Did you notice that three of this week’s major releases — “RoboCop,” “Endless Love,” and “About Last Night” — are remakes of ’80s movies?
The Hollywood remake machine shows no signs of slowing down, with the ’80s emerging as the most popular targeted decade from which to draw the reimagining, rebooting and/or regurgitating of various cinematic entities.
Below you’ll find no less than 20 1980s movies that are set for an upgrade — some arriving as early as later this year, some that are still a ways off and others that may end up just being stuck in limbo until the 2080s.
1. “An American Werewolf in London” (1981)
The rights to perhaps the greatest werewolf movie of all time (with “Ginger Snaps” probably a close second) were bought from director John Landis by The Weinstein Company back in June 2009, with “The Number 23” writer Fernley Phillips hired to give the classic tale a “modern spin.” This endeavor was probably brought on by a case of “Twilight” fever, which has since cooled down — which means there’s a good chance this will never see the light of day (or, rather, of the moon).
2. “Annie” (1982)
The last big-screen incarnation of the Little Orphan starred Aileen Quinn in the title role, with Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, Ann Reinking as Grace, Tim Curry as Rooster, and Bernadette Peters as Lily. The latest version will see “Beasts of the Southern Wild” star Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie, with Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan (awesome) and Jamie Foxx as Daddy Warbucks, renamed as Benjamin Stacks, because that’s just what happens sometimes. The new “Annie” will come out tomorrow… er, Dec. 19.
3. “Dirty Dancing” (1987)
The last time we heard anything about the remake of the beloved classic romance starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey was back in June 2012, when it was reported that Lionsgate was pushing it “at least until 2014.” Well, it’s 2014, and as far as we know, director Kenny Ortega (who was the choreographer on the original film) hasn’t started any new dancing yet.
4. “Escape From New York” (1981)
John Carpenter’s B-movie mini-classic followed the adventures of professional anti-hero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) as he infiltrated the maximum security prison that is future NYC (well, if you count 1997 as the future) to rescue the President of the United States. Hollywood’s been trying to get this remake off the ground and over the wall for years, with everyone from Gerard Butler to Tom Hardy to Jason Statham rumored for the role of Plissken (“Call me Snake…”).
5. “Fletch” (1985)
Kevin Smith was supposed to make a new “Fletch” with frequent collaborator Jason Lee in the role of the crack reporter/master of disguise originally incarnated by Chevy Chase. Now, the remake has been in development at Warner Bros. since February 2011, with no one currently attached to the part. Uh… how about Jason Lee?
6. “Highlander” (1986)
“Who wants to live forever?” asked Queen in the theme song of the totally awesome fantasy film starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, and Clancy Brown. Well, the remake doesn’t seem to want to live at all, as it’s gone through no less than three directors (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is currently attached after both Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Justin Lin dropped out) and is currently without a star after Ryan Reynolds exited the project back in July 2013.
[Related: The Untouchables: 20 Classic Movies Hollywood Can’t Remake or Revisit]
7. “The Monster Squad” (1987)
Rob Cohen (“xXx”) is attached to the remake of the horror comedy in which a group of kids battles classic Universal horror monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man, but as of October 2012 the project is stuck in development hell at Paramount.
8. “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” (1988)
It’s going to be hard to fill the shoes of the amazing Leslie Nielsen in his role as bumbling detective Lt. Frank Drebin but “The Hangover” star Ed Helms is going to give it a try in the reboot, which was announced in December. The script is being written by Thomas Lennon and R. Ben Garant, who are probably best known for their work on the “Night at the Museum” and “Reno 911” series.
Ed Helms and Leslie Nielsen (Getty Images / Everett Collection)
9. “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983)
Lt. Frank Drebin isn’t the only ’80s comedy character that will be resurrected in the form of Ed Helms. The “Hangover” star will also be playing an all-grown-up version of Rusty Griswold in what’s being described as a reboot of “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (even though it’s techinically a sequel if Helms is playing Rusty and not a new version of Chevy Chase’s Clark). “Horrible Bosses” scribes John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein wrote the script and were set to make their directorial debuts, though the holiday road is currently closed as the project’s been delayed due to “creative differences.”
10. “Overboard” (1987)
Garry Marshall’s romantic comedy tells the rather icky tale of a working-class carpenter who convinces a spoiled heiress that she’s his wife after she falls off a yacht and gets amnesia. The original film stars then real-life couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, while the in-development remake has Jennifer Lopez and Will Smith attached. There’s been no movement on this one since Hawn wished the production “Good luck” back in February 2012.
11. “Pet Sematary” (1989)
The original adaptation of one of Stephen King’s scariest novels is a fun, sometimes goofy and often tasteless horror show that closed with a rather catchy theme song by the Ramones. Admittedly, the story could probably use an updated version… though we wouldn’t be surprised if the characters of Gage (the little kid who comes back to life to wreck murderous havoc), Winston Churchill (the resurrected cat) and Zelda (the stuff of damn nightmares) end up being completely CG or at least mo-cap creations.
‘Pet Sematary’ (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
12. “Poltergeist” (1982)
The yin to “E.T.’s” yang, “Poltergeist” is one of the best horror films of the ’80s and one of the greatest haunted house movies of all time. The Sam Raimi-produced remake is currently in production with a cast that includes Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris, Rosemary DeWitt, and Jane Adams, with a release date of Feb. 13, 2015. We expect it’ll be… fine.
13. “Romancing the Stone” (1984)
Forget (or maybe just embrace) the fact that it’s kind of a shameless rip-off of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Romancing the Stone” is a rollicking good time, with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner oozing hot chemistry as adventurer Jack Colton and romance writer Joan Wilder, respectively. As of two-and-a-half years ago, Katherine Heigl was being considered for Turner’s role, with Gerard Butler and Taylor Kitsch the leading candidates for Colton. Dear lord, that all sounds so awful.
14. “Scarface” (1983)
It’s a classic for all the wrong reasons, but “Scarface” remains one of the most groundbreaking crime dramas of all time, a grand opera of excess from director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino. As of summer 2013, David Yates (director of the entire second half of the “Harry Potter” series) was in talks to direct the reimagining that’s rumored to deal with Mexican drug cartels. Yates has since signed on for “Tarzan,” so don’t expect any movement on this one for a while.
15. “Short Circuit” (1986)
No. 5 is Alive again as “Hop” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” director Tim Hill is developing a remake of John Badham’s sci-fi comedy that starred Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg. Original scene-stealer Fisher Stevens has apparently been approached to star and the film will reportedly be “darker” (sigh) as it updates the story for the contemporary world of drone warfare. Fun!
16. “Time Bandits” (1981)
As of March 2011, Terry Gilliam’s gonzo fantasy is set to be reimagined as a “big-screen kids action franchise” by former Handmade Films Intl. execs Guy Collins, Michael Ryan and Fred Hedman. We could totally see Will Ferrell filling in for David Warner as Evil (“Slugs? God invented slugs?”), though we imagine that super-dark and just plain weird ending (“Mum? Dad?”) wouldn’t fly today.
17. “The Toxic Avenger” (1984)
Troma’s crown jewel is set for a “family-friendly” reimagining by writer-director Steve Pink (“Hot Tub Time Machine”). Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on in May 2013 to play “the Exterminator” (HA META HA), an ex-Black Ops agent who trains a high school student turned Toxic Avenger in how to use his powers for good, but as of December he’s no longer attached.
18. “Videodrome” (1983)
David Cronenberg’s ultra-gross body horror cult classic featured James Woods pulling a VHS tape out of his stomach, an image that will probably have to be adjusted to account for today’s world of Blu-ray discs and digital downloads. The remake was first announced in August 2012 with award-winning commercial director Adam Berg set to make his feature film debut from a script by Ehren Kruger, which aimed to update the story of a controversial television station and its reality-altering broadcasts by incorporating elements of nano technology. Whatever.
19. “WarGames” (1983)
The story of two computer-savvy teenagers (originally played by Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy) who gain entry into a powerful military weapons program could arguably benefit from an upgrade to account for today’s light-years-ahead technology. Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses”) was announced as the director of the reboot being set up at MGM back in June 2011, though there’s been no going forward with playing Global Thermo Nuclear War ever since.
20. “Weird Science” (1985)
Here’s another film that could possibly benefit from a modern-day equipment upgrade, not to mention the fact that it could certainly cash in on the fact that nerd culture is about a billion times more mainstream now than it was back in 1985. John Hughes’s original Brat Pack remix of the “Frankenstein” legend had two dorky teens (Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith) using their computer (and a bolt of lightning) to create the ‘perfect woman’ (Kelly LeBrock), who ends up being their mentor in the ways of romance and self-confidence. The remake was announced in April 2013 but there’s been nothing scientific going on since.