This week we got a first look at the Evil Dead and Carrie remakes. Those movies don’t need to be remade, but few do — particularly not the classics below, which got their own, certifiably weird second laps. At some point, a producer really asked: can Charles Bronson step into Bogart’s shoes? Can Vince Vaughn play a convincing serial killer? What if I Am Sam’s mentally challenged hero played a mean guitar?
6. Casablanca, starring Charles Bronson
“I’d really like to remake one of the greatest movies of all time, but I can’t secure the rights,” said some producer to himself in the late '70s. Undaunted, he brought forth Caboblanco, lifting the bare essentials of Casablanca while replacing its timeless themes of love, sacrifice and fate with Charles Bronson beating up Nazis with a dresser drawer.
Bronson plays Peruvian bar owner Giff Hoyt, who in 1948 finds his seaside town overrun with ex-Nazis, none too concerned with keeping a low profile. One of them, the suspiciously American-sounding Gunther Beckdorff (Jason Robards), hopes to retrieve sunken treasure and will murder anyone that stands in his way.
While Caboblanco skirts copyright with some truly weird departures from Casablanca’s plot, it included enough direct references to totally confuse critics and audiences.
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark, starring a bunch of teenagers
In 1982, three Mississippi teenagers decided to make a movie inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark. And by inspired, we mean they literally remade the movie, for an audience of nobody in particular, over seven years. You can watch leading man / producer Chris Strompolos out-act Harrison Ford on
Raiders: The Adaptation is a triumph of inspiration over common sense. This wasn’t one 40-year-old playing dress-up in his basement, but a whole crew of kids balancing their home-made blockbuster with schoolwork and other, more practical attempts to get laid. Considering the rise of irony was still a few years away they had no reason to believe anyone would watch it, but many have — including Steven Spielberg himself.
4. È già ieri - the Italian Groundhog Day
The classic Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day has a story so simple and poignant — a man is forced to relive the same day endlessly — that many subsequent films have jacked its premise.
Only one of them has copied the movie beat-for-beat: the Italian comedy Stork Day. The movie’s hero Filippo is a reporter chasing a lead on birds, but otherwise follows a remarkably similar path:
What really boggles the mind is the possibility that Italians don’t celebrate Groundhog Day, yet loved the movie Groundhog Day. We can only imagine what they thought of a successful American journalist travelling far out of his way to watch yokels pull a rodent out of a hole.
3. Psycho, starring Vince Vaughn
The 1998 remake of Psycho is best remembered for blatantly copying Alfred Hitchcock’s original. With that, director Gus Van Sant proved you can follow the recipe of a five-star chef precisely and still wind up serving boiled turd.
Watch the remake today and what stands out are Van Sant’s bizarre, totally bonkers casting choices. Vince Vaughn, then known mostly for Swingers and a few indie dramas, has since played overgrown frat boys almost exclusively. Watching him get off to Anne Heche’s pasty, asexual body now feels like a Funny or Die skit gone horribly wrong.
2. Breathless, starring Richard Gere
Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960) is the intro to Intro to Film Studies, a movie that untold thousands of freshmen have sat through half-awake before changing their major to economics.
And it was, inarguably, an important movie — one of the first to make lawbreaking, aimless young men look unquestionably cool. But its hand-held style, disregard for story and lowlife hero have influenced so many movies, actually remaking it was an insane act of redundancy. About the only thing the two movies have in common is a rough plot outline, and “plot” is the last thing anybody cites as a high-point in the original movie.
When all’s said and done Breathless ’83 isn’t a terrible flick — it has a bitchin‘ soundtrack, at least — but given the original’s reputation as a sacred cow of cinema, it’s still hard to believe the remake even exists.
1. Main Aisa Hi Hoon - the Bollywood I Am Sam
Bollywood remakes of American hits are nothing new. Usually the film being remade is one with a high concept plot, or enough international appeal to make a rip-off worthwhile. The Oscar-winning Sean Penn vehicle I Am Sam has neither of those things.
It does have a mentally challenged man in a court battle for custody of his child, which the producers of Main Aisa Hi Hoon (literally I Am Like This) thought would make a compelling musical. Behold:
Come to think of it, Sean Penn singing “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” in full "Sam" mode might have made a better movie.