So, as I am casually trolling about this evening, I see yet another re-make is in the offing. Nothing most people would think of; the movie in question is Fright Night. The original, released in 1985, was a horror-comedy, and featured a cast of mostly second-rate actors (the highest profile actor in the movie was Roddy McDowell, best known for his role as Dr. Cornelius in the original Planet of the Apes). A few minutes research revealed this is old news but it’s the first time I’ve seen it.
Just as well, as upon reading it, I threw up in my mouth. Then I swore. At length.
I have to ask, already knowing the answer: is Hollywood’s idea factory so broken that all they can do is re-run half-baked ideas from three decades ago? Look, I like the original Fright Night in the same way I like a ballpark hot dog: it’s simple, it’s familiar, and it’s not too heavy. There is certainly nothing exciting about the plot, dialogue, or special effects. It was fun for an evening but nothing that anyone would call memorable. So why, movie executives – why spend resources remaking this movie? This is the best you think you can do?
I think that’s a shame, because there is an absolute wealth of storytelling skill in the speculative fiction writing world. HBO is doing Game of Thrones and as I referenced a few posts back, someone told me is was the best show on television. I haven’t seen it to pass judgment but the observation lingers; why couldn’t George R.R. Martin try his hand at writing a movie screenplay? Why hasn’t anyone asked him to? Kij Johnson writes some bizarre short stories that are well-received – many of which could be a decent short feature. With today’s special effects, Ringworld would probably make a kick-ass film. None of this counts the thousands of unsung creators with creative writing chops. For Christ’s sake, if someone can make a movie series out of Eragon, then there is hope for any speculative work.
That is, if Hollywood would take a risk on it. By nature, the movie-making industry seems risk averse. (Come to think of it, most of the entertainment industry is – which is why they keep pumping out the same crap). How’s that working out for them?
Well, according to this chart, US ticket sales for 2011 are on course for their lowest total since 1995, and lowest revenues since 2001 (though revenues can be a deceptive measure, between price hikes and stuff like 3D surcharges). I’d say, it’s not working out too well.
You know, I am not against remakes specifically. Every once in a while, the remake will turn out better than the original. But there’s certainly nothing virtuous or creative about it. And this leads me to the point: why, oh why, with all the creative talent out there in the world, are they recycling crap that didn’t do well in the first place? Take a chance, Hollywood.
Or fold up and die.