Lazily reheating an old franchise for a 'new audience' is one of Hollywood's most hated habits.
Google 'remake' and you'll be showered with a torrent of purist eye-rolling and fanboy froth.
But there are plenty of dodgy, dated, obscure and undercooked movies that could really, really benefit from a reboot up the arse. Here's our countdown...
27. Outland (1981)
The film: A High Noon-style western in space, with Sean Connery’s marshal the only man interested in stopping lethal drug-dealing on the corrupt mining colony of Io.
Why it needs remaking: Because the premise is strong and the original just missed the mark. Done right, it’s a dirty, atmospheric thriller with the future-is-old sci-fi stuff in the background.
It needs a stubborn lead who can shoulder the whole movie – Clive Owen? – and a director who’ll look past all the space stuff and concentrate on nailing the macho plot. Bring on Michael Mann.
26. Jason & The Argonauts (1963)
The film: Sword and sandal epic following the hero of the Greek legend, fighting skeletons and harpies while searching for the golden fleece.
Why it needs remaking: Yeah yeah, the Clash Of The Titans rework is already underway, but who wants a mechanical owl when you can have an army of skeletons?
Updating – but staying true to – the incredible stop-motion of Ray Harryhausen is the draw here. Tim Burton is the sensible call – super-clean CG is out, and Burton has the style and reverence to get it done properly.
25. The Changeling (1980)
The film: A composer moves to a creepy Victorian house in Seattle following the deaths of his wife and daughter, only to discover that he isn’t alone.
Why it needs remaking: It’s an intelligent and subtle ghost story, all atmosphere and creaky stairs - something a Hollywood reduced to making One Missed Call could really use.
Shout from leftfield – Cronenberg to direct (he’d feed off the morbid loneliness) with Viggo Mortensen subdued but heartbroken in the lead. [page-break]
24. Profondo Rosso (1975)
The film: Meticulous and gruesome Italian chiller from Dario Argento, in which David Hemmings’ music teacher investigates the murder of a psychic medium, which he witnessed.
Why it needs remaking: Because even though the blurry film stock and muffled audio have aged, Argento’s keen eye for killing detail hasn’t.
A faithful reworking is what’s required, keeping the nasty touches and visceral splashes of deep, deep red. Argento’s still working, so he could do it himself, while we can’t look past Ed Norton for the inquisitive lead.
23. Dementia 13 (1963)
The film: A Roger Corman Psycho knock-off, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Instead of a motel there’s a castle, but inside there’s still a twisted family with a dark and deadly secret.
Why it needs remaking: Because exploitation is the stuff careers are built from, and as a Coppola original the story’s got some chops.
Throw it to a young, hungry director on a lean budget and just enough money to hire someone high-profile and pretty (we hear Lindsay Lohan has a few gaps in her schedule).
22. Ben (1972)
The film: The titular character is a giant semi-telepathic rat who commands a small army of other rats and befriends a lonely, vulnerable boy. Michael Jackson sang the hit tie-in single, also called ‘Ben’. All of this is true.
Why it needs remaking: The film’s a sequel to equally odd 1971 horror Willard, recently – and badly – remade with Crispin Glover.
Let’s do Ben some justice. Playing it straight is madness, but bring in Sam Raimi (with Bruce Campbell as a slow-to-cotton-on authority figure) and you’ve got it nailed lock, schlock and barrel.
Oh, and La Roux to cover the Jackson hit. Tastefully, of course.
21. Dune (1984)
The film: Nearly-there adaptation of Frank Herbert’s hippy-fave novel, featuring a consciousness-expanding oil-like spice which powers deep space travel, and a messianic hero called Paul.
Why it needs remaking: Because the David Lynch/Dino De Laurentiis version, though beautiful in patches, simply doesn’t have the right brain to do blockbusting.
It needs a stern, commercial hand to cut down the (pretty tedious) book and manage the huge shoot. We’d have Peter Jackson overseeing, and maybe District 9’s Neill Blomkamp at the helm.
20. Shivers (1975)
The film: David Cronenberg’s debut, featuring a destructive man-made parasite which gives its host uncontrollably violent sexual urges.
Why it needs remaking: The no-budget original is hammy and amateurish, but has a primal spark of awesome.
An update with pretty young things is a no-brainer – make it bloody, funny and harsh - and, without being crude, for God’s sake give us some skin!
Edgar Wright would nail the laughs without losing the satirical core, and we’d love to see Simon Pegg chasing naked chicks down corridors with his tongue/wang hanging out.
19. Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
The film: A group of survivors hole up in a Pennsylvania farmhouse as the dead spring back to zombified life and stalk the earth, hungrily.
Why it needs remaking: The original is brilliant but really old, and the affectionate Tom Savini remake is even shoddier.
It’s still the best undead set-up in town – a house, fractious survivors, constant siege terror – it just needs some love in the style of Zack Synder’s Dawn Of The Dead touch-up.
Our wishlist: The Orphanage’s Juan Antonio Bayona to direct The Wire’s Lance Reddick in the central role. [page-break]
18. God Told Me To (1976)
The film: Camp Larry Cohen detective drama about a hard-bitten New York detective working a string of murders by workaday types, all of whom claim ‘God told me to…’
Why it needs remaking: This is the freaked-out cult cousin of Taxi Driver – a trawl through the peaceniks and street trash of ‘70s New York – and has a strong paranormal hook to boot.
Maybe too on-the-nose for Fincher (with Clooney as the Catholic cop?) but hey, this is make believe, so we’re hiring them both anyway.
17. Panic In Year Zero! (1962)
The film: Society crumbles amid a shock nuclear attack.
An all-American family on a fishing trip miss the blast, but face a struggle to survive in a new, desperate world.
Why it needs remaking: Because as everyone force-fed the harrowing Threads at school knows, watching the world end is endlessly entertaining/terrifying.
Plus we’d love to see Kurt Russell as the all-American dad turning feral to feed his family
16. Game Of Death (1978)
The film: Bruce Lee’s half-completed masterpiece, which showcases that yellow jumpsuit and the star’s emerging mixed martial art Jeet Kune Do, and was interrupted by his death.
Why it needs remaking: Because it’s literally unfinished, and the scenes - absurdly - filmed with a stand-in stick out like a broken nunchuck.
Either: wait for digital technology to seamlessly blend CG Bruce with the existing footage, or get Quentin Tarantino to direct an over-the-top remake starring Tony Jaa. [page-break]
15. Fantastic Voyage (1966)
The film: Technicolor sci-fi from the ‘60s, in which a submarine crew are miniaturised and injected into a dying diplomat in order to save his life.
Why it needs remaking: Because CG and surround-sound could do a far better job of recreating the inside of a man than the red flock wallpaper the original’s SFX stretched to.
Plus it’s been 20 years since Inner Space, and most people have forgotten how bad it was.
14. The Lost Weekend (1945)
The film: A broke alcoholic writer skids through New York avoiding his girlfriend in a blurry weekend of flashbacks and regret.
Why it needs remaking: It’s light in tone and pace but deep in feeling and impact – beautifully written, and not about cars or guns.
A remake would also allow for the seedier bits from the source novel – gay affairs, women not sleeping on sofas – to be put back in. We see it as a tight, energetic Danny Boyle piece, with Ewan McGregor back in the fold as writer Don.
13. Night Of The Comet (1984)
The film: Earth passes through the tail of a comet, which transforms anyone not protected by metal into red dust or a carnivorous zombie. Two airheaded valley girls hit the mall to survive…
Why it needs remaking: Because zombie movies are totally back, and this one has just the right mix of decapitation and laughs to make it stand out.
Robert Rodriguez would be perfect for the scatty gags and gore, and as the surviving sisters, we call Megan Fox as the elder lead and a plucky unknown as her sidekick. [page-break]
12. The Keep (1983)
The film: A garrison of Nazi soldiers occupies a deserted Romanian castle, and discovers an ancient evil inside.
Why it needs remaking: Because mixing Nazis with the occult is like mixing dynamite with sparks – explosive and awesome.
The Michael Mann original is a mess – murky, incomprehensible – but given the hook of watching Nazis die gruesomely in sequence, all a remake needs to get right is the gore and stereotyping.
Yeah, we’re thinking Eli Roth too, with Willem Dafoe reprising his Life Aquatic accent as the lead bastard.
11. The Towering Inferno (1974)
The film: The ultimate ‘70s disaster flick: the newly completed tallest building in the world catches fire during its opening party, forcing the guests to escape any way they can.
Why it needs remaking: We need the remake more than the film needs remaking – it’s still a classic, if a little creaky.
But after the plunging stone that was the Poseidon rehash, this claustrophobic sizzler could give us our first decent disaster flick in years.
For the Paul Newman/Steve McQueen leads, only George Clooney and Brad Pitt can compete. And after the blowout of Moneyball, maybe they could persuade Soderbergh to direct…
10. Alligator (1980)
The film: A giant, abandoned alligator inadvertently fed on experimental growth hormones terrorises the sewers of Chicago.
Why it needs remaking: Because a Jaws reboot is too obvious, and this is the next best thing.
The original was tongue-in-cheek (writer John Sayles also wrote cult mess Piranha) but the new version should flip this and go full-on serious.
We want Ridley Scott on acidic, Alien-topping form, with Russell Crowe in method mode as the veteran cop chasing the gator down. [page-break]
9. The Guns Of Navarone (1961)
The film: Massive guys-on-a-mission stuff. Huge German gun emplacements are holding thousands of British soldiers prisoner, so a crack commando team is sent to destroy them.
Why it needs remaking: Because it’s about time we had a British World War Two blockbuster to shout about, and rip-roaring war stories simply don’t come any better.
The key is in the casting – we’d have Ralph Fiennes as David Niven’s toff Corporal Miller, and Karl Urban as Gregory Peck’s gritty, supposedly Kiwi Captain Mallory.
8. The League Of Gentlemen (1960)
The film: A tight British heist drama from the pre-swinging sixties, in which a group of disgruntled ex-armed forces officers come together to pull a job.
Why it needs remaking: The setup is dynamite – skilled strangers wracked with mistrust is a classic heist hook.
But the film really turned on its end-of-Empire class musings. Whoever takes it on needs to be British and socially minded.
If his arm could be twisted, Paul Greengrass would knock it out of the park with a cast of barely-known character thesps.
7. Slaughterhouse Five (1972)
The film: A decent stab at adapting Kurt Vonnegut’s powerful anti-war masterpiece about a captured, ruined American soldier in a Dresden basement losing his grip on time and sanity.
Why it needs remaking: The original’s fine, but the book deserves better.
It’s a tough ask, mind – Vonnegut’s novel cartwheels deliriously through aliens, time travel and preoccupations with freewill, all underpinned by a serious and harrowing anti-war stance.
What’s needed is flamboyance, smarts and near-arrogant confidence. What’s needed is Terry Gilliam at his very best. [page-break]
6. Red Dawn (1984)
The film: World War 3! Russia and Cuba sandwich the United States with a sneak ground attack, which forces a group of kids in Colorado to take up arms against the invaders.
Why it needs remaking: Not – as some real-world remake chatter has it – to reflect the realities of a post 9/11 world. But because with 25 years’ hindsight, the new film could play up the schlock and dial down the jingoism from 'rabid' to 'mild, ironic'.
Give it to Zack Snyder with a remit for outrageous gunfights and Commie-capping and we’re on to a winner.
5. The Day Of The Triffids (1962)
The film: Classic cold war yarn: lights in the night sky (a Russian attack?) blind most of the population, enabling a new and dangerous species of moving plant called triffids to take over.
Why it needs remaking: John Wyndham’s story is not only considered and intelligent, but a proper ripper to boot, with the few sighted humans herding the blind in a race for survival against the plant horde.
It’s crying out for high-end effects, but must be kept smart - Duncan Jones of Moon fame could be just the man, with Paddy Considine as the still-seeing scientist hero.
4. Nighthawks (1981)
The film: Sly Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are tough New York cops on the tail of Rutger Hauer’s sadistic Euro-terrorist.
Why it needs remaking: It’s like a proto-Die Hard, but with more noir-tinged action and cross-dressing killings.
Tony Scott is your only man for the megaphone, and casting comes in packages: Jason Statham and 50 Cent for the idiot pyro version, or Christian Bale and Chiwetel Ejiofor for the could-be-brilliant-but-won’t-get-made version. Paul Bettany is the nutter, either way. [page-break]
3. Westworld (1973)
The film:Jurassic Park with robot cowboys.
Twenty years before Spielberg brought dinosaurs back to life, Jurassic Park scribe Michael Crichton brought us this bleak fantasy theme-park dystopia.
Why it needs remaking: Maybe you didn’t hear the bit where we said ‘robot cowboys’?
The coolest thing is that is allows a typical hero – Yul Brynner in the original – to go Terminator-bad.
Bruce Willis is a good shout this time out, or maybe even Kevin Costner?
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1956, 1984)
The film: There are two, actually, both spirited takes on George Orwell’s stern dystopia about one man’s impotent struggle against a thought-controlling British totalitarian state.
Why it needs remaking: The first film misses the point spectacularly (‘Down with Big Brother!’ the central characters defiantly yell as they’re executed) and while the later effort is grim it’s not much of anything else.
It needs breathless political realism. Ideas mixed with action. Sounds like another job for Paul Greengrass...
1. Duel (1971)
The film: Steven Spielberg’s made-for-TV breakthrough: a nerdy dude in a teeny car cuts up a murderous truck which then hounds him across the highways.
Why it needs remaking: Because the central premise is strong like hard-pressed high concept diamond, but the resources at Big Steve’s disposal were TV-meagre.
Give it to a director with a sense of how pared-down action works (Andrew Dominik?) and throw in an anxious star who can hold the screen single-handed – gotta be Sam Rockwell – and it’s a ready made hit.
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