Friday, July 8, 2011

The Revenge Is 4 Today!

I can't believe it's only and already been four years since I started Caliban's Revenge. I've learned a lot about myself and other folks; I've made new friends and heard opinions from some... interesting people. Most of all, I've found I'm not alone in many of my opinions, which is very reassuring.

I've averaged 11 followers a year (not great, but better than a couple of blogs I follow). I have no idea how many actual hits I've gotten (nor do I really care). More than anything, Caliban's Revenge is a way to leave a part of myself behind when I'm gone - my stamp on the world, if you will. "But Uncle P, you're a director and an actor. Surely, that will leave something of yourself behind." Perhaps, but the very nature of live theatre is fleeting - a one time thing every time, whether it's 1 or 500 performances. But my thoughts and opinions; these words and images are forever (or as long as humanity survives). That's longer than my particular genetic material will survive.

And now that I've gotten the "deep" stuff out of the way, let's talk about something important: movies. I started this blog with a list of movies which I thought should be remade. Since then, some of them have been (or will be) and consequently, that list has changed a bit since then. So let's take a look at 10 Movies that Should Be Remade; Vers. 4.0:

10. Logan's Run (1976) - Based on a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, Michael Anderson's film won an Academy Award for special effects. It starred Michael York; Jenny Agutter; Richard Jordan; Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov in a story about a society that values youth and beauty above all. Citizens are fitted with time-sensitive crystals in their palms and upon reaching the age of 30 (21 in the novel), they commit ritual suicide in something called "Carousel." Undoubtedly a product of the "never trust anyone over 30" hippie movement of the late 60's, Logan's Run is an interesting, but dated movie. If done correctly, it could be a very effective treatise on paranoia and everything that's wrong with Utopian societies.

A remake of Logan's Run is currently scheduled for release in 2012, with an already too-old-in-real-life Ryan Phillipe in the title role.

9.  The Haunting (1963) - Robert Wise's version of Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House" is probably one of the most frightening films ever made. It features an extraordinary performance by Julie Harris and some of the most terrifying sequences ever committed to celluloid. Still, it's very much a product of its time, and the hinted-at lesbianism of Claire Bloom's character deserves a modern perspective. Jan deBont's 1999 remake is an over-indulgent orgy of bad CGI and ham-fisted acting from Lily Taylor, Catherine Zeta Jones, Owen Wilson and Liam Neesom. Toned-down effects and subtler direction are needed to bring Jackson's classic into the 21st Century.

8. The Exorcist (1973) - William Friedkin's adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel is a classic for many reasons, least of all the amazing performances from Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller. But the then-state-of-the-art effects from Dick Smith look as phony as can be (see especially the head-spinning). The movie caused quite a stir when it was first released but even six years later, when I finally saw it in its first re-release, it had lost much of it's impact. Nearly 40 years worth of effects evolution would benefit the story, especially in the hands of the right director, say... Sam Raimi or James Wan...

7. Sisters (1973) - An early Brian DePalma film about formerly conjoined twins (played by Margot Kidder), one of whom may or may not be a murderer. DePalma would visit the theme of the unbelieved witness in Dressed to Kill and Blowout, though neither film would match Sisters in creepiness. A big-budget remake could improve on the original's fascinating premise.

6. The Shining (1980) - Novelist Stephen King admits to hating Stanley Kubrick's version of his novel and as a fan of the novel, so do I. Not that it's a bad movie - it's just not the movie that King's novel deserves. Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall are woefully miscast; key plot points are completely ignored and things are invented for the movie which never happen in the book. Just about the only thing it gets right is teh casting of the late Scatman Cruthers. Even worse is Mick Farris' TV adaptation, which follows the plot of the novel more closely but because it's for TV, is forced to cut many of the more "adult" scenarios. This may well be another job for Raimi or maybe even Hostel director Eli Roth. In any case, The Shining deserves a faithful and truly frightening film adaptation.

5. Ghost Story (1981) - Much like The Shining, director John Irvin's adaptation of Peter Straub's brilliantly scary novel misses the point, completely. Lawrence D. Cohen's script reduces Straub's complex tale of ghostly revenge to its basest of elements, losing all of the novel's subtlety and true horror. While John Houseman, Fred Astaire, Melvin Douglas and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are spot on as the members of "The Chowder Society" and genre fav Alice Krige makes an impressive debut, the things that made the book so creepy are ignored in favor of cheap thrills and 80's physical effects. Such a complex tale requires the touch of a director like J.J. Abrams, whose "Lost" managed to capture the complexity needed to tell Straub's story effectively.

4. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) - Ray Bradbury's tale about an evil carnival is the first novel I learned to analyze, thanks to a brilliant teacher named Jack Fogarty. It's a story about fatherly love, childhood magic and the redemption of the human spirit. Disney's 1983 version, directed by Jack Clayton (The Innocents) reduces Bradbury's novel to its basest, once again ignoring the book's subtler points. Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd and Pam Grier do their best with Bradbury's script, but the movie doesn't do any justice to the book.

3. Planet of the Apes (1968) - Pierre Boulle's novel was adapted by screenwriters Michael Wilson and Rod Serling ("The Twilight Zone") into a very successful movie starring Charleton Heston, Roddy McDowell , Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans. Several sequels (each less well-made) followed. And in 2001, Tim Burton attempted a less-than-successful reboot. Later this summer, a new prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring James Franco, will arrive at local cineplexes. Modern effects and a script closer to Boulle's novel could make for a terrific and exciting movie.

2. The Incredible Mr Limpet (1964) - Don Knotts starred in this semi-animated story about a nerd who wished he was a fish, only to find his dream come true. This was a favorite of my sister and mine when we were kids, and I can imagine that today's film technology would make for a terrific (or horrific) remake. If you've never seen the original, I highly recommend it. IMDb lists a remake in development for a 2013 release.

1. The Stranger Within (1974) - With the upcoming release of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, it seems the perfect time to remake another ABC Movie of the Week. Barbara "I Dream of Jeannie" Eden starred in this tale of a pregnant woman who finds herself craving salt, raw meat and cold temperatures, only to realize that her unborn child is actually the result of a close encounter. Richard Matheson adapted his own short story in this rather effective TV movie. A big screen version could reinvigorate reflective Science Fiction.

More Anniversary nonsense to come...

In the meantime, what movies would you like to see remade? Enquiring minds want to know...

More, anon.

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