I was just talking with a friend about remakes tonight, too…
I’m not “against” remakes. You can make a good movie out of anything, “anything” includes other movies, and so on. But there’s a point where this just becomes nonsense. At this point the “remake cycle” is just that – a self-perpetuating corporate organism: You produce a remake of a known-quantity not only to hold on to any IP no matter what, but also to re-sell the original on Blu-Ray and because you know the outrage/intrigue generated by potentially desecrating a sacred cow will translate into massive coverage by a film press now dominated by I-watched-that-a-million-times VHS-generation movie geeks.
I get that, and I get why someone would want to remake “Total Recall” (wasn’t good, but could’ve been) or even “Robocop” (DOOMED) from a business and even an artistic standpoint. But… remaking “VIDEODROME!?”
Okay, here’s the problem with this:
A property like “Videodrome” neatly divides the entire spectrum of audiences into two camps: A relatively small number of people who adore it and will be immediately hostile to the idea of anyone touching it… and the vast majority of folks who have either never heard of it, never saw it or saw it and hated it. It’s not “Robocop” where you’re talking about a ‘brand.’ There is zero point in making this film – as opposed to an original film that “modernizes” the now-somewhat-dated “Videodrome” ideas – other than to feed The Cycle.
The original David Cronenberg film is technically a scifi mystery in which James Woods plays the boss of a UHF TV station (ask your parents) who starts broadcasting pirated signals of what he believes to be staged snuff-film footage originating in Malaysia but may actually be part of a government/corporate/mad-science experiment to alter the minds and bodies of viewers via TV signals; but the actual plot plays out almost like it’s being invented by the film (or hallucinated by the characters) on the fly. The real focus is on the elaborate nightmare sequences, bio-mechanical transformation FX and weirdly-prescient philosophizing about real life being supplanted by video life – the film essentially pre-figured the logical extreme of, say, “Second Life” despite The Internet having not been invented yet.
The remake (which I’m going to assume will likely port the focus from television to The Web) is angling to be a “large scale sci-fi action thriller” (gag!) possibly involving “nanobots;” which sounds to me like they’re going to try and explain the body-morph stuff whose surreal ambiguity was the point of the original film.
So… looks like we have this to look forward to – though, if recent trends are any indication folks will be lining up to tell me how wrong/biased/fanboy I am and how much better the original would be if only David Cronenberg had the foresight to make it as shitty as the new one. The director currently attached is Adam Berg, who has apparently been awarded a film career based wholly on a commercial for a now-defunct model of Philips TVs which was best described as a “Dark Knight”/Joker fan-film done in bullet-time.
Yeah, this totally has a chance in hell of being good…