Monday, July 16, 2012

Top Ten Films Begging For A Remake

Normally I'm opposed to remakes and reboots. It's not that the concept offends me, it's just that so many remakes were either pointless, like Gus Van Sant's Psycho, or turkeys on steroids like The Haunting. The odds of a successful remake seem to be very low. Despite that fact, I'd love to see someone take a crack at these films, some of which I've included simply because it's shocking they haven't already gone through the Hollywood recycling machine.

10. The 10th Victim (1965)

In the near future bored sophisticates enter a game in which they hunt each other and then in turn become hunted. The whole thing's legal and televised, and the government uses it as a form of population control. This Italian film sounds dystopian, but it's really a black comedy and it comes with a double dose of 1960s style. Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress provide beauty and cool, and the soundtrack has one of those maddeningly catchy tunes Italian films of the time specialized in. Running Man was a bit like this, but it's a wonder Victim hasn't been given the full Hollywood makeover.

9. The Magnificent Seven (1960)

There's supposedly a remake of this classic western in the Hollywood pipeline. The bad news is that Tom Cruise is attached to the project. I'm guessing that means the other six actors will be riding ponies just to balance out the height differential.  A straight remake is a bit pointless; what astonishes me is that no one has updated the concept to seven American mercenaries defending a Mexican town against drug cartel baddies. Wait a minute...that sounds good...hands off, Tarantino, it's my idea and I'm copyrighting it first thing tomorrow!

8. The Dirty Dozen (1967)

I know, I know, Inglourious Basterds was a de facto remake of The Dirty Dozen, but it didn't have the purity of the original concept. Not to mention that it was a self-indulgent load of shite. Given the success of Saving Private Ryan you'd think someone would be game for another stab at this action classic.

7. Mister Johnson (1990)

Virtually no one has seen this film, and that's a good thing. It's about a British colonial officer in West Africa in the 1920s who's trying to build a road through the bush. He's both helped and hindered by Mr. Johnson, a native who is a product and victim of colonialism. The novel this film is based is by Joyce Cary, and it's brilliant; one of the first and best novels about the corrosive effects of colonial occupation. The film is barely mediocre, despite Pierce Brosnan in front of the camera and Bruce Beresford behind it. If any youngish black actor wants to earn himself an Oscar, get this remake done in a hurry.

6. Gormenghast (2000)

This is actually a four-part BBC mini-series based on Titus Groan and  Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake. The Beeb threw all kinds of money and talent at this project and they got it completely wrong. They gave it a Felliniesque feel which was totally off-base. The novels are hard to define, but I'll try by saying that they're kind of a collision between Dickens and Lewis Carroll. What's really missing from this mini-series is the humour of the original books, which are often LOL funny. And to do the books justice you'd need a series that's at least twice as long. Here's my review of the original novels.

5.  Troy (2004)

This plodding toga epic is based on Homer's The Iliad but manages to prune out all the best bits. More specifically, the film does away with the supernatural influence of the gods on the battle for Troy. That's a bit like making a western without horses. In Homer's story the gods are constantly interfering in the battle, and given the state of CGI these days I don't see why a remake shouldn't give them lots of screen time.

4. Excalibur (1981)

I don't actually mean this particular film needs to be remade, I'd just to like to see one film about King Arthur that doesn't suck like a Dyson vacuum cleaner, Monty Python's version excepted. Think about it: every attempt to dramatize this legend has gone down in flames. King Arthur, First Knight, and, going back to 1953, Knights of the Round Table have all put a blot on the record of everyone who participated in making them. The worst of the bunch is Excalibur, but only because John Boorman was an otherwise talented director. To be fair, Excalibur did have the late, great Nicol Williamson giving an intriguing performance as Widow Twankey Merlin.

3. Sands of the Kalahari (1965)

This is an odd one. A small plane crashes in the Kalahari desert and the survivors are menaced by a large band of baboons. The survivors also fight amongst themselves for who will be, in simian terms, the silverback male. It's a great idea for a film, but the execution was very B-movie. The worst decision was to have Stuart Whitman, a beta actor, play the alpha male. A decent male lead and some CGI would work wonders for a remake of Kalahari.

2.  Red Sun (1971)

If you're like me you're continually wondering why there aren't more westerns featuring samurais. It's a puzzlement. In fact, there's only one: Red Sun starring Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune and Alain Delon (my review here). Jackie Chan did martial arts in the old west in Shanghai Noon, so I don't see why we can't have a samurai kicking cowboy ass on the prairies. It's a better idea than Cowboys & Aliens.

1. The Naked Prey (1966) 

Actor Cornel Wilde turned to directing as his B-movie career started to wind down and he produced this classic about the hunter becoming the hunted. Set in Africa in the late 1800s, Wilde is a hunting guide, who, along with the hunters he's guiding, is captured by angry natives. The guide's clients meet sticky ends (really grisly stuff for 1966), but because the chief respects the guide he's given a slim, but fighting chance to escape. He's stripped naked and given a brief head start before being pursued by spear-wielding warriors. And the hunt is on. The story is beautifully simple and it's told with brutal efficiency. It's not without it's faults (Wilde was in the same acting class as Stuart Whitman), but it begs for a remake with a bigger budget and some dialogue that's a bit sharper. I'm not only one who loves this film: it got the official film geek seal of approval by being released as part of the Criterion Collection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think warlock starring Julian sands and Richard e grant would be good remake material,use say judge law as the warlock.Also the wraithstarring Charlie sheen 80's movie would be a good movie to contemporise,also maybe a ghost in the machine 90's movie remake it's a whacky film but different.We need difference in remakes not repetitive regurgitation and someone cap the number of 12/12a/pg13 movies produced yearly,simply because it's lowering standards,lowering maturity levels and discarding the average adult from even approaching a cinema because not all adults have kids to cash in on you know hollywood?