The cinematic landscape has been littered with remakes and reboots almost since the first moving pictures were shown commercially. But lately we have been getting new versions of classic pictures that are still very much in the public consciousness such as Total Recall (2012) and this year’s Point Break. That neither of these was either wanted or well received seems to be beyond the point. And the recent trend for basically effectively remaking an original film with some of the older characters still present also seems to also be gaining traction, although efforts such as Creed (Rocky all over again) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (it’s the same story!) are at least excellent viewing.
But if you’re going to plunder something from the past, either in answer to a dearth of original ideas or as a way of getting bums-on-seats with some pre-known, pre-sold material, there are plenty of alternatives that are just begging to be remade. Here we present a selection of movies you may have forgotten or may never have seen that we would love to see updated.
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
Yes we know this is already on the slate as a remake, but such is the way of Hollywood that unless it’s cast and filming, it’s still only a possibility. An all-time classic and fondly remembered, a group of scientists are shrunk to human cell size and injected into the body of am important scientist whose hanging on to life after a botched assassination attempt. By today’s standards it’s now slow and unbelievably kitsch, yet still great fun. Whilst some parts of the interwebs will still fixate on the ‘Look! It’s Raquel Welch in a skinsuit’ angle, it’s still a diverting if dated couple of hours. However the thought of the still-in-planning Guillermo del Toro‘s version and what body horror delights he can bring is enough to bring on the goosebumps. But for now, it’s still on the wanted list.
It’s the year 2018 and James Caan, all softly spoken and simmering rage, is Jonathan E, a star Rollerball player. In this future, the entire world is controlled by vast corporations run by suited executives. War, poverty, chaos…all have been eliminated and the bloodlust of the masses is catered for and managed in the global sport of Rollerball, a bone crunching, fast and sometimes lethal bastardization of roller derby with added motorbikes, blood and gore. What was the future in 1975 is now almost reality; you could argue that UFC and it’s ilk could be proto-Rollerball entertainment for the masses. With it’s wing collars, flares and cumbersome rollerskates, the film has not dated well visually but is still a thoughtful, dystopian, kinetic ride that is crying out for an update. We’re ignoring the awful 2002 remake, as should you.
Logan’s Run (1976)
There is still much love for Logan’s Run. A huge hit on it’s release and an Oscar winner to boot, it spawned a short lived television series and many visual imitators. In this future, a utopian life is lived in huge domes away from the nuclear-scorched outside world, a life of luxury that seems perfectly idyllic. Except that when you hit 30, you commit suicide. Naturally there are some who rebel against this and these ‘runners’ are hunted down by a police force called ‘Sandmen’, all of whom are decked out in couldn’t-be-more 1970’s leisurewear. Michael York is Sandman Logan, who together with Jenny Agutter decides to run and discovers all is not as it seems. The once ground-breaking model work now looks horribly dated and and the film as a whole looks so steeped in a 1970’s version of the future that it resembles a later-era, cheap Space 1999 episode. But in an era of Dignitas and with all of us seemingly still chasing the fountain of youth in some form or another, another crack at this makes sense. So much so it’s been doing the rounds for well over a decade with X-men producer Simon Kinberg and none other than Joel Silver currently trying to get it in front of the cameras.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, 1978 and 1993)
Who cares if it’s been made three times already? The classic tale of alien spores landing on earth and copying humans to eventual world domination has fit the ethos, attitudes and politics of the time in each of it’s incarnations. The original 1956 version had the aliens as metaphor for communism and the ‘reds under the beds’ paranoia of the time. Twenty two years later and they are cyphers for the conformity, ubiquity and sameness of life that many thought were beginning to plague American cities. It’s now been 23 years since Abel Ferrara’s 1993 second remake, which set the story on an American military base, and a fourth version is thus long overdue. In a world of the cold, unemotional 1% ruling over us, it could also be never more prescient.
Capricorn One (1978)
Riffing on the ever popular conspiracy theory that the moon landings were faked, Capricorn One goes one step further and transplants the conspiracy to Mars. The first manned mission to the red planet is a failure before it launches but, keen for it to be seen as a success and thus maintain and increase their funding, the top bods at NASA decide to simply fake it. Written and directed by Peter Hyams, this is a rollercoaster conspiracy thriller with taught storytelling, action scenes aplenty and some real sassy dialogue, but is largely ignored these days, possibly due to the now toxic presence of O.J. Simpson. We’ve never been more fascinated with Mars, as evidenced by the huge success of last year’s The Martian, and this is ripe for a remake.
The Black Hole (1979)
The success of Star Wars (1977) had an impact far and wide, not least in Disney’s most expensive and first ever PG-rated release two years later. An attempt to get on the space opera bandwagon, The Black Hole was a major misfire for a company that had been losing it’s way for several years. Dark and foreboding whilst also employing cute, talking robots (one with a strong, southern drawl for some inexplicable reason), it didn’t seem to know what it was. With the hindsight of time, it can be viewed as a bit of a classic in places, but the tone is so over the place it never really found it’s audience. Flying, ESP-enabled robots, big spaceships, an evil genius, ray guns? Brilliant! An ending where everyone seemingly dies, the bad guy ending up – quite literally – in Dante’s Hell and our heroes saved by angels and en route to heaven? Not so much. Rumours of a remake have been doing the rounds for years. Yes please!
More Peter Hyams in space, this time a Sean Connery starrer that took the concept of High Noon and stuck it on the Jupiter moon of Io. Connery is Police Marshall O’Neil, fighting against authority and a drug conspiracy that goes to the highest levels. With a group of men on their way to kill him, we get the classic western countdown scenario but with spacesuits, decompression deaths and a distinctly Alien vibe and look. It wasn’t well liked by critics but like Capricorn One before it and much of Hyam’s output in general is well worth a look and well worth an update as well.
The Last Starfighter (1984)
Boasting a fantastic premise – aliens plonk down thousands of video cabinets worldwide in the hope of finding the best spaceship pilot to help fight an interplanetary war – this remains a right of passage and a real touchstone of youth for those who were just the right age when it came out. A lonely teenager useless with girls fixated on a video game that gets picked as the best, indeed the last, Starfighter? It’s wish-fulfilment writ large. And it was rather ground breaking for it’s time with the space battles being almost entirely computer generated – quite a bold move and feat for 1984. Now of course, they look pretty rough; it’s hard to believe the likes of Jurassic Park were just nine years away. Rumours of a Spielberg do over have been circulating for years, as have those of a sequel. Quite frankly, what are they waiting for? With an online game acting as the recruitment tool, it practically writes itself. The Last Starfighters anyone?
The Running Man (1987)
Slap bang in the middle of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s box office God heyday, he made this. The premise sounds cool; in the near future (next year as it happens), convicted criminals are offered the chance of freedom by competing in the global television hit The Running Man. Pursued by comic-book style adversaries with names such as ‘Fireball’, ‘Buzzsaw’, ‘Subzero’ and ‘Captain Freedom’, all of whom are equipped with interesting and gruesome ways to despatch the ‘contestants’, no one has survived so far. Then Arnie’s wrongly convicted Ben Richards is thrown into the game. Can he make it through? Well, what do you think?
The Running Man thinks it’s hard-edged satire on the state of the nation and it’s base desires and blood-thirst for entertainment. But in reality it just looks terrible. The trademark Arnie one-liners are limp and superfluous, the bad guys look like your 5 year old drew and named them and the whole look is one of cheesy cheapness. There is a certain pleasure in a so-bad-it’s-almost-good way, and lines like, “I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your god-damn spine!” hint at a certain self-awareness, but only just. This was the only mainstream motion picture directed by one-time Starsky Paul Michael Glaser and you can see why. Reality television hadn’t trampled all before it back in 1987. A good remake today would resonate far better.
Whilst most genre fans can name-check this indie time-travel tale, less can say they’ve seen it and fewer yet can lay claim to understanding it fully. Shot on a ridiculously small budget, mostly funded by the director’s credit cards, the tale of some uber-clever engineers who accidentally invent a time machine was a critical hit. Writer/director Shane Carruth was instantly catapulted into the mainstream, ignored every opportunity open to him and took ten years to produce his next film, the equally confusing Upstream Colour. Time travel always has and always will provide fertile ground for film-makers but getting a fresh spin on it takes something as quirky as this. Watch it, imagine a Christopher Nolan do over and drool at the possibilities.