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’80s Films ‘Explorers’ & ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ Going Down The Remake Road

'80s Films 'Explorers' & 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' Going Down The Remake Road

Despite being a bit of a flop in North America, the moderate worldwide success of this year’s “RoboCop” remake has apparently proven to Hollywood that redos of ‘80s movies are profitable. They may not be breaking the bank, but they’re definitely putting more cash into these studios’ wallets. So, why not make more of them, right?

First up, screenwriter/novelist Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) has finally found a project to make his directorial debut with. He’s teaming up with Disney to remake the 1983 film “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” which is based on the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name. The novel tells the story of an evil proprietor of a traveling carnival who takes advantage of small town residents by taking possession of their souls in exchange for the dreams each person has. Grahame-Smith wants to take the novel and make it relevant for a whole new generation.

The original film was far from being a hit at the box office back in 1983, but Disney apparently thinks the second time will be a charm. While he waits for a new script to be finished, Seth Grahame-Smith is also working on a “Beetlejuice” sequel with Tim Burton. Nothing is sacred, apparently. 

Meanwhile, the writer-director team of David Posamentier and Geoff Moore (“Better Living Through Chemistry”) will join forces once again to pen the remake of “Explorers.” You may remember the original 1985 film which was directed by Joe Dante, which was also a box office flop back in the day, but has since gone on to have a cult following. Dante’s “Explorers” starred a very young River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke and it told the story of an alien-obsessed kid who one day dreams of a circuit board and his friend who helps realize his dream of building a spaceship.

While the original “Explorers” film has received a warm reception from fans over the years, it was not the film that director Joe Dante originally set out to make. With that in mind, perhaps “Explorers,” along with “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” can actually be improved with a remake. The question is, will audiences show up to see these films? They didn’t the first time around… [Deadline/THR]

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The best thing about "Explorers" was Rob Bottin's astounding practical make-up effects. Other than that, it's a fun diversion with very young actors (you know who they are), and Joe Dante's patented sense of live-action, Looney Toons-style insanity.


Yes, the original film version of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is good… not great, but above average and rests mostly on the excellent performances of Jason Robards, and especially, Jonathan Pryce. The child actors acquit themselves well and the direction of Jack Clayton ("The Innocents") takes the Autumnal flavor of the book and turns into a rather elegiac tale for youth and days gone by. Oh, and it's got Pam Grier as the Dust Witch. Now, caveat… it compresses some characters and incidents from the book, doesn't go dark enough as the book does thematically (but for a Disney movie, it's quite grim and moody, with a few shocking scenes and shots for the kid-friendly studio), but it does do the Ray Bradbury novel justice in just about every way… alas, what you'll miss, even with the occasional narration, is Bradbury's poetic prose style.

I always shudder and shake my head when I hear "make it relevant for a whole new generation," as if that's going to make Bradbury's book any better (what, smartphones, texting and dark carnivals somehow go together?)… I think what they're doing is insulting the source material right off the bat, and I doubt it could be any better (except perhaps in terms of CGIcandy rather than rotoscoped animation for special effects) than what Disney did the first time around, but hey, perhaps in this case there is indeed room for improvement, but let's not start messing with Bradbury's source work in order to appease marketers and indifferent children. If anything, make it a very dark coming of age story, and don't soft-pedal Bradbury's story, themes and action.


Is the original Something Wicked This Way Comes any good? I love the book, it's Bradbury's best, so I would love to see a good adaptation.

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