Andrew and Lee bring you a unique list of movies we'd like to see in 3D!
Ever since James Cameron's Avatar broke box office records and reintroduced 3-Dimensional film exhibition into the modern filmgoer's arena of choices, 3D is here to stay like it or not. Often pegged as a means to charge customers additionally over the usual ticket price with some 3D efforts, the technological feat of bringing things off the screen at the viewer or allowing the viewer to gaze deeper into an image than ever before is either a necessity to a film experience or just another gimmick. With the advent of 3D and renewed public interest in the format, 3D has also made it's way to home theaters with 3D blu-ray and 3D televisions capable of replicating the projection systems in high end theaters. Not everyone is on board with it, as expected, with some filmmakers decrying post-conversion of their films into 3D as a tacky distraction going against their wishes. Even more debatable, like the colorization of black-and-white classics, is the post-conversion of preexisting classics like The Wizard of Oz and more recently Terminator 2: Judgment Day into a newly rendered 3D release version. Purists no doubt will call sacrilege despite the joys to the senses a new look at timeless classics can and often do provide. With this, The Movie Sleuth presents a list of movies we think could and still can receive a 3D post-conversion treatment. The importance of this list is not to just incorporate modern technology into a movie to improve the film. These films are perfect as they are and do not have room for improvement. This list is compiled with the utmost respect and integrity for the film. As is important with re-imagining any classic work, it's important to keep the base material as original as possible. Our list is compiled with ideas to enhance an already great cinematic experience while keeping the director's core vision intact.
The idea behind Douglas Trumbull's ill-fated but beautiful science fiction fable Brainstorm involved the shifting of aspect ratios and film formats to stress the difference between reality and the heightened reality of the brainscan device that is the central star of the film. Concerning a group of scientists who develop a device that can record and playback with a headset and tape human thoughts, feelings, dreams and all kinds of previously inexpressible experiences, Brainstorm was shot primarily on 1.66:1 35mm film with select sequences of the headset vision in 2.20:1 70mm widescreen. Further still, all the 35mm scenes were in mono where the 70mm sequences filled up all 6 channels of sound. Designed years prior to the Christopher Nolan IMAX shifting commonplace in the film industry today, the shifts in film resolution and the magnified differences in screen size gave viewers a larger than life out of body audiovisual experience. Which brings us to the notion of 3D: with so many films being retrofitted for 3D despite being previously exhibited in 2D, Brainstorm and its audiovisual aim to give viewers something of an amusement park ride peppered throughout a 2D movie presents a unique prospect for 3D. What if all of those widescreen 70mm sequences weren't just sharper and bigger than the rest of the movie, but were in 3D as well? Since the film is about heightened reality through an electronic device versus the banal everyday reality we've grown so accustomed to, wouldn't the advent of 3D in this case provide viewers with an even more heightened reality than before? By leaving all of the film in standard 35mm and 2D with the select scenes bumped up to 3D, the disparity between reality and the brainscan device is separated even further than ever before with the possibility of greater immersion than previously. The title sequence itself has often been compared to 3D despite only being presented in 2D. This would be a most interesting and exciting visual experience which, thematically, takes us even closer to the immersive vision Trumbull had for his sadly overlooked and vastly underrated Brainstorm.
The Day of the Triffids
When those ruby red lips sang the lyric 'And I really got hot when I saw Janette Scott fight a triffid that spits poison and kills...' during the opening credits to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, they were referring to this 1962 killer plants from outer space horror classic, The Day of the Triffids. When E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial surveys the botanicals inside the alien spacecraft, a triffid can be spotted among the harvest. Resident B-movie geek Joe Dante couldn't help but stick one in his film Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Based on the 1951 novel of the same name by John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids is among the earliest killer plant movies with a budget behind it. While beaten to the finish line by Roger Corman's camp classic Little Shop of Horrors, the British The Day of the Triffids was by contrast a widescreen CinemaScope effort with big stars like Howard Keel in it. Noted as a troubled production with numerous last minute script changes and additional footage shot by another director, nevertheless the end result is a classic sci-fi end-of-the-world romp gleefully skirting between genuine chills and overt camp. Not all of it works, particularly in the deviations made from the novel that would make the aliens in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs blush, but overall the widescreen creature feature of the early 1960s is a rarely seen breed and one that is sure to still provide viewers with old fashioned monster movie fun. The triffids themselves, a taller-than-human stalk which can walk and feed on its victims with a whip-like sting, often throw their scorpion stingers directly at the camera with many low-angled shots of humans fending themselves off from the deadly tentacles. Yes it all sounds so corny but The Day of the Triffids has not only been remade twice since the 1962 film but a new remake is currently in the works as we speak. So before whatever new version becomes the norm for modern audiences (likely to be bumped up to 3D anyway), the 1962 film has yet to even receive a proper DVD release. As of current only the laserdisc includes the original CinemaScope widescreen version and is sought after on eBay, and no blu-ray appears to be on the horizon yet either. A shame and considering the remake is around the corner, the 1962 The Day of the Triffids is ripe for not only an official home video release, but has ample room for 3D post-conversion as well. I can see viewers ducking behind their seats dodging those poisonous triffid stingers while fumbling to keep their 3D glasses on.
Late British provocateur and often psychedelic artist Ken Russell's Altered States marks the still controversial artist's one and only bona-fide Hollywood effort. Often working on a modest budget in the United Kingdom, Altered States is known among Russell fans as that one time the filmmaker tried his hand at a big studio effort as a director for hire. The end result, a science fiction horror tale of science gone awry with William Hurt as mad scientist Dr. Jessup who begins experimenting with mind-altering drugs in a sensory deprivation isolation tank, is among Ken Russell's most commercially successful films to date and the most seen of his oeuvre. Despite Warner Brothers' initial protestations at writer Paddy Chayevsky's behest that Russell helm the project followed by Chayevsky's own tangle with the director before ultimately removing his name from the credits, Altered States proved to be hugely profitable and at the time sported state of the art visual effects which still hold up well today. When Altered States isn't sporting remarkable prosthetic makeup effects and motion controlled animatronics, it assails the viewers senses with rapid fire edits of micro-photography, optical effects matting and photochemical reactions not unlike the Stargate sequence concluding Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Intended to be one man's journey into innerspace, the film often takes the first person point of view as its titular mad scientist experiences psychological as well as physiological transformations. As a result, Altered States becomes experiential for the viewer as Dr. Jessup experiences his hallucinations firsthand. In one scene, Jessup opens his bathroom door to find the deep mouth of a volcano on the other side. Even without the post-conversion I always wondered what that scene would have been like in 3D with its depth perception. Then there's that electrifying finale where Jessup seems to transform into a protoplasm with his wife a magmatic flickering fireball (or something). In 2D the characters seem to pop off the screen, undoubtedly a startling sight in 3D. The first time Jessup hallucinates alone, with images of Indians ritualistically dancing around a mushroom with fireworks is a total piece of sensory overload with many super-impositions and strobe-flash editing overwhelming the viewer. Given the film was intended to blast the viewer with psychedelic images, you have to wonder what 3D would have provided to amplify the already intense audiovisual assault on the senses.
It's surprising Ghostbusters hasn't received the 3D treatment yet. The film seems tailor made for the technology with depth and layer enhancements which could eerily introduce the phantoms in a new up, close and personal way. A film filled with screen popping ghosts, proton beams, and exploding globs of molten marshmallows would be a fun experience for new and old audiences of this classic supernatural comedy. The film recently received a 4K master theatrical release followed by a blu-ray for it's 30th anniversary in 2014. A 3D release would have been a wonderful way to commemorate the occasion. Modern effects could have given any theater the illusion of being haunted, providing a memorable sensory experience. Besides the 4K anniversary reissue, Ghostbusters is also known for receiving a 70mm theatrical release upon it's original inception as well as a Criterion Collection laserdisc release back in 1989. Perhaps with this year's all female reboot, a renewed interest may inspire Columbia Pictures to get the ball rolling for potential 3D enhancements for the film's forthcoming 35th anniversary. Until then, there is no 3D Dana, only 2D Zuel.
At the time of its release in 1933, King Kong was a special effects marvel, transporting viewers across the ocean to Skull Island for a breathtaking prehistoric journey. 3D enhancements could provide a fantastic new perspective to a film that has thankfully been altered very little over the course of a century. No scene would be more beneficial of this modern technology than the climactic ending with Kong on top of the Empire State Building. The depth perspective of modern 3D would give the New York City skyline a cool new look with an old school presentation. And the idea of bullets and planes jumping off the screen as Kong swats the barrage of attacks makes for an enticing finish. While some purists may argue the validity of the updates to an already perfect film, it would be a fascinating visual experience to see an 83 year old picture receive the 3D treatment without altering the techniques and special effects used to make King Kong the timeless classic that it is. Many modern releases are constantly using special effects and techniques to provide their film with a retroactive look and feel. In the case of King Kong, the idea of modern pop-up book imagery applied to this classic may prove to be an equally marvelous and enthralling experience in it's own right.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has yet to receive the lavish restoration treatment it so deserves. It's sad that a film with such enduring cultural significance isn't getting the attention lesser films in it's wake have managed to receive. For it's 40th anniversary re-release on blu-ray, instead of opting for extensive restoration efforts, Warner Brothers instead dumped the film in a Wonka Bar shaped box filled with scented pencils and a replica of the famed (or infamous, depending on your point of view) golden ticket. If and when a full frame-by-frame restoration happens, a 3D offering would be a wonderful addition to the world of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. No scene would be more anticipated than the Fizzy Lifting Drink scene, with viewers delighting in the re-enjoyment of the danger posed to Charlie and Grandpa Joe in a theater full of glistening 3D bubbles. The boat tunnel scene alone would become that much more psychedelic with 3D effects of it's surreal horrors assaulting the viewer, and the wondrous marvel of the children's first look at Wonka's pure imagination come to life would be a great way for longtime fans to re-experience the magic of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Given the current state of the film print, a 3D conversion would be a worthless endeavor until a proper restoration can be performed to return this picture to it's original unparalleled glory.
Considering Alfred Hitchcock was no stranger to the technology, releasing his 1952 film Dial M for Murder as a three dimensional offering, a 3D release of Hitchcock's classic film The Birds just makes perfect sense. The Birds 3D (now with even more birds!) would be a theatrical experience that could easily enhance the film all the while keeping true with the famed director's original vision. The film could use original footage to creating another visual layer of suspense. For instance, birds in one scene could be isolated and enhanced in another as a 3D image. A copy and paste effort that wouldn't create anything new but still modernize the film without threatening Hitchcock's original vision. The new experience has the potential to pull the audience into the film and vice versa. The notorious bedroom scene could enter a new level of claustrophobic horror as the fury of birds flutter and peck at a terrified Tippi Hedren. To add even more dramatic depth to the scene, a ceiling fan with a bag full of black feathers could even be utilized to provide it with a realistic 4D effect. That said, I can almost sense Hitchcock rolling in his grave.
Army of Darkness
From it's opening point-of-view shots of demons chasing characters, cartoonish title sequence, stop-motion animation segments and shots of the hapless idiot Ash getting sucked into cross-dimensional tunnels, Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness or a crossbreed of Ray Harryhausen, Hanna-Barbera and Raimi's own unique blend of the demonic is a movie consisting of things coming out of the screen at you. While undeniably reworking the first two Evil Dead pictures from their grungy collegiate roots into a new kind of hyperkinetic goofball art form, Army of Darkness presents it's very own cavalcade of monsters, skeletons and goblins of all shapes and sizes to attack the screen. Often using wide-angle lenses, sped-up motion not unlike George Miller's action sequences in The Road Warrior and stop-motion photography reminiscent of Jason and the Argonauts, it's a tongue-in-cheek funhouse that also happens to be using first-person point-of-view perspectives never attempted before. Why is why, when you stop and think about it, Army of Darkness just seems ready and waiting for a 3D post-converted theatrical re-release. For as many close-ups of Bad Ash's decomposing demonic face and shots of the camera abruptly zooming into an extreme close-up of Ash's bionic hand being assembled, the film already threatens to come off the screen and into the viewer's lap in nearly every scene. The opening credits alone, with its ghostly titles forming over Danny Elfman's theme song, feel as though they're floating off the screen. Never meant to be taken seriously in the first place beyond ongoing disputes over the validity of the director's cut over the U.S. theatrical cut and so on, Army of Darkness feels right at home with the 3D technology and begs the question why something this caught up in adolescent cornball fun hasn't been retrofitted for the format yet. This would make a great Halloween re-release in theaters for those who have never seen it and what better way to do it than to have all those deadites and demons coming off the screen right at you or for Ash's double-barreled boomstick to go off in our faces?
Gone with the Wind
With adjusted inflation, director Victor Fleming and producer David O. Selznick's adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's best-selling historical romantic drama Gone with the Wind remains the most successful film in box-office history. Trumping Avatar and The Force Awakens easily in terms of sheer numbers, it's also known as that other Technicolor film giant that came out of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios the same year as The Wizard of Oz. Winner of 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture and in the American Film Institute's top ten greatest films of all time, Gone with the Wind is that timeless piece of cinema history that is indelibly ingrained into the modern cinemagoer's cultural consciousness. From it's famous reverse tracking shot of Scarlett O'Hara (Vivian Leigh) silhouetted against a bright sunset to its numerous pioneering visual effects sequences utilizing blue screen matting plates, Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz bear the distinction of two massive studio pictures that were years ahead of their time. Still managing to draw large numbers at the occasional yearly Fathom Events screenings (this year's IMAX screening at the AMC Forum 30 sold out for instance), it's a massive spectacle which manages to rival it's fellow MGM competitor The Wizard of Oz in terms of the depth of its vistas, score and of course the star power of its two leads, Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable. Between the two MGM films, Gone with the Wind is arguably the winner but there's one problem with respect to this article: The Wizard of Oz recently received a 3D post-conversion remaster and was re-released briefly in IMAX 3D, prompting an inevitable 3D blu-ray release. While the endeavor of upgrading a 2D film from 1939 to modern day 3D technology is debatable in terms of integrity, on an IMAX screen the images were pristine with startlingly inventive use of the post-conversion and enhanced 5.1 sound design. Both movies maintain the ability to draw crowds despite being over half a century old, yet only one of the two managed to be reimagined with a technique allowing viewers to immerse themselves within the world of the film. Considering the scale of Oz's arch MGM rival, it begs the question why hasn't a 3D Gone with the Wind happened yet?
The first and oddly one of the only science fiction films outside of Joe Dante's Innerspace and the abandoned Epcot Center theme park ride Body Wars to depict a miniaturized submarine's journey into the human body, Fantastic Voyage bears the distinction of being an effects driven thriller with a solid cast and that tightrope skirting between prescient foresight into technological innovation and plain old high camp. Full of revolutionary (at the time) visual effects and enormous set pieces of the inside of ear canals, heart, lungs, the brain, red and white blood cells, it's an overwhelming sensory assault both dated and timeless for its vision of the future of modern surgical practices. Cited as the debut of screen sex symbol Raquel Welch, it also (along with The Thing from Another World) paved the way for the likes of films like Alien with Donald Pleasance more or less filling the obligations of the science officer teetering on the edge of insanity who isn't to be trusted. Among the film's most striking images consists of a precarious journey through the heart, with our point of view from the ship of impending valves expanding and contracting as the ship plunges headlong. Upon watching it, you know where Ren & Stimpy culled all of their hokey sound effects for their space episodes came from. Now, why would a dated visual effects film such as this be ripe for the 3D retrofitting process? Well, picture a thriller sequence in which white blood cells, alerted to the submarine's presence and the humans swimming through the ear canal, rush to attack the ship and its crew. Shots of the cells floating toward the camera backlit against the multicolored walls of the canal, are a sight both awesome and terrifying for its characters. Just imagine how many of these cells would float right off the screen and into your point of view. From it's striking production design to its still groundbreaking special effects, Fantastic Voyage is an immersive film experience which with the advent of 3D possesses the power to draw you even further into its vision of the human body than ever before.
-Lee L. Lind