There was a time when remake was a bad word in this country, when the thought of taking a beloved old movie and "updating it" was treasonous. Now, it is not only the good movies that are being remade, but the shitty and otherwise unremarkable ones too. As proof of this I offer a threesome of 80's flicks that will be finding their way to the silver screen either in the '00's or the '10s. First up is "They Live" which was of course the Rowdy Roddy Piper film about two regular guys who take down a long standing alien conspiracy to enslave the human race. They do so with special sunglasses that allow them to see the skeletal looking visage of the aliens beneath their human facade.
Of course the movie was taking itself seriously, and it had a viable message, but it fell on it's face thanks in no small part to the terrible acting of Piper. Of course the 5 1/2 minute fight scene between Piper and Keith David, which is so ridiculous that it was parodied on South Park in the "Cripple Fight" between Timmy and Jimmy didn't help either. In the end the fight had to be 5+ minutes because with out it, the movie would have been less than an hour and a half, much of it filled with lacking dialog and woeful acting.
At least we remember "They Live" for the fight and one of the all time great lines in movie history "I have come here to chew bubble gum, and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum." There are all sorts of improvements you can make upon this story to make it a viable 21st century movie, but what, prey tell, are they going to do with "Arthur" and "Romancing the Stone" to make them better/relevant?
"Arthur" was what it was, and I guess the idea of Russell Brand playing the part has some appeal, but it was all said and done, so do we need to do it again? As for "Romancing the Stone" are you fucking kidding me? That was one of those movies that always seemed to be on HBO in the late 80's, and as a result, I've seen it more then I'd ever care to admit. Stolen Jewels, Colombian drug cartels, Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas's head accidentally going between Kathleen Turner's legs... that's the movie. Oh yeah and Douglas showing up on a huge boat on the back of a trailer in midtown Manhattan wearing boots made of the alligator he killed just as the credits roll. Did we need to do that again? Really?
As far as I'm concerned the only reason to ever remake a movie is if the telling of the story can greatly be enhanced with the inclusion of modern effects. One of my favorite movies as a kid was "The Andromeda Strain" based on the book of the same name by Michael Crichton. It is a great story, but the effects available to Robert Wise in 1971 made it just seem cheesy when I saw it for the first time in the late 80's. Sadly, it was not remade as a feature film, but as a TV mini series by the Sci-Fi channel, and if you've ever seen any of their stuff, you know the effects are pretty awful.
Perhaps even more sadly, another of my favorite old movies in need of modern effects and cinematography got shafted by being put on TV. I first saw the 1959 movie "On the Beach" staring Gregory Peck in the early 90's as my obsession with Australia was just beginning to become fully formed. It is a great tale about the end of the world originally written in '57 by Nevil Shute, the film still holds up pretty well. But in 2000 someone decided to make a 4 part TV movie out of it and scuttled it immediately by casting Armand Assante in the Gregory Peck roll. Damn.
Now we'll just have to wait and see what happens to the trio of 80's movies that are getting ready to make their way back to the big screen. I don't foresee any of them being all that huge, but then again, I didn't think people would lose their shit over a movie about a young vampire in love that was written by a Mormon, so what do I know.