Editor's Note: This is Part One of a two part discussion on Remakes in Hollywood. Check out Part Two, by Chris Brecheen, here.
Allow me to set the scene, my friends. A quiet theater, on the 16th of June 1960, erupts with shrieks of horror, at the sight of Janet Leigh stabbed to death in a shower - a scene that is one of the most recognizable in film history. The infamous shower scene was a master stroke, by a master film maker. It scared the ever loving shit out of a great many people, and the ones who weren't scared were shocked that Janet Leigh met her end as quickly as she did. Arguably, Alfred Hitchcock did more with a bottle of chocolate syrup then anyone else in history. The movie Psycho was a cinematic achievement that was many decades ahead of its time, and an instant classic. It's in my top five favorite movies of all time. So as you can imagine, I was madder then hell about the 1998, sub par, shot for shot remake. The film was such a piece of excrement that I am getting nausea writing this. There are just certain things in life you don't touch, because they were done right the first time.
Just the other day I came across an article online about how Micheal Bay is planning on remaking The Birds. I understand that everything has been done before in film, however, there should be certain films you just don't touch. Very few films that are remakes live up to the original success. Take, for example the remake, of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate factory. The Tim Burton directed film titled Charlie And Chocolate Factory was a flop in comparison to its 1971 predecessor. Burton turned this lighthearted lesson in morality into a dark dismal film. The children got an up date in the rotten department. The oompa loompas got the ax in favor of a green screen. Then we come to Willy Wonka himself - to be fair, I could write an entire article picking apart Johnny Depp's role as the iconic candy maker. This movie should have never happened. Some could argue that it was meant to bring the film up to date. However, the original was a timeless classic. Note very carefully the use of the word, "timeless".
I will agree some movies could deal with a remake. For example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The movies hold a lot of nostalgic value, but were never great examples of film. So yes, I could see why this movie franchise was up for a reboot or remake. However with the swill that Bay is throwing about this movie, I doubt it will be well received. Should you feel the need to remake a movie, a sure fire was to piss people off is by ignoring the source material. If the film had a bit of success before, changing the entire film won't be successful. However, this is in no way permission to do a shot for shot remake.
Here is the long and short of it, folks. There are movies that will withstand the test of time. They will be remembered long after they are made. Their lines quoted, and mis-quoted, throughout known space and time. To try to remake one second of these great iconic pieces of film is a crime so bad it borderlines mortal sin. We don't want Gone With The Wind remade and set in Desert Storm. Or to have Back to The Future set in 1995 instead of 1985. We don't want Jurassic Park where the T Rex is a fucking vegan. We don't want Janet Leigh's character to live and track down her attacker. Casablanca should not have a happier ending. What I am trying to say is it is okay to touch a film that's mediocre. Just stay away from the stuff that went great the first time around.