We are living in the age of remakes. Studios like Disney are churning out franchise after franchise using remakes of their library of classic films. Other franchises, like Universal’s “Dark Universe,” cannot seem to take off. So, what is the secret to a successful remake?
Disney has stumbled, at least with some fans, trying to make carbon copies of their original films. Other franchises like “Planet of the Apes” seemed to improve upon the originals with its remakes. Universal has already tried and failed to reboot its classic horror films with 2014’s “Dracula Untold” and 2017’s “The Mummy,” but it does have one shining exception.
2020’s remake of “The Invisible Man” is not only a great monster movie, but it’s an incredible film that stands alone both literally and figuratively. Universal decided to remove the films affiliation with the “Dark Universe” and make it its own, standalone film. This benefited the movie because it was able to differentiate itself by completely reimagining the story for modern audiences. Check out our full review of “The Invisible Man:”
Remaking a film from the early days of cinema is no easy task, but Leigh Whannel’s ‘The Invisible Man’ proves that it’s possible.
The secret to a successful remake, at least with classic monster movies, is to take the early sci-fi concepts that made them so famous and reimagine them using modern sci-fi standards. Let’s break down what classic monsters should come to the big screen next and how modern techniques can be applied these remakes:
Creature from the Black Lagoon
“Creature from the Black Lagoon” holds a special place in the hearts of fans of Universal’s horror classics. Its technical achievements were groundbreaking for filmmaking in the 1950s but have become outdated since then. Blockbuster’s like “Jaws” have set a new standard for water-based horror, and it’s time for the Gillman to take back its rightful place on top.
There is a precedent set for the Gillman’s return. The Oscar winning 2017 film “The Shape of Water” was, at the very least, inspired by the design of the Gillman, and it showed what is possible using modern special effects to bring a creature like this to life. But the remake should not rely heavily on CGI. Other franchises like “Star Wars” recognize the value of using practical makeup in unison with CGI to create incredible creatures. Any remake of “Creature from the Black Lagoon” should pride itself on using as much practical make-up and underwater camera work as possible, just as the original did.
Classic monster movies were famous for pushing the boundaries of filmmaking, and ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ is no exception to this.
Frankenstein’s Monster and Bride of Frankenstein
Two of the most iconic movie monsters of all time have never had their time to shine, especially together. The original 1935 movie “Bride of Frankenstein” saw too little screen time for the title character. The Bride deserved to have more attention in her own movie, but modern standards for female characters would work wonders for both the Bride and the Monster.
The Bride’s rejection of Frankenstein’s Monster has so much potential as a set up for a modern horror film. It would probably work better as a period piece, but a modern setting could be an interesting place for these characters. Imagine a world at war where the people have to decide between the Monster and the Bride (that probably won’t happen, but it would be really cool.)
In reality, the most important part of modern Bride vs. Monster story is to take the characters back to its horror roots. Society has turned Frankenstein’s Monster into a cultural icon that is typically used more for comedy nowadays. Most children grow up thinking that the true Frankenstein’s Monster is the one they have watched in “Hotel Transylvania.” The modern remake needs to remind people how truly terrifying this monster was back in 1931.
James Whale’s sequel to his ever-famous Frankenstein (1931) is hailed as one of the greats – an instant classic.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
One of Universal’s earliest monster movies was later made into a kid friendly musical, but 1923s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was the furthest thing from the 1997 Disney version. The original film, based on the 1831 novel of the same name, was one of Universals most successful silent films of all time.
Lon Chaney’s Quasimodo brought us an iconic performance with groundbreaking practical effects, a legacy that is often forgotten by todays audiences. A modern remake of this version of the story would allow the film to fully explore themes like deformity bias and societal brainwashing more so than the original or the Disney version ever could.
Have any other ideas for classic monster remakes? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @Filmnetic