Two reasons not to hate on “Piranha 3D”: it’s a remake of a bad horror movie, so there’s no harm to the original’s legacy; and it’s not trying to be anything it’s not (except pretend-wise), like some of those other horror reboots attempting to infuse more psychological seriousness into a movie that should be just fun, mindless, splatter-filled entertainment. Also, it’s in 3D, which I still get a kick out of more often than not, even if I do agree that Hollywood killed the format quicker than “Scream” killed off its biggest star. So there’s nothing to really fear with this new redo of Joe Dante’s 1978 “Jaws” knock-off (which followed with a sequel from future 3D-wiz James Cameron — which I’d love to see him redo in the format himself), and I’m actually looking forward to getting some guilty pleasure out of it, at the very least.
My boredom during most of “My Bloody Valentine 3D” should go against my theory, but I have a feeling I’d enjoy most any bad horror flick remade comically and in 3D. All it needs is an appealing mix of rising and falling acting talents (an Adam Scott and an Elizabeth Shue, for example), promise of frontal nudity from a former child star (like Jerry O’Connell, or a female one if you prefer) and gimmicky screen-popping spectacle and you’ve got a good time at the movies for those of us who like more than pancake-flipping-clown-stuff.
After the jump I list ten movies that can’t get any worse with a bigger budget and a splash of 3D, in case Hollywood would like to throw them onto their huge pile already in the works (I have to say it’s hard compiling a suggestion list like this when so many of my ideas were already in that pile).
“The Bees” (1978)
Don’t I mean Irwin Allen’s Oscar-nominated “The Swarm,” the killer-bee movie of the same year, which starred an all-star cast, including Michael Caine, Katherine Ross, Olivia de Havilland, Lee Grant, Richard Widmark, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Fred McMurray and Henry Fonda. I thought so, but “The Bees” is a more direct title. Also I prefer its poster and the fact that in this one the bees are super-intelligent. Of course, they could also go with the earlier movie, “The Deadly Bees.” The point is that we could use a new killer bee movie, preferably shot in 3D so the audience thinks they’re actually surrounded by the little monsters. And now that beekeeping has been legalized in New York City, I propose that whatever film is redone be set in the Big Apple, home of all the best disaster flicks. I wonder how big a swarm it’d take to knock over the Empire State Building.
One of the many “Gremlins” copycats, and the most successful at that, “Critters” features monsters — Crites, they’re called — that fit perfectly with the 3D format due to the fact that they’re small and they leap out at people. Also, sometimes they shoot quill-like thorns at their victims. Hopefully the remake could do well enough for there to be a remake of “Critters 2: The Second Course,” so we can see the Easter Bunny crash through the church window — and of course the bounty hunter who takes the shape of a Playboy nude — in 3D. For some reason I never saw the third (featuring young Leonardo DiCaprio) or fourth installments, but I’m sure they’re worth redoing, too.
“Evil Toons” (1992)
I doubt many of you have seen this live-action/animation hybrid that’s basically a soft-core porno seemingly influenced by Ralph Bakshi (whose own hybrid “Cool World” came out the same year). Directed by Fred Olen Ray, it’s about a demonic cartoon wolf who magically comes to life from a book illustration and kills some house-sitting young women, after he undresses them if I remember correctly. To be honest, I rented it around the time I was going through puberty, which is just the target age I figure is interested in the boob-filled “Piranha 3D” — despite its R rating. Because every animated film these days is also released in 3D, it fits to have a mixed-medium horror flick be given the same treatment. Like most hybrids of today, I presume the remake would piss on my childhood memory by turning the demon wolf into some unrecognizable CGI version, a la “Garfield” and the upcoming “Yogi Bear.”
Perfectly fitting for the current environmentalism-themed disaster movie kick (as is “The Bees,” actually) and the backlash against the ecological tragedy of the BP oil spill, this horror flick has a nature-strikes-back theme similar to M. Night Shyamalan’s modestly successful yet generally despised “The Happening.” Despite its title, there are more than just frogs acting out their revenge. Spiders, snakes, lizards, alligators and even a butterfly get involved in the killing of a family who’ve abused and polluted their island. For the role of patriarch Jason Crockett, I recommend casting Nic Cage in the role originated by Ray Milland, because he also won his only Oscar for playing a drunk and because this just the kind of insane thing he’d easily sign on for.
“Ghost Ship” (2002)
Really only the 85 minutes following the excellent opening scene needs to be redone here, though it would be cool to watch that cable slice through the luxury liner’s passengers in 3D, and not just retro-fitted. So the beginning would need to be re-staged exactly as before, though maybe a few exploitations of the format could be added. The guy’s face falling off his neck toward the audience, for example. Then, replace everything from the original with a genuinely frightening ghost story, have some things flying around, jumping out at us, anything but the rehash of “Event Horizon” without the excitement of outer space that it was. Maybe take a look at Chris Smith’s “Triangle” for at least some idea of what interesting kinds of scenes can exist on a seemingly empty cruise ship.
“The Green Slime” (1968)
Know what might look great in 3D? Long, electrical tentacles reaching out and grabbing at unfortunate astronauts. Also, planets that look like meatballs. This movie, which was used for the pilot episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” contains your basic sci-fi-horror plots: space mission accidentally results in alien creatures wiping out everybody. And humans attempt to survive using weaponry (here lasers) that only make the creature stronger. I would suggest using the film’s original title, “Battle Beyond the Stars,” as it’s better than “The Green Slime,” but too many people would expect it to be a remake of Roger Corman’s movie. If a studio can get this made and get the MPAA to stamp it with the same rating as the original — G — I’ll finance the whole thing myself.
“Poltergeist III” (1988)
There is supposedly, sadly a remake of the original “Poltergeist” in the works (on hold during the MGM financial debacle, thankfully), but this is the one that should be redone, as much as I do genuinely love it. For one thing, it’s the third installment, all of which should just be shot in 3D for the title’s sake alone. Also, I think something interesting could be done with the format and the concept of mirrors being kind of windows into an evil other dimension. Ever look into a mirror and expect the reflected image to be flatter? I guess I’ll logically have to wait until the reboot begins and then makes its way to a third installment for this to happen, but when it does they better keep the same concept, even if the “Mirrors” franchise stole it.
“The Raft” segment from “Creepshow 2” (1987)
Though it works fine as a short film or segment of a feature-length anthology like the “Creepshow” sequel, a bigger movie could be adapted from this and, like “Frogs,” function as a response to the BP disaster. Its plot involves a small group of teens trapped on a wooden raft in the middle of an isolated lake as a mysterious black substance surrounds then attacks them. Extend the amount of characters and make it a big Spring Break event, as in “Piranha 3D,” and its like that movie meets “The Blob,” which could possibly use another 3D remake itself.
“Snakes on a Plane” (2006)
Released just before Hollywood went completely ga-ga for 3D, unfortunately, this web-influenced movie really could have used such a gimmick, looking back. Not only would 3D’s surcharges have increased its disappointing box office, but it could have also given moviegoers an added attraction besides the dialogue and predictable plot we already knew from the well-publicized Internet-inspired developments and viral marketing. In a way, I see “Piranha 3D” being what I wished “SoaP” had been.
“Vampire in Brooklyn” (1995)
I don’t know what about this unfunny, not scary horror comedy could benefit from the 3D format, but now that “Haunted Mansion” is being redone as a darker 3D film, I’d love to see all of Eddie Murphy’s failures revisited by someone like Guillermo Del Toro — if not actually Guillermo Del Toro. Actually, most of them wouldn’t even benefit from a better script let lone an added dimension.