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Friday, February 1, 2008

RKO to Remake (Defile) Five Horror Classics


Who knew that RKO Pictures even still existed, but apparently it still does, and it's the longest running of all the golden-age Hollywood studios still around. But what it's doing right now is pretty cynical and downright depressing, if you ask me.
Variety reports that the studio is creating a subsidiary called the Roseblood Movie Co. (get it, 'cause RKO made Citizen Kane) which will be charged with remaking a slate of eight RKO films from the 1930s through the 1950s, five of which fall into the horror genre, and four of which were produced by the legendary Val Lewton.
On the chopping block are Lewton chillers Bedlam, The Bodysnatcher, I Walked with a Zombie and The Seventh Victim. Roseblood is also tackling the 1933 fright flick The Monkey's Paw. The subsidiary will be partnering with Saw producers Twisted Pictures to fund the projects, which are planned to begin production in the fall and be made over a period of two years.
In addition, Roseblood will also be remaking film noir pieces Lady Scarface and While the City Sleeps, as well as the early Lucille Ball pic Five Came Back.
I usually don't get too worked up about the remake epidemic, but RKO is basically making a business of raping their treasure trove of classic movies. Unable to produce anything new and original that's worthwhile, they've made it their mission to mine their library for every penny its worth, which translates to inferior and unnecessary retreads of well-regarded films. These are the people who, three years ago, took the timeless 1948 Cary Grant vehicle Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse and turned it into Are We There Yet? starring Ice Cube. That pretty much sums up the progression of American film and culture in general over the past 60 years.
If you visit RKO's website, it gives you a pretty clear idea of the hollow merchandising machine we're dealing with here. Phrases such as "exploiting [our] brands", as well as terms like "repositioning" and "entertainment properties" abound. Folks, I've dealt with enough of these soulless marketing types in my travels to see that this does not bode well. Think it'll end here? This is the same studio that owns It's Wonderful Life. So think again.
These are people who almost surely have no respect or even knowledge of the "entertainment properties" they own. They also have no faith in you, the consumer, giving enough of a crap about classic films, otherwise they'd realize there's money to be made in "repositioning" the movies they already own. I guess if this mindset continues, we can just look forward to generation after generation simply remaking the films of a few decades before--over and over again.
I don't know about you, but I have no intention of plopping down $10 to go see "Wonderful", starring Ben Stiller as George Bailey and Owen Wilson as Clarence.

6 comments:

IL said...

Amen. I'm speechless. How low can they go?

Karswell said...

Without good script writers (for the last 3 decades) it's hard for Hollywood to accomplish anything on their own, so like pirates they typically raid the vaults and plunder all the gold. My immediate problem with a remake of any of these classic films is that as usual they will overlook the mood and the proper period style and try to re-make these into something current and hip--- for teenagers. I always cringe when I hear some lame ass film maker go, "Yeah, we're going to hold tight to the orignal version but update it for modern audiences..."

ugh.

B-Sol said...

I agree. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point about 30-40 years ago, our culture started moving in a direction where EVERYthing became geared towards teenagers, especially entertainment-wise. Now, it's worse then ever. The whole "updating for modern audiences" thing upsets me on more than one level. Firstly, you have the philistine studio jerks with no regard for what they're remaking, but on another level you have an audience that's being conditioned to appreciate only a certain type of movie, and have no appreciation for anything that came before. It pains me, but some of the studios' thinking is accurate in that a lot of viewers have never even heard of these old pictures. It's a vicious cycle of philistinism.

borehole said...

When I watch the original Cat People, the first thing that comes to mind is, "needs more CGI."

B-Sol said...

Hey, speaking of sub-par Lewton remakes, that was the first!

Anonymous said...

^^

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