Love ‘em or hate ‘em, remakes are here to stay. Studios love name recognition—it makes their job easier when it comes to promotion of a film, which means the remake conveyor belt won’t be shutting down anytime soon. So instead of fighting the process, how about we change the process? Instead of remaking great films just to squeeze another nickel out of the property, how about we remake mediocre films that need a revamp because the original missed the mark somehow? Here are 13 of our candidates for remake-worthy films that could use another try.
Every day this month we're bringing you a different Top 13 list from the world of horror. You can find them all here.
Beware the Blob! (1972)
Larry Hagman’s (Dallas) sole directing credit is a C-level star-studded affair that misfires harder than a shotgun with the barrel welded shut. But where this horror comedy is neither scary nor funny, a remake of this sequel to the 1958 original would be a perfect project for The Asylum, currently riding high on the Sharknado “How many pop culture icons of today and yesteryear can we cram into one film?” horror comedy wave.
The Funhouse (1981)
You have Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) directing, and you have the great titular location. What you don’t have is a single scare in the entire film. While many of Hooper’s films could be added to a list of films that qualify for a remake because they missed the mark—Spontaneous Combustion, Eaten Alive, Lifeforce, The Mangler—The Funhouse is the least interesting of them all, and thus has the most to gain by a from-the-ground-up remake. Hand this one over to Alexandre Aja, who showed a visual flair with Haute Tension, as well as the The Hills Have Eyes and Maniac remakes.
A film notorious for the very last scene, a scene that has nothing to do with the original film, shot four years after principal photography by a distributor rather than the original filmmakers. And if you haven’t seen it, that last scene is indeed a doozy—a woman systematically eviscerated by a film crew in gruesome, up close detail, played as if it were a real snuff film. But wouldn’t it be nice if the entire film lived up to the reputation of the denoument? Eli Roth, whose film Hostel plays out like a snuff theme park attraction, would excel at stretching those last five horrible minutes into 90 excruciating minutes. (You’ll note the trailer contains not one second of aforementioned notorious ending.)
The Driller Killer (1979)
Abel Ferrara’s contemplative horror art film (written by his frequent collaborator Nicholas St. John) is definitely punishing to say the least. Above and beyond the infrequent drill kills (there really should be more), there’s the cast of aggressively unpleasant characters (including Ferrara in the lead), the unfiltered NYC locations, and the unrelenting assaultive soundtrack. Lest you think your grandfather writing this piece, we want to assure the gentle reader we’re fans of all those things, and arty horror films in general. But The Driller Killer suffers from not enough horror or art to make the experience anything more than an endurance test. We’d turn this one over to John McNaughton, who directed one of the best contemplative serial killer flicks of all time, Henry: Portait of a Serial Killer. Sadly his co-writer, Chicago theater artist Richard Fire, has passed away, so we’ll hand that job over to Guinevere Turner, screenwriter for American Psycho.
Strange that a film about wolf people would have no teeth. The novel upon which the film is based, The Wolfen by Whitely Strieber, is a fun creature feature about a wolf race living in the big city. Sadly the powers that be at Orion Pictures decided to pull all the fun out of the story and replace it with a boring cautionary tale about the environment with a side dish of Native American lore on the side. The environment is a big political issue at the moment, and the world needs more Native films in general. A good eco-horror flick with a Native angle could be groundbreaking, so instead of just adapting the book again, we’d like to embrace what the original film had to offer and hand this one to Sherman Alexie, Native American screenwriter of Smoke Signals.
Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Okay, calm down. We don’t want to remake Slumber Party Massacre because it sucks; Slumber Party Massacre is awesome. We want to remake SPM because SPM isn’t what it was supposed to be. As envisioned by screenwriter and novelist Rita Mae Brown, Slumber Party Massacre was supposed to be a parody of a slasher film. And considering Brown is not only a great writer, but a feminist and an out lesbian as well, one can only imagine what the movie could have been. So we’d like to hand this one to Mary Harron (director) and Guinevere Turner (screenwriter and also an out lesbian), the team responsible for American Psycho.
The Swarm (1978)
Remember when we were all going to die from killer bee attacks, and killer bee movies were a thing? This all-star extravaganza is a fun time-waster based on the hysteria of the time, and it’s always nice to see Michael Caine try to convince us he’s not just collecting a paycheck—he really, truly believes the bees are a threat “far more lethal than any human force.” And the bees crash a train! Let’s round up Olympia Dukakis, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Will Smith, Jennifer Hudson and Michael Caine and get a remake made!
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)
Although the budgets got bigger for the sequels, and John Astin became complicit in the ongoing assault on good taste, the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is ripe for a remake. But how to sell tomatoes as villains? The original tomatoes looked incredibly fake (most likely on purpose), but audiences today demand more. We think the best way to get killer tomato buy-in would be hiding them via a found footage film. Just think what the Paranormal Activity folks could do with the property? Or better yet, get the Cloverfield team, J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves and Drew Goddard, to reunite and give tomatoes the horror film they deserve.
This made-for-TV movie based on Theodore Sturgeon’s novella about a bulldozer possessed by an alien intelligence suffers from two things: it’s about a bulldozer possessed by an alien intelligence and it was made in the 70s before CG effects had really taken hold of the industry. That killer bulldozer is slow, slow, slow. The only tension created by the kill scenes is the viewer screaming “But he could just walk away!!” each time someone gets ground to a paste under the truck’s tracks. But what if the bulldozer was fast? What if it could jump, or climb buildings? Much like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, this ridiculous premise needs a team of super serious horror folk to shake off the dust and make us believe a bulldozer can fly. Steven Spielberg got his start in TV, maybe we could get him for this project…
Wes Craven’s film about a bad guy who figures out a way to become pure energy feels exactly like what it is—a movie created to be a franchise. The lore of the bad guy’s transformation doesn’t add up, scenes play out like set pieces meant to shock and amaze, and there’s just no heart to it all. A near miss, but definitely a miss. Sadly Wes is gone, or we’d throw some money at him to give it another try. But in his absence, we’d love his Scream collaborator Kevin Williamson to give this one a shot. Williamson understands how to create a franchise without letting us know he’s creating a franchise, and his refusal to let even one line of dialogue sound written would serve this reboot well.
Two Evil Eyes (1990)
Oh, George Romero and Dario Argento, how we love you, but the hubris behind this Edgar Allan Poe-based vanity project is palpable. Romero’s choice of Poe’s The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar as his segment is problematic; the story is basically one horrific joke with a downbeat punchline, more of a scene than a full narrative. Argento’s The Black Cat, which is actually several Poe scenarios woven into one, feels like a TV movie that somehow managed to score Harvey Keitel as its lead. Like much of the work these filmmakers would create after this underperforming effort, Two Evil Eyes feels like Romero and Argento had no third eye, no impartial observer, telling them, “Hey, maybe this draft of the script isn’t your best work. Maybe you should do another take of that. Maybe you should shoot in Hollywood and avail yourself of all the professionals that work there every day instead of Pittsburgh…” (And shouldn’t it be Four Evil Eyes, since each director has two eyes…?) Poe adaptations are typically Gothic affairs, and for modern Gothic we’d choose James Wan and Leigh Whannel (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) to write together, and each direct one half.
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1965) and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966)
Created to be two halves of a double bill, these two horror westerns hang more on their titles than on the actual content of the films. But in this era of horror mashups like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, these two seem like perfect choices for a new take. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have already made one double bill (Grindhouse), and they’ve both shown they can make westerns as violent as any horror film (Django Unchained and Desperado, respectively).
Flesh Eating Mothers (1988)
This notorious little gem about mothers becoming kid-eating monsters has all the qualities of a remake-worthy film—a great premise hampered by poor execution due to insufficient budget and mediocre writing. We think the Soska Sisters (Jen and Sylvia), filmmakers of such delightful fare as Dead Hooker In a Trunk, American Mary and See No Evil 2 would bring a refreshingly matriarchal eye to this extreme tale of poor parenting.