We all know how much Hollywood loves remakes. This week alone sees the release of two remakes of ’80s classics. While most remakes are superfluous at best, and downright insulting at worst, rare cases do exist where remakes are justified, and may even offer improvement over a flawed original film. For this week’s Roundtable, we’re offering up our suggestions for movies that deserve a shot at a proper remake treatment.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
If you tuned into the USA Network at any point in the late ’80s or early ’90s, chances are you’ve been subjected to Larry Cohen’s ‘The Stuff‘, a deliriously goofy horror/comedy about otherworldly frozen yogurt that some random oil worker or something finds gushing out of the ground in Alaska. Naturally, he takes a taste. Mikey likes it, and before you know it, the Stuff has overtaken every frozen food aisle from one coast to the other. Calorie-free and magically delicious – what’s not to like? Well, maybe the disclaimer they forgot to print about the Stuff devouring you from the inside, transforming you into a hivemind zombie slave before you’re all used up and… explode.
Although I genuinely like the movie, I think ‘The Stuff’ would be a pretty prime target for a remake. A lot of the low-rent blue-screen effects work didn’t look stellar in the mid-’80s, let alone by current standards, so a modern-day visual effects spit-‘n-polish could work wonders. The original movie’s satirical edge about manipulative marketing and the cutthroat food industry would play better now more than ever too. (I mean, what with it being alive and all, that means that the Stuff is 100% organic, right?)
‘The Stuff’ was definitely dragged down by its budget. It hammers some of the same lame gags into the ground over and over and over again, and a few clever ideas made for a great premise but an umm-less-than-great screenplay. Hey, what a tremendous opportunity for a remake to swoop in and smooth out all the rough spots! I’ll just keep pretending that there are more than twelve or thirteen people on the planet who feel the same way…
I’d want to see a remake of ‘Suicide Club‘. Why not? Every other Japanese film that anyone has ever heard of already has an American remake and a few sequels, prequels, mid-quels and nyQuils. This is a film that was a fun watch, bizarre at times, that could use an update to modern technology, with a little bit more cohesion. On a related note, a film found in a box set with ‘Suicide Club’ would also be an interesting one to remake and localize would be ‘2LDK’. That short but sweet take on competition gone too far flew by like a commercial, and was damn entertaining. Is the only reason we’re not seeing either of these films because they don’t have cheap jump scares with really pale dead-ish things?
Boy, I wish I hadn’t used ‘Robot Jox’ in last week’s Roundtable! It’s hard to think of a movie that hasn’t already been remade or had a remake announced. Considering the passing of Steve Jobs last week, I would kill for an updated version of ‘“Pirates of Silicon Valley‘. I don’t care if they make it a four part miniseries or a crazy long movie, but it needs to happen. Movies about Facebook are all well and good, but the events and the drama between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates was something breathtaking to behold. Two men who changed the face of the world going head to head and spurring each other to greatness – that’s a story I could watch again and again. With Aaron Sorkin as writer, of course.
I’d like to see ‘The Happening‘ get a remake – so long as M. Night Shyamalan has nothing to do with it. I’m a believer in The Shyamalan, but his last few flicks have sucked terribly. The concept behind ‘The Happening’ holds so much potential, but is entirely wasted on its writer pulling a Shyamalan. Someone other than M. Night should take that property and give it an overhaul. Keep the bits about a virus that causes people to commit suicide when infected (because that’s frankly an awesome idea). Remove the damn plants, the cheesy cell phone lion attack, Marky Mark talking to a plastic tree, and the guy who raves about the under-appreciation of hot dogs. Move the film in a much cooler direction (which shouldn’t be too hard considering how lame ‘The Happening’ is) and I’ll watch it. I originally came up with the idea of revamping the project into a Showtime series right after seeing the press screening. When ‘The Walking Dead’ premiered, I felt like that show had given zombies my treatment for what I wanted from ‘The Happening’.
M. Enois Duarte
I’m having trouble thinking of a movie that could benefit from a remake, because frankly, I love my movies the way they are – even when badly made and super corny. But if I really needed to pick something with a strong concept and great potential to be totally awesome, it would probably be ‘Night of the Comet‘. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched that movie on VHS, but the countless viewings only show how much I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a cool idea that for some reason the filmmakers didn’t quite make work all that well. If someone were so inclined to revisit and modernize, there’s the possibility of making the whole thing much grander, and turning the movie into a world run rampant with zombies and fanatics. The original has always felt like it only touches on certain ideas and aspects. The new flick could definitely explore further what it would be like to be young and have the entire world for your taking when car lots, fashion malls and video stores are a free-for-all.
Josh posed a very interesting, but difficult question for this week’s Roundtable – movies we thought could benefit from a remake with an eye for interesting concepts but poor execution. He asks due to the ’80s movie remakes coming out this weekend, and so my first thought was to look at those films: ‘Footloose’ and ‘The Thing’. Both of these flicks are sacrilege in my book.
First, ‘Footloose’, not because I dig chick flicks, but I feel like there are a bunch “ladies of the ’80s” in my life that love that movie, and this remake looks like ‘You Can Dance’ and ‘Fast and Furious’ dragged ‘Footloose’ over a landmine filled with diarrhea. I have a soft spot for ‘Dirty Dancing’ and would personally be grouchy about Hollywood bastardizing that film. As for ‘The Thing’, I suppose someone thought that it would be a good idea to just put ladies and goofy CGI in the classic original to make a quick buck. I hope it fails miserably.
Now, to Josh’s question… I had a bit of trouble trying to remember movies that fell into that group, but a pal of mine came up with a decent suggestion: ‘Waterworld‘. I LOVED the idea, but the movie mis-stepped in every manner. From the terrible script (“Dry land is not just our destination, it is our destiny!”) to ideas that were completely half-baked (there was enough oil to last generations for folks to evolve into water breathers?) right down to the minutiae of stupid stuff (where is everyone getting all these cigarettes?). Yeah, in capable hands, I’d give ‘Waterworld’ another chance.
Since remaking movies from the ’80s seems to be the thing to do these days, I’ll stick with that decade. It doesn’t hurt that I grew up then, and still have fond memories for movies that I loved as a kid but that don’t hold up to adult scrutiny. Sci-fi movies, mostly. So, my pick for a remake candidate is 1984’s ‘Runaway‘, starring Tom Selleck as a robot cop. No, he’s not a robot who is a cop; he’s a cop who hunts robots… No, he’s not a Blade Runner either. Mostly, he chases down industrial machines that have gone haywire, until a crazy madman (a snarling Gene Simmons) starts using strange robotic weapons to murder people.
The film was written and directed by respected sci-fi author Michael Crichton, which you might assume would be pedigree enough to ensure some timelessness. But no, this isn’t among his best efforts. (I swear I’ve read somewhere that Crichton had a cocaine habit around this time, which I was inclined to make a wisecrack about, but I can’t seem to find any references to that right now.) The plot of the film feels awfully half-baked. For one thing, why would the police department have a division that responds to incidents with malfunctioning industrial equipment in the first place? How is that a crime? Wouldn’t that be an IT issue? When your copier acts up, you call the Geek Squad, not the cops.
The movie is also mired in ’80s cheese, including the laughably clunky robotic spiders that victims cower in fear from. Even so, it has a few nifty ideas in it (like smart bullets that can track a target and turn around corners). With a clever reworking and modern visual effects, ‘Runaway’ could become a slick, ‘Minority Report’-style sci-fi thriller. I’d kind of like to see that.
Those are our ideas. Now tell us in the Comments about movies that you think are worth remaking.