If we have to accept the reality that movies are going to be remade, then we need to talk about which ones should and should not be ‘reimagined’ or whatever. Most movies can probably be remade without offending most of the populace. By and large, the artistry involved in a film cannot be so tied to the guy behind the camera that it is impossible to see it in the hands of another director.
Big Trouble in Little China is not one of those movies. There are probably fewer directors for which the overall style is immediately noticeable than a John Carpenter movie. They’ve already given Halloween and The Thing the remake treatment, with very mixed results, so we all probably thought Carpenter was off the table. If they destroyed Halloween, what worse could they do?
Well, Big Trouble seemed like it was way out of the hands of the land of remakes. It is a singularly weird and Carpenterian flick, and of all his movies the seemingly least likely for someone to reboot or reshoe or re-something. The fact that The Rock — who is in every single movie that has been released this year — will star, and to tame the critics, he asked for Carpenter to “be involved.” Carpenter would probably want to get paid for that “honor,” so we will see a strangely furious version of the flick instead, sometime in the next few years.
Which got us thinking: What movies would we remake before we got around to Big Trouble in Little China? Because we couldn’t say ‘literally every movie ever,’ we had to whittle down the list a bit, and this might be a two-part series or something, but here is a minor version of our discussion. Enjoy.
1. The Stuff
Why it should be remade: The Stuff is a great but flawed movie from Larry Cohen, who is probably best known for early blaxploitation flicks like Hell Up in Harlem and weird, low-budget horror like It’s Alive. (In fact, he directed both films simultaneously.) The Stuff is a great concept: a delicious treat that looks halfway between ice cream and marshmallow — yum! — turns people into Thing-esque zombies. It doesn’t quite work, overall, so seeing a modern update with that always refreshing “Americans are easily duped into eating shit that’s bad for them” theme would be nice.
Also, gifs like this one make the movie a hidden little gem:
Why it should be remade: SHAAAAAAAAKMA! Shakma could be a pretty great remake, given just how weird its premise was, what with its escaped, pint-sized baboon and Dungeons & Dragons-ish video games-y subplot. Take it into the 21st Century and focus more on the titular villain — can a baboon really be a villain? COME ON — to make it something that transcends the not-quite-good state of the original.
It seems like a minor contender on this list, but come on: In horror, we don’t have enough kick-ass animal attack movies. What, are we going to remake Cujo?
NEW 2. Cujo.
Cujo was a pretty good movie based on a novel Stephen King himself doesn’t remember writing, so it stands to reason it might not hold up after all these years. You could argue that it was the best for what it was and should probably be left alone.
But to hell with it, this movie would make for a great remake. A killer, rabid dog is the perfect vehicle — haha, pun! — for a tense little horror movie of this sort. Give it a solid female lead — Jessica Chastain, maybe — and a kid who can fake a believable seizure, and BOOM — you’ve got a remake right there. (Now, I recognize this sounds irritably like how most of you imagine an exec would pitch the movie, but trust me here.)(I also recognize they’d probably also say that.)
ANYWAY, Cujo is a kick-ass idea and would make a kick-ass movie (again). Way better than Man’s Best Friend, which is kind of a mixture of Cujo and Lawnmower Man but without the terrible CGI.
Why it needs to be remade: Creepshow wasn’t without its standout moments — mostly the effects from almost literal wizard Tom Savini — but as a whole it doesn’t quite reach the heights one would expect from a collaboration between the King of horror and the king of zombies. A slightly less self-consciously campy and more consciously extreme and violent compilation movie today might be a great appendage to the legacy of this Creepshow.
The effects are great, and so a CGI-heavy, cockroachy remake probably wouldn’t work. It would need a practical hand, maybe someone who can balance horror and comedy, in order to be successful. Guillermo del Toro would be goddamn amazing at that, and he’s got the track record, to boot.
4. Masters of the Universe
Why it should be remade: Whoo, boy. This one hurts. The official release of Masters of the Universe was a watershed moment in my young life. Never had the height of my hopes and the depths of reality collide at such a low ass point. Ever. Well, maybe the Super Mario Bros. movie. But very few other times in my life.
For those who don’t remember, Masters of the Universe took a beloved toy franchise about a Conan-like character and a zany cast of colorful weirdo mutants fighting a simple moral battle — good vs. evil, y’all — and turned it into a dark, brooding mess of a movie. It’s kind of like Hercules in New York but with Dolph Lundgren. Dolph Lundgren, who, until Masters of the Universe, was only known to me as the asshole who killed Apollo Creed.
Hell, this one could even star The Rock! He would make the perfect stand-in for Conan — he’s already been Hercules — and it would give us a chance to relive our childhoods in another way, and one that does not involve ruining Big Trouble in Little China.
5. The Last Starfighter
What SHOULD be remade: The Last Starfighter is a great sci-fi film in the vein of Star Wars. We had tons of them in the 80s!!! What we’d like to see done with the film is an update to the space battles. CGI was in its infancy and one can only imagine the kind of processing power needed to render those scenes. I’m not talking Star Wars prequel level redo, I’m talking at least Return of the Jedi level battles…and those weren’t even CGI.
Maybe make this guy a little less scary as well…
6. Escape from New York
Why it should be remade: Okay, if we’re going to relent on any John Carpenter movie, Escape From New York is probably the one we’d pick.
Hold on, hold on. Now, we get that Escape got a sequel in LA, but come on: that movie is no NY, even if I liked it a whole lot more than I should have.
If you get past Kurt Russell’s singularly badass performance in that movie — which can be seen in all of Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear games — then there’s a lot to work with, especially with the contemporary nature of the “police state” (ugh) and civil rights and so forth.
It’s something Carpenter would have done really super well, but apparently he’s out of the game (but way into video games).
The problems is that the more I think about Escape from New York, and the more I google it, the less I think the movie needs to be remade. The less I think the movie actually could be remade. I mean, just take a look at Adrienne Barbeau kicking ass below. What the hell could be cooler?
It’s got everything: Isaac Hayes, chandeliers for headlights, Harry Dean Stanton. What doesn’t it have? I guess, a modern remake?
Okay, okay, I’ve got this. If we are going to remake any Carpenter flick, it’s got to be one that’s more traditional and amenable to reimagining. (God, that word makes me cringe, the more I use it.) Chandelier cars and basketball matches aside, Escape could use a spit-and-polish, I guess. I don’t even know anymore.