Conversation Starters: A Classic Horror Remake Wishlist
I have a confession to make. Last week I saw a film that’s been at the top of my pile-of-shame for as long as I can remember liking movies. Last week I finally saw A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. I know, that’s crazy, but let’s get over that because the point is while watching I quickly came to the realization that our main character, Alex, is played by Malcolm McDowell who I’ve seen in other things like the HALLOWEEN remake and HEROES before, but I never knew he was the main character in this. Again, since this movie had been on my “must see movies before I die”, list I’ve always avoided any media regarding it for as long as I can remember. So once I realized McDowell was our main character Alex, It became painfully obvious that he resembles one Evan Peters of AMERICAN HORROR STORY fame. It’s really uncanny, and according to my quick google search, I’m not alone in seeing the strong resemblance.
This is when I fell down the rabbit hole. I’m not big into remakes, but watching A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, it felt ripe for a proper redo with a more modern setting. The ideas of the film are sound, but the way it’s portrayed feels dated by today’s standards. I can see the brilliance of the film’s message, but perhaps a more modern director could do it justice for a more modern audience. That’s when my mind went to Mickey Keating. For anyone unfamiliar, he’s a prolific filmmaker that doesn’t seem to be able to stop putting out movies. Seriously, as I wrote this he already dropped two more films. The dude works fast and hard. Keating has a knack for throwing layers of different genres into his films to see his vision through. In something like DARLING, he asks the audience for a Kubrickian level patience and then pays us back surprisingly and violently, and goddamn is it satisfying. Keating is a director that isn’t afraid to let the viewer think for themselves, as evidenced in his suspense filled, sci-fi monster movie POD. So I’m not much for remakes, but having Mickey Keating directing a wild eyed, grinning Evan Peters in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE remake is something I’d totally accept… and maybe even want to see.
This got me thinking about other remakes I wouldn’t mind seeing if the casting and directing were entirely of my choosing. Naturally, the next film I thought about was A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, because when left to wander, my mind always goes to Freddy. So of course the first question is who would play Freddy? But we’ll get back to that in a bit, because while filling Robert Englund’s shoes is a huge undertaking for anyone, I’d argue that for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movie to work, getting the right director is paramount. Of course the series lives and dies by Freddy, but the Nightmare movies were at their best when we weren’t quite sure when we were in a dream or not. Having a totally normal setting grow more and more strange, then having that “ah ha” moment just before Freddy cuts in was so damn fun. A director that I think can pull that off is Mike Flanagan. I liked OCULUS. I didn’t love it, but it had its moments. My favorite aspect of the film is how the story is told. Weaving in and out of flashbacks the way the film did was really engaging. He understands pacing and how much information the viewer needs versus how much they want. I think he’d knock it out of the park. Flanagan has also shown in movies like ABSENTIA and HUSH that he can write a female protagonist in an interesting way, which is good because we’re going to need a Nancy next.
Before we get to Nancy though, lets just say if anyone can play a young Johnny Depp, Shia LaBeouf probably can. But he’ll have to shave his beard and find his sanity first. Anyway, on to Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy. One of my favorite final girls ever, she was a little unconventional for a final girl, but she was a survivor right from the very start. For Nancy I keep seeing Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux from HORSEHEAD. Besides the obvious parallels with Nancy (nightmares, complicated relationship with her parents, falling asleep in the tub) Pointeaux is a disarming actress that still conveys an inner strength that’s important to Nancy, this works. So back to Freddy– A face that popped up for me was Billy Crudup. Yeah, Doctor Manhattan as Fred Krueger. My thinking behind this is mostly that he’s got a great voice–that’s really important for Freddy. He also has the range, and something very important that I feel sunk Jackie Earle Haley in that stinker of a remake; he has the physical build. Englund’s not a big guy, but at 5’10” he had a wiry frame, and the Nightmare movies used lots of unconventional angles to take advantage of that. Hayley had the attitude, but at 5’5” he just wasn’t physically imposing enough.
Next up, how about we mull over THE FLY? Damn this movie fucked me up as a kid. There was something so terrifying about watching this scientist destroy himself and slowly mutate into this abomination that really stuck with me as an adult. Jeff Goldblum totally made the movie, so we want someone that can carry a film and manage to come off both smart and creepy. How about Dane Dehaan? If you’ve seen movies like KILL YOUR DARLINGS, Dehaan handles the weight of a brilliant mind defly, and his ability to take things too far is perfectly portrayed in a movie like CHRONICLES. Elizabeth Moss has so much range, so her playing a modern day Geena Davis almost goes without saying. As for our director, at first I looked at a movie like CONTRACTED and thought Eric England might be good for this. But we want someone a bit less conventional. Someone that isn’t afraid to get weird. Someone like Jonathan Glazer. A word of advice, never trust anyone that says they saw UNDER THE SKIN but didn’t like it, just make that a rule. Glazer’s filmmaking style would translate so well to tell the story of a man struggling to keep his humanity as he mutates into a horrible monster. And Dehaan is talented enough to carry it. I could see them reveling in the weirdness of it all.
How about we go back to another Kubrick classic and recast THE SHINING? There are so many important pieces that make up THE SHINING we’ll have to be careful to match our cast well enough that they’re emotionally reliant on each other, yet have the ability to blend into the furniture when the exquisite directing takes over. The only person I can truly see doing the character of Jack Torrance justice is Brian Morvant. Brian has a madness about him that’s hard to put your finger on. He works with Mickey Keating often and the guy constantly feels dangerous and dark, which is perfect for Jack in THE SHINING. In that same train of thought, I can totally see Lauren Ashley Carter playing Shelly Duvall’s Wendy with grace and poise, but also terror, lots and lots of terror. The role of Danny I think needs to be played by the adorable but also formidable Jacob Tremblay of ROOM, last year’s Oscar nominated picture. The role isn’t super challenging but he needs to be able to look like a deer-in-headlights when he sees a couple of ghost girls asking to play. Directing all of this should be Robert Eggers. Luke and Jacob can be wrong about THE WITCH all they want, but even they have to admit the man has an uncompromising directorial style you have to respect.
Okay let’s do how about CANDYMAN next. Candyman himself, played so well by the great Tony Todd so I think we can all agree that Candyman must and will be played by Idris Elba. So let’s not argue over obvious things and move on to Virginia Madson’s Helen. This is a good one. I think Asta Paredes would definitely do Madson’s character justice. She’s got a defiant spunk that can be played as naive and in-over-her-head, but still capable of getting shit done. The director here is going to be Scott Derrickson who’s shown he understands visual storytelling and sets up a scene very well. I wasn’t a huge fan of DELIVER US FROM EVIL, but the SINISTER films are alright, and EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is still a great film. I can see Derrickson being able to give us a 90s period-piece remake of CANDYMAN and it being sort of awesome.
I suppose there are more movies I want to remake, but I’ll leave this here for now. What I’d like is for you guys to let me know if you agree or disagree with my picks. Do you have better ones? Let me know on Twitter, or add a comment below.