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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

10 Horror Remakes That Should Be Made

While everything in our horror-loving hearts is screaming that the remake trend needs to be put down like Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th, we all need to come to terms with something a little sad - it's never going to stop. They’re too damn simple and profitable to die, so we might as well try to make the best of it. With Prom Night limping into theaters this weekend and production amping up on a remake of My Bloody Valentine, it got us thinking about what other '80s horror flicks should be remade for a new generation. Looking over the last few years of slasher remakes, the ones that really haven't worked have taken source material that, quite honestly, didn't need to be remade. Think about movie remakes like you would music covers.

There are plenty of songs that could use a reinterpretation by a new artist, but would you pay money for an entire song-by-song cover album based on an LP that was perfect in the first place or would you just listen to the original? In the same way that issuing a song-by-song remake album of Exile on Main Street or Revolver would be a really bad idea, remaking Halloween, Psycho, or other already-perfect horror movies just feels like a waste of time. On that note, in the world of '80s movies, no one ever needs to remake Re-Animator, From Beyond, The Thing, Near Dark, The Howling, Poltergeist, or A Nightmare on Elm Street (which we know is happening but we’re choosing to remain in denial). No, they're not all equal, but they're all movies that should exist purely in their original form and are still being admired and introduced to a new generation every day (usually by a cruel older brother). As my grandpa used to say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

However, there are dozens of '80s horror movies that were pretty "broke" in the first place and could use a good update. Some were never that good to begin with, and some look more like a product of their big-haired era than others. It leads one to the question of why a movie should EVER be remade and there are really only two answers - to bring a forgotten story to a larger audience or to fix a movie that didn't quite work the first time. For the most part, a movie that didn't work twenty-something years ago won't work now, so remakes have to walk a fine line - source material that's good enough to warrant a second look but not great enough that any future attempts will pale next to the original. With that in mind, as a service to the producers who will be looking for the "next Prom Night" after this weekend, here are The Deadbolt’s ten suggestions for horror films that are just itching for a remake.

10. Lady in White (1988)

Falling neatly into the nobody-saw-it category of remakes is Frank LaLoggia's Lady in White, an unusual little ghost story that originally starred Lukas Haas and Len Cariou. The movie barely made a dent in the slasher-crazy world of '80s horror movies, but it's the kind of alternative to what the genre is currently doing that could really make an impact in the '00s. Think about all the buzz that The Orphanage built at the end of last year (not enough if you ask us) and how tired people are of the same-old-slash-old when it comes to the torture porn genre. We could all use a good ghost story to wash the taste of The Hitcher and Hills Have Eyes 2 out of our collective mouths. And Lady in White is a solid, old-fashioned, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck supernatural tale that starred Haas as a kid who gets locked in school closet during Halloween of 1962 and sees something unusual in the classroom that leads him to the murderer of a young girl. Lady in White was something that not a lot of ghost stories were or are to this day - scary. Lukas Haas would later appear in My Chemical Romance's video for "Welcome to the Black Parade" because two members of the band were fans of the scary flick. If someone could recreate the same atmospheric chills as the original in a remake, it could inspire a whole new generation of Screamo fans.

9. Child's Play (1988)

Hold up. I know that this sounds like a really bad idea at first. Half of you are probably in the camp that the original is good enough that it should stand on its own and the other half are probably so exhausted by the awful sequels that the mere prospect of another film in the franchise makes you hurl. We understand and feel your pain. But that's precisely why a Child's Play remake isn't a half-bad idea. In much the same way that Zombie tried to amend for the recent Michael Myers flicks by restarting the Halloween franchise, somebody really should be forced to give audiences some celluloid atonement for a few of the Chucky movies. There's still a lot of strength in the original concept of a childhood toy gone very wrong. Imagine if someone could take the idea seriously again. Turn Andy, the childhood lead, into a loner kid, maybe even aging him a little bit, who pairs with his sadistic toy to wreak havoc on the bullies who have wronged him and the adults who have left him to wither. Yes, we're actually suggesting a serious Child's Play movie, which could be the worst idea ever or could be a fascinating alternative to the cookie-cutter remakes that litter the genre. It certainly wouldn't be like any of the other remakes on this list. At least not until someone remakes Puppet Master or Demonic Toys. Wait, there’s an idea...

8. The Hunger (1983)

The Hunger is infamous for a number of reasons, very few of which have anything to do with the film's quality. The Hunger marked the debut of director Tony Scott (Top Gun, True Romance), starred David Bowie, turned into a cult hit in goth circles, and gained worldwide infamy for a lesbian seduction scene between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. Lesbian vampires in goth makeup? Evanescence is already writing the soundtrack for the remake. Seriously, The Hunger is a campy, cheesy film but it features some themes about aging that are certainly even more relevant in today's botox-crazed society. Deneuve played a vamp whose eternal partners went through rapid aging just before they died. When one (Bowie) went to a doctor for help and went from suave club dude to old man in mere minutes, the doc (Sarandon) became fascinated with the situation and eventually became the vamp’s lover. The original chose atmosphere over character and story and looks incredibly dated, but there's enough good material here to warrant a remake. Goth kids everywhere would line up days in advance and if you kept the lesbian material, so would most of the horny young men in America. Imagine Wild Things with bloodsucking instead of just sucking. At the very least, it’d make a fortune on DVD.

7. Demons (1985)

Written by the amazing Dario Argento and directed by the son of the influential Mario Bava (Lamberto), Demons is one f-ed up movie that not nearly enough people have seen, making it the perfect fit for a remake. The basic foundation of the story is a tale that's been told for decades and is not going to go away any time soon - art will kill you. In the original, a group of people are invited to the opening of a new movie theatre. As the movie unfolds, they start to turn into demons and kill each other. It's mostly played for gore and Argento-esque insanity, but Demons has themes that could easily translate to today's censor-ific world, one who believes that Eli Roth and Rob Zombie are making horned creatures of teenagers anyway. The original chaos comes from a demonic mask (most foreign horror movies do) but the remake could play off the power of cinema straight away. We've all been sitting in a theater, watching a horrible movie, and just hoping that the guy next to us might turn demon and start a rampage just to alleviate the boredom.

6. Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

There's no denying that Slumber Party Massacre is bad. It's one of those movies that's so bad that it transcends its awfulness and becomes enjoyable on the same level as a lot of Burt Reynolds '80s filmography or the works of Uwe Boll. According to IMDB, the legendary T&A slasher classic was originally written as a spoof of horror movies but was filmed as a straight forward horror movie when the producers didn't realize it was a parody. In other words, it's bad on purpose. Sorta. Why remake a bad movie? Well, it would have to be done as the parody it was always intended to be. You know those horrible straight-to-DVD American Pie movies like Band Camp and Beta House? Imagine "American Pie: Slumber Party Massacre." The remake of Slumber Party Massacre would work as a mix of Scream - a tongue-in-cheek but also scary satire of horror - and the American Pie movies. Cast it with enough young celebutantes, and this is a license to print money. How many people paid just to see Paris Hilton get a pole through the head in House of Wax? Now picture her, Lindsay, and a gaggle of other annoying starlets in Slumber Party Massacre. Somebody NEEDS to make this happen.

5. Basket Case (1982)

"The Tenant In Room 7 Is Very Small, Very Twisted, and Very Mad." Basket Case is one of the most over-the-top, ridiculous horror movies of the '80s and, if you couldn't tell by now, we at The Deadbolt think that the modern scary movie genre could use a few more flicks that come completely from left field. Imagine Basket Case treated seriously. Anyone who's ever lived in an apartment building of any size has experienced that sensation that someone in your building might be less than human. Whether it be odd sounds in the middle of the night or smells that just don't smell like home cooking, urban dwellers know that neighbors can be scarier than any cinematic boogeyman. In Basket Case, the guy down the hall happens to be a normal-looking country guy with a large basket in his hands. What's in the basket? His deformed twin brother, of course. It turns out the brother is in town seeking revenge on the doctors who made him into the nightmare that he has become. It's a ridiculous movie, but the little dude in the basket always scared the crap out of us. And what if one of our more twisted current filmmakers like Crispin Glover or Harmony Korine treated the deformity realistically? Talk about terrifying.

4. Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

This one is purely a case of logic, something we know doesn't usually happen in the world of horror remakes, but stick with us here. If they're remaking My Bloody Valentine and have remade Prom Night and April Fool's Day, why the hell shouldn't they remake Happy Birthday to Me, the best of the early '80s slasherpalooza one-offs (meaning films that never turned into franchises and existed purely as VHS staples for an entire generation of horror buffs)? Happy Birthday to Me is about a girl who, after an accident, becomes a part of an exclusive clique, but she watches as most of her friends start to die as her 18th birthday approaches. Cliques, teenagers getting murdered, and death by shish-kebab. A smart producer would buy the rights to Happy Birthday to Me and do it tongue-in-cheek, much like Slumber Party Massacre. This could be the definitive teen horror movie for the generation of brain-dead media drones that are currently addicted to such gossipy reality fodder as The Hills. In fact, there you go - get MTV Films to adapt Happy Birthday to Me as the ultimate My Super Sweet 16 episode gone horribly, horribly wrong. Honestly, if Prom Night makes even a dime, we're willing to bet this is going to happen almost immediately. If it makes money, try to thank us in the credits.

3. The Dead Zone (1983)

The Zone TV series has fallen prey to USA's makeover as a more family-friendly network (ditto The 4400), but Stephen King’s original concept is so good and the original movie so strong that this wouldn't be as much of a remake as a continuation of the ideas from King's novel. The show has legions of fans still lamenting its passing who would love a fresh, high-budget take on The Dead Zone, and the themes of the original film/book are the ones that should truly be restored. Let's be honest - the idea that there's a leader who will someday destroy the world and only you know how evil he truly will be hasn't lost any of its power, particularly with Commander Cuckoo-Bananas still in the White House for a few months. The Dead Zone could even be a series of remakes like the Body Snatchers movies that, ignoring the most recent one, have successfully played off the fears of each generation that made them. It's been 25 years since the Cronenberg film and a talented director could make a masterpiece of a new take on the fears of death and power that King played with in The Dead Zone.

2. Christine (1983)

More King and yet another situation where it's not that the original film is that bad, but that a quarter-century later, a newer model might bring the story to a new generation. Let's take Christine, the story of a killer 1958 Plymouth Fury, and bring it drifting into the new millennium. Cars in every form from NASCAR to The Fast and the Furious movies are more popular than ever. King is still a household name. And there's something intangible about John Carpenter's take on the original material that never quite worked. There are also arguably no films on this list that look quite as dated as the original Christine. Can't you just picture Paul Walker or Jim Sturgess in a modern spin on a killer car? Or the filmmakers could go real old-school and do it Death Proof-style, focusing more on the killer chases than the supernatural aspects. All we know is that with the popularity of everything that goes fast - and with Tarantino proving that "cars + gore = awesomeness" in those first brutal Texas kills in Death Proof - taking another spin around the block with Christine seems like a no-brainer.

1. Fright Night (1985)

Remember all those "rules of remakes" early in this feature? Fright Night fits them all. It's a good movie, not great, that has been largely forgotten by the generation who were born after it was released. Teenagers may still be watching Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street, but very few are checking out Fright Night, a Tom Holland vampire flick that was totally effective when it was released but looks crazy, crazy dated now. The zombie trend - the Dawn remake, the 28 movies, the Resident Evil movies - seems to be coming to a close. What's next? Why not vampires? The Zack Snyder take on Dawn of the Dead helped drive a zombie renaissance over the last few years, and there's no better remake to do the same for bloodsuckers than Fright Night, a film about a boy who has a vampire living next door to him but no one will believe him. We picture a Fright Night remake with smart, clever dialogue and characters spouting lines written by the likes of Joss Whedon or the team behind The CW's excellent Reaper. This could work. In fact, with the horrible success ratio of horror movie remakes, it might be the only one on this list that will.

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