The Thing (1982) John Carpenter’s version of the movie about an alien presence stalking the inhabitants of a remote Antarctic outpost is much better-known than the 1951 original, but both create effective senses of paranoia and isolation, and both feature cutting-edge effects for the time period. Even the 2011 re-remake has its merits, thanks primarily to star Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
The Fly (1986) David Cronenberg took a cheesy 1958 creature feature and made it into a brilliant examination of body horror, with Jeff Goldblum as a scientist who finds himself slowly turning into a human fly. Gross, creepy and unexpectedly touching, The Fly encapsulates Cronenberg’s cerebral and unsettling approach to horror.
The Ring (2002) This film spawned a lot of bad American remakes of Japanese horror movies, but on its own it does a great job of translating Hideo Nakata’s creepy film about a stringy-haired girl who haunts viewers of a cursed videotape. Director Gore Verbinski balances Nakata’s style with his own, and Naomi Watts anchors the movie with a strong lead performance.
Dawn of the Dead (2004) George Romero’s zombie movies have been remade many times by many different filmmakers, but Zack Snyder’s feature debut is probably the best take on Romero’s oeuvre, keeping much of what made the original work (including the survivors taking refuge in a mall) and combining it with a hyperactive, intense approach to the zombies themselves.
Poltergeist Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino. Directed by Gil Kenan. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.