Thanks to companies like Platinum Dunes, the word “remake” is usually accompanied by a negative connotation nowadays. Unfairly so, because lest we forget, there have been and still are a lot of decent remakes out there. Actually there are a few movies which could be successfully updated or even improved upon with a reinterpretation.
Here are five of my choices of films that might be ripe for being remade for varying reasons. To keep it simple I did not include botched adaptations or sequels, but focused on original movies for this list.
Freeze Frame (2004)
When a mentally unstable but harmless man called Sean (Lee Evans) is innocently suspected of having committed a gruesome triple murder, but acquitted due to a lack of sufficient evidence, his paranoia takes over completely. From now on, he records every single step he makes, by installing an expensive surveillance system in his house and carrying a portable camera that is directed at himself when he is outside, so he can prove his innocence in the case of a future occurrence. And really, another murder in the same fashion happens and the police investigates Sean again. In a cruel twist of fate, all the recordings that match the time of the crime are mysteriously deleted….
Why a remake?
The first 30 minutes of Freeze Frame are raw, unadulterated paranoia cinema, the perfect nightmare of the era of total surveillance, that had me clinging to my seat. In the second third it becomes fairly conventional, later somewhat disjoined till it ends in a very TV-movie like reveal. It remains a watchable movie in the end, but it’s frustrating due to the potential that was obviously wasted – a recurring motif regarding the movies on this list.
One wonders what the masters of cinematic unease, like David Fincher or Dennis Villeneuve could have done with the material.
Mister Frost (1990)
A rich recluse called Mr. Frost (Jeff Goldblum), who was never seen by anyone in the town before, invites the local police chief into his house. After showing off some bewilderingly eccentric behaviour, Mr. Frost casually reveals that he has gruesomely killed dozens of men and women and buried their corpses in his yard. Without a hint of resistance, he turns himself in and is transferred to a mental institution. His therapist Sarah is soon fascinated, too fascinated by the confusingly well-mannered and charming psychopath who now claims to be Satan himself…is he?
Why a remake?
Same as with Freeze Frame – a beginning that outright rocks, followed by a rather mildly entertaining middle part and a muddled ending. There are flashes of greatness throughout, usually delivered by Goldblum, but Mister Frost never lives up to what it promised in its first minutes.
Hell, remake this and just cast Goldblum in the title role again, he still has it and it has been some time since we saw him as a villain on screen. As 26 years have passed since he played it for the first time, I bet he could give this character a new spin.
A mysterious stranger (James Caviezel) approaches Molly (Rhona Mitra) the survivor of a hit-and-run accident, revealing to her that the culpable is a serial killer he has been following since he killed his wife. It’s not your run of the mill serial killer though: “Fargo” (Colm Feore) only uses his car as a murder weapon, which also became a bizarre extension of his body since he was crippled in an accident.
Why a remake?
Despite a deft premise that offers a winning mix of body horror and vehicular mayhem and although director Robert Harmon (The Hitcher) was an obvious choice for the project, it turns out to be a rather lukewarm affair that delivers neither in the action nor the horror department, never getting into gear so to say, keeping the lingo topical.
A remake should ideally be an adrenaline-fuelled, high-octane cross between The Hitcher, the good parts from Death Proof and Crash (the one from 1996). A solid choice for the director’s chair might be James Wan, as he has extensive experience with defiling humans and cars on screen already.
The Professional aka Le professionnel (1981)
Secret agent Beaumont (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is sent to a fictional African country to execute its dictatorial leader. But shortly before he can complete his mission, France strikes a shady deal with the nation and Beaumont is handed over to the local authorities, who put him into a prison camp. An undefined span of time later, Beaumont can escape this hell, exactly at the time when the dictator pays an official visit to France. Beaumont is bent on completing his aborted mission to exact revenge on his treacherous ex-employers. They try to stop him, but he involves them in a cleverly constructed cat-and-mouse game that always puts him one step ahead.
Why a remake?
Don’t get me wrong- this is a perfectly fine movie as it is, bordering on great even. But it’s also a story that due to its timeless political implications is perfectly suitable for being adapted again with a modern spin, with interesting results. There are also several occasions where the plot could go either this or that way, so a lot of storytelling potential is still left unexplored.
I could imagine an old school master who still has it, like Paul Verhoeven or William Friedkin, tackling that movie.
But they should keep the original score by Ennio Morricone…
Alone in the Dark (1982)
During a power blackout, four psychopaths (among them Martin Landau and Jack Palance) break out of an asylum and besiege the house of their therapist, whom they erroneously blame for the disappearance of his predecessor.
Why a remake?
I already wrote about this movie before, pointing out its one unrepeatable quality, which is the brilliant cast. Otherwise, it feels like a great concept squandered and most deficiencies can be attributed to Jack Sholder’s plodding and workman-like direction. A more intense reinterpretation could certainly score nowadays. The original cast might be unbeatable, but I heard Nic Cage has a few free slots on his work schedule!
Feel free to add your own choices in the comments!