WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 5/8/09 (WITH “ILL-ADVISED HOLLYWOOD REMAKE” SUPPLEMENT)

A look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Little Ashes:  Not itself a weird movie, but an art-house drama about primal Surrealists Salvador Dali, Luis Buñuel and Federico Garcia Lorca, exploring a long rumored love-affair between Dali and Lorca.  Reviews are poor; it doesn’t appear the movie transcends its intended gay romance audience.  Little Ashes official site

Since there’s so little this week either in theaters or in new DVD releases to appeal to fans of the weird, we turn to… 

IN DEVELOPMENT (ILL-ADVISED HOLLYWOOD REMAKE EDITION):

Angel Heart:  Scheduled for 2011 per IMDBAngel Heart has dated well and features Mickey Rourke and Robert DeNiro, who still have box-office drawing power, so why not just re-release the original?

The Birds:  In my opinion, Michael Bay should keep his damn dirty paws off Hitchcock.  The original The Birds was a great movie with horrible special effects; we should expect the exact reverse from a Bay-produced remake.  Here’s the rumor from Film Junk.

I Walked with a Zombie:  The atmospheric and literary Val Lewton classic is getting a Hollywood update.  What director could tackle this project with the sensitivity it deserves?  The first name that comes to mind, of course, is Adam Marcus, who showed with the subtle Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday that he is the true spiritual heir of Lewton’s “quiet horror” aesthetic.  Per IMDB it’s a go.

Let the Right One In:  I haven’t even fit the original into my busy viewing schedule yet.  I suspect it will be a dumbed-down version aimed at people who loathe subtitles and quiet passages.  Unlike some of the other ill-advised titles on the list, remakes of foreign hits are inevitable.  Readers at BloodyDisgusting.com are infuriated.

The Man Who Fell to Earth:  This is slated for 2009 per the IMDB, though it’s not in production yet so time is running out.  One would assume the point of remaking Nicolas Roeg‘s cult sci-fi film would be too sanitize and de-weirdify it for mass consumption, but who knows for sure? 

Plan 9 from Outer Space:  Um, how (and why?) do you remake a movie that is notoriously considered the worst ever made?  (By the way, Ed Wood’s Plan 9 was not the worst movie ever made, not by a long shot, but it is probably the most unintentionally hilarious Z-grade film ever created).  Direct-to-video director John Johnson suggests he will do “a serious-minded retelling of the original story,” which sounds like he will simply strip off everything that made Ed’s original beloved and produce another schlocky, forgettable B-movie.  It’s set to be released in September 2009, with scream queen Brinke Stevens (in the Vampira role) apparently top-billed, and Conrad Brooks returning from the original (he’s been promoted from patrolman to lieutenant).

But not so fast!  An underground outfit named Drunkenflesh films (no website, but a Myspace page) has rushed out a virtually contentless teaser trailer announcing their own remake of Plan 9, under Ed’s preferred title, Graverobbers from Outer Space:    

 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: A TV remake produced by none other than MTV Productions, makers of such successes fare as Joe’s Apartment “The MTV Video Music Awards,” so you know it will be good aimed squarely at undiscriminating teenagers.

Spider Baby: This one hurts the most.  Jack Hill’s off-kilter cult-classic about is like nothing else that’s ever been put on film, subtly comic and invasively weird.  Director Jeff Broadstreet is known mainly for ruining George Romero’s simpler and harder to spoil The Night of the Living Dead with a much despised 3-D remake.  The best result one can hope for is an unintentional camp classic, as some proclaim Nicolas Cage’s Wicker Man remake to be.

Suspiria: There has been little buzz on the rumor mill about this remake of Dario Argento’s gory surreal horror phantasmagoria in the past year.  Last anyone heard, David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) had completed a screenplay and may be slated to direct, while the fact that the project is being produced by Handsomecharlie films led to speculation that Natalie Portman (who looks eerily like original Suspiria star Jessica Harper) would star.  Harry Knowles suggests to keep an open mind on this one, and I agree.

The Tingler:  This William Castle feature was slightly weird on release, mainly because of the bizarre premise of fear being a result of a wriggling creature that lives inside the human spine.  Vincent Price freaking out on acid (for the first time ever on film!) was a big plus.  Of course, showman Castle made the film an event by attaching buzzers to the bottom of the audiences chairs and advising them to scream loudly when they felt a tingle to avoid being devoured by “the Tingler.”  How this sort of ambiance could possibly be recreated in the 21st century is unknowable, but a seriously intended remake seems doomed.

Troll: A remake of 1986 kiddie fantasy camp classic (surpassed in hilarious awfulness only by the unrelated sequel Troll 2), with late Congressman Sonny Bono in a small, embarrassing role.  Original writer/director John Carl Buechler returns, as does the titular troll himself, Phil Fondacaro.  By accident, the original protagonist bears the now-familiar name “Harry Potter”; Buechler is quite happy to provide a detailed disclaimer on his promotional site mentioning that his character is not related to the Harry Potter you were searching for.  But, as long as you’re here anyway, you might as well read a little about this film… Lindsay Lohan’s little sis Ali is rumored to headline.

In other, happier remake news, Richard Rodriguez’s Barbarella reboot is dead (although this one might actually have turned out well).  Remakes that have been announced or rumored, but appear to have stalled or been scrapped, include Battle RoyaleDon’t Look Now, Metropolis, Oldboy, and Re-Animator.

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

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