21 Awesome Movies People May Not Be Aware Are Remakes

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Remakes often get a bad name in movie discussions. But some of the most beloved movies ever made are remakes of earlier films. In this post, we’re looking at ten classic movies that are all remakes people may not know are remakes.

Some of them are faithful to the originals, just the setting or playing with the timeline to create a new take. Maybe they draw out the nuances of a character more than in the original. Whether they take the premise in a wildly different direction or simply move the action to a different location or era, these movies are classics that often outshine their source material. 

1. The Fly (1986)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

A remake of the 1958 film of the same name starring Vincent Price, David Cronenberg’s The Fly from 1986 pushes the body horror of the premise to its furthest point. The movie follows a scientist who invents a teleportation machine that scrambles and reassembles the molecules of anything or anyone inside after his molecules become mixed with that of a fly.

However, unlike the original, which includes just one transformation scene, Cronenberg’s remake takes time to show Jeff Goldblum, who played the scientist, slowly changing into something inhuman. 

2. The Thing (1982)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Another 1980s horror classic that adds significant body horror to its original story, John Carpenter’s The Thing is a remake of 1951’s The Thing From Another World. Both stories center on a group of people at an arctic outpost who encounter an alien frozen in the ice.

But the remake adds the layer that the titular thing can take the shape of any biological organism. So it doesn’t just up the body horror but also adds to the paranoia of the story because none of the characters know who they can trust.  

3. The Last House on the Left (1972)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

A movie that has now been remade itself, horror legend Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left is a remake of Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring. Both movies tell the story of criminals who take advantage of and murder on a young girl, subsequently seeking refuge at her parents’ residence following their heinous act. Craven, of course, ups the brutality and explicit violence for his exploitation-era take on the material. 

4. The Departed (2006)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

There is a long tradition of films being remade in different languages. One celebrated recent example is The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s remake of the Hong Kong Infernal Affairs film series.

Both stories revolve around the entwined tales of gangsters and detectives infiltrating each other’s ranks and striving to uncover the undercover agents within the opposing factions.The Departed stands out as a remarkable adaptation, considering it condenses the essence of three separate films into one impressive film.

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5. The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Photo Credit: MGM.

An earlier example of an English language remake of a non-English film, the 1960s The Magnificent Seven, is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.

Both movies center on countryside towns often under attack by marauders who seek the aid of seven heroes. This initial transformation of a samurai film into a western serves as just one example that highlights the symbiotic relationship between these two film genres.

6. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Photo Credit: Jolly Film.

A later example of the relationship between samurai and western films is this western remake of another Kurosawa film, YojimboA Fistful of Dollars moves the story west but maintains the same story beats of a lone warrior playing two warring factions in a town against each other for his gain. 

7. A Star Is Born (1954)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

There are now four different cinematic iterations of A Star is Born. Although many viewers are aware that the 2018 movie is a remake, they might not realize that the initial release occurred in 1937, predating the 1954 rendition featuring Judy Garland. Each adaptation narrates the tumultuous journey of a young aspiring actress and a seasoned star grappling with addiction as they navigate the highs and lows of their relationship.

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8. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

The rare remake that doesn’t change anything about its original plot or setting, Little Shop of Horrors (1986) updates the original 1960 film by adding songs. Indeed, the 1986 rendition is a cinematic interpretation of the musical stage production, drawing inspiration from the original film. Both narratives offer a delightful and entertaining experience centered around a man-eating plant that initially appears as a blessing for a petite floral boutique but rapidly transforms into a dangerous threat.

9. Heat (1995)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

It doesn’t happen often, but filmmakers sometimes remake their earlier work. That’s the case with Heat, Michael Mann’s 1995 bank heist masterpiece, a remake of Mann’s earlier made-for-TV movie L.A. Takedown. Mann thought he could do better, and he did, though many of the details stayed the same. 

10. Scarface (1983)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Brian De Palma’s crime world opus about a man who rises to power only for his ambition to be his downfall isn’t the most original plotline, but in this case, it’s also a direct remake of the 1932 film of the same name. While the 1983 films can be much more explicit in their violence and drug use, both explore ambition in criminal underworlds. 

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11. Emma (2020)

Photo Credit: Focus Features.

At this point, Jane Austen’s novels have been filmed and refilmed so many times it’s almost impossible to keep track of. There’s a movie Emma from 1996 and a miniseries from 2009, but this is the most recent Emma adaptation, and it’s the first one to really lean into the humorous side. Austen’s novels aren’t just about romance; in her day, they’d have been nearly the equivalent of a romcom. And at last, we have an Emma that leans into that identity without sacrificing any of the societal manners or cinematic excellence.

12. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Ocean’s Eleven is a remake of Ocean’s 11 (1960.) Some have mistakenly claimed that the original movie was called “Rat Pack,” but that was the name of several of the celebrities who appeared in the initial Ocean’s 11 movie. Five of them tended to work on a lot projects together in Hollywood, so they gained the nickname Rat Pack. As far as it goes, the newest Ocean’s movie has an array of A-list who have such chemistry on set, you’d never know if they weren’t lifelong friends.

13. Dune (2021)

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures.

Both the 2021 version and the 1984 version of Dune are based on the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert. This is one of those books that’s hard to get into, but Timothe Chalamet and Zendaya Coleman are bringing the newest film series to life in a new way. Not only has CGI and cinematography advanced quite a bit in the last forty years, but much of the most recent Dune series is filmed with real props and set pieces rather than green screen, which makes it that much more incredible.

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14. The Mummy (1999)

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

The Mummy (1932) is the source material for the newest version of The Mummy, released in 1999. The remake is not only sixty years new and more advanced, but is widely known for its perfect casting for all the primary characters. In both films, a mummified and cursed Imhotep comes to life nearly a thousand years after he was buried when Evelyn Carnahan accidentally reads the ancient spell aloud. But only the later film features Brendan Fraser, which we’re told is one good reason to watch it.

15. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

You’ve Got Mail is an excellent film featuring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, and it’s got two earlier adaptations: The Shop Around the Corner in 1940 and In The Good Old Summertime in 1949. For anyone who can remember the early days of dial-up internet and basic email, this one is a classic. Life isn’t a straight-forward fairy tale for these two, as Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) could tell you, when her little “Shop Around the Corner” is run out of business by the book superstore that opens up just a few blocks away.

16. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Photo Credit: United Artists.

This Marylin Monroe film will leave you laughing until your sides split. Two musicians are accidentally witness to a violent crime, so they run away and disguise themselves as women. They join “Sugar Kane” (Monroe) and travel with her, performing as they go. But when love gets involved, things become complicated! This movie is an American take on a French film, Fanfare of Love produced in 1935.

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17. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The Man Who Knew Too Much is an Alfred Hitchcock film, and it’s a remake of (wait for it!) The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alfred Hitchcock! Yep; in 1934 Hitchcock produced the first version of this film, and twenty years later he decided he could do a better job of it and produced it again! This film is a mystery-thriller that leads an innocent but determined American family from Morocco to England and through all sorts of adventures in their attempt to rescue their son, who’ been abducted, and stop an assassination in the mean-time.

18. RoboCop (2014)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

RoboCop is the story of an experimental droid-police initiative. But since drones aren’t allowed for policing in the US, a human-drone is created using a cop who was severely injured in an accident. Chaos breaks loose when his human emotions have access to his droid-like strength, making him a force to be reckoned with, and not only on the streets. The original RoboCop came out in 1987, and while it’s a fantastic movie, we’d say a remake was well earned with all the CGI and other cinematic advances that have happened since then.

19. Psycho (1998)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Psycho is a thriller about a man named Norman who blames all the mysterious deaths in his hotel on his mother. The only problem is that his mother’s been dead for ten years. When Sam’s girlfriend Marion, goes missing after her stop at Norman’s hotel, suspicion is raised. This movie is another remake of a Hitchcock film, nearly forty years after the original. But this one is uniquely similar to the first, using much of the same script and scoring.

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20. Funny Games (2007)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

The movie Funny Games is another case of one man remaking his own film. The first version came out in 1997 (same title), written and directed by Michael Haneke. The second version is a shot-for-shot remake. The horror film documents a family who goes on vacation and is subsequently taken hostage by two criminals, who force them to participate in “games” – i.e. doing whatever the criminals ask them to do. It’s not a movie for the faint of heart!

21. The Birdcage (1996)

Photo Credit: United Artists.

In this film, the daughter of an ultra-conservative senator and the son of an two openly gay men fall in love. And if that’s not enough drama; the gay men run a drag bar, while the senator has been embroiled in scandal and hopes to avoid any more of the spotlight. But how will that be possible when the two families meet up? The Birdcage is an adaptation of the French La Cage aux Folles, made in 1978.

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