Here are 10 stories that belong to everybody, stories that still have plenty of juice in them — even if their earlier incarnations left something to be desired.
Rock Hudson starred as a scientist who was able to accelerate the human gestational process from months to days, yielding the hotness that was Barbara Carrera. Of course, it all went bad, and she started killing pregnant women to steal their fetuses. But for a beat, there, it had the DNA of a genetic thriller.
A Bucket of Blood (1959)
A Roger Corman flick about a busboy who accidentally kills a neighbor's cat and covers it with sculptor's clay, only to find that the sculpture becomes a hit. He then turns to murder to keep up with demand for his work. Originally played as a comedy (and shittily remade in 1995 with Anthony Michael Hall), this could make for a robust horror film.
One Thousand and One Nights
There's more to the Arabian Nights beyond Aladdin and the Genie and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: Sex, murder, war, and more sex.
Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818)
We've talked before about the problems with adapting Mary Shelley's classic for a modern audience — but there's got to be a way to make it relevant. There has to be.
Grimm's Fairy Tales (1812)
Bill Willingham's Fables comic has shown what you can do with these stories — and many other popular legends — if treated with both innovation and respect. And there's plenty of room for others to play.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
While this German film's great impact was stylistic — one of the most influential of the German Expressionistic films, it's look would serve as one of film noir's direct precedents — it was also a pretty smart horror tale that has, allegedly, cinema's first true twist ending.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
One would've thought that this particular trope had been sucked dry years ago — and then one might've stumbled upon Steven Moffat's BBC miniseries, Jekyll, and been corrected. It remains an elemental fable.
The Brain that Wouldn't Die (1959)
Yes, it's been eviscerated by MST3K. Yes, it's (more than) a little silly. But the idea of a scientist who uses any means necessary to keep a loved one alive — to then have then loved one plot murder because she'd rather be dead — is still kind of interesting.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
An aspiring hedonist sells his soul so that his debauchery will infect his portrait rather than his body? Hmmm...what if his "portait" were an avatar? Thanks, Oscar Wilde!
The Coming Race (1871)
A subterranean, matriarchal civilization — populated by angel-like telepaths who, thanks to a drug called Vril, have the power to alter matter — is on the verge of erupting into the surface world seeing to expand their borders. Sexy, winged-mutant war on Earth? Sign me up.