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A meme I’ve seen going round repeatedly can be best summed up as “don’t remake good films, remake bad films” with the idea that you should give good ideas badly done a chance.
Now first, despite having good friends that study remakes, I do get a bit tired of them. But there are also times remakes are a good idea, and I think this may be one of them.
So when is “it was bad but it could be good” a good reason to remake something.
Is There Something There?
There are quite a few films and shows out there that may not have been good but have some seed elements that are actually interesting. Think of all those bad movies or cheesy shows or not-great-but-interesting novels that we may critique but somehow like. We connect with it, there is something in there that’s worth it.
Now just because we like it, it doesn’t mean it’s remake-worthy. But if a story of some kind has good seeds, we should ask if these are things worth sharing. Would a remake bring benefit to others if we made it?
If you’ve ever tried to explain the “magic” of a not-really-good thing to someone, you get the idea. Imagine if something could be remade so the magic comes out!
The Artistic Value
When remaking something there’s little value in just doing it the same. Just updating a film or rewriting a book is really more polishing something. It may be good to bring out the magic, but I think more value comes if there is some artistic challenge or improvement.
Change Of Media: Maybe a bad book is better as a comic or movie.
Change Of Style: A poorly done movie might be better done if there’s a change in genre or shooting style.
Change Of Sequence: A bad TV series could be better as a movie to tell the whole story – or a TV series might be better done as a serial show.
The Challenge: A good writer or actor, giving a flawed but interesting work or remake, may grow if given that challenge. So a remake of a bad piece of work could bring out the skills of others.
A Few Examples
Finally, a few remakes I’d like to see – most of them courtesy of Rifftrax/MST3K
Manos: The Hands Of Fate – This infamous cheesy film had a certain charm, mixing cult fears, horror, and some occult/eldrich god stuff. That’s an interesting mix, and I think a remake could do something with this.
Space Mutiny – The oft riffed film is interesting for two reasons. One, there was clearly some larger storytelling there that got shuffled around due to the many crises on set. Secondly, it rested on the easygoing charisma of Reb Brown. A remake as a miniseries, with the right lead, and a retro sensibility would be fun – and allow name recognition to promote a good lead.
Gamera – Gamera, the famous Godzilla ripoff, got a remake as some darned good kaiju films. But I feel that it actually could be redone one more time – as a TV series. There are some continuing plot elements in the film, and a story of people ant their relationship to this protective/destructive kaiju would be incredible.
So there you go folks. What would you remake?