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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.