10 Foreign Films Hollywood Ruined with Remakes
Ten instances where Hollywood took a thrilling, atmospheric, or downright terrifying foreign film and ended up with something less than stellar.
1. "The Ring" (2002) – Original: "Ringu" (1998)
"Ringu," the original Japanese horror flick, sent seismic waves of terror around the world. The film centered around a cursed videotape that, once watched, condemned the viewer to a hair-raising demise in exactly seven days. Dark, minimalist, and deeply psychological, the movie was a goosebump-inducing journey that made VHS tapes feel like agents of doom. Cut to Hollywood's remake, "The Ring." On the surface, it had all the elements: the cursed tape, the relentless journalist, the eerie well. Yet, it lacked the unsettling atmosphere that made "Ringu" a classic. It's not a total flop with a respectable 71% Rotten Tomatoes rating, but when compared to the dread-inducing original, it feels more like a waxwork replica.
2. "Oldboy" (2013) – Original: "Oldboy" (2003)
The South Korean film "Oldboy" is an unforgettable, mind-bending journey, ripe with moral ambiguity and a plot twist that'll have your jaw making friends with the floor. It's a tale of a man, imprisoned for 15 years without reason, released, and then set on a path of vengeance. Director Park Chan-wook's masterpiece is nothing short of a cinematic opera of vengeance. When Hollywood tried to remake it with Spike Lee at the helm, something got lost in translation. The remake lacked the depth, grit, and shocking narrative that made the original a cult hit. It's currently simmering at a lukewarm 39% on Rotten Tomatoes. Enough said.
3. "The Vanishing" (1993) – Original: "Spoorloos" (1988)
The original Dutch-French thriller "Spoorloos," translated as "The Vanishing," is a chilling tale of a man's search for his girlfriend, who inexplicably disappears at a gas station. It's a deeply psychological film that explored the dark corners of obsession, and its haunting ending leaves you with a pit in your stomach. Hollywood took this gut-punch of a film and turned it into a less compelling, more conventional thriller with a completely different ending. While the remake had the same director, George Sluizer, and a solid cast (including Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland), it lacked the shocking and somber tone of the original, scoring a tragic 49% on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. "The Uninvited" (2009) – Original: "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003)
South Korea's "A Tale of Two Sisters" is a captivating blend of psychological horror and family drama, with plot twists that keep you guessing until the end. It's a story about two sisters returning home after a stint in a mental institution, only to face a cruel stepmother and disturbing events tied to their dark past. When Hollywood attempted a remake with "The Uninvited," the result was, unfortunately, a standard-issue horror flick. Despite a stellar cast, the remake failed to recapture the complexity and emotional depth of the original, settling at an underwhelming 33% on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. "Dinner for Schmucks" (2010) – Original: "The Dinner Game" (1998)
"The Dinner Game," a French comedy, is a brilliantly sharp and witty tale of a group of friends who compete to see who can bring the biggest idiot to their weekly dinner. Its humor lies in its clever dialogue and the ridiculous situations the characters find themselves in. Hollywood's version, "Dinner for Schmucks," aimed to recreate the magic but tripped over its own feet. Despite a comedy dream team of Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, it resorted to slapstick humor and missed the nuanced comedy of the original.
6. "City of Angels" (1998) – Original: "Wings of Desire" (1987)
German filmmaker Wim Wenders gifted us with the poetic and philosophical beauty that is "Wings of Desire." The film tells a unique tale of an angel who, entranced by the vibrancy of human life, chooses to become mortal for the love of a woman. This isn't just a movie; it's a contemplation on the essence of human existence. Then, Hollywood remade it into "City of Angels," with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. What was once philosophical became a more traditional romantic drama. The celestial poetry of the original was traded for more accessible, albeit less profound, melodrama. The remake isn't terrible, sitting at 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it's a far cry from the original's soaring heights.
7. "The Eye" (2008) – Original: "The Eye" (2002)
The Hong Kong-Singaporean film "The Eye" is an intense, supernatural thriller about a blind woman who, after a cornea transplant, begins to see disturbing, ghostly visions. The film masterfully blended horror elements with a profound exploration of sight and perception. Hollywood's remake, starring Jessica Alba, unfortunately, blinked on delivery. While the premise remained the same, the psychological depth and chilling suspense of the original were lost, resulting in a rather lukewarm reception of 22% on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. "Quarantine" (2008) – Original: "[REC]" (2007)
Spain's "[REC]" is a heart-racing, found-footage horror film that effectively combined the claustrophobia of being trapped in a building with the terror of a mysterious, fast-spreading infection. Its remake, "Quarantine," stuck closely to the original's plot but lacked its raw intensity and suspense. Despite a solid performance from Jennifer Carpenter, the remake felt like a diluted version of its Spanish predecessor.
9. "Shutter" (2008) – Original: "Shutter" (2004)
The Thai horror film "Shutter" made us all think twice before taking a photograph. The movie, centered around a couple haunted by mysterious images in their photographs, boasted a blend of supernatural elements and psychological trauma. The Hollywood remake, despite maintaining the same plot, failed to replicate the eerie atmosphere and compelling backstory of the original, leaving audiences with a subpar horror flick at 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps some stories are better left undeveloped.
10. "The Tourist" (2010) – Original: "Anthony Zimmer" (2005)
"Anthony Zimmer" is a French thriller brimming with suspense, romance, and clever twists. It tells the story of a man pursued by both the police and the mob, who decides to have an innocent stranger impersonate him. Despite its potential, the Hollywood adaptation, "The Tourist," fell flat. Starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, the film may have looked glamorous but lacked the tension and wit of the original. It even earned a place among the worst films of the year with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 21%.