Releasing terrible remakes has become a full-on Hollywood trend. One of the greatest problems with these remakes is that they’re remakes of excellent films that never needed to be reimagined to begin with. It’s strange, especially when looking at the genre as a whole, to process the idea that remaking a popular horror film is a better idea than remaking a notoriously terrible horror film.
It seems to me the idea of a remake should be to improve upon a preexisting film. To fill the existing holes. That’s what a remake should successfully do. We don’t need more CARRIEs, THE FOGs or POLTERGEISTs; it’s about time we saw some investment made in the films that could actually use a boost in interest.
Clive Barker put together a wonderfully chilling tale of a monster and ultimate blasphemy. While the film doesn’t tread the same religiously complex waters, it still features a near-10 foot tall monstrosity with rather perverse inclinations. The titular monster looked horrible in George Pavlou’s original film, and the dialogue might truly melt your brain… yet if you read the story, you’ll understand that, with the right filmmaker at the helm, this could be a perfectly repulsive trip into terrifying territory.
We’ve seen enough Stephen King stories massacred to fill a half dozen lifetimes; THE MANGLER is one of those many failures — but it didn’t have to be. The idea that a folding machine can become possessed is a little far-fetched, but handled with care, and set in a deathly serious picture with brooding atmosphere and dramatic performers, the original short story could be better served than Tobe Hooper’s botched ’95 pic. As much as I adore Robert Englund, his personal style immediately pegs him as the wrong man for the job. Throw in a superb chameleon like Daniel Day-Lewis, and you’ve already got the foundation to create an unlikely masterpiece.
Few pictures get off on the successful note that Steve Beck’s GHOST SHIP accomplished — seeing an entire ballroom cut in half to open the show is beyond promising — but unfortunately, the film fell into the all-too-familiar pitfalls of horror; it was rife with clichés, shallow personalities and telegraphed scares. What may be worse than any of those issues, however, is the fact that the ocean is never used as a character itself, and it should have been; the ocean is the ultimate enemy to this small group of hopeful survivors — the unbeatable barrier between imminent death and safety on land. A filmmaker with a sublime sense of surroundings and situational awareness could have created a plethora of scares based solely on that endless ink-black ocean. Roar Uthaug knows how to turn everything at his disposal into something menacing, and he could give us the GHOST SHIP we deserve.
Don’t even attempt to tell me TRUCKS was an adequate rendition of this story, or I’ll cyber spit in your face. One of the interesting things about Stephen King is that when he hates an adaptation of one of his stories, he does all he can to see someone else come in and remake the film… and each time that happens (TRUCKS is a fine example, but there’re none so well known as THE SHINING and SALEM’S LOT), we end up with a film that he likes more, and fans like a lot less. So, we need to keep TRUCKS out of the focus scope and bring this story back as it should have been told initially. In fact, while King’s film is a little sloppy in places, it’s got the kind of tone that makes a classic; it has some visuals that prove authoritative and a couple of characters viewers can really invest in. So, how do we create a tightened-up rendition of MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE that both King and his fans can be happy with? We bring in someone like Alexandre Aja, who has proven himself extremely well-suited to tighten the loose nuts on preexisting pictures that may not be as sturdy as they could be.
ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM
The idea of a hybrid alien/predator is absolutely awesome. That core concept has all the potential in the world. However, when The Brothers Strause’s picture was released in 2007, it crashed and burned. It wasn’t the acting that buried the film, or the script, or even the general execution — it was the lighting. The entire film is so dark that we literally cannot see what’s happening on the screen. Initially, it seemed that the low light was a tactic utilized to disguise sub-par special effects — but it’s almost always dark, whether FX are on display or not. It’s a major technical blunder that ruined what might have been a very fun film. I don’t think you look for any truly deep story in a movie like this; I think you put the fun factor at the front of the line… and you make sure fans can see what the fuck is happening. With these technical adjustments, this could have been the equivalent of a classic shallow but tremendously enjoyable Universal crossover film. With that said, I’m still wildly interested in a film that brings aliens and predators together. That’s a horror geek’s dream.
I actually don’t think anything is wrong with Gordon Douglas’ 1954 B-movie classic — in fact, it’s one of my favorite vintage films, and as goofy as those giant ants look, they’re still supremely entertaining. THEM! Is just a very fun film from top to bottom. The problem is, no one really seems to know about it these days. If we saw a nice, clean remake with great characters and JURASSIC WORLD-level special effects, we’d have a ridiculously fun film on our hands. That’s a great thing — but what would make that remake even better is the awareness that it would generate for the original film, which really is so damn fun it should be considered a law to own a copy. Ellory Elkayem did a splendid job with EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS; in the near-15 years to have passed since that film scuttled into our lives, we’ve seen colossal CGI advancements. Elkayem is perfect for these kinds of pictures — and there’s little doubt he would be the right man to make THEM! again!
Mick Garris is a really cool, talented and passionate guy, but he really fucked this movie up terribly. I don’t put all of the fault on Garris, as Stephen King’s script was all over the place… it just felt so strange and disconnected from everything relatable, that to call it uncharacteristically bad by King’s standards would be an immeasurable understatement. But the promise of a very creepy and killer story — and subsequent picture — is alive and well within Garris’ effort. The foundation has been built; now let’s get someone in there who can muffle some of the camp and draw the constricted terror to the surface. Paul Hyett is a filmmaker who knows how to take two different living worlds and bring them together in explosive fashion, and I think he’d be the perfect pick to rejuvenate this promising title.
Let’s keep it short and sweet shall we? THE LANGOLIERS could have been an eerie story about strange critters that essentially devour existence. Instead it was a cheap, uninspired story with very few likable characters about strange critters that essentially devour existence. The adjustments needed here are obvious: we need a filmmaker that understands endearing characters, and we need a top-of-the-line special effects crew to bring those chompers to life. That’s that. Not a quick a fix, but it’s no unsolvable riddle, either.
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
Personally, I love this film; I think it’s one of the best of the HALLOWEEN franchise… but its marketing and branding was all wrong. To start, the word “Halloween” needs to be slashed from the title right off the bat; let’s eliminate the association with Michael Myers. Then bring in another strong 40-ish cast (casting 20-somethings just wouldn’t fly for this story, assuming it doesn’t undergo extensive surgery) with a young, hungry filmmaker who’s already shown us a strong flick or two, and we could potentially see a stellar surprise. It’s not hard to imagine someone like David F. Sandberg, or even Fede Alvarez pumping out a new modern-day classic.
THE WEREWOLF lands on this list for the same reason THEM! does: it’s an amazing film that simply does not have the built in and dedicated following that it so deserves. Fred F. Sears was a workaholic, and he wasn’t known for pumping out highbrow material… but THE WEREWOLF is the man’s quiet magnum opus. It starts on an amazing note that’s both believable and intense, and soon becomes a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Nothing need be adjusted regarding the story itself; we just need a fresh approach from someone like Breck Eisner, who showed that he’s more than capable of creating a compelling small-town terror tale when he remade THE CRAZIES. In fact, what the hell — why not cast Timothy Olyphant in the film, while we’re at it? Sounds like a success in the making!