Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ten Fanatsy/Horror/Sci-Fi Movies that Should be Re-made

Generally, I hate movie remakes. They are usually (with a very few exceptions) pointless and rarely as good as the originals. That having been said, there are a few movies that should be re-made. Why? Because they deserve the updates that new technologies could improve, or because they were never as good as they should have been in the first place. So, here are ten I think should be remade.

1. Something Wicked This Way Comes – The terrific Ray Bradbury novel (one of the first novels I learned to dissect and still one of my all time favorites) about a carnival of soul-stealing spectres who feed on fear, is diluted and dumbed-down in the Disney film adaptation starring Jason Robards, Peter Billingsly (A Christmas Story) and a then-unknown Jonathan Pryce. As a kid who loved carnivals (and an adult who still does), the novel both terrified and fascinated me. The superb BBC program "Torchwood" recently adopted part of its premise for an excellent season-two episode.

2. Ghost Story – Peter Straub's magnificently scary and disturbing novel was adapted into a less-than-satisfying movie in 1981, starring ancient film legends Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas; John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. It introduced American audiences to cult icon, Alice Crige (Star Trek's Borg Queen) and totally missed the point of Straub's complex story of ghostly revenge and the nature of true evil.

3. Fahrenheit 451 – Frank Darabount (The Mist; The Green Mile; The Shawshank Redemption) is scheduled to remake another Bradbury classic, originally adapted in 1966 by French auteur Francios Truffault as a stark and sterile vehicle for Julie Christie and Oskar Werner where, in a dystopian future, books are illegal and 'Firemen' are dispensed to burn caches of contraband literature. The original, while fascinating, is just a bit too 'artsy' to capture Bradbury's homespun story-telling style.

4. The Shining – Neither the Stanley Kubrick original, nor the Mick Garris-helmed TV version satisfyingly adapts Stephen King's terrifying novel about a haunted Colorado hotel and the alcoholic playwright who brings his family to spend a winter taking care of it. Kubrick's version is more about the nature of madness than a ghost story, while the TV version (written by King) is forced by the limitations of the medium (and the network censors) to omit important details.

5. Sisters – An early Brian DePalma film about formerly conjoined twins (played by Superman's Margot Kidder), one of whom is a psychopath. A fascinating premise, disappointingly executed on a very low budget.

6. Last House on the Left – Horror icon Wes Craven (The Hills Have Eyes; A Nightmare on Elm Street) made his name in the early 70's with this tale of a family's revenge against the men who raped their daughter. Famous for the tagline "Keep telling yourself: 'It's only a movie,'" Last House… is supposedly scheduled for an updated remake in 2009.

7. The Exorcist – Yes, William Friedkin's amazing film adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel was a sensation in its day (people literally fainted during screenings and lines formed for blocks) and can still scare the Faithful, but the advancement of CGI special effects make this story of a young girl possessed by a demon ripe for remaking. In the hands of the right director, a remake could have people fainting, puking and lining up all over again.

8. The Haunting – The original 1961 film version of Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House" is one of the most frightening movies ever made, all without its audience seeing a thing. And it features an astonishing performance by the always amazing Julie Harris. The execrable late-90's remake, directed by Jan de Bont, is simply an excuse to exploit CGI effects and the talents of actors Lily Taylor and Liam Neesom. A truly frightening remake is certainly in order.

9. The Hobbit – An animated version of J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to The Lord of the Rings, made by Rankin/Bass Studios (best known for holiday stop-motion fare like Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer), confusingly reduces Tolkien's fantasy tale to its basest elements (and ends halfway through the story). Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy; Pan's Labyrinth) has been signed to direct the live-action version, as well as a 'bridge' film which further connects the story to Peter Jackson's astonishing LOTR trilogy. Thankfully, Jackson is signed to produce both films, though I have no qualms about Del Toro's abilities as a director of fantasy fare.

10. Logan's Run – This 1970's cheesefest, based on the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, won an Academy Award for Special Effects, but time has not been kind to the film which starred Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Peter Ustinov and a young Farrah Fawcett. Obvious miniature sets, bad robotic effects and terrible acting all add up to a Z-grade (at best) movie about a futuristic society which values youth above all. A faithful adaptation of the novel, aided by modern CGI FX, has been bandied about for years, with names like Schwarzenegger, Cruise and Pitt attached at various times. It is apparently scheduled for a 2010 release, according to IMDb.

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