Remakes Are Bad! (Except When They’re Not)

People hate remakes.

They say.

Every time there’s an announcement about a remake (or reboot) in the works, people curse Hollywood for being out of ideas.

Why do they constantly do remakes and adaptations, they cry! Why won’t they give original ideas a try?

Look at the classic movies they should never remake, EVER:

The Wizard of Oz

The Maltese Falcon

Ben-Hur

Scarface

Want to hear something funny? These movies are ALL REMAKES.

They recently announced they are remaking the classic Western The Magnificent Seven. People are decrying such blasphemy.

Except the Western we know and love is a remake of the Japanese film The Seven Samurai.

You know that fellow Shakespeare? He was so original, wasn’t he?

Actually, he wasn’t. Most of his works were remakes and/or adaptations.

He remade plays and stories from various sources. Hamlet – remake. The Comedy of Errors – remake. King Lear – adaptation. Romeo & Juliet – adaptation. It would be easier to list the plays he wrote that weren’t based on something else.

Remakes have been around since forever and a part of Hollywood almost since Hollywood began as a film industry. There were several versions of The Wizard of Oz before the 1939 version was made. When movies transitioned from silent to sound, many silent films were remade with sound. When television encroached on movie profits, Hollywood reached into its vaults and remade many in color and widescreen.

Some famous directors even remade their own films. Alfred Hitchcock remade The Man Who Knew Too Much. Cecil B. DeMille remade The Ten Commandments.

It’s true, I get that same sinking feeling when they announce another remake or reboot in the works. Many times remakes are put into production for the sole reason that Hollywood is driven by fear. Anything that can pre-sell their product is a good thing, in their view, because movies cost a lot of money to make.

That kind of cynical attitude towards remaking previously successful projects can be soul-searing to a writer. Or to anyone. When they bomb (as the remake of Total Recall just did) it can feel quite gratifying.

The good news is, even the worst of the worst remakes can’t detract from the awsomeness of the original it failed to match or exceed. They still remain classics, no matter what. If anything, a lousy remake often spurs people to revisit the original.

Entertainment Weekly did a poll and asked readers to name the best and worst remakes of all time. The best list is a great list. The worst — well, we don’t have to search through remakes to make up a list of really bad films.

I remember when they announced they were doing a reboot of that cheesy 1970s sci-fi show, oh, what was it called — Battlestar Galactica. The one that tried to cash-in on the success of Star Wars, where the characters wore goofy headgear and star Lorne Greene looked embarrassed all the time.

What a STOOPID idea, I thought at the time.

Sure, we can say that Battlestar Galactica was an exception, but let’s be honest–great movies and TV shows made with “original” concepts are the exception, too. There are a ton of lousy movies and TV shows made from original ideas. It’s hard to make a great anything.

The source for the idea isn’t that important. The result is.

Hang on a sec. I just found out they are remaking the 1980s sitcom ALF.

Scratch everything I just said. THOSE PHILLISTINES!!!!!

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2 thoughts on “Remakes Are Bad! (Except When They’re Not)

  1. Oh no, anything but ALF! 🙂 You make a terrific point; nothing is original, everything has been retreaded. However, if anyone tried remaking All About Eve… That’s when I would find a samurai sword and start slicing! (Or Ms. Davis might just come back and do it for me, hee hee…)

    1. Oh, I agree about All About Eve! Though they did do a Broadway musical based on it called Applause that was very successful. So there are ways to do it, just not by attempting to do a straight remake of the original.

      My other “grab my samurai sword” remake would be if they tried to redo The Princess Bride. Inconceivable!

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