OFCS members answer the question:
If you had the chance to remake any film, which one would you remake?
Flash Gordon. With all respect to the 1980 Mike Hodges feature (which I love), the character deserves a camp-free revival, and the crummy 2007-08 TV series (not to mention the 1996 cartoon) just didn’t do the job. Let’s get back to the comic strip/matinee serial roots with some whirlwind retro adventure – like The Rocketeer, but with Hawkmen! (Brian Blessed, of course, is invited to play every role.)
The Island of Dr. Moreau. Because the basic H.G. Wells story is always relevant, and the last word on it shouldn’t be the interesting but compromised 1996 version. There have been, by my count, three major Hollywood passes at the material (the Charles Laughton Island of Lost Souls being the best by far) and three cheapjack productions that got made because the novel is in the public domain.
I would go to Warner, where they seem to respect oddity and artistry, get a healthy budget for great manimal-making (supervised by Rick Baker), get Guillermo Del Toro to produce and Vincenzo Natali to direct, and write the script myself incorporating all the best stuff from Wells and the better films. For Moreau I’d cast David Cronenberg; you really don’t want to get into a hambone contest with Laughton, Burt Lancaster and Brando, so I’d want to go the other way and make Moreau cool and clinical and, well, Cronenbergian. Although Dieter Laser from “The Human Centipede” would also be a good choice (if a bit on-the-nose). Peter Gabriel would compose the creepy jungle score. Lady Gaga would be the half-woman half-cat. Nathan Fillion would be protagonist Edward Prendick.
Who am I kidding, though? I fully expect this to be announced as yet another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp vehicle…
The 1974 film version of Jerry Herman’s delightful Broadway musical Mame was a travesty because of Gene Saks’ clumsy direction and the tragic miscasting of frog-voiced Lucille Ball in the title role. Someday, hopefully, a proper Mame film will be made.
Mark H. Harris:
Avatar, because I think the original flew under the radar. 🙂
Sweeney Todd. I had ideas in my head for how this should be adapted well before Burton blasphemed the entire production. So much would change and I would rebuild on the original stage production and not dismantle it as was done on the big screen.
John J. Puccio:
I think it’s time somebody remade Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. They could change the main character to a woman, Norma Bates, and get Angelina Jolie to play her, with Jon Voight as her mummified father.
Of course it makes the most sense to remake the bad ones, because the pressure is off. Showgirls might be fun. Or something like Reefer Madness, Howard the Duck, Battlefield Earth, or Plan 9 from Outer Space (somebody’s already going the Ed Wood route: Grave Robbers from Outer Space, based on a “concept” by Ed Wood, is currently listed as “In Production”.)
Or something really easy. Has anyone thought about doing a remake of Andy Warhol’s Empire?
Or something fun but forgotten, like Rhubarb, the 1951 charmer about a cat that inherits the Brooklyn Dodgers. Of course there are no more Brooklyn Dodgers, and I don’t think a movie about a cat inheriting the Los Angeles Dodgers would have the same appeal.
What you want to stay away from are the movies that worked so well the first time. Alan Arkin once told me that the best notices he’d had in years came in the reviews of the Douglas/Brooks remake of The In-Laws.
The movies I remake in my head always have me starring in them. Me as Captain Blood, me as Rick Blaine, me as Lawrence of Arabia, me as Atticus Finch, me as The Man With No Name. These would all be excellent choices, and if there’s someone out there with a bankroll and a sense of adventure, let’s talk.
I would remake Starship Troopers.
It is a film with a lot of potential that could be realized with modern computer graphics not available when the film was originally made. It could be a decent film by sticking closer to the original story by Robert Heinlein, but it also desperately needs a lot better writing, a much better cast and a director who is not trying to force the story into a snide Robocop satirical mold.
In director Paul Verhoeven’s defense, I think he was forced into a lot of compromises and improvisation during the making of this film due to budgetary constraints. It turned out that most of the money went into special effects and very little on acting talent and writing, a common problem in science fiction films.
I would go more for a tone similar to that of the TV series Space, Above and Beyond, which was much more in the spirit of Heinlein’s book than the Starship Troopers movie was. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was the first time I saw Starship Troopers. It would be great to wash away that disappointment.
I would remake Dawn of the Dead, and do it in a vastly unusual format. Instead of just throwing a bunch of people at us and tossing them in to a mall with sprinting zombies like the remake did, I’d stage it very much like Go, in which we follow only four or five characters, set up their own segments where they discover, and flee from the zombie apocalypse, and circumstances in which they all inevitably cross paths. I’d add much more of the social commentary from the Romero movie but not too much and actually provide a reason for wanting to be in the mall beyond just randomly coming across it in the middle of the chaos and adding some sense to it. I’d add a clear logical reason for leaving the mall in the end and slow down the zombies to where they’re more fast walkers and not marathon runners posing as deus ex machinas. Less characters, richer character development, much more conflict and we’d actually have a remake rivaling Romero’s original.
The Running Man. Stephen King’s original novella was prescient in its depiction of reality TV and the lengths modern society will go to for titillation and thrills. The Schwarzenegger film abandoned those notions for silly costumes, bad puns and a simplistic “good vs. evil” look at the future. In the right hands, a gritty modern update could become a truly great piece of sci-fi dystopia (though we’ll let them keep Richard Dawson).
Max Payne (2008) – excellent game but abominable movie.