Once upon a time, it seemed to be a relative rarity that a foreign film got an adaptation for American audiences, but in the past few decades American versions of foreign horror films have become downright trendy. Sometimes these films get American adaptations simply because the original film isn’t in English and studios want something easier to sell to American audiences, sometimes it’s because the original movie has aged enough that it warrants a reboot, and sometimes it’s just because the original film was such a hit that American filmmakers want to capitalize on that in any way they can.
As anyone might expect, American adaptations of foreign horror films can be extremely hit or miss. The original films are typically entertaining enough that they warrant a remake, but often times those remakes don’t add anything to the original content or even lose a bit of the original’s luster in the translation. So here are the 10 scariest American remakes of foreign horror films, ranked from worst to best.
10 The Wicker Man
Unless you’re a hardcore horror fan then it’s safe to assume that you may never have even heard of the original UK version of The Wicker Man that came out in the 1970’s. This bizarre film was Midsommar before Midsommar existed. To be perfectly honest and despite the fact that there wasn’t any literal translation required, this updated version of The Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage left a lot to be desired.
Cage’s performance is really the only memorable part of this movie, and the moment where he is forced to wear a helmet full of bees is an infinitely meme-able moment, but there’s nothing else that makes this updated adaptation worth watching over the original.
9 Village Of The Damned
The original English version of Village of the Damned is still a creepy and scary movie in it’s own right, but the updated American version certainly benefited from the advancements in visual technology as well as the presence of Christopher Reeve.
Once again, this movie tells the tale of a town that finds itself mysteriously asleep for a few hours, and when they wake up all of the child bearing-age women in town are pregnant. All of the children are born at the same time, and it’s safe to say that they are an incredibly scary squad of weirdo babies.
8 The Grudge
Like many movies that become the subject of an American adaptation, The Grudge is a horror film that doesn’t gain much from it’s adaptation besides the fact that it’s in English instead of Japanese. But to be fair, the original version of The Grudge was a pretty scary movie, so in turn the American version of The Grudge is also pretty scary.
It’s a classic tale of a haunting that turns dark, and while it’s not a particularly memorable horror film it’s still better than some of the worst that horror has to offer, it is definitely worth at least one watch, and it is a suitably scary film in itself.
7 The Uninvited
In it’s original South Korean incarnation, The Uninvited was titled A Tale of Two Sisters. And given the content of the film, it seems like the original title was a more accurate representation of the story, and it’s a mystery why the American adaptation decided to change things up.
The story follows the experiences of sisters Alex and Anna, who were already thick as thieves but who seem to be extra united in their dislike and suspicion of their father’s new wife. After their mother died Anna attempted suicide, and when she returns home after her stay in a psychiatric hospital things get scarier. The coolest and most shocking part of The Uninvited is its ending twist (which we aren’t about to spoil) but that’s about it.
When any non-American horror film is extremely successful or brings new ideas and techniques into the horror genre it’s safe to assume that it will eventually become the subject of an American adaptation. That is certainly the case when it comes to Quarantine, an American version of the hit Spanish horror film REC.
While Quarantine is scary and accurate adaptation of REC, the film wasn’t quite as successful as the filmmakers may have hoped for. This is probably because while the movie is a good adaptation of the original film, it doesn’t really add anything that makes it worth watching if you’ve already seen REC.
Suspiria is obviously the American adaptation of the classic Italian horror film of the same name, and it honestly has the same issue as Quarantine. This unforgettable horror film by Dario Argento was kind of a game changer in the horror world, and it still holds up today as a singularly unique and terrifying movie.
This new iteration of Suspiria is an entertaining film that is a pretty faithful adaptation of the original, however it’s not a movie that adds anything new or unique to the original either. If you’re looking for psychedelic scares then this is worth the watch. Take note that if you’re already familiar with the original Suspiria, this remake won’t be nearly as thrilling.
4 The Omen
Some things in the world change and evolve over time, but some things stay the same. One such thing that has clearly never changed about the horror genre is that demonic little kids are always scary as hell.
The original English version of The Omen is an absolute classic that honestly didn’t need any updates, but the new adaptation of the earlier film is still scary nonetheless. One thing that actually is an improvement in this new The Omen is that the new Damien is scarier than his predecessor. Where the original was little more than a cute kid who served as a prop to the main story, this one is a legitimate nightmare.
3 The Ring
When it comes to American remakes of foreign horror films, it’s hard to think of one that is more successful and beloved than The Ring, the remake of the Japanese horror film Ringu. There are a lot of keys to the success of The Ring over a lot of other horror remakes, namely the skilled direction of Gore Verbinski, the fact that the movie is led by the incomparable actress Naomi Watts, and the mere fact that this movie is legitimately terrifying.
Anyone who has actually seen The Ring probably still remembers the first time they saw Samara crawl out of the television screen into the real world, and this 2002 film brings a whole new meaning to the term “viral video.”
Most people who don’t consider themselves to be certified horror fans and gore hounds probably aren’t familiar with the original version or the remake of Martyrs, but viewers should beware this terrifying and gruesome pair of films.
The story involves two girls who are exacting revenge against people who mysteriously tortured them as children, and they discover that these tormentors were a part of a secret society who abducted and violently abused young women because they believed that they could bring them close enough to death that they would be able to see into the afterlife. Suffice it to say, anyone with a weak stomach for gore should stay away.
1 Let Me In
To be honest, when horror fans learned that there was going to be a remake of the Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In so soon after the original one was released, most assumed that it was nothing more than a money grab. However, Let Me In is one of the rare horror adaptations that actually puts a new spin on the original material in a very cool way.
The intimidating snow of Sweden has been replaced by the vast and empty desert of the United States, and the talents of the two children who helm this movie really sell the story well.
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