If, like us, you enjoy watching foreign movies, you’ll appreciate how creative, unusual and thought-provoking they can be by broadening our experience of cinema and exposing us to new film making styles and genres. You’ll also understand how nerve-wracking and infuriating it can be to see your favourite foreign movies to get the dreaded ‘Hollywood treatment’. From blatant plagiarizing of the source material to losing the spirit of the original and making silly changes to the plot and characters, Hollywood has a checkered history when it comes to reimagining classic films from around the world. So here are 12 of their worst attempts!
The Vanishing (1993)
The Original: Spoorloos (1988)
Probably the biggest boo-boo the remake made was that it did away with the original’s hauntingly grim ending in favour of a much less memorable, happily ever after final act.
Brick Mansions (2014)
The Original: Banlieue 13 (2004)
Banlieue 13 was a top-notch dystopian thriller with lots of gritty action and dazzling parkour that’s since garnered a strong cult following. The pointless English language version brings back the acrobatic David Belle from the original (just check out the trailer’s corny line “We taught you how to speak English”) but will only be immortalised as the last film Paul Walker completed before his death in 2013.
The Original: Gojira (1954)
The classic monster franchise is fascinating, because it was born into the context of a post-World War II Japan still reeling from the destruction of the atomic bomb. By contrast the Hollywood blockbuster was a bewilderingly stupid catastrophe devoid of any action and let down by decidedly rubbish CGI and dialogue. However, Godzilla (2014) was the second version of the original, which at least was much better than its 1998 counterpart.
The Original: 8 ½ (1963)
An adaptation of the musical that was already based on the original movie, the glitzy Nine fell completely flat with audiences and critics alike, as well as being cinematic proof that there are actually things that Daniel Day-Lewis can’t do.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
The Original: Abre los ojos (1997)
A critically divisive movie, Vanilla Sky has been as acclaimed for its lofty ambitions and individual performances as it’s been reviled for its pretence and baffling plot. Most people can agree though, that it’s not a patch on the audacious Spanish original.
The Wicker Man (2006)
The Original: The Wicker Man (1973)
Nicolas Cage is no stranger to shoddy American remakes but the hilarity of this completely nuts reboot of the British cult classic really takes the biscuit. “Oh no! Not the bees!”
Bangkok Dangerous (2008)
The Original: Bangkok Dangerous (1999)
Proof that lightning rarely strikes twice, the Pang Brothers’ tried to remake their own successful original with an added Nicolas Cage, and instead ended up with a withering score of 9% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Original: Taxi (1998)
Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah teamed up for this commercially successful but critically panned remake. While the original has spawned three sequels in France, the American effort has unsurprisingly…not.
Swept Away (2002)
The Original: Travolti da un’Insolito Destino Nell’azzurro Mare d’Agosto (1974)
When Lina Wertmüller, director of the original film, saw Guy Ritchie and Madonna’s 2002 version he allegedly left the theatre at the end crying, “What did they do to my movie? Why did they do this?” Enough said.
My Sassy Girl (2008)
The Original: That Bizarre Girl (2001)
Although the American reimagining of the well-loved Korean rom-com isn’t actually bad per se, it’s still a great example of how much of the charm and originality of the original can simply be lost in translation.
Last Man Standing (1996)
The Original: Yojimbo (1961)
Empire magazine ranked Yojimbo at #95 in their list of the “500 Greatest Films of All Time”. Bruce Willis stars in Hollywood’s box office trainwreck of an adaptation, which obviously didn’t make it onto any such lists.
The Original: REC (2007)
Let us be clear, Quarantine is a pretty solid horror movie. It’s claustrophobic, decently cast and boasts enough scares to excite its audience. Where it falls down though, is how brazenly it copies the source material almost verbatim, aside from changing the ending (for the worse). In short, it’s impossible to enjoy Quarantine if you’ve seen the quite excellent REC.