Blur’s Alex James once said that having someone remix your song was like letting that person take your dog for a walk and them bringing back a different dog. Similarly, the art of the movie remake appears to be much akin to someone stealing your dog, then bringing it back covered in shit and whimpering. Or maybe that’s the bitterness of a man who once paid £10 to see the Nicholas Cage starring remake of The Wickerman speaking.
All together now, “NOT THE BEES! AGGGGHHHHHH!”
This week I watched Let Me In, the American reworking of Let The Right One In, the Swedish vampire film of 2008 and a film that was pretty much adored by every single person in the world. I won’t critique the film too much here – I did, after all, review it over there – but, much like The Wickerman in fact, I’ll say again that it strikes me as a strange choice of film for anyone to try and better.
I can think of loads of films I think should be remade, the common link being that they’re all ones that are almost universally rubbish – but I’d use my film remakes as an opportunity to right cinematic wrongs. I’d remake Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith and get rid of the bit when Darth Vader says “NOOOOOOOOOO”. I’d remake The Godfather Part III and write a decent script this time. I’d remake Lady In The Water by M. Night Shyamalan and… actually, I’d just put that in the bin. Then I’d burn the bin.
That’s not to say there aren’t remakes I do like. I like The Departed, a reworking of 2002’s Infernal Affairs, and another Martin Scorsese remake, Cape Fear, although I like J. Lee Thompson’s 1962 original an awful lot too. Then there’s Heat and Dracula and the U.S. take on The Ring, which as regular readers of this blog will know, is a film that I both adore and will defend to the death with the vigor I might do a distant family member.
Oh, and here’s my riposte to any film fans who says they don’t approve of remakes; basically what you’re saying there is that you don’t like Scarface. You don’t not like Scarface do you? No? Okay then. Shut your mouth or I’ll carve you up reeeeeal nice.
I think what separates good remakes from bad ones is the motivation behind said film being made. Some of the films I’ve outlined above were made because the director wanted to put a different spin on the source material, or wanted to utilize new technologies, or update the tale being told. Then some of them, or as I like to call them ‘the bad ones’, are normally made for one of the four following reasons…
1) Hollywood is more often than not stupid, and does in fact hate you, and thinks (western) audiences won’t watch (otherwise great) foreign language movies because people are too stupid to read the words (this list could go on and on and on, but off the top of my head: Quarantine, Vanilla Sky, 90% of Asian horror adaptations - fuck 'em, fuck 'em all).
2) Hollywood wants to make a quick buck using the familiarity factor of an established intellectual property (step forward Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes production company, where in the moments where they’re not eating the flesh of toasted babies and kicking pensioners in the face, by their own admission, exist for the sole reason to remake classic horror - The Hitcher, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street - and count up the profits).
3) Hollywood is feeling a little insecure of itself and wants to defecate all over the memory of a classic movie just because it can (I’m thinking Alfie, I’m thinking The Italian Job, but principally I’m thinking of Gus Van Sant’s completely pointless and almost entirely shot-by-shot, Vince Vaughn-starring remake of Psycho, a film that’s the cinematic equivalent of mean boys pulling off the wings of a butterfly).
4) It’s really quite expensive making new drama (see also the broadcasting policy of Channel 5).
What I’d like to know from you is what you think are the worst remakes ever made? Or what films you’d like to see remade? Or whether you too worry that in sixty-years time, when we’re dragging our arthritic bodies to the cinema (will cinemas exist in sixty-years? I guess that’s a different blog altogether...) we’ll we faced with a choice of Avatar Rebooted, Saw: The Beginning or someone else dicking around with the legacy of King Kong. Hey Hollywood, leave our dogs alone!
Go on then, off you go...