We live in an age of quantity when it comes to movies. Quality flicks are made, quite a few of them in fact, but the Hollywood engine is more concerned with turning a profit than it is with posterity. This means a lot of movies will go through half-assed, and it also means lots and lots of recycling, from sequels to prequels to reboots to remakes.
There are times when this can be a good thing. Good re-imaginings of timeless characters and inventive remakes of forgotten or overlooked movies not only produce quality work in their own right, but their turn new eyes to the old work, and that’s when revivals happen.
But more often than not, we end up with unwelcome tinkering in the affairs of fans of the original flicks, and far too many times those fans are us, the nerds who have been loyally worshiping material that other people watched once and then forgot. There are countless remakes in the works right now, not even counting the numerous rumored remakes. Here’s a list of 10 flicks for nerds Hollywood should leave the hell alone.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
OK, so this wouldn’t necessarily be a remake of the TV series. More likely this would be a re-imagining of the more cliche-ridden but still cheesily entertaining 1992 film that Joss Whedon then turned into one of the most popular universes in modern pop culture. Details on this one are sketchy, but seeing as its rumored that one of the chicks from Glee might play Buffy, it doesn’t look too good. The biggest tragedy here is that Whedon isn’t even done telling Buffy stories of his own. The season 9 comic is on its way this fall, and this supposed re-imagining of the universe is due out the following year. Who knows what sort of Twilight-inspired direction they’ll take this thing, but it’s safe to say we won’t want it.
In defense of this particular remake idea, it’s at least got a killer writer in J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), who said the original is his favorite sci-fi film. Producer Joel Silver said the new film will not be a strict remake and not strictly a prequel, so it’s hard to tell exactly what direction this will go. Still, Forbidden Planet ranks among the greatest science fiction films of all time. Yes, it’s dated, but it’s a classic of the genre, a game-changer, the kind of thing that set the tone for years of great alien stories on screen. Plus, the robot is pretty badass.
Set aside the whole “this remake is an insult to the memory of Brandon Lee” thing. Even if he hadn’t died during filming, The Crow is still a classic of urban fantasy, back when urban fantasy was a shadow of what it is now. If that doesn’t convince you, take note that Stephen Norrington, the dude who directed the abortive League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, is helming this project. He’s also hoping to make the film realistic and “hard-edged” or some shit. Even if you’re OK with that, have a little heart. We’ve already suffered through three terrible sequels and a TV series. Must we keep flogging this damn horse?
Yes, I know we can add a bunch of CGI shit to it now and make it bigger and louder and whatever, but this is RoboCop we’re talking about. Why does it need to be messed with? The practical gore effects alone make it a classic of 80s sci-fi cinema, and even if you think 80s sci-fi cinema sucks, I maintain that’s no reason to ruin it for the rest of us.
Here’s another 80s classic that’s on its way to a big CGI retreatment. There are a lot of corny things happening in Highlander, and as far as the look goes it’s definitely incredibly dated (Clancy Brown’s wardrobe alone ensures that), but there are two points I must make in defense of not tinkering with this film. One: Sean Connery plays a Spaniard who still sounds like Sean Connery. Two: The film opens with Queen’s “Princes of the Universe.” No further evidence is needed.
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Yes, it’s another corny film. No, it should not be remade just because it’s corny. Cornball monster movies have an important place in American cinema history just like grindhouse movies, or splatterpunk movies. Creature from the Black Lagoon has been dancing around remake territory for close to three decades, but now it looks like it’s actually happening, and the end result will probably be something either super sexualized (a la Twilight) or super grotesque (a la the The Hills Have Eyes remakes). Either way, what’s the point? Just make a movie with a different damn monster.
Clive Barker himself is supposedly working on this thing, but I still don’t trust it. After a ghastly number of sequels, nothing can ever compare to what the original film did. It was one of those eye-openers in the horror world of the 1980s, one of those films that combined the splatterpunk passion for gore with the fairy tale dreaminess of a much deeper work. Yes, once again, we could make the effects better, but there’s something about the slimy claymation and puppetry of the old version, and the skinless Frank smoking a cigarette, that just makes this one perfect.
This time I am going to play the insult to someone’s memory card. This was Jim Henson’s final film, and despite its somewhat dated look, it remains a testament to his imaginative powers. It’s become a novelty film, but it’s more than novelty that makes people keep watching it. And honestly, how can you make this film without David Bowie? Well, now that I think about it, seeing a version of this with Lou Reed as the Goblin King would be a trippy experience.
Thankfully, this one might not even happen anymore, but there’s been enough interest that it still remains a threat. David Cronenberg made some of the freakiest mainstream horror flicks of the 1980s, and that’s saying something. Scanners might not be his best, but it certainly earns the distinction of being among his bloodiest (a dude’s head blows up), and among his most widely re-watched. A remake might serve to elevate the original to a new classic status, but honestly, no one did body part explosions like effects geniuses in the 1980s.
There’s a simple reason this is a dumb idea: you can’t increase the adorableness factor of this robot. With the possible exception of Pixar’s Wall-E, he’s the cutest robot ever, and no amount of modern technology can fix that, not even if you cover the new Johnny 5 with panda fur and puppy kisses. Therefore, lack of a more adorable robot means there’s no reason to remake this flick.
None of these flicks have been released yet, of course. Most of them aren’t even close, so it’s possibly that by the time they come out I could be proven wrong. It is possible to make a good remake of a movie that was good in the first place, but by and large it would be better to just leave the classics well enough alone. Sure, some kids only want the latest and greatest at the cinema, but most of us (yes, even those of us who weren’t necessarily alive when the movies were made) are perfectly happy with what’s already here. If you want to wow us with new cinema, make sure it’s actually new.