Everybody knows that remakes are a plague and an abomination. Why are they remaking Total Recall? Or Escape from New York? Why is the guy who did 28 Weeks Later allegedly remaking both Highlander and The Crow? Are remakes good for anything at all?
Actually, yes. Nobody complained when John Carpenter remade The Thing, after all. And some films of the 1980s and 1990s could actually benefit from a fresh spin. Here are 20 beloved (and not so beloved) films of a quarter-century ago that actually should be remade.
Top image: Last Starfighter wallpaper by George Spigot.
The Last Starfighter.
This is one of those movies that is perfect and awesome in your memory — and then you rewatch it, and it's actually severely flawed. It just has such a great storyline: a boy in a trailer park becomes the best at a particular video game, which turns out to be a recruitment test for aliens fighting a huge war in space. Awesomeness! Except that the boy spends too long rejecting his heroic destiny and wanting to go home, and the final victory via "Death Blossom" is cute but actually too easy. A remake could bring this concept to the greatness it deserves.
The recent 25th anniversary DVD set of this movie was our first opportunity to revisit this hallowed classic... which also doesn't seem to hold up that well. It's really slow and the "group of kids go on a subterranean adventure" theme never quite gets into gear. And the humor hasn't aged well. You could easily see a new generation of Goonies having a fun, silly adventure and saving their house from foreclosure — which is kind of a topical thing right now.
This movie seemed like it was going to rule with extreme prejudice — an inner city teacher gets a meteor fragment that gives him superpowers and he uses it to clean up the ghetto. Sadly, even though the film has absolutely everyone in it, the story never quite clicks and the superhero's powers are both too huge and too easily lost. A reimagined Meteor Man, which spends more time actually engaging with the challenges of being an inner city superhero, could be seriously fun.
Anyone who has sex with Margaret dies — and it turns out that tiny aliens are harvesting the orgasmic energy from her lovers, a fatal procedure. This wild romp through a New York filled with sex and drugs and fashion shows really deserves a glitzy 21st century Sex and the City-esque reinvention.
The Universal Soldier
It's sort of like RoboCop in the military — two dead soldiers are brought back to life and upgraded into the ultimate fighting cyborgs. Despite having spawned a ton of sequels, this movie has all but dropped out of the public consciousness, and it would be really cool to see a new version that actually deals with the cutting edge of cybernetics as well as military technology. And we need more crazy JCVD-style action movies again. It could star Vin Diesel!
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Okay, this one is straying into dangerous territory, I know. But I just rewatched this film the other day, and even though it's still incredibly brilliant, it hasn't aged all that well. And a remake, done with love and respect for the original, could be the new Men in Black. Buckaroo Banzai is a rock star and scientist and adventurer, who invents a device that lets him travel through solid object via the 8th Dimension, and some evil aliens called the Red Lectroids are after it for nefarious reasons. Nathan Fillion could be Buckaroo Banzai! Tell me you wouldn't go see that.
Val Kilmer is a super science genius who gets roped into working on some dodgy weapons systems, even though he just wants to party and stuff. And he solves his problems using popcorn. This is a seriously fun, goofy movie that could easily be updated into a kind of Big Bang Theory story of super-nerds who find that their work is being misused for destructive purposes.
We love this movie, and we paid homage to it recently. Twice. And yet, it's hard not to feel like there's a core story here that deserves a second crack — a cop from the present day gets defrosted in the sterile future, where everything is supposedly perfect but actually awful. The original film's satire on early 1990s political correctness feels instantly dated, which only obscures the greatness of exploring a false utopia. Plus, a remake could include more of the cyberculture of the future, which the original doesn't really explore. And it could be hilarious.
Joss Whedon's least favorite movie nevertheless has a great core of cleverness to it — two nerds create their perfect woman, who then sort of takes control of her lives with her savoir faire and gives them a bit of a makeover. The irony being that they don't control her, she controls them. And in the end, she teaches them to stand up for themselves and stuff. The nerd stereotypes are pretty hideously dated, and how Lisa, the artificial girl, feels about her situation is never really explored — so there's tons of scope to do a new version in which Lisa is a real character.
Speaking of movies about artificial girls... this film is one of our favorites, but sadly it doesn't have the following it deserves. Sam ruins his Cherry 2000 sex android when he accidentally gets her wet, so he has to hire a bounty hunter — played by Melanie Griffith — to take him out into the wasteland in the hope of getting a replacement unit that he can install his Cherry's memory disc into. And of course, Sam finally learns that flesh-and-blood women are pretty awesome. As with Weird Science, we'd love a remake that does more with robot consciousness, plus you could explore the post-apocalyptic setting more.
Okay, now we're straying into dangerous territory, I know. This film is a stone cold classic, so great it's had a whole book written about it by Jonathan Lethem. But there's so much greatness in this film's premise — aliens secretly running the world, authoritarian messages everywhere that you don't consciously read — that we'd actually like to see a new version. Though not if they go ahead with ditching the sunglasses.
Here's another one that's in the pipeline — it's not really a remake of the 1980 movie, though, so much as it is going back to the source material in the 1930s and 1950s. Either way, you could definitely see a Flash Gordon movie being a much-needed dose of space adventure, especially if they take a few notes from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek revamp and balance fun action and character development. Here's hoping!
Another one of our favorite old-school movies — that never gets the love it deserves. We'd way rather see a Timecop remake than a Robocop remake, because Timecop has more untapped potential. It's got the Back to the Future thing of people going back and altering the timeline, with more or less instantaneous results. But instead of Doc Brown and his Delorean, there's a kind of time-travel sled thingy. And corrupt politicians are trying to screw up history with their historical earmarks. The concept is just pure genius, and it deserves a do-over.
What if you could record people's memories and play them back, like videotapes? This concept was sort of revisited in Strange Days and a few other movies. But I like this movie's spin on the idea — that recorded memories would basically drive you nuts and make you experience stuff that is bad for your psyche, or just that people would become like memory porn addicts. The Douglas Trumbull version is, true to his work in general, slow and intimate — and I'd love to see a version set in a modern office, with memory-sharing alongside Facebook and Twitter.
This Denzel Washington-Russell Crowe movie is one of those old-school cyberspace action movies that just looks a bit silly now. And yet, it's still got some terrific moments. And the idea of a fake A.I. criminal, created via computer out of the profiles of lots of other computers for a virtual reality simulation, who manages to steal a body and get into meatspace is sort of hilariously awesome. I want a new cat-and-mouse game between a detective and an A.I. serial killer, NOW.
This is like the ultimate buddy comedy, in which an action hero gets shrunk to microscopic size and has to live inside a regular shlub — and just like in Weird Science and so many other films, the tiny guy inside teaches the shlub how to be more awesome. Sort of. If you got two actors who had tons of chemistry and charisma, the saga of a James Bond-esque superspy living inside of a regular loserface could be a huge comedy hit. Maybe if you could get the version of Will Ferrell who did Stranger Than Fiction, and put a tiny Pierce Brosnan inside him, speaking inside his head.
Another movie we totally love, this film is directed by Stuart Gordon, who usually makes H.P. Lovecraft adaptations, from a screenplay by Joe Haldeman. And it's like Real Steel, only 10,000 times more awesome — with giant mechas fighting each other with guys piloting them from inside. The giant mechas fight as an alternative to war, in the wake of a nuclear holocaust, and they use weapons like giant buzzsaws coming out of their crotches. With modern-day effects, this could be a smarter, more political version of Transformers.
My Stepmother is an Alien
This film isn't just the first time Alyson Hannigan went on a date with Seth Green — it's also a super cute comedy, in which aliens send a sexy alien babe (Kim Basinger) to meet a scientist whose work is unintentionally threatening their civilization. And they wind up getting married. The original is sorta weird and falls apart towards the end, but there's a germ of a great idea here. Maybe this time, Hannigan could play the alien stepmom? Just a thought.
Anthony Hopkins is a rich evil guy in the future, so he steals a racecar driver (Emilio Estevez) from the past, a split second before he's supposed to die in a crash, so Hopkins can steal his body. And Mick Jagger is scowling a lot. This movie is another one of those cult classics that doesn't entirely hold up with the passage of time. But it's got time travel, body-snatching, evil rich people and car chases. And it's a perfect metaphor for the ways in which powerful people plunder the past and dehumanize everybody else. Plus it could be like Fast and Furious or Drive, with a guy trapped in the future.
The Lawnmower Man
Speaking of cheesy cyberspace-y movies that look hideous now... You could make a pretty great movie about a guy with sub-normal intelligence who gets super-upgraded via computer. We're even up for some better cybersex scenes, using decent CG this time. It could rule.
Which classic 1980s or 1990s movies would you actually like to see remade?