The Sleuth Crew came together for this list of ten movies that may be worthy of a modern remake.
Few trends raise more ire in movie fans than the seemingly incessant need to remake every conceivable film in history. Blame it on a lack of creativity, blind optimism, or plain old Hollywood greed, it really doesn’t matter why it’s happening, so perhaps it’s time to embrace the inevitable, and discuss which movies actually deserve a remake. Some films were sloppily adapted from their source material and just didn’t quite get things right the first time, and fans deserve a better version. Sometimes our nostalgia gets the better of us, and we’re willing to let the laziness slide for a chance at another adventure with our favorite characters in our favorite worlds. And sometimes, not often, but sometimes, a story is so wonderful, so worth telling, that a reimagining has the potential to allow creative lightning to strike twice. -P.M.
A Clockwork Orange - Patrick McDonald
The inclusion of this movie on this list should raise more than a few eyebrows. It’s not uncommon to hear A Clockwork Orange lauded as one of Kubrick’s “masterpieces.” Beautifully shot and cleverly adapted from Anthony Burgess’ novel, it doesn’t get much more “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” than this in the film world. Perhaps because it is so good, and it is woefully unlikely that another filmmaker could match Kubrick’s presentation style, that a remake, or more accurately, a reimagining could be worthwhile.
There are some incredibly talented directors and screenwriters working today – dare we imagine a version of A Clockwork Orange with the tense pacing, striking imagery, and incredible scoring of David Fincher and his partnership with Reznor and Ross? Naturally, it would look and feel very little like Kubrick’s version, and that is perfectly fine! Alex’s journey and the film’s themes remain accessible and enjoyable for adventurous audiences, and could easily resonate with young people utterly desensitized by the insanity that is the internet. Even casting antihero Alex would be an exciting exercise today – there are numerous young men (or women?!) performing that could give the character incredible life. I’d throw Evan Peters’ name into the ring – watch the first season of American Horror Story and tell me he can’t pull off the oxymoronic sinister innocence of Alex DeLarge with ease. In the end, most detractors would likely counter any of these suggestions with one word – “Why?” Why remake something unique and wonderful? That argument, my dear droogies, is simply your better sense telling you to fear change. A remake should never alter how the original makes you feel, and has the potential to create something beautiful and new. So, perhaps the best response is – “Why not?”
|"No. I don't like this idea."|
The Running Man - Andrew Kotwicki
The Running Man is ostensibly an Arnold Schwarzenegger summer action sci-fi classic of absurdist brawn and cheeseball one-liners about a man in a dystopian future fighting for his life on a deadly televised game show where convicts are pursued by violent assassins. Some of the big fella’s greatest moments of comic hilarity in his career are there for the cherry picking. And yet, there’s a sense there was originally more at stake in the premise than what ultimately wound up onscreen. While author Stephen King may have had his share of film adaptations of his work deviating drastically from the source (including a lawsuit to have his name removed from The Lawnmower Man), few are as noticeably antithetical in tone and intent as the translation of The Running Man from screen to film. Penned under the briefly used pseudonym Richard Bachman, King’s nightmarish vision of a futuristic Roman Empire depicted a scrawny and weak protagonist, ala Jonathan Pryce from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, being pursued ruthlessly around the world by bounty hunters.
Designed with the stopwatch tension of a race against time as his pursuers close in, King’s version of the story is far bleaker and more apocalyptic, providing a controversial, bombastic finale that easily eclipses anything in the Schwarzenegger film. Understandably, adapting the tale as written would have proven difficult as darker endings weren’t well tolerated in the 1980s and Schwarzenegger’s involvement unintentionally tipped the proceedings closer to the sensibilities of Vince McMahon. That its common knowledge what people know in movies as The Running Man isn’t quite what an author of King’s stature had in mind, as well as the numerous remakes of his books into either films or the extended miniseries, is all the more reason this is the perfect film to remake. Not as a replacement to the Schwarzenegger film, which is still an entertaining B movie, but to set the record straight and finally let King share his horror story as originally intended.
|"This idea is supported by rednecks|
all over the U.S."
Fire in the Sky - Andrew Kotwicki
Recently rumors have been circulating about the internet that Travis Walton, the alien abductee behind the book The Walton Experience as well as the 1993 science fiction horror film Fire in the Sky, has been pursuing the possibility of remaking the film. While some cinemagoers will no doubt balk at an extraterrestrial terror show as iconic as Fire in the Sky needn’t be remade, UFO enthusiasts and readers of The Walton Experience can’t help but quibble over the irrefutable fact that what’s onscreen isn’t quite what Mr. Walton described in his memoir of the events at hand. Far stranger and in a way more fascinating than what we saw happen to D.B. Sweeney in the film, Travis Walton’s autobiography of an alien encounter is much closer to Whitley Strieber’s Communion than it is to Ridley Scott’s Alien.
There’s no denying Fire in the Sky provides, as of current, a profoundly traumatizing experience of alien abduction, leaving the victim Travis Walton much like a broken rape victim. Given the malleable nature of such an outlandish story, with skepticism quick to debunk any validity Walton’s tale may or may not have had, it’s pretty easy to bend the rules with an alien abduction film based on a true story. At the end of the day, theaters need to fill their auditoriums and who in the average moviegoing collective wants to see something metaphysical and odd when they can attend a funhouse of terror vision? When you have Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic visual effects team behind the funhouse, the answer to Paramount executives at the time was pretty clear. While I’m still eagerly awaiting a Blu-Ray release of Fire in the Sky for its spectacular alien sequence, the idea of retelling the extraterrestrial close encounter of the fourth kind as Walton himself claims it happened is an intriguing and welcome prospect I would love to see happen! No, it won’t be the same as seeing D. B. Sweeney being terrorized by emaciated, sickly looking humanoids, nor should it be either.
Deathrow Gameshow - Lee Lind
Sometimes the best remakes are those little known obscure films that never made it big. Even better, the original film doesn't have to be great, which provides a challenging platform for improvement. Deathrow Gameshow is a prime example. The original stars John McCafferty as Chuck Toedan, the host of the popular game show Live or Die. Filmed in front of a live studio audience, convicts on death row are given the opportunity to win fabulous prizes, such as a pre-signed stay of execution by the Governor! Hilarity ensues as contestants struggle to complete an assortment of deadly challenges. Those who fail are immediately executed, much to the audience’s delight. The only problem with the film are the deaths. Many are implied, with little gore to please horror fans. A remake of this film could easily improve the original with some creative blood splattering ideas. It would make for a fantastic addition to the gore comedy genre. Creative limb dismemberments, flesh searing, and piranha pits would provide loads of gags, physically and figuratively speaking. And what horror fan wouldn’t like to see a splash zone seating area for the audience. Like all good remakes it would benefit by keeping the memorable moments of the original intact. The game show challenge Dance of the Seven Boners would be a must. Most of all the film could go much darker. It is a sinister concept presented as entertainment. It should make viewers uncomfortable, yet horrifically intrigued. It’s the reason we all slow down to look at a freeway accident. Witty comments will always provide comedic moments, but the best part about a gore comedy is what audiences will laugh at when they are not hinted to do so.
Hellraiser - Chris Jordan
|"Remake? Yes! More pain.|
Yes, Hellraiser may be a classic of the horror genre... but let's be honest: it's also pretty flawed and uneven. Its classic reputation was deservedly earned by Clive Barker's iconic Cenobytes and the truly creepy mythology that surrounds them, but there's a lot more to the movie than just Pinhead and his cohorts, and it isn't all so great. As a writer, Barker came up with something very original here: an unholy hybrid of demonic horror and psychosexual suspense, mixed together in a story where each of those elements should enhance the other. But as a first-time director, Barker just couldn't quite pull the pieces together. While he understood how to create great atmosphere, he didn't really understand directing actors to create strong, full characters. By the very nature of the term, a psychosexual horror story needs to have psychological depth to really work; depth that comes from well-developed characters whose psyches the film can explore. Unfortunately, Barker and his actors struggled to create characters capable of carrying the movie, and at least a couple are either so wooden or so lacking in depth that it is really hard to be invested in their story, even when we clearly should be. When the focus shifts back to the Cenobytes and their mythology, the film gets really good again, but nonetheless, it is still a movie that only half-works; and even if that half really works, that's a big problem.
That half-unfulfilled potential, when a movie is good, but falls just short of being great when it clearly could have been, is so profoundly frustrating. For that reason, this story deserves a good remake, to learn from the mistakes of the original and be the film that it rightfully should have been the first time around. A remake is allegedly in the works now, and although the project has been caught in pre-production hell for several years, around Halloween Clive Barker said that it is indeed happening... and that he would be writing it. That sounds perfect: an extra 30 years of experience should easily allow Barker to revisit the story, make it stronger, and fix his first-time-filmmaker mistakes. All it needs now is a director who is capable of doing the material justice. Guillermo Del Toro, with his talent for extra-dark, psychologically-driven fantasy/horror, would be perfect; too bad he probably wouldn't agree to work on another Weinstein production after what they did to Mimic. If Barker stays on as writer (it's still just pre-production, so anything can change), and if a director is chosen who can handle the material with the right blend of depth and nastiness, we could get the ultimate Hellraiser film.
In the era of modern science fiction disaster films being remade ad nauseam, one of the more thought provoking slow burns of the genre that has yet to have a second look with today’s modern technological feats is the 1961 British classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire. With the nuclear fears being stirred once again by the recent Godzilla redux, this is perfect character driven visual effects fodder that could both provoke discussion and showcase some brilliant special effects work. What’s more, people need to forget about the disastrous M. Night Shyamalan vehicle The Happening. Anyway, the film in question concerns meteorological changes the Earth gradually begins exhibiting after a barrage of nuclear testing coming from both the United States and the Soviet Union. A journalist whose marriage is on the rocks experiences the slow burn of an apocalypse firsthand as vegetation and life gradually dries up from increasing heat and humidity. What made the original film so effective was that it depicted seemingly natural phenomena such as intense fog and drout gradually transforming our planet’s landscape until it looked much like an extraterrestrial desert.
Where the original film used shifts in sepia tone to tint the black and white images closer towards the look of a blast furnace, modern filmmaking has become so accustomed to the monochromatic look of directors like David Fincher that it would be an easy fit for audiences to accept the world around them turning into a shade of deep reddish orange. The disaster genre is so often maligned by the critical establishment that a thought provoking and realistically paced drama about such an epidemic threatening all of mankind would absolutely be a welcome antidote to the usual Roland Emmerich fare. It’s worth noting the original film (though tame by today’s standards) was given an X rating in the UK for its nudity, as the characters began disrobing due to the intense overheated atmosphere with the sweat of their naked bodies glistening on the camera. With the current acceptance of provocative sexual content and nudity as seen in shows like Game of Thrones, such an adult treatment of the material that could only go so far in 1961 seems to be a welcome and mature freedom to apply to inarguably the most believably real science fiction social critique ever made. This story deserves to be told again and not simply remembered as a product of the bygone era of thought provoking 60s British cinema.
Bad Day at Black Rock - Andrew Kotwicki
The idea of remaking a controversial John Sturges classic with Spencer Tracy seems unthinkable, but in our current xenophobic cultural climate and the concept behind shows like David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Bad Day at Black Rock seems more vital now than ever. In the middle of a barren desert known as Black Rock, a military man named John Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) stops in the ghost town populated by a small band of rednecks and lowlife scumbags to deliver a medal of honor to a local man whose son was killed in action in the Second World War. Almost immediately, he finds himself being relentlessly harassed and threatened by the townspeople. Unbeknownst to Macreedy, the town harbors a dark and violent secret they will strive to protect from being revealed at all costs, even if it means murder!
The idea behind an out-of-towner inadvertently unveiling a crime hidden by a local town out in the middle of an open desert evokes the open Hellscapes of films like Wake in Fear and, most recently, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. While you can run in any direction, there’s nowhere to go, making the setting an open trap. While the Western genre has had its continued share of ups and downs in recent cinema, directors like Joel and Ethan Coen as well as Tommy Lee Jones have successfully revitalized the genre in the mainstream public eye. Part of the excitement behind Bad Day at Black Rock is the seemingly meek and unassuming Macreedy also has something to hide: he’s a silent warrior who, much like Ryan Gosling’s nameless driver in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive will sting hard when backed into a corner. Something of a forgotten classic of 1950s Cinemascope filmmaking, Bad Day at Black Rock touches on everything from thrilling drama, film noir, and social commentary. Most of all, it depicts a lawless town with a lone figure ready to clean house and deliver justice where it’s deserved.
Deadly Friend - Blake O. Kleiner
You remember the Alice Cooper song “Teenage Frankenstein”? Well, if you apply that title literally, you get a pretty decent idea about Deadly Friend. The story of a young genius who resurrects the love of his young life with a robot brain (played creepily by a young Kristy Swanson), this is one of director Wes Craven’s sweeter offerings. Unlike most slasher films where the Meet Cutes are just a paint-by-numbers setup to fulfill the genre’s tits-and-ass quota, Deadly Friend’s protagonists actually bring the feels. Granted, it won’t have anyone crying for any reason other than uproarious laughter at the site of a decapitation by basketball, but it is one of the rare films of the 1980s that made us feel some empathy for characters who didn’t come off as stock creations lined up for slaughter.
|"Do I get to star? Then, yes."|
Discovering Deadly Friend is like digging up a forgotten gem from the now-legendary horror director. It’s nice and shiny, sparkles in all the right places, has an intelligent script by none other than Oscar-winner Bruce Joel Rubin (Jacob’s Ladder) but then you turn it over and find a smear of dog crap on it in the form of typical 80s horror tropes. Of course we have to throw in one last jump scare that’s not only pointless, but dispels any emotional resonance we may have carried with us from the theater. This is why the film deserves to be remade—to make good on the promise of its core story without all of the cliches. Also take in account that our technology has evolved to where the concept of a human with a microchip brain could make for incredibly terrifying and prescient science fiction horror. A human mind recompiling into a hybrid of artificial intelligence might have already spawned one bad film (talking about you, Transcendence), but that doesn’t make the idea less fascinating. In the hands of a capable director like Adam Wingard, a filmmaker with an established understanding of technological horrors, and a killer sense of humor to boot (see The Guest for one of the most entertaining film going experiences of 2014), Deadly Friend could be the modern take on Frankenstein our generation is sorely lacking.
Army of Darkness - Blake O. Kleiner
Put away your torches and pitchforks; Army of Darkness is perfect just the way it is. That it happens to be the last of a trilogy with two other equally adored Evil Dead films makes it something even more rare, like a unicorn that shits rainbows of blood and guts. Is there a cult hero as iconic as Bruce Campbell brandishing a chainsaw on his severed wrist, holding a shotgun with his one good hand, berating a mob of medieval “primitive screwheads”? If there is, I’m not aware of one. To know this film is to love it, and if you don’t love it, we can’t be friends. This is the Citizen Kane of the tongue-in-cheek sword-and-sorcery horror comedy genre. Oh wait, there aren’t many of those? Well, there should be.
|"Is this Blake guy crazy or what?!!"|
Back in the day, when I was so obsessed with this film it was playing in my house on repeat—Army of Darkness on repeat, constant y’all—I searched out every bit of information about it I could find. One of the things I managed to procure in all my scouring of the internet was a copy of Sam Raimi’s original first draft, back when it was called The Medieval Dead. It was like a completely different film, far more ambitious, and filled with balls-to-the-wall demon action. More than that, it stayed true to Ash’s character. Not that I would ever give up the “Duke Nukem” lines, but the Ash in this film is not the same bumbling dingbat we rooted for in Evil Dead II. Ash went from being an Average Joe Everyman to being a superhero. Awesome, yes, but even 15 years after reading that script, I wonder what it would be like to see, not “the Army of Darkness remake,” but to see The Medieval Dead.
In that world of “If”, the only question is: Who the hell could play Ash? Well, it sure as hell wouldn’t be the chick from the Evil Dead remake. My first choice would be Karl Urban. We know he’s a chameleon (I bet you all forget that was him in The Bourne Supremacy), Dredd showed us that his lower jaw can carry a film by itself, and his Bones McCoy can sling one-liners with Schwarzenegger. If this rumor of an Army of Darkness 2 turns out to be a big game of “just the tip”, let’s see this series rebooted from Sam Raimi’s original draft, with its original title and some wicked talent behind the wheel. Someone with a gift for creating characters and fun action while also bringing a wicked sense of humor to the plate. I vote for James Gunn, after he’s done with this whole Guardians of the Galaxy business, of course.
Barbarella - Michelle Kisner
|"You will never match the power|
of my hair, bitches."
Barbarella was a fun little late-sixties science fiction film that starred the always sexy Jane Fonda. It featured Fonda running around having titillating adventures in suggestive space suits with kitschy backdrops. While it wasn’t a critical success upon its initial release, it garnered quite a large cult following in subsequent years. The imaginative costume design for Barbarella’s many outfits became iconic and Fonda’s sensual and free-spirited performance was endearing. The special effects were lacking however, and while the film is still fun to watch, it is somewhat cheesy and dated.
An update with dazzling new effects and a new leading lady could be amazing if done right. Robert Rodriguez was slated to direct a remake with Rose McGowan in the title role, but the project fell thorough due to studio quibbles. If I had my pick of director, I would choose Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim, Shaun of the Dead) as he is wonderful at making quirky and adorable films. Amy Adams would be perfect as the innocent yet sexually uninhibited Barbarella—plus she can sing the title song! They could get a famous designer to make the outfits, someone like Alexander Wang or even Betsey Johnson could provide outlandish costuming. With some CGI polish on the space atmosphere and some inspired sets, they could bring Barbarella back into the modern age with pizazz.