Lately there have been a lot of modern-day reimaginings of famous franchises. Superhero movies such as the Nolan Batman films or Man of Steel, James Bond for the past three films, the Star Trek franchise’s prequels, the remake of the Hawaii Five-O TV series, and Doctor Who’s revived series. All of them have been rebooted for the modern era in some way or another. And why not, says movie and television producers and executives. These franchises have strong fan followings, they are mainstream, and they’ve enjoyed huge success in the past.
Horror however, has not been as lucky. Horror is not mainstream, the chances of making a success with any horror film is hit-or-miss, especially if you think it’s easy to scare people (it’s not, but that’s a post for another time), and even franchises with strong followings don’t get these sort of reboots because of the image of the horror fan is so negative (creepy teenatgers and adults in basements who like porn and playing the Peeping Tom and are just waiting for an excuse to imitate the killers on screen). Who wants to cater to that sort of audience?
And when there have been modern-day reboots, they’ve either been really bad (check out the remakes for Friday the 13th, Black Christmas, or Prom Night for examples), or they’ve been good but are often compared negatively with the original (Dawn of the Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street) or are ruined by really bad sequels (Rob Zombie’s Halloween II). As a result, there hasn’t been a lot of rebooting for horror.
Until recently that is.
Over the past couple of years, some successful horror franchises, such as Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, have been rebooted with sequel/remakes taking place in modern times, and famous films such as Carrie have even been remade for the modern audience and modern world, with talks about Cujo, Gremlins and Van Helsing also getting the modern-day remake treatment also occurring (though I debate the wisdom of doing that with VH, seeing as the Hugh Jackman original was awesome).
Not only that, but with TV executives finally tapping into the horror fanbase with shows like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and The Following, there have been a few reboots for TV as well. During the summers, Teen Wolf acts like a modern-day Buffy the Vampire Slayer with monsters, magic, fighting, romance, and humor, and late season premieres such as Hannibal on NBC and Bates Motel on A&E have been holding steady ratings since their premieres as they bring fresh life to the legends of Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates respectively. And more is on the way, with NBC doing a Dracula reimagining for the fall and other projects based on Hellraiser and Leprechaun on the way as execs start looking to reel in the horror junkies.
Why so many modern-day reimaginings? In terms of TV shows, I think TV execs are finally becoming more comfortable with horror itself and with taking risks on shows that appeal to horror fans. And as many horror fans are watching these shows and raving or debating or criticizing them on social media websites, these same execs are finding more and more ways to appeal to these horror fans. And if that means they must remake a few famous stories and franchises, why not? As long as it does well.
As for movies, I tend to think those movies are usually remade and rebooted by fans of the original franchises who see where those who came before had gone wrong or could’ve done more to improve the overall story, so they try and fix what has been done before. For example, the TCM franchise’s sequel got bloodier and more ridiculous with each movie, so the filmmakers tried to go back to the roots of the story and start from there with TCM 3D. As for Evil Dead, those movies were unnerving even with the really bad special effects. Imagine what could happen with better SFX, said the filmmakers.
Regardless of the reasons though, I think this is a good time for these sort of remakes, and there’s plenty of material for it. Here are some suggestions I have for modern-day reimaginings:
Frankenstein–With the rate of technology these days and the amount of zombie-based works being released these days, I say it’s high-time we have a Frankenstein remake. This could work either as a movie, or better yet as a TV series that could expand beyond the original novel and go in all sorts of directions in terms of story and character development. And who says the monster has to be ugly? We could have a halfway decent-looking monster to draw in the female viewers (I’d certainly go that route).
The Phantom of the Opera–I’m not talking about the musical, but the original novel. The story itself, which I read in high school, hints at several hidden, magical creatures and beings living with the Phantom underneath the Paris opera house. Imagine a drama set around the Phantom and the other inhabitants of the opera house trying to interact with the opera house. And imagine if it was set in modern times, when we are so sure of science conquering over the mysterious and superstitious. Sounds like fun, right?
Labyrinth–How many of you remember the 80′s Muppet-filled musical-comedy starring David Bowie as the goblin king? Imagine if it was remade as a serious story with CGI and animatronics and no musical numbers. That could work very well, especially if we delved more into Jareth’s history and his motivations and showed the goblin’s darker sides.
Tale of the Body Thief–Anne Rice’s fourth book in the Vampire Chronicles was recently optioned for a movie, but the movie never materialized due to differences between the movie studios involved. I wouldn’t mind seeing that movie made. Would you?
Willard–This famous 1971 film about killer rats spawned quite the legacy, including the sequel Ben and its famous theme song by Michael Jackson, several films about killer animals (including Jaws), and a 2003 remake. Imagine what would happen if that movie could be remade today?
Whatever the future holds, I hope it has some pretty good reimaginings of famous works, and plenty of people willing to make and to watch them.
What would you like to see remade and set in the modern world?