One thing gone relatively unmentioned in all the nonsense surrounding the Twilight phenomenon, is it's reinvention, yet again, of that classic movie monster, the vampire. Indeed, when you consider the Twilight books, those ridiculous Wesley Snipes movies, the less ridiculous but much sadder Anne Rice books and that one cereal, you realize that vampires, in one form or another, have been moping around for decades, quietly stealing our skinny teenage girls.
This runs parallel with the bizarre resurgence of interest in zombies in recent years. From 28 Days Later, to Shawn of the Dead, to the half dozen different video games that have all been released in the last couple years, zombies have exploded onto the pop culture landscape like so many grievous shotgun wounds. I'm certainly not the first person to point out Hollywood's fascination with eating its own poop and regurgitating it, but I am probably amongst the first to phrase it like that. Yet I can't figure out the sudden refound interest in zombies.
Nevertheless, as the laziest writer on staff, two sort-of-stories is enough for me to declare a trend. So, certain that another classic movie monster would soon be reclaimed by pop culture and barfed back up in a new high-definition format, I combed through the detritus of past horror movies to find the likeliest candidates. Here's what I found:
The MummyThe Original
The preserved remains of an Egyptian king, cursed by ancient magicks to rise again and sunder the world should his rest ever be disturbed by a pair of idiots in pith helmets.
Of course mummies have already been reinvented in recent history, in the form of that Brendan Fraser franchise whose name escapes me right now.
Shrek? Yeah, I think it was Shrek.
But as that old saying in Hollywood goes: "Nothing Brendan Fraser does is any good." So there's plenty of room to re-re-invent the mummy mythology one more time.
New and Improved
Simply put, we conflate mummies with an existing modern villain, to synergize the audiences pre-existing senses of hatred and disgust. Terrorists seems to be an obvious choice here, especially seeing as terrorists and mummies both come from "over there."
There's not a country in the world where there isn't a mob of people, fire ready to go, wanting to burn America down, right now.
But terrorism is probably a little too obvious, and terrorist mummies I think have already been dealt with on 24, which has been getting crazier and crazier each season. So instead, let's make our new mummies the second most hated group on the planet: Investment Bankers. Awakened from their long slumber in 1999 by a Brendan Fraser movie, the mummies dispersed into the world and sought to rebuild their former wealth and glory. Using their mummy powers to make their way in the world of international finance, the mummies manage to build incredible amounts of wealth, incidentally destroying the world's economy while they're at it. My initial thought here was a mock-documentary style film with a bleak, ambiguous ending. Alternately, if we want to play it for laughs, look for Brendan Fraser to be executed following a televised show trial in the third act.
The testing of a nuclear device accidentally causes a lizard to grow several hundred feet tall. Instead of starving from the corresponding lack of enormous insects, the lizard decides to swim to and then destroy Japan, smashing entire neighborhoods of suspiciously styrofoamy buildings.
Again, Godzilla did get a relaunch a little over a decade ago in another movie whose name I can't recall. More recently, the movie Cloverfield took the concept of a huge sea monster attacking a city and filmed it using one of those things they use to mix paint at the hardware store.
It was real shaky is what I'm saying.
Neither of those really sparked a wave of interest in giant city-crushing lizards though, so I think it's fair game to take another crack at it.
New and Improved
The problem with Godzilla in his classic form is that he's kind of corny. It's just this guy in a foam rubber costume battling a guy in a different foam rubber costume. These days, that's not an action movie. It's closer to a porno. Switching to CG reduces the uncomfortably-erotic aspect, but kills all the personality of our monster. Godzilla becomes an effect, not a character.
Anyway, to make Godzilla more relatable, let's structure it this way: Godzilla comes storming out of the ocean, where she looms over the city roaring and breathing fire (Godzilla is a girl in this version). However with the help of an elite military unit and a patient teacher, Godzilla comes to a uneasy understanding with the authorities, and enrolls in the local high school (Godzilla is also 16 in this version). There she'll deal with the typical issues faced by an American teenager, like I don't really know what things kids deal with these days. Twitter oral-sex-party bullying? Is that a thing? Let's just say she gets pregnant. Lays an egg right on the school's star quarterback's car. It doesn't really matter, so long as it's got a hip indy soundtrack.
To be accurate, I guess I'm technically referring to "Frankenstein's Monster," the reanimated corpse with the brain of a criminal created by the mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein. Film geeks will point out that the real monster in the original movies is Dr. Frankenstein himself. But I try to avoid listening to film geeks when I can, and between you and me, a complex drama about the responsibilities scientists face with respect to their creations would pale in comparison to a complex drama where a nine-foot tall behemoth kicks his way through fucking tanks.
New and Improved
With recent advances in cloning, stem cell research and reconstructive surgery, we're probably approaching the technological threshold necessary to create Frankenstein-like creatures now. What I propose then is to form a reality show, where teams from around the world create their own monsters, and then set the beasts to fight each other in a Plexiglas arena, with, let's say, flame pits. Basically a lot like Robot Wars then, only with a lot more angrily shaking of fists at the sky, daring God to strike us down.
Body SnatchersThe Original
Human beings are replaced with nearly identical copies, formed in some kind of space plant. The duplicate pod people work to make more pod people, who in turn make more pod people. The movie kind of ends before we find out whether the pod people have any specific goal beyond starting some kind of pyramid direct-marking scheme.
"$1000 a week growing people in the comfort of my own home? My children will be upset if I don't take advantage of this."New and Improved
The concept of "pod people" has developed into a bit of a clich, and is often used to refer to any group of people who seem to be acting atypically. So, my idea is to take this concept, tap into the healthy vein of paranoia growing in the American right-wing these days, and stage a reality show where trained "pod hunters" ambush liberals across the country, forcibly taking biopsies to be analyzed by honest conservative scientists, to determine the percentage of alien plant matter inside. Although initially labeling the show an "abomination," critics will be muted when it's discovered that Democratic Senator John Kerry shares 35 percent of his DNA with the common fern.
The BlobThe Original
The original blob arrived on Earth via a meteor, and after sleeping off the jet lag decided to eat everything that moved. It's amorphous structure absorbing all blows, it seemed nearly unkillable, and terrorized a small town before being stopped by a (spoiler) goddamned fire extinguisher.
Not quite an accurate representation, nevertheless this concept would have made for a more gripping movie.New and Improved
Picture an HBO original series where a mad food scientist (could happen) creates a new additive that makes corn chips taste 30 percent beefier. Rushed to market, it's later discovered that this additive causes the eater's fat cells to become sentient, and wanting one thing above all else (less punitive taxation on sentient fat cells) the fat cells detach from their hosts, coalesce into larger units and organize a viable political organization based on grass-roots network of sentient fat blob creatures. In this version the blobs are less a "monster," and more of a "political monster," their political machine growing rapidly corrupt. Basically, I'm picturing something as gritty and well assembled as The Wire, only it makes you want to throw up on your pants every time a character speaks or moves.
Teen WolfThe Original
Michael J. Fox plays a teenager who sucks at basketball on account of the fact that he's shorter than many children. Ahh, but fate has a surprise for him, when he learns about his werewolf heritage. Adapting to his newfound body remarkably easily, he uses his wolf powers to win basketball games, seduce cheerleaders and rip the throat right out of the principal's neck (it's been awhile since I've seen the film.)
New and Improved
With college tuition rising, and post high school work harder and harder to come by, today's high school senior faces far sterner challenges than those depicted in an 80s teen movie. So, in this remake of the film, Teen Wolf graduates from high school, and discouraged by the lack of employment opportunities, enrolls in the military. He quickly becomes a valued member of his unit as they work to secure Afghanistan, frequently "wolfing out" on Taliban fighters in blood filled spectacles of gore set to inspirational guitar driven rock. In the thrilling climax of the film he gets separated from his unit in a cave network on the Pakistan border, comes face to face with Osama Bin Laden and slam dunks a basketball right over him. "I concede," Osama announces, shaking Teen Wolf's hand. "Terrorism is over."