Over the past several years, Hollywood has created remakes of a number of movies and seen great success by updating the old films with modern technology, graphics and storylines. The developments of CGI, color, high-definition capabilities and better sets have made many old movies come to life in ways that their original directors could never have imagined.
For example, “Kong Skull Island,” released in 2017, is one of several remakes based on the original 1933 black-and-white film and made over $500 million at the box office. “Oceans 8” has made over $53 million since it debuted this past week, making the series’ latest iteration the most successful start for any of the “Oceans” movies, which originally aired back in 1960.
1. “House of Usher”
Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” this 1960 film has the eeriness you would expect from any work of Poe.
Philip, a young man from Boston, travels to a desolate house in the middle of a swamp to visit his fiancé, Madeline Usher. When he arrives, he finds Madeline confined to her room with an unexplained illness. Her crazy older brother, Roderick, has forbidden her from leaving the crumbling house ever again.
Roderick believes that their family line is possessed by evil and must end with him and Madeline. Being the love-struck young man that he is, Philip defies Roderick and convinces Madeline to have the wedding as planned. The decision sparks a heated argument between the siblings, and Madeline suffers a catatonic attack, leaving her completely paralyzed and seemingly dead.
Although Roderick knows that Madeline is still alive, he immediately buries her in the family crypt to ensure that she never leaves. The climax of the story grows progressively creepier as Madeline recovers from her paralysis and begins screaming and clawing her way out of the coffin.
The original cast and direction of the movie effectively captured the essence of Poe’s disturbing plot line and the crazed actions of the Usher family. Although much of the “horror” is lost in the now-cheesy special effects, a little modern magic would bring out the haunting overtones that the story possesses. With the help of some special effects, Philip’s nightmares, Madeline’s premature death and the possessed house could leave you on edge for weeks.
2. “The Woman in Green”
This 1945 Sherlock Holmes classic was one of a series of films made during the ’30s and ’40s. Its particularly sinister plot sets it apart from the other Sherlock Holmes movies.
The Scotland Yard recruits Holmes to help them solve a series of murders committed across London. Each victim is a young female whose right forefinger has been cut off — the murderer’s signature.
As the story progresses, Holmes discovers that several men have woken up in strange locations with a severed finger in their pocket and no memory of the night before. As usual, Holmes narrows the answer down to an unexpected scientific solution, but not without a few life-threatening incidents.
Of course, no Sherlock Holmes story is complete without some classic Holmes-Watson humor to break up the tension, and “The Woman in Green” is full of witty comments and comebacks.
The real weaknesses in this film are in the lack of action and film quality. If it were given the upgrades of 21st-century directing, acting and color, this mind-bending plot would still be hypnotizing to any Sherlock Holmes fans and would certainly do well among remakes.
3. “Rear Window”
Directed by the famed Alfred Hitchcock, this 1954 thriller brings to life the short story “It Had to Be Murder” by Cornell Woolrich.
Jeff, a professional photographer, is confined to a wheelchair after a work accident. While he sits at home and recovers, he spends his days watching his neighbors through their open windows. His creepy habit pays off as he watches his neighbor Thorwald.
Jeff witnesses Thorwald cleaning off a knife and handsaw; he later realizes that Thorwald’s wife is missing. As he continues to watch his suspicious neighbor closely, Jeff begins to suspect that Thorwald murdered his wife and sent her corpse off in a trunk.
Unable to investigate himself, Jeff convinces his girlfriend and nurse to look for evidence at Thorwald’s apartment. Unfortunately, Thorwald catches the two women and turns them over to the police. The ostensible murderer then turns his angry attention to Jeff, who is helplessly trapped by his apartment and the wheelchair.
“Rear Window” is considered to be one of Hitchcock’s greatest productions. Its cast included stars such as Grace Kelly and James Stewart, whose wonderful acting abilities added to the movie’s intrigue and suspense. Although “Rear Window” is still a masterpiece, it could use a modern makeover in picture quality and an updated set to add to the overall thrill of the plot.
Yes, the original 1958 production is about as cheesy as the name sounds, and the name gives the basic premise away. However, the film was well-received by its original audience, and the plot line never gets old. It is the plot — not the delivery — that makes the movie a wonderful candidate for remakes.
Marge, a young bride, notices that her husband is acting strangely. Bill used to be affectionate and attentive, but now he’s a complete stranger with sometimes violent tendencies. Concerned for her husband and their marriage, Marge follows Bill into the woods. He unwittingly leads her to a hidden spaceship where, to Marge’s horror, an alien emerges from Bill’s body and enters the spaceship.
Marge bravely confronts the alien when he returns to their house. He reveals that many of the men in town have been taken as human hosts in an extraterrestrial plan for survival. The females of his species are all dead, so the males needed to breed with human women.
Marge tries to warn the town, but most of the men have already been claimed as hosts, and the women refuse to believer her. With the help of the town doctor, she finally convinces a small group of men to come with her and confront the aliens at the spaceship.
Because the sets and costumes of the original fall well below current standards, the story holds a lot of potential for a modern remake. But even now, the plot hits close to home — close enough to have you double-checking your family after the movie ends.
These are just a few classics with timeless plots and much potential for the modern set. Hopefully, they all will eventually find their way into the limelight of the 21st century.