So, Jeff Allard over at Dinner with Max Jenke recently posted “Five Slasher Remakes That MUST Happen Before the World Ends.” His choices were (in descending order): THE FUNHOUSE, THE BURNING, PIECES, THE PROWLER, and CURTAINS. Inspired choices indeed.
That got me thinking. If the dreaded remake is here to stay – at least for the immediate future – which slashers could actually benefit from a reimagining? So, feeling inspired by my fellow blogger’s fantasy list, I set out to compile my own.
5. MOTEL HELL
Even though there have been rumblings about this one for what seems like forever, I’m including it on my list because it’s been in development hell for several years now, its eventuality nothing close to a certainty just yet. And when I tell you my vision, you’re going to groan. Loudly.
Two words: Rob Zombie.
Think about it — the ultimate grindhouse version of one of the campiest, moodiest slasher films ever. Just picture Zombie’s take on Motel Hello and its characters — proprietors Farmer Vincent and sister Ida, Ivan and the Terribles, lecherous Sheriff Bruce, Biker Bo and final girl Terry, hookers Debbie and Suzi, swingers Edith and Bob, and Reverend Billy. Come on! This is one time that Zombie’s penchant for casting his buddies would actually work. Picture it: Karen Black as Ida? Sherri Moon-Zombie as hooker Debbie? Sid Haig as Ivan or Reverend Billy? Bill Moseley as Sheriff Bruce? Brad Dourif as Farmer Vincent? William Forsythe as swinging Bob? Dee Wallace or Priscilla Barnes as swinging Edie? Danny Trejo as Biker Bo? Lew Temple and EG Daily as two of the Terribles?
Who better to capture the seediness of a rural, out-of-the-way roadside motel? Imagine Zombie’s take on certain elements of the film: the psychedelic spiral wheel that’s used to hypnotize the throat-slit victims being harvested in Farmer Vincent’s secret garden or the scene where Vincent and Ida nitrous oxide the swingers or the cow-in-the-middle-of-the-road trap that the hapless hookers stumble upon and ensuing car chase or the final chainsaw showdown in the slaughter house.
Admit it. The Grand Guignol/heavy metal possibilities here are endless.
Like the better known HELL NIGHT and THE FUNHOUSE, HUMONGOUS was one of the few sub-human slashers that had all the right elements – a good back story, a creepy isolated location, interesting character dynamics (by slasher standards anyway), and killer music – and an overall crappy execution. Indeed, the original is more known in slasher circles for its frustratingly dim lighting and what you can’t see more than the genuine sense of atmosphere PROM NIGHT director Paul Lynch was able to create.
Yes, a return to Dog Island is a must-see travel destination, complete with loony Ida’s Labor Day rape that spawns ‘ole Humongo, a pack of vicious dogs, a quintet of carefree, free-wheeling teens out for a pleasure cruise on Daddy’s yacht, a stranded boater adrift in a fog bank, destructive sibling rivalry, and blueberries. Lots of blueberries.
I can hear the bones snapping now.
3. SILENT SCREAM
An off-campus boardinghouse by the sea. A trio of college students. A dark family history. A secret staircase.
No, I’m not describing the plot from a Nancy Drew detective novel but rather the deliciously gothic elements of the oft-overlooked 1980 slasher SILENT SCREAM. This movie basically screams remake, and it’s got a small enough original audience balanced by just the right amount of name recognition to pique interest old and new alike. Plus, the film’s got some intergenerational appeal, with roles for an attractive ingénue or two, a fierce middle-age actress good at crazy, and a beloved veteran actress with a penchant for stern. (Who are your choices for old Mrs. Engels and her deranged daughter Victoria? I’m thinking that the sorely underrated Belinda Balaski is due for a comeback…)
2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
That this one hasn’t already been fast-tracked for a remake is beyond me. It’s got source material that needs only minor tweaking —an updating of “the six most bizarre murders you’ll ever see” and perhaps a retooling of the mask-ripping finale. In addition, the whole “Crawford Academy Top Ten” fits perfectly with the GOSSIP GIRL generation’s obsession with social status. There’s the Agatha Christie-style mystery at its core, a large ensemble of characters to murder inventively, and the still surprisingly untapped concept of birthday parties as a backdrop.
One quick note to remake producers. I’ve got only three requisite nods to the original that must be included: Etienne must sniff the panties, Steve must deep-throat the shish kebab, and Winston must give Mrs. Patterson (better known as “mommy”) head.
Like Mr. Allard, CURTAINS also tops my list of remake-musts. As I’ve written elsewhere, CURTAINS is an unpolished gem with a great, simple slasher set-up (a half-dozen actresses vying for a coveted movie role), terrific setting (an out-of-the-way mansion in snowy winter), decidedly frightening killer (old hag face), some creepy imagery (the eyeless doll standing in the middle of the rain-slicked road, arms outstretched) and some of the best murder set pieces ripe for the picking (ice skating, anyone?).
As I shared at Dinner with Max Jenke, I actually tried (unsuccessfully) for nearly two years to secure the remake rights to this film, first tracking it down through the Canadian company that held its international distribution rights and then to the American company that acquired its international catalog. I got so far as to connect with an attorney for the new company, but emails went unreturned and talks went nowhere.
My idea for the remake: the ultimate slasher geek’s dream. Same plot, only age the storyline with its audience. Six former scream queens (think mid- to late-40s) vying for a coveted role in a SCREAM-like slasher, with a seventh being duped by the lecherous director into spending time in an insane asylum for research. All converge on the mansion of the director and are quickly snowbound with the hag-faced killer from the original. Oh, the casting possibilities. Think of all the slasher gals from our youth who we’d like to reconnect with, leading off with CURTAINS alums Lesleh Donaldson (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, FUNERAL HOME) and Sandee Currie (TERROR TRAIN). Perhaps Jamie Rose (JUST BEFORE DAWN) or Amy Steel (APRIL FOOL’S DAY, FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART 2) or Anne-Marie Martin (PROM NIGHT, THE BOOGENS) or Linda Blair (HELL NIGHT) or Largo Woodruff (THE FUNHOUSE) or Adrienne King (FRIDAY THE 13TH) or Lenore Zann (VISITING HOURS, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME) or…
You get the point.