Here are five Horror titles that received some of the more memorable "upgrades" in recent memory. Enter at your own risk...
Remade As: The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
The Difference: "Keep watching the skies!" So warns Douglas Spencer by radio at the close of Christian Nyby's suspense-heavy Thing, which earns points for keeping its monster hidden in the shadows until the obligatory action climax. In John Carpenter's updated re-do, the monster is everywhere, shown in increasingly gruesome detail as it randomly envelops each member of an Antarctic research station. Though it follows Joseph W. Campbell's original short story in greater detail, the remake proves that some things are better left to the imagination.
Remade As: The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)
The Difference: 1958's original Fly has a nifty flashback structure following a scientist’s horrific experiments with matter transportation and his eventual "suicide" via hydraulic press. Plus, it's got a haunting climax ("Help me! Help me!") that's impossible to shake. The remake from David Cronenberg is updated as a grand metaphor for disease and body decay, with Jeff Goldblum under heavy makeup for much of its running time. It's brilliant, but also so unrelentingly icky it's tough to sit through.
Remade As: Psycho (Gus Van Sant, 1998)
The Difference: Made on a minuscule budget with a television crew, the original classic from the Master Of Suspense is still impressive for its narrative rug-pulling and visceral shocks. (Only the notorious, over-explanatory coda disappoints.) Gus Van Sant's late-90s do-over is an interesting curio and nothing more - a virtually shot-for-shot remake with gratuitous nudity and violence added, I guess, to help differentiate between the two. Slick but utterly pointless.
Remade As: Dawn Of The Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004)
The Difference: George Romero's sequel to his own Night Of The Living Dead is a gore-hound's dream of a movie, with makeup effects by Tom Savini that set the standard for all zombie flicks to follow. It's also a cunning satire on mindless consumerism in America, with its legions of undead wandering the mall shops where are heroes have holed up for survival. Zack Snyder's brutal 2004 revamp has no time for such commentary, substituting satire for faster zombies. Better than you'd expect, though hardly what you'd call an upgrade.
Remade As: The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002)
The Difference: Hideo Nakata's Ring had already spawned two sequels, a prequel, and a Korean adaptation (closer in spirit to the original novel by Kôji Suzuki) before the American remake hit theaters in 2002. The plot is pretty much the same – gutsy journalist investigates a series of deaths via cursed videotape, encounters requisite vengeful spirit with waist-length, jet-black hair. Hilarity ensues. Verbinski's U.S. version actually holds up pretty well in comparison, with shock cuts to victims' disfigured faces for added creep factor.
There. Can you think of any I've left off this list? Any title that offered bigger/lesser scares than the original? (I'd love to hear anyone's opinion on 2003's wretched remake of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which I purposely avoided here). Let's get a conversation started in the comments below!