Top List Thursday: Remakes by the same director

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Remakes are a fact of movies and while some are just terrible ideas (particularly when using the studio marketing venac of a ‘reboot’), a few remakes are superior to the original. But what about remakes that are revisited by their own directors? Here are a few movies that got a second chance at the hands of the people who made the first version…

  • Funny Games/Funny Games

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Michael Haneke’s movies are generally paranoid affairs, but this is taken to a new height in his thriller Funny Games. Two strangers show up at a family’s house and proceed to terrify them with a series of activities. It’s also a commentary on the audience’s voyeurism as a catalyst for the misery of characters. Originally in Austrian, he remade the movie practically frame-for-frame in English ten years later. The impact also remains the same, as does the controversy.

  • Ju-on/The Grudge

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When Ju-on was released in Japan, it was actually the third in a series yet only the first to see a theatrical appearance. That explains the movie’s rather disjointed storyline – as in there really wasn’t much of one. Still, the tale of a creepy house where people encounter ghosts and then die of sheer terror captivated audiences worldwide. Director Takashi Shimizu was offered a chance to make an english version, which became The Grudge. This time there was actually some method to the madness with a central character and some background story. But the two versions have divided fans.

  • L.A. Takedown/Heat

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Long before Michael Mann made the hit Heat, starring Al Pacino and Robert di Niro, he directed a TV movie called L.A. Takedown about a gang of armoured car robbers and the detective hunting them down. It soon turns into a clash of egos between the cop and the gang’s leader. Less than a decade later Mann revisited the concept, but with a longer story, better acting and that highly satisfying street battle. The victor is indisputably Heat, but L.A Takedown is a significantly leaner film and it makes you wonder if Heat needed all of its story baggage.

  • Nattevagten/ Nightwatch

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Denmark’s Ole Bornedal got a strong hit with his thriller Nattevagten, the tale of a morgue night watchman who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of prostitutes just as someone starts messing with him at his workplace. Or is he crazy? It spawned an English remake a few years later called Nightwatch, also by Bornedal. I’ve only seen the latter version, but apparently they are so similar you can at times confuse one for the other.

  • Bangkok Dangerous/Bangkok Dangerous

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The crime epic Bangkok Dangerous helped put Thailand’s movie credentials on the map. It sufficiently impressed Nicholas Cage that he enlisted original directors Danny Pang Phat and Oxide Pang Chun to make an english version starring him. The original is an interesting film with cool character chemistry, slow-burning tension and a captivating story. The remake was one of the first signs that Cage’s career was spiralling downwards.

  • Branded to Kill/Pistol Opera

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Made in 1967, Seijun Suzuki’s Branded To Kill is a unwieldy but interesting movie that followed in the footsteps of the French New Wave films. It’s about an assassin whose falls foul of his organisation and the number one killer comes after him. In 2001 Suzuki returned with Pistol Opera. It follows the same idea about ranked assassins hunting each other, but this time the experience is more like a crazy dream. It’s hard to believe both were made by the same guy, but that’s not to say either are bad. Still, Pistol Opera is a weird one and tends to draw a lot of negativity because of that.

  • The Evil Dead/Evil Dead 2

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Evil Dead 2 can also be called Evil Dead 1.5. Many often comment that Evil Dead 2 is the movie director Sam Raimi really wanted to make. There is no doubt that he sought to improve on the first: the sequel’s first act is an abridged version of the original movie, with the rest being new. But they are too different to be mere versions of each other: Evil Dead 2 is goofier, laying the groundwork for Army of Darkness and the Evil Dead franchise as it is known today. The Evil Dead in contrast is fanatically violent and gory, with less humour and more screaming. It is hands-down one of the best horrors ever made, while Evil Dead 2 is its not-so-serious fun cousin. I’ll always be a fan of the first, but there is no choosing between these two.

Last Updated: April 30, 2015

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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