Again! Again!

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February 21, 2010

Bad movies are more than just a good waste of ninety minutes. They’re an affirmation that there has to be something good out there. This dribble I am watching, your brain tells you ten minutes into your cinematic guano pile, cannot be the best in movies, or even the average in movies. I watch bad movies, specifically science fiction and horror movies, because they are the unintentional comedies of our time. I laugh more with them than I do with legitimate comedies. Sure, someone probably put a lot of love and care into each film, poured blood onto the camera like a writer pours his or her blood onto paper and ink…

But it didn’t work. And now we have accidental comedic genius.

It does beg the question, though, of why anyone would want to remake this particular cinematic gem:

Yes, it is going to be remade into THIS:

Okay, I’ll admit. I’ve said it more than once that if you’re going to remake something, don’t remake something that has a great following or is well-respected. You’ll get in trouble. Sometimes you strike gold like Chris Nolan with Batman Begins or you make something new that actually surpasses the original, like Ron Moore with Battlestar Galactica. However, these are the exceptions to the rule. I’ve always said that if you want to remake something, you should remake a film so bad you’ll HAVE to do better. It’s the only safe bet.

Now I’m kind of wishing I’d kept my mouth shut.

This remake of Plan 9 does bring to light another trend in American cinema in the last several years, one that we need to address. So many movies become hits or simply gather a cult following because of a combination of luck, planning, mistakes, and the enjoyment of the first time you saw the movie. Do you think The Rocky Horror Picture Show would ever be remade? No, because it was such a unique collection of shortfalls and successes that it could not be replicated without looking and sounding artificial. While the play is still performed to packed audiences, the actors and spectators both participate and turn it into a social event. Ever tried watching the movie by yourself? Or in a theater with people just watching it quietly? It’s weird…

The Creation of Rocky by ~love-and-commissions on deviantART

Why remake something that’s already good? To capitalize on it. Why remake something that failed worse than Dubya at a spelling bee? Because you think you can do better. There’s a certain amount of hubris in trying to remake someone else’s work, though. You don’t just say, “I love your work and want to build on it,” but “I can do better,” and writers have fragile egos. No matter how much someone says they want to build upon another person’s work, the original author will always feel like something’s gone awry, like he or she failed at something. Writers are people too, and we bleed like a kosher chicken.

And that’s not what art is about.

Artists borrow from each other. You can’t exactly claim that any zombie movie that comes out is ripping off Night of the Living Dead. Resident Evil, Evil Dead, and any of the dozens of zombie films that have come out in recent years pay homage to Romero’s work because it laid the foundation, but no one’s remade it except a few idiots who thought it was a good idea:

And when I heard someone was adapting Inferno into a video game, I was somewhat… scared out of my mind.

At this point, I’m waiting for Thomas Moore’s Utopia. I’m figuring it’s going to have Moore in a Mario-like outfit as he battles his way through a maze of puzzles. Should come out on the Wii soon.

Movies, books, and music can all create new genres. “Johnny B. Goode” wasn’t remade forty-two times when it became popular. It helped spawn rock and roll. Watchmen showed comic books what they could become if they pushed the envelope. Star Wars changed the way we looked at science fiction movies. It almost seems as though there is a sweet spot on success. If something is successful enough, it can be remade, but if it’s TOO successful, it can stand on its own.

And if it sucks like the vacuum of space, hey go wild. Let’s learn from past movies and books. We don’t need another remake of The Italian Job. I think we’ve seen enough versions of King Kong. We’re smarter and more creative than this. Or at least we should be. Let’s make new gods and monsters.

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