17 cult '90s horror movies that really need remakes

8. The Dark Half (1993)

Another King adaptation that squandered its source material. Granted, The Dark Half isn't one of his most celebrated books but it has plenty to offer that the 1993 film ignores. Nah, this was an opportunity to have Timothy Hutton play two different characters. One is literary novelist Thad Beaumont and the other is an unhinged killer named George Stark - Beaumont's former pseudonym.

The movie suffers a few too many pitfalls, a result of adapting such an unusual story, that on the page explains Stark becoming a real person through some pretty far-fetched means. But hey, this is King. Like most of his novels, it ends on a dubious note that the movie skates over. A remake might be better off concentrating on the complexities of Thad's misery toward the end. Despite Stark's killing spree, he misses his dark half, which in turn makes his wife rather unhappy. Then there's the novel-Thad who conjures and guides the sparrows that drag George back to hell. He has to be in it, like the Pied Piper of Hell. 

7. The Relic (1997)

The Relic pulls together all the best bits from your favorite monster movies and almost makes a brilliant Frankenstein-ed homage. It should; the main beast is a chimera that consists of various animals that together make a truly abhorrent being. That sounds great, right? Somehow, the movie loses the bite and tension of its source novel and flip flops around without once making you watch through your fingers. However, there is sufficient gore (people getting faces chewed off) to warrant an R-rating. 

For a remake to improve on this, it needs to push the boundaries of that classification. Merge the bloody FX with the scares - don't make them independent of one another. Heck, it's not the best in its series but Scream 4 exceeded expectations (it's kind of a loose remake of the first) by cutting together fear and gore. The Relic needs that same brazen approach to its monster, to make it a formidable beast, not just a guy in a knock-off Predator costume

6. Vampires (1998)

The second half of the nineties were not kind to John Carpenter. Vampires, while far from his best film, doesn't deserve the bad reputation it's been lumbered with. Yes, there's a bunch of moments that drag on and you're never quite sure if you're watching a horror movie or a western. But none of that matters when things kick into high gear and James Woods loses his mind in practically every scene. It's a gore-filled string of set pieces used to carry what there is of its plot. Woods' character is raised by the church after his parents are killed by vampires. The church trains him to be their slayer. Off he goes into the world. This is James Woods doing Buffy as directed by John Carpenter. 

With the plot and action the two biggest elements that would benefit from a polish, the remake shouldn't change EVERYTHING. The horror maestro's take on the blood-suckers themselves needs to be celebrated. This bunch aren't twinkly-skinned, morose saps (yes, RPattz, I mean you) They're brutes. More of those, please. Place them into a slightly more coherent plot and Vampires 2.0 has the potential to be a killer vamp western.

5. Urban Legend (1998)

For saying there's oodles of urban legends and even a dodgy '80s anthology movie about them, it's surprising that it took so long for Urban Legend to come out. Part of the post-Scream slasher renaissance it runs through all those scary stories dragged out at sleepovers and plots them out on a college campus. Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid and Jared Leto play a bunch of students trying to figure out who's behind the urban legend-inspired killings. 

It's not as groundbreaking as other '90s horrors, but it's got a small roster of genre names in fun cameos (Robert Englund, Danielle Harris and Brad Dourif) to add a little weight. With hundreds of legends still unadapted, a couple of bad straight-to-video sequels to make up for and Jared Leto in a good position to play a deranged killer, now’s as good a time as any for a revisit.

4. When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)

Between the moment Drew Barrymore picks up the phone in Scream and twelve minutes later when she drops it, the parallels were obvious. Scream was doing When A Stranger Calls, the 1979 movie starring Carol Kane as a young babysitter who receives sinister calls from inside the house. Just typing that sentence gives me the heebie jeebies. 

But it's the 1993 sequel that's the real inspiration for Scream, as a young babysitter tries to get the nice-sounding-but still-scary-stranger at the front door to leave her alone. This opening sequence plays out for thirty minutes, each encounter growing ever more intense. It's not all over after that; there's a ventriloquist scene later on that'll give you chills. We've already had a not very good remake of the original movie, but the sequel is solid horror that outshines its predecessor. With smart phones still an option for its core scare - the whole 'being in the same house thing' - there's enough scope for a remake.

3. Nightbreed (1990)

Clive Barker decided that the only person he trusted to adapt his story Cabal was himself. That didn't automatically mean the finished product resulted in a top notch movie. Nightbreed had its fair share of problems to begin with, from the studio's opinion on marketing - they framed it as a slasher - to ownership of the final cut. Despite Barker's issues with the theatrical cut he managed to relocate several missing reels with the help of film archivists, and restored his original vision in The Cabal Cut. 

Still, it never quite achieves what he set out to do. The novella is a haunting fantasy, a dip into a monster-inhabited world called Midian where Aaron Boone hides out after his psychotherapist pins a spate of serial killings on him. The therapist is actually one of the movie's saving graces, played maniacally by director David Cronenberg. In the end, Nightbreed's downfall was a matter of too many cooks. This remake needs one filmmaker without studio interference to make Midian as scary as it is on the page.

2. Troll 2 (1990)

This would be a remake that needs to achieve very little to be better than the original. Troll 2 isn't even a sequel to Troll. Why producers thought that attaching their film to an unrelated film - that's also terrible - is baffling. But baffling is what director Claudio Fragrasso was going for with this cobbled together horror, that saw most of his American cast struggle to communicate with his Italian crew. The "plot" involves a family who vacation in a town called Nilbog (oooh, what does that spell backwards?) and discover the residents are goblins who feed humans a substance that turns their bodies into plants, that the goblins then consume. 

Fragrasso co-wrote the screenplay with his wife because they both hated vegetarians, apparently. It's a half-baked idea that's poorly explained as the English language dialogue was written by people who didn't speak English. The whole thing is just awful. No wonder it's become a cult classic that spawned a documentary, Best Worst Movie. A remake of this would go tongue-in-cheek meta, referencing the docco and Troll 2 itself, as a bunch of avid fans visit the original filming locations to make their own sequel... and end up getting targeted by the goblins. They were real all along! Troll Hunter made mythologised creatures really quite scary, so found footage would be the way to go

1. Candyman (1992)

There's so much to love about this Clive Barker adaptation. Inventing an urban legend in the style of Bloody Mary is cleverly done, taking a familiar mythos and twists it into something new. Say his name five times in the mirror and a figure with a hook for a hand shall appear and kill you. The history behind the character is based in dark times and his present isn't exactly cheery either. 

Without delving into those specifics, it's safe to say that the material is ripe for modernisation. Most horrors nowadays have killers without motives (thanks Billy Loomis) or those that do are less psychopathic than you'd imagine. This movie creates a real backstory for its monster and entwines Virginia Madsen's graduate student into that folklore. It's brutal and unrelenting, a standout of its era. This is a remake that's long overdue. 

Gem Seddon

Gem Seddon is GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter, working to keep all of you updated on all of the latest and greatest movies and shows on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Outside of entertainment journalism, Gem can frequently be found writing about the alternative health and wellness industry, and obsessing over all things Aliens and Terminator on Twitter.