Remake/remodel – five remakes we would actually like to see
– by Regan Payne
Fresh on the heels of Rod Lurie’s remake of the blunt, no-nonsense, ’70s Sam Pekinpah classic Straw Dogs come not one, but two remakes opening in theatres today (Oct 14).
The Thing, touted as a prequel – which is the polite, industry-acceptable term for rip-off, having changed things just enough to not have to pay anyone involved in the original – and helmed by the wonderfully named Dutch filmmaker, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., pits an ambitious grad student (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) against the towering man of science (Danish film star Ulrich Thomsen), over what may or may not be transpiring at an Antarctic research facility.
The second remake attempting to steal the box office crown is Craig Brewer’s remake of the 1984 dance hit Footloose, which launched Kevin Bacon’s career, and had us all listening to endless radio repeats of Kenny Loggins. (If you’re not sure of the plotline of this one, you probably aren’t an avid pop culture aficionado. Needless to say, there are kids, local authorities, and the need, nay, the right, to dance!)
And here we are yet again, dear reader. Faced with another year of more and more remade films, originally conceived and penned decades ago, most of the utterly forgettable variety. Yet there is a clear reality to face amongst us cinema purists: the remake is now a definitive way to get a film off the ground with the studios. Mindy Kaling, of The Office, recently penned a great read in The New Yorker that mentions a pitch meeting she had a few years ago, in which she was informed by the execs present that they are concentrating seriously on movies based on board games. (Mindy Kaling on female romantic comedy archetypes.)
Typically, I would dig my heels firmly in the ever-sliding quicksand when it comes to my belief that people creating original material should be the ones rewarded with not only the opportunity of making movies, but with our hard earned bucks at the box office. This, however, is no longer an irritating once-in-a-blue-moon venture, and so, I offer a suggestion to at least attempt to up the curve in the quality department: make it an Oscar category.
Seriously. The way the Tonys do for Best Revival of a Play, have the Academy Awards present a golden boy to a cinema remake. They give one away for Best Original Song for crying out loud! This would, in my opinion, not only increase the overall quality of the films involved, it could change the selection process as well. If the chance at an Oscar were on the table, we may see devoted film directors bring forth more interesting fare with their remakes.
But if we must remake classics, I present five films I believe would be ideal for a remake – to be fair though, while four of the five are certainly classics by my standards, they are certainly not considered so within the canon of well-known film masterpieces.
Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) – The original, about a seer and her weak-willed husband’s plan to abduct a young child and then act as psychic to the grieving parents and police in finding the girl, starred Kim Stanley in the title role. Stanley, who was a prominent stage actress, has been mentioned by Robert De Niro in the past, as one of the greatest acting influences on his craft.
Trailer – Séance on a Wet Afternoon:
The Body Snatcher (1945) – Robert Wise brought together two giants of early horror, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, in this tale of a doctor in continual need of deceased bodies, and the devious man who supplies them.
Trailer – The Body Snatcher:
High and Low (1963) – With its already pilfered premise of a cop whose gun is stolen from the scene of a crime, only to be used in a killing spree, Stray Dog is an easier Kurosawa movie to imagine being remade. However, High and Low is more subtly tense. Kurosawa stalwart Toshirô Mifune stars as an upper class business-type who’s becomes a victim of extortion when an employee’s child is kidnapped.
Trailer – High and Low:
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) – Now here’s a Pekinpah film I love, and if Pekinpah must be remade, then I suppose this is the one I’d like to see most. Warren Oates (one of Pekinpah’s favourite actors) is Bennie, an American in Mexico on the hunt to claim a million dollar reward.
Trailer – Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia:
Summertime (1955) – And… one romance (though not quite a classic, in my opinion). For me, David Lean virtually began and ended the conversation on romantic films with Brief Encounter ten years earlier, but this less seen take on an American woman finding love would make for a more interesting update.
Trailer – Summertime: