime against film.
1. The Wicker Man (2006)
Until recently, I didn’t even know The Wicker Man was a remake; I thought it was just another bad Nicolas Cage movie. However, turns out it’s based on a far superior 1970s British cult classic. The film allegedly had a $40 million budget, but you can barely tell. It’s got poor acting, a worse screenplay, and is so bad that it’s actually unintentionally hilarious. The fact that it spawned no less than two major memes (“NOT THE BEES!” and “HOW’D IT GET BURNED?”) says a lot. I think even the producers had an inkling that it was terrible: there were no advance screenings for critics to attend prior to the movie’s release. They clearly wanted to delay the bad press for as long as possible.
2. Fame (2009)
The original Fame was one of the quintessential movies of the ’80s. It had a banging soundtrack, some weird and wonderful fashion choices (so many legwarmers), and pretty incredible hairstyles. Even though some of its subject matter was pretty grim, it remained light enough to enchant its viewers and become a bona fide classic.
The 2000s remake, on the other hand, stripped away everything that was special about the original and replaced it with acting that’s at best boring. If you want a film about the trials of tribulations of being a drama kid in the Noughties, do yourself a favor and just go and watch High School Musical.
3. Ben Hur (2016)
Why would you even try to remake the 1959 masterpiece that is Ben Hur? It won 11 Academy Awards! The chariot-racing scene is one of the most iconic moments in film history! Surely no remake can even try to live up to that? Well, in 2016, someone tried. The result was a box-office bomb. It feels like the producers tried to cover up the fact that they’d created something dreadful by layering it all in sub-par CGI. The chariot racing comes out looking somehow worse than its 1950s counterpart. No wonder it lost an estimated $100 million theatrically. Even Morgan Freeman doesn’t redeem it.
4. The Karate Kid (2010)
You’d think that a martial arts film starring the legend that is Jackie Chan would be a guaranteed success. You’d be wrong. The weirdest part about it is just how young all of the child characters seem to be. They don’t look like they’ve hit puberty yet, but somehow these characters fall deeply in love with each other. There is no logic here! Plus, kids of their age shouldn’t be trying to prove themselves quite as hard as they do in the film. At that age, I was still trying to prove to my parents that I was responsible enough to walk to school by myself. Anyway, the point is, they should’ve just left it at the original. That film was cute. This one’s a bit creepy.
5. Conan the Barbarian (2011)
This 2011 reboot of a popular 1980s franchise claimed that it was a totally new interpretation of the Conan mythology, and thus shouldn’t be compared to its predecessors. It inevitably was, and the result was extreme disappointment. This movie is a perfect example of totally unnecessary usage of 3D, and a lot of the action seems to serve the sole purpose of making Jason Momoa look cool. Guys, he’s Khal Drogo! He’s already cool! Despite this (and the fact that he’s undeniably a beautiful man), poor Jason just can’t live up to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rather ‘unique’ interpretation of the title character.
6. Bewitched (2005)
The 2005 film Bewitched was some kind of odd remake-ception. It was a remake about a remake of the TV show, and critics generally panned it. Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman had about as much chemistry as a wet fish, and all of the twee, adorable humor of the original TV show disappeared. It’s one of those films that stars so many incredible comedic actors but has an abysmal script that lets them all down. It felt like everyone involved in the making of the film got a bit bored towards the end and gave up on making it good. I know I gave up on watching it.
7. The Pink Panther
When even the presence of Beyoncé can’t save a film, you know it’s bad. The original Pink Panther movies were witty, endearing comedy-mystery films, with Peter Sellers bringing warmth and humor to the bumbling character of Inspector Clouseau. The remake involved Steve Martin faking a dreadful French accent while running about the place trying to do slapstick comedy. The whole concept was a disaster from the onset. Sure, you’ve got Beyoncé in the mix being her sassy, glamorous self, but even that doesn’t make up for how awful the rest of the film is. She didn’t bother to return for the sequel. Wonder why?
8. Mary Poppins (2018)
I know what you’re thinking. How can I know that this reboot is a crime against film when it isn’t even out yet? Well, let me answer that in three words: NO JULIE ANDREWS. Don’t get me wrong, I love Emily Blunt. She’s great in The Devil Wears Prada, and Into the Woods is one of my favorite musical films. However, she’s doomed to failure in this case due to her fatal flaw of not being Julie Andrews. No Mary Poppins film in which Queen Julie isn’t playing the titular character can possibly be worth it. Same goes for Dick Van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep. His Cockney accent may be an abomination, but you just can’t have Mary Poppins without him.
9. The Invasion (2007)
Nicole Kidman is a phenomenal actress, but this is not the first or the last time she’ll be making an appearance on this list. This one is the FOURTH movie remake of Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers and it’s also by far the worst. The first 1956 version has become a legacy, the 1978 version is considered by many to be one of the best remakes of all time, the 1993 one had mixed reviews, but this one bombed. Not only does it have a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, but only made $40.2 million at the box office off of an estimated $65-80 million budget. Nicole and Daniel Craig just couldn’t get it done!
10. Arthur (2011)
Back when he and Katy Perry were still married, Russell Brand decided that it was time to crack the American film market. His attempt at this was Arthur, and things didn’t quite go as Brand had hoped. A half-hearted remake of an acclaimed 1980s comedy, the film was a flop. Brand’s attempt at charm came across as irritating and grating and even he later admitted that starring in the film was a mistake. Despite being a pretty close exact remake of the original, it somehow managed to be an infinitely worse movie. It’s impressive, in a sense, but in a very bad way.
11. Annie (2014)
This is yet another remake that had so much potential. With a star-studded cast and an adorable lead, there was no way it could go wrong! Except it somehow did. The music was painfully autotuned, Cameron Diaz’s overacting was excruciating to watch, and there were multiple inexplicable shots of Jamie Foxx smiling into the camera for no apparent reason. It’s like they were trying use his beautiful face as a distraction from the fact that the movie’s awful. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. It was still a bit of a slog to make it to the end of the film. The original wasn’t the best movie musical ever made, but the remake makes it look Oscar-worthy.
12. Cinderella (2015)
The 2015 live-action remake of Cinderella isn’t a BAD film, per se. It’s just a little bit… pointless. And dull. So dull. To be honest, I’ve always found the original to be one of the weaker Disney animated classics, so I’m not quite sure why this is the one they decided to remake first. They should’ve skipped straight to Beauty and the Beast; it has far better songs and a dancing candlestick! But no. Instead, Disney lumped us with Lily James and Richard Madden pretending to have chemistry, which makes for poor viewing. Likewise, someone clearly went overboard with Richard’s teeth whitener. It’s frankly very distracting. I’d prefer Hilary Duff’s A Cinderella Story any day, tbh.
13. The Mummy (2017)
If I’m honest, the original version of The Mummy is one of my favorite films of all time. The combination of a slightly silly interpretation of Egyptian mythology and Brendan Fraser’s comedic timing made for an enjoyable, if not revolutionary, experience. However, they just HAD to go and ruin it by commissioning a Tom Cruise-based remake. Cruise somehow manages to take what could’ve been a really engaging and interesting role and turn it into a generic cardboard cutout of every Tom Cruise character ever. I think Universal intended this film to herald the start of a new cinematic universe to rival Marvel’s, but I really hope that doesn’t happen. We don’t need that kind of dreariness in our lives.
14. Alfie (2004)
Back in the 1960s, Michael Caine’s portrayal of a cheeky, philandering Cockney limo driver called Alfie was pretty much immediately hailed as iconic. The movie kick-started the now-legendary Caine’s career and got him a Best Actor nomination at that year’s Academy Awards. While Jude Law does an okay job of filling Caine’s shoes, the 2000s remake of this classic comedy-drama isn’t Oscar-worthy by any means. The incredibly chauvinistic and sleazy titular character fits pretty uncomfortably into modern society, and a lot of the humor of the original is absent. Turns out sleazeballs just aren’t that funny anymore.
15. Fantastic Four (2015)
Made before superhero movies were the ‘in’ thing, the original Fantastic Four movie had a lot of charm. It was by no means a game-changing piece of cinema, but it always left me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I mean, for one, it had an adorable young Chris Evans yelling “FLAME ON!” every now and again. It was goofy fluff, and I’m happy it exists. The same isn’t true in the case of the remake. I think they tried to turn it into a more serious, thoughtful movie about a group of outcasts triumphing over adversity. What they actually made was gloomy, boring, and completely humorless. Definitely a bit of a misfire on Marvel’s part, who usually do their superhero films so well!
16. Pirahna 3D (2010)
Where do I even begin with this movie? The original Piranha was a bit of a Jaws rip off, and while it wasn’t too popular when it was first released, it quickly became a cult classic among horror nuts. The remake didn’t exactly get bad reviews, but you do have to wonder whether the world really needed a carnivorous-fish-based horror movie. Plus, the initial action of the movie begins with some really sleazy dude deciding to make a porno at a lake that just happens to have an infestation of killer, flesh-eating fish. As plot goes, it’s a bit lacking, don’t you think?
17. Hocus Pocus (201?)
You might think that including the Hocus Pocus remake on this list is a bit premature since it’s in the very earliest stages of production. It was only announced about a month ago and not even the cast is public knowledge yet. However, I can already tell that it won’t live up to the original, simply because nothing possibly could. Disney has already stated that the original cast won’t be returning, which means Hocus Pocus without Bette Midler. Why would anyone think that’s a good idea? Moreover, you can’t improve on perfection. Don’t even bother trying. Leave our cult films alone!
18. Carrie (2013)
Carrie is one of Stephen King’s most iconic books, and the original 1976 movie is a true horror classic. It’s the perfect ratio of creepy and campy, and Sissy Spacek is perfect for the title role. Inevitably, the remake is nowhere near as good. There was a TV movie version in 2002 (also not good), but it got the true remake treatment in 2013. It boasted an all-star cast of Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, and Ansel Elgort, but it just wasn’t enough. There have been far worse horror remakes, but this one just really didn’t need to exist in the first place.
19. Psycho (1998)
Did I say far worse horror remakes? Yeah. I was talking about Psycho. Alfred Hitchcock’s original 1960 movie is a classic for a reason, but they just had to go and mess with it. The 1998 version was meant to be a shot-for-shot remake, which is code for having no creativity and literally trying to make the exact same movie and get money for it. If you’re going to remake a classic, at least try for something slightly different! Critics ripped the new Psycho to pieces, and it was nominated for multiple Razzie awards. Don’t mess with Hitchcock, it won’t end well.
20. Clash of the Titans (2010)
The original Clash of the Titans was released in 1981, and it definitely shows its age. The special effects in this ancient epic leave something to be desired, but it’s still pretty solid. As is often the case, the remake was a big-budget affair, with tons of money thrown at over the top CGI and 3D. The result was a pretty but lackluster special effects extravaganza, and critics were not supportive. The movie did okay at the box office, and somehow even got a sequel. Sometimes these things just don’t make sense.
21. The Stepford Wives (2004)
The 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives falls in the category of “so bad it’s kind of good.” Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who is indoctrinated into a creepy community of weirdly perfect housewives, but there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. There are some fun campy moments, but a lot of the movie is just kind of cringe-worthy. Matthew Broderick is at his worst, and the talented supporting cast feels like they weren’t given enough to do. The premise here is interesting, but this project just got lost somewhere along the way.
22. Straw Dogs (2011)
The original Straw Dogs, released in 1971, is a psychological thriller that has attained cult classic status. The 2011 remake is no classic, no matter what way you look at it. Most saw it as a similar, but less good movie than the original, and people didn’t like the change of setting from England to Mississippi. For many, the movie was more just unnecessary than particularly bad, but one critic said that watching the movie felt like getting waterboarded. Ouch.
23. Halloween (2007)
Attention Hollywood directors: just say ‘no’ to horror remakes. When Halloween was released in 2007, it was already the ninth movie in the franchise, which is a little ridiculous. Michael Myers just doesn’t have that much to do. The 2007 movie revisited the plot of the original and served as a reboot to start a new series of movies. We’ve heard this story before: the movie was terrible, but it made enough money that now there have been multiple sequels. Like it or not, they might not ever stop making Halloween movies.
24. Planet of the Apes (2001)
Remakes can be very good, or very, very bad. With the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy, we were shown how a classic story can be rebooted in an incredible way that both respects the original story and breaks new, exciting ground. But back in 2001, we got a very different Planet of the Apes reboot. Tim Burton directed this one, and it’s widely referenced as the worst movie of his career. The plot is confusing, and the detailed prosthetic makeup of the apes isn’t enough to make up for that fatal flaw. Luckily, this isn’t the reboot we’re stuck with anymore.
25. Poseidon (2006)
The plot of Poseidon is really pretty simple: fancy boat, big wave, boat sinks. Sure, there are individual characters that you’re supposed to get attached to and root for, but what’s the point? This remake has impressive visual effects going for it, but that’s about it. The 1972 original wasn’t the best movie ever, but it had an impressive cast, and fit with the trend of exciting disaster movies in the ’70s. The remake doesn’t really fit into any category, and it’s not exciting enough to stand out on its own. Also, we have airplanes now, so probably just do that instead of taking a boat across the ocean.
26. Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
There have been two movie adaptations of the classic Jules Verne novel, one very good and one very bad. The original 1956 movie won the Oscar for Best Picture and was an impressive movie for its time. The remake, starring Jackie Chan, was pretty much dead on arrival. They tried to turn it into a family movie, and in the process, they got rid of many of the best parts of the novel and original movie. This one might be fun for little kids, but there’s nothing here really worth paying attention to. Notably, it was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s last movie before becoming Governor of California, but he probably should’ve just skipped it.
27. Guess Who (2005)
Back in the 1960s, the original Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was a new and exciting example of interracial relationships in mainstream movies. It raised a great deal of conversation and was actually fairly progressive in how it dealt with race relations. So why, oh why, did it need to be rebooted with Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac? In trying to reframe the classic story as a romantic comedy, it lost whatever political relevance it would have had in the 2000s, and it had little else going for it. This one is really better off being forgotten.
28. Bad News Bears (2005)
The original 1976 Bad News Bears was a charming baseball comedy that led to two sequels. The 2005 remake was a crass, uninspired effort that didn’t really lead to anything. Billy Bob Thornton does strong work as a washed-up baseball player, but the movie doesn’t really aim very high. The humor is crude and not very good even then, and the whole movie just feels lifeless. It was criticized for sticking too close to the original and failed to make back its modest budget. Sounds like Bad News to me.
29. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Some things are just, why? We’re in the age of every action story ever getting a glossy CGI reboot, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles couldn’t escape. Indeed, the main criticism of this movie is that it didn’t need to happen. The visual effects look good, but there’s not enough to distract from the boring plot and tired pop culture references. Still, the movie got a sequel in 2016, proving yet again that money is obviously the most important factor at all times. The sequel was not a huge success, so it looks like we might be done with turtle movies for now.
30. Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)
As much as I love Lindsay Lohan, I can’t really say anything good about this movie. This is the sixth movie about Herbie, but WHAT is the appeal of this stupid car?! Lindsay plays an aspiring race car driver, and she and the iconic little bug team up to do great things. Coming off the success of movies like Mean Girls and Freaky Friday, this movie is definitely a bit of a letdown (and odd choice) for Lindsay Lohan. She still managed to win a Kids Choice Award, but it’s not her best work.
31. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Last, but not least, one more terrible remake of a classic horror movie! The bar is just set so low on these things, but they still surprise us with how awful they can be. This one was directed by Michael Bay who is no stranger to clunky films as the director of the Transformers series. Unsurprisingly, this remake was criticized for being thoroughly unnecessary, but it was still a mild success. Renowned film critic Roger Ebert had nothing nice to say, giving the movie a rare 0 out of 4 stars. Sounds about right.
32. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Something about this film has always made me just a bit uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the fact that the classic Johnny-Depp-being-creepy shtick pales in comparison to Gene Wilder’s joyfully sinister Willy Wonka. It might be the weird new songs that the producers thought would be a good idea or the unnecessary addition of Wonka’s backstory. Perhaps it’s the fact that I had exactly the same hairstyle as this incarnation of Willy Wonka when I was 7, and this fact permanently traumatizes me. Whatever the reason for my dislike, I’d be much happier if this remake had died on the cutting room floor.