“Reboot,” “relaunch,” “redo” – anything with a “re” in front of it – Hollywood has no problem repackaging, regurgitating, and re-releasing nostalgic joy. (The simple fact is that remakes make money.)
Fans of the horror genre have a love/hate relationship with remakes. Over the years, there have been some very successful redos, thanks to a new generation of fantastic directors who know how to tap into our greatest fears. But there have also been some true duds that tarnish the memory of the classics they’re based off.
If the guaranteed revenue wasn’t enough to ensure remakes would continue (it is), the odd critically lauded redo – films like Evil Dead, Let Me In, and even Fright Night – would keep production companies coming back for more.
From sci-fi storylines to slashers to plain old camp with a touch of creep, the horror stories you know and fear are not going anywhere except back to the silver screen … and then under your bed.
Which redos are we most likely to see next? Within horror, there are a plethora of older films that are chalk full of great ideas. Not all those movies executed those ideas to perfection nor had the technology that allowed them to reach their full potential. Those are the ones that are ripe for a renaissance.
Of course, Hollywood will also want to capitalize on name-recognition, which is why a remake of Stephen King’s IT is currently in production.
At the end of the day, we’re likely to get a few remakes that are deserved and a few that should have been left alone. Below, I set the odds on which classics are going to go under the knife for full fledged re-modification.
Odds on what horror films will be remade in the next five years
Cujo (1983): 2/3
This movie scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid. Some say it’s not a great Stephen King adaption, but its presentation of a crazy St. Bernard with rabies that wants to bite your face off was downright terrifying. Cujo is a simple story that combines natural brutality and believability, which causes audiences to squirm with tension. With the recent success of 2016’s The Shallows, the basic premise of (wo)man vs. beast can supply enough tension for 90 minutes.
Rumors are that a remake is in the works, but that it will stray from the source material. Let’s hope that’s just Hollywood gossip.
The Funhouse (1981): 1/1
This low-budget horror film was not as good as some of director Tobe Hooper’s previous work, but it had potential. The story, about four young people who visit a travelling carnival and decide to spend the night in a dark ride called The Funhouse, almost writes itself. Things get a bit bloody as the four teens encounter a crazy and deformed carny with devious intentions.
Part of what made this film interesting was that it didn’t rely on just blood and gore, but instead built up tension with creepy atmosphere. It could easily be stylised for today’s more sophisticated audiences who crave a more thoughtful thriller.
There was some buzz about Eli Roth taking on this project, but it appears to have been put on the shelf for now.
Quatermass & The Pit (1967): 4/1
Long before Prometheus, the idea of ancient aliens creating the human race was explored in the 1950s on the popular BBC show Quartermass. Four stories from that show were adapted for the big screen, one being Quatermass & The Pit, which was renamed Five Million Years to Earth for North American audiences.
The plot: scientists discover an alien spacecraft buried in the London Underground along with the remains of early proto-humans (who were engineered as slaves by insectoid Martian overlords) that are more than five million years old. Quatermass realizes that these ancestors are responsible for shaping human civilization and intelligence. But something is triggered in the spacecraft that emits a psychic force that makes the people of London go crazy.
England’s iconic horror production company Hammer Film Productions, which is responsible for the Quatermass tales, has been resurrected and now would be a great time to bring back these stories to a new audience.
Altered States (1980): 6/1
Canadian director David Cronenberg’s work might seem off limits, but the Soska Sisters are re-making Rabid, and I say, “have at it!” If we’re modernizing Cronenberg’s work, anyway, why not Altered States? The original is a sci-fi horror flick featuring William Hurt as Dr. Eddie Jessup, an obsessed scientist trying to find mankind’s true role in the universe. The story is based on actual research that was conducted in the 1960s.
Dr. Jessup takes some hallucinogenic drugs and puts himself in a sensory-deprivation chamber, where he hopes to explore the different levels of human consciousness. But things go a bit sideways and the doctor starts to go ape.
This story would work well in today’s age given it’s exploration of human consciousness and our reliance on technology. It’s also the perfect film to recreate with today’s 3D and CGI capabilities, which could transform it into a terrifying meal that’s one part sci-fi-horror and two parts drug trip.
Open House (1987): 7/1
The 1987 classic Open House was about a serial killer – driven crazy by corporate greed – who targets real estate agents. The original is pretty boring as far as slasher flicks go. but talk about a theme that’s only become more relevant! (There was another film called Open House that was made back in 2010, but it was an entirely different story and premise.)
My two cents: the remake should be a dark satire that speaks to the current economic and political climate in the United States. You could even have it take place during last decade’s US mortgage crisis. With the right director, this could have some serious American Psycho vibes to it.
Sleepaway Camp (1983): 10/1
This is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill slasher flick that tried to cash in on the heels of Friday the 13th. But it does have a twist ending that was very Crying Game-esque. With everything that is going on in the western world with trans-phobia, now is the perfect time for an updated version. Given its franchise potential, Hollywood should be on board, too.
I’d love to see Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard take a stab at it.
Slumber Party Massacre (1982): 12/1
The original Slumber Party Massacre had deep feminist overtones that would definitely be embraced in today’s culture. The producers and directors decided to play it straight in the end, but it was originally meant to be a parody of the slasher film genre and developed a cult following for its “unintentional” humor and blood splatter. There is a simple horror-comedy gem somewhere in here about a psycho with a drill terrorizing some naked co-eds.
I’d love to see director Adam Wingard give this a go, but for now, we’ll sleep on it.
Chopping Mall (1986): 15/1
Add this to the comedy-horror annals, a genre which certainly has its place in the overall horror genre. (A nice mix of laughs, blood, and severed limbs is perfect escapism in my books.) Originally, this film was called Killbots, but fared better when the name was changed to Chopping Mall upon its VHS release.
It has a pretty simple premise: killer security robots start knocking off teenage staff at a mall. Sure, it sounds absurd, but the potential of a robot takeover has only become more popular in the three decades since its release.
“Chopping Mall, where everything costs an arm and a leg.”
Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, & Girly (1970): 20/1
Based on Maisie Mosco’s two-act play “Happy Family,” director Freddie Francis tells a story about a family who use their underage nymph daughter Girly to lure strangers into their manor. Deadly role-playing games ensue and you either play “the game” or are “sent to the angels,” which ends up being a ritualistic murder on film that the family enjoys watching later.
One of their targets is a male prostitute who tries to use his own sexuality to turn them against each other. A modern day remake has the potential to be twisted, funny, and horrifying.
Remember, the family that slays together, stays together.
M (1931): 50/1
M was German director Fritz Lang’s first non-silent film. It was a horror masterpiece about a child murderer named Hans Beckert, and is considered the grandfather of the psychological thrillers. Some think it’s untouchable, but it plays on every parent’s greatest fear – losing their child – so an update for modern times would be equally compelling.
Will someone risk the ridicule of toying with a cinematic masterpiece? Of course! If not for the money, then for the kids!
Photo Credit: New Concorde Home Entertainment