Remakes have become the bane of the horror geek's existence. Despite the fact that we actually enjoy a lot (OK, a few) of the studio-released horror remakes of the past several years, it was last month's Poltergeist remake that got me all ornery and aggravated. If you're going to remake Poltergeist, and do it so poorly, then all bets are truly off. No horror classic is off limits. All we can hope for is that the producers hire some creative people and give them the freedom to create something partially new or novel — but generally the goal is to just drop anything with a familiar title into theaters and hope for at least one profitable weekend.
Remakes are a pretty cynical business, truth be told, but of course there are always a few filmmakers who are actually willing to take a few risks, think outside the box, and deliver something that evokes a beloved film and stands as its own creation at the same time. Here's hoping that some of those filmmakers are involved if and when these 1980s horror classics are resurrected for the remake treatment. (And don't blame me when these flicks do get remakes; I guarantee they've come up in pitch meetings at least 50 times by now!)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
What it's about: It's pretty much all right there in the title.
Why it hasn't been remade yet: Probably because the 1997 semi-sequel An American Werewolf in Paris went over like a loud fart in church. Also probably because nobody could ever hope to top the film's central transformation sequence — and to even try it with digital animation would defeat the entire purpose of the scene. And definitely because the film is too damn perfect to monkey with.
Who should remake it: If this one had to go into production, I suppose Edgar Wright would be a perfect fit.
WARNING: VIDEO IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK
What it's about: a group of dumb teenagers decide to spend the night in a carnival funhouse, only to realize that it's also the residence of a lunatic and his horribly misshapen freak of a son.
Why it hasn't been remade yet: Not a clue! Eli Roth spoke about producing a remake of The Funhouse for Universal about six years ago, but apparently that project has stalled out. Why?!? This is a no-brainer! It's not like The Funhouse is particularly beloved (which means the old-school fans probably won't freak out), and there's lots of cool ways a clever filmmaker could expand on the creepy but sort of unmemorable material found in Tobe Hooper's original film. The Funhouse is the perfect horror flick to remake: the original film is remembered but not beloved; it's a decent flick but it sure isn't great; and it all takes place in a carnival! At night! That's a hit waiting to happen, people.
Who should remake it: Mr. Roth had some pretty cool ideas on how to expand upon the Funhouse premise, so let's keep him on as producer, and hire Jason Eisener (Hobo With a Shotgun) to direct.
What it's about: 1) An undead pappy who still hates his rotten kids, 2) A meteorite that turns a goofy farmer into a walking garden, 3) A betrayed husband who cooks up a nasty dish of revenge, 4) A crate filled with a monster as mysterious as it is ferocious, 5) A nasty old man who hates bugs spends a night doing battle against an army of roaches. (Also there's a wrap-around story about what happens to jerk dads who throw away their kids' comic books.)
Why it hasn't been remade yet: Who knows? Probably because it's pretty tough to remake an anthology film. There was a half-decent sequel in 1987 and a truly woeful Part 3 that arrived in 2006 (as well as an unreleased 2008 short entitled Creepshow Raw: Insomnia), but despite some rumblings (from about ten years ago) there doesn't seem to be much progress on an alleged Creepshow remake — which is just fine by me.
Who should remake it: Take a look at the V/H/S and ABCs of Death anthologies. There's your talent pool. Hire a half-dozen of those writers and directors, offer them a collection of Stephen King stories worthy of fresh adaptation, and let them go nuts. And if anyone on the production team says, "Hey, let's just remake the individual stories from Creepshow," that's a person who can be politely fired.
What it's about: A sleazy TV producer stumbles across some decidedly "adult" programming that turns out to be evil incarnate.
Why it hasn't been remade yet: Hopefully because David Cronenberg still has some sort of say in the matter. But, to be fair, there's a lot of interesting thematic material in Videodrome that could absolutely translate well in a contemporary re-telling. The premise alone (that cable TV will usher in the downfall of mankind) seems more than ripe for a fresh skewering. (You could do a Videodrome remake about the TLC channel alone!)
Who should remake it: Universal did test the waters on a Videodrome remake a few years back, with Ehren Kruger (The Ring) on board as a producer. Haven't heard much on that project in about three years, though. Probably for the best. If and when Universal decides to forge ahead on this remake, they should offer it to David Cronenberg. If he declines, then the remake should not happen. (Gavel!)
What it's about: It's about Gremlins! Please don't tell me that you haven't seen Gremlins. Recently. Like within the past six months.
Why it hasn't been remade yet: I'd like to think it's because the "practical" nature of the creatures is 75% of the film's charm — and nobody in Hollywood is presently interested in making a movie with that many practical effects in it. Plus WB probably knows we'd all flip the hell out if we got nothing but CG gremlins — and they're right!
Who should remake it: Earlier this year we got word that WB, Steven Spielberg, and Chris Columbus might be cooking something up on the remake front. Screenwriters like Seth Grahame Smith and Carl Ellsworth were reportedly on the case... but now it seems like the project has cooled off. Which means it'll probably pop up in the trades once again next year. If and when they figure out how to pull off a Gremlins remake, they simply have to hire Joe Dante to direct the thing. That's a given, right?
What it's about: A medical student creates a serum that re-animates dead tissue — and then he does some really terrible things with it.
Why it hasn't been remade yet: Because, despite the fact that the H.P. Lovecraft source material is free for anyone to adapt, nobody seems to love, respect, and understand the legendary horror scribe like Stuart Gordon does. If you dig around you'll find a handful of decent adaptations from hardcore Lovecraft fanatics, but nobody has managed to capture the author's gruesome mysteries on film like Stuart Gordon has. (See also: 1986's From Beyond).
Who should remake it: Well, nobody. If someone else wants to take a swing at the source material, I'd be down to watch it, but the beauty of Re-Animator is that while it's pure Lovecraft, it's also more than 50% Stuart Gordon (and co-writers William Norris and Dennis Paoli). So if you actually tried to remake Re-Animator, you might get sued, whereas Lovecraft's "Herbert West: Re-Animator" is free for the adapting. Good luck!
WARNING: THIS VIDEO IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK
The Stuff (1985)
What it's about: A popular new dessert turns out to be an organic creature that devours its hosts from the inside!
Why it hasn't been remade yet: If ever there was an 1980s horror flick that deserves a (relatively) big-budget remake, it's Larry Cohen's satirical thriller about a dessert that eats people. With all due respect to the great Larry Cohen and his adorably icky concept, there are quite a few ways one could tweak, update, and upgrade the creature, its biological proclivities, and the amusing jabs at American consumerism.
Who should remake it: We'd want Larry Cohen to take a crack at a new screenplay, of course, but for something this insane you'd need someone like Neil Marshall (The Descent) to direct it. Or at least I would. I'd hire him for anything, really.
The Lost Boys (1987)
What it's about: It's just like The Goonies, only they're a little older and also vampires.
Why it hasn't been remade yet: Partially because WB has decided to go with the "direct-to-video sequel" route on this particular property, and mainly because they just haven't gotten to it yet. The Lost Boys is what's known as an "evergreen" title, in that it's always pretty popular among youths and old people reliving their youths — which means a remake is pretty much inevitable.
Who should remake it: Depends on what sort of tone you're going for. Personally I'd go a bit darker than the original film, but then you'd be getting into Near Dark (1987) territory — and nobody should ever do a remake of that movie. It's too damn good. But fine, if it's a remake of The Lost Boys you want, then let's ask David Fincher to give it a shot.
What it's about: A wanton act of adulterous debauchery awakens a horrific team of demons from another dimension!
Why it hasn't been remade yet: Oh, this one's easy. It's because the film rights to Clive Barker's (excellent) The Hellbound Heart (and the 1987 screen adaptation) belong to a production company that was content to simply churn out low-budget sequels instead of investing in a big-time remake. But there has been some actual progress on the Hellraiser remake in recent months. Fingers crossed on this one.
Who should remake it: Someone who loves the source material, is not afraid of hard-edged horror, and has Clive Barker's cell phone number so he can be (heavily) involved in the production. Otherwise don't bother.
Pet Sematary (1989)
What it's about: A mysterious patch of land that resurrects anything buried therein! Such as a cat! And other things!
Why it hasn't been remade yet: I don't have a clue! It's one of Stephen King's very best "pure horror" novels; the 1989 adaptation from Mary Lambert was a good-sized hit (and still holds up remarkably well today), and just about everything that was made from a Stephen King novel is getting a remake of some sort these days. You'll hate me for even typing this, but I can't believe we haven't had a remake of Cujo or Christine yet, either. You just know they're coming. Some day.
Who should remake it: Ti West! Not sure why exactly, but it feels like a smart fit to me. He's really good with outdoorsy stuff.
Scott Weinberg is a film writer of 15-plus years for FEARnet, Cinematical, Nerdist, The Horror Show, Geek Nation, Playboy and others. He tweets at @scottEweinberg.