This weekend, the remake of Carrie hits theaters. Brian De Palma's 1976 version is a classic horror film, one that probably doesn't need to be remade. But 37 years later, a fresh set of creative talent can look at adapting Stephen King's original novel differently. Modern concerns about bullying and social networking can be incorporated into the story. Special effects can spectacularly demonstrate Carrie White's telekinetic abilities far more impressively.
When remakes of previous films are developed, the snide response is that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. Yet famous plays are restaged with new, updated interpretations all the time. Why can't the same hold true for movies? Certain films might benefit from a modernized take on the material, reflecting the changes in our culture throughout the decades.
The mistake that probably gets made is picking the wrong films to remake. As director Steven Soderbergh said at the San Francisco Film Festival back in May, famous movies shouldn't be remade. Studios need to do a better job of looking into their back catalogs, taking something made decades ago but has an idea in it that might benefit from a fresh look.
Plenty more remakes are on the way, including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Robocop, and Oldboy. But here are five other movies that could stand to be updated and improve on their original versions. Comedies and character dramas arguably hold up better over the years, so this list is a bit heavy on sci-fi and horror flicks that can utilize modernized special effects — both computer-generated and practical — to tell their stories.
Swamp Thing: Comic-book adaptations are huge these days. And we could use a good monster movie that doesn't involve giant lizards stomping through cities. Swamp Thing is more of a supernatural character than costumed superhero like Superman and Captain America. But he (it?) has an origin story and goes after the bad guys just the same.
The character also has a deep element of tragedy to him that sets him apart from other comic-book characters. Scientist Alec Holland becomes a creature when he's doused by chemicals in a lab explosion and merges with the surrounding swamp. Does he ever have a chance of becoming human again?
Above all, a new version could improve on the creature being in a rubber suit, as he was in Wes Craven's 1982 film. Swamp Thing could be the tangle of moving roots, moss and vines that he is in the comics, rather than just a walking plant. He could be the force of nature that the character became in Alan Moore's interpretation. (Moore's Watchmen, V For Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have been adapted into films.)
This would be perfect for Guillermo Del Toro, who loves to create monsters for the screen. Look at his "Hellboy" films, Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim and imagine what he could do with DC Comics' most popular supernatural beast.
Fletch: Trying to remake a cult classic would be risky. Many lines from the 1985 Chevy Chase film — "It's all ball bearings nowadays," "I'm with the Underhills," "I'll have a steak sandwich and... a steak sandwich" — are recited as in-jokes by fans of the movie, many of whom discovered the movie long after it was in theaters.
Chase and his deadpan wit cast a long shadow over investigative reporter Irwin Fletcher. (Would Fletch even work at a newspaper in an update of the character?) But an actor like a Ryan Reynolds, Vince Vaughn or Jason Bateman could surely bring the same snappy humor and smartest-guy-in-the-room attitude to a new version. (Reynolds was once actually rumored to be up for the part.)
Kevin Smith tried for years to make a new "Fletch" movie, which would have hued more closely to Gregory McDonald's original novels. Smith envisioned a prequel — based on Fletch Won — that took place before the 1985 Chevy Chase film, with Ben Affleck or Jason Lee playing a younger version of investigative reporter Irwin Fletcher. Bill Lawrence, who created Scrubs and Cougar Town, was also attached to a "Fletch" project at one point and reportedly would've cast Zach Braff in the lead.
Fletch could be a potential franchise character, with McDonald having wrote 10 novels. Of course, an original screenplay — one that doesn't directly adapt one of the books — could be written as well. An adult comedy that incorporates elements of mystery and suspense would seemingly have a wide appeal to a variety of audiences.
Krull: Peter Yates' 1983 film was derivative and could be seen as a "Star Wars" knockoff that combined elements of sci-fi and fantasy. The story has "Slayers" instead of Stormtroopers, "The Beast" rather than Darth Vader and the "Black Fortress" somewhat resembling the Death Star. But Krull also has its own distinct elements, such as the Widow of the Web imprisoned by a giant crystal spider, Fire Mares (horses that can gallop through the air) and a Cyclops who knows when he's going to die.
The acting — especially from lead Ken Marshall — comes off as cheesy, as do the special effects, which are hardly of the quality George Lucas and his crew created for Star Wars. But the story itself follows the tropes of classic mythology and the hero's journey, with Marshall's Colwyn attempting to save Princess Lyssa with the help of The Glaive, an ancient weapon that resembles a giant throwing star and whose movements can be controlled by thought (kind of like The Force).
But what Krull really lacked was action and energy. Slayers get systematically knocked off walking in a row, as if they were in a video game. The Black Fortress switches locations simply by disappearing on screen, as if Yates turned the camera off, moved the model, then turned the camera back on. Worst of all, the Beast is a stationary villain. He sits in a dome and breathes fireballs at his enemies, rather than engage them physically. A remake could be much more kinetic, with heroes and villains in motion, instead of lobbing attacks from afar.
Altered States: I'll admit, I have no idea what the hell is going on in this 1980 movie. That's why I want a remake. I'm hoping someone can make sense of the whole thing for me.
William Hurt plays a psychology professor studying schizophrenia. He conducts experiments in a sensory deprivation tank to explore other states of consciousness that could be as real as the one we normally occupy. After visiting a Mexican tribe with whom he consumes psychotropic roots mixed with his own blood, Hurt's Edward Jessup begins to have intense hallucinations which include imagery like goats with multiple eyes and crucifixes in the sky. Eventually, the experiments result in Jessup undergoing physical transformations.
I watched Altered States a bunch of times on cable as a kid. I remember Jessup devolving into a Neanderthal and then something resembling a larva. I remember Blair Brown getting naked. And of course, I remember the classic scene during which Jessup is becoming cosmic energy and is desperately trying to bring himself back to reality, back to humanity. (A-Ha's "Take On Me" video famously aped this scene.) The concept of escaping reality in a sensory deprivation tank is something that's always stuck with me.
Perhaps a new version could incorporate trying to find other states of consciousness as a way of unplugging from our always-on internet and smartphone culture. Maybe Jessup wants to become more evolved as a way to gain intelligence, to help process the additional information we're bombarded with and use more of our brain capacity.
Flash Gordon: Of the five movies listed here, this is the one that likely will be remade someday. As with Fletch, we're dealing with something of a cult classic. But Sam Jones as Flash Gordon isn't viewed as reverently as Chevy Chase's Fletch. (Except by Mark Wahlberg and Ted, that is.) And a sci-fi flick can always be updated with better special effects and new designs.
At the very least, a remake would presumably be far less campy than Mike Hodges' 1980 version, in which Flash Gordon wears a t-shirt that says "Flash," takes on Ming the Merciless' henchman by playing football and is cheered on ("Go, Flash, go!") by his love interest, Dale Arden. That's what The Crazies director Breck Eisner had in mind when he signed on for a reboot in 2010. However, there hasn't been much news on the project since then. Maybe Eisner and his writers are still trying to get the story right. Maybe the project is dead.
In the original 1930s comic strips, Flash Gordon was a polo player. The 1980 movie tried to give the character a more modern flair, making him a quarterback for the New York Jets. (Thus, the football fight scene.) A new version could update that even further, while sticking to the idea that Flash being an elite athlete is what makes him capable of becoming a hero on the planet Mongo. He could still be a football player this time around.
But what about trying him from a different angle? What if Flash was a hockey player? How about a MMA fighter? That would explain how he could beat the crap out of Ming the Merciless' henchman. It might also give some edge and grit to a character that's been pretty whitebread in virtually every incarnation, whether in the comics, TV shows, movies and cartoons. Just don't make the guy — or the movie — too dark and serious. One of the reasons the 1980 film is still viewed affectionately is because it was fun.
Only one of these movies should be remade. FLASH is a masterpiece movie with an awesome soundtrack and should be left untouched! If it were to be remade then it should return to the original comic plot and be based on Alex Raymond's original story - Flash as a polo player in the 1930's. ALTERED STATES and KRULL are perfect representations of the 80's. FLETCH is a cult classic. Noone could play like Chevy. SWAMP THING possibly could benefit but enough with CGI effects!
@jupiterbotz Yeah, but that list of Moore movie adaptations didn't really help his argument. What a bunch of losers.