For many horror fans, the word "remake" tends to send chills up the spine more than ghosts, goblins and gore ever could. Intense hatred of remakes is common among the genre community, as an influx of them in the past decade has left fans yearning for the days when filmmakers were still coming up with original ways to scare us. It seems that pretty much every horror movie we love has either already been remade or is on the ol' remake chopping block – to the point where it’s getting hard to rattle off a list of films that haven’t been remade by now. Try it sometime; you might be surprised.
That being said, I hope today to instill in you some small sense of comfort by showing you that just because a studio wants to remake a movie, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen. If the big studios had their way, the list of horror movies that got the remake treatment would be even longer than it already is. A frightening thought, for sure. So let’s breathe a big ol' sigh of relief and take a look at twelve horror films that were on their way to being remade... but ended up getting spared!
An American Werewolf in London
In the summer of 2009, right around the time the film was gearing up to make its Blu-ray debut, John Landis revealed that Dimension Films was looking to acquire the rights to An American Werewolf in London, with the intention of remaking it. We learned about a year later that the remake was on the fast track, with The Number 23 writer Fernley Phillips attached to give the tale a modern-day upgrade. It was announced at one point that the remake would be in 3D. Werewolves the world over let out joyful howls when other commitments resulted in Dimension scrapping their plans. (I can’t help but picture a hideous-looking CG transformation scene when I think about this one.)
Though many years ago he stated he had no interest in remaking someone else’s movie, Rob Zombie of course threw that idea out the window in 2007 when he remade Halloween. A couple of years later, Zombie announced he would be writing and directing a remake of The Blob, a film that already got the remake treatment once before, in 1988. Zombie said he planned on writing the script during a music tour at the tail end of that year, and that he had a totally different take on the source material and would be putting a much darker spin on the story of the gelatinous monster. He ultimately decided he didn’t want to make another remake, and shelved the idea in favor of directing The Lords of Salem (say what you want about that one, but at least it was original).
Another film that almost got a second remake was The Fly, with both Apparition director Todd Lincoln and horror legend David Cronenberg interested. Lincoln was attached to the project in 2003, intent on making a dark and twisted re-imagining with a heavy focus on practical effects, but Fox wasn’t interested in the ideas he pitched to them. Years later he opened up and revealed that the studio wanted to essentially remake Cronenberg’s 1986 version with teen stars in the lead roles, and that his idea for a fresh new take on the subject matter was just not what they were looking for. As for Cronenberg, he ended up writing a script a few years later that would essentially serve as a pseudo-sequel to his remake of the 1958 film, which Fox also swatted down. Not a peep has been heard of the fate of their Fly remake in the last couple of years... and I think it’s pretty safe to say that no matter what direction they end up going with it, it’ll never be as awesome as whatever Cronenberg had in mind.
One of my personal favorite films found itself on the chopping block in 2009, when Bill & Ted star Alex Winter announced that he would be directing a 3D remake of the 1987 classic The Gate. Apparently the initial plan was to make a new sequel to the original (ignoring the events of the lackluster 1990 follow-up), but it was ultimately decided that it’d be a straight-up remake. A few pieces of concept art were released onto the Internet (more on that here), and the plan was for it to be shot in Germany in 2010. Winter recently put his focus on making a documentary about Napster, and though he still talks about this project from time to time, it’s been a few years since anything has been officially reported about it. For now, this Gate remains unopened.
It was back in 2006 that Dimension Films first announced they were looking to remake Hellraiser, and the project has been on-again/off-again since then. Creative differences between the talent and studio began when scripts from the makers of both Inside and Feast were rejected. From there, Martyrs director Pascal Laugier was attached to direct, but he apparently wanted to make a much darker and more serious film than Dimension had in mind (because, ya know, Hellraiser shouldn’t be dark and serious). After Laugier left the project, My Bloody Valentine 3D writing/directing duo Todd Farmer & Patrick Lussier were brought on board, and the plan was for them to write the film together, which Lussier would direct; their idea was to expand on things Clive Barker presented in the 1987 original rather than remake it. Despite several versions of their script, Dimension never saw eye-to-eye with the two, and Farmer announced in 2011 that they were no longer involved. Since then, all has been quiet on the Hellraiser front (unless you count the release of Hellraiser: Revelations in 2011, which Dimension reportedly slapped together for the sole purpose of retaining the rights to the property... and boy, does it show.)
Speaking of Laugier: his 2008 film Martyrs almost got Americanized a few years ago, with Last Exorcism director Daniel Stamm attached to direct, and Vacancy writer Mark L. Smith penning the script. The most concerning bit of news to come out of the whole ordeal was that Twilight producer Wyck Godfrey would be producing, and that Kristen Stewart was apparently interested in starring. Stamm also talked about how the film would offer up a glimmer of hope at the end, rather than being as bleak as Laugier’s original – another aspect of the project that left fans incredibly concerned. The remake never got off the ground, which is probably for the best, considering all signs were pointing to it being a total failure. Martyrs is just not the kind of film that could ever be effectively remade for an American audience without taking away everything that was so good about it... like the bleakness, and the brutal, unflinching horror.
The Monster Squad
We found out back in 2010 that The Monster Squad producer Rob Cohen was interested in directing a remake of the fan-favorite film, which was to be produced by Platinum Dunes and Paramount. Though James Gunn’s brother and cousin, Brian and Mark, wrote what Cohen described as a “great script,” he recently revealed that Paramount got cold feet about the film, and were holding off on going forward with the project. “I’m hoping that one day we just get a call that they’ve finally seen the light of day,” said Cohen last year. For now, that day has yet to come. I attended a screening of The Monster Squad a few years back with director Fred Dekker doing a Q&A beforehand, and he talked about the remake, essentially saying that he wasn’t worried about it because there was no way they’d be able to make that movie nowadays, in light of Universal's strict rules about licensing the likenesses of their monsters. (I can’t help but wonder if that’s been the reason for Paramount’s cold feet.)
MGM expressed interest in bringing Farmer Vincent and his delicious fritters back to the screen in 2007, with a remake of Motel Hell set to come out in October of the following year. The rights to the film then ended up at Twisted Pictures (known for the Saw franchise), before reverting back to MGM after the folks at Twisted couldn’t come up with a script that they felt comfortable moving forward with. Back in MGM’s hands, Automaton Transfusion director Steven C. Miller was attached to direct the remake in 2009, which was going to keep the quirkiness of the original film while telling what was described as a “more cohesive story.” Miller went on to direct the Silent Night, Deadly Night remake, and it seems that Motel Hell found itself in development hell.
When it comes to vampire movies, it doesn’t get much better than Near Dark, so it’s no surprise that the 1987 film nearly got a remake a few years back, when vamps were all the rage. Platinum Dunes was set to produce the project, which oddly enough got derailed by the massive success of the film that spawned all the vampire love: Twilight. How so, you ask? Well, according to producer Brad Fuller, the two films were far too similar from a story standpoint: “I think Twilight was the same type of thing we were going for,” said Fuller. Despite both featuring a vampire and a human falling in love, I wouldn’t exactly consider Near Dark and Twilight to be similar, but I for one was very thankful to Twilight for driving a stake through the project – especially if Platinum Dunes intended on turning it into something that resembled the love story between Edward and Bella. So for once, let’s all be thankful for the existence of Twilight!
Rumors of a Pet Sematary remake have been circulating for many years now, with various different writers, directors and stars being linked to the project. At one point George Clooney was rumored to be starring, and at another Guillermo Del Toro had allegedly expressed interest in directing. What we know for sure is that Blood Creek writer David Kajganich penned an early draft of a script several years ago, which Paramount rejected because they wanted the film to appeal to a younger audience. After he left, he was replaced by 1408 scribe Matthew Greenberg, who was said to be working on the screenplay in 2010. About a year later, High Tension/The Hills Have Eyes director Alexandre Aja was in talks with Paramount to direct the film, with Greenberg still tapped to write... and that’s the last we’ve heard of it. The project seems to be dead in the water at this point, and if the original film taught us anything, it’s that dead is sometimes better!
Back in 2007, we learned that the Weinstein Company and Dimension Films were planning a remake of David Cronenberg’s Scanners, the 1981 movie most known for that epic head explosion scene that we all just love to watch GIFs of. Blade and Dark City scribe David S. Goyer was signed on to write, with Saw 2-4 director Darren Lynn Bousman directing. At the time, an October 17, 2008 release date was planned – a date that of course came and went without any exploding heads on the big screen. Last we heard, Dimension was working on turning the movie into a TV series – a show that Alexandre Aja was going to executive produce, and possibly direct the pilot. Just like the movie, that project also seems to have been shelved.
Finally, 2008 saw the announcement that a Suspiria remake was in production, with Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green in the director’s seat. According to Green, his remake was going to be faithful to Dario Argento’s original, only set in an all-girls boarding school, rather than a ballet academy. Early in the proceedings, Natalie Portman was apparently interested in starring; Portman of course went on to appear in the similarly themed 2010 hit Black Swan. Green in fact cited that film for inspiring him to do something different with his own movie – he wanted to focus on younger characters rather than older ones – and in 2012 it was announced that Orphan’s Isabelle Fuhram would be playing the lead role. Budgetary and legal issues plagued the project for years, and Green put the final nail in the coffin earlier this year, when he revealed that the project was dead... at least for now. He said he wanted to make an elegant, graphic and classy horror film, though nobody in Hollywood was interested in doing the same. I'm actually kind of bummed about this one; as a huge fan of the original, Green seemed the perfect man for the job, and wanted to do it the proper justice.
So... which of these remakes would you like to see happen someday? Which ones are you glad about never finding their way in front of the cameras? Comment below and let us know!