Things have been pretty quiet recently in regards to the Weinsteins' planned remake of An American Werewolf in London. Fans that were hoping they'd retreat from the idea with their tails between their legs are in for a bit of disappointment - the project is still moving forward and now it's picked up a writer.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Fernley Phillips is in talks with the brothers to help deliver "a modern spin" on the horror/comedy classic. Phillips' only produced credit to date is the Jim Carrey thriller The Number 23.
Although the Weinsteins lost out on the opportunity to buy back Miramax, they've always retained the Dimension Films label used to release genre films and it looks like they're counting on recognizable horror brands to keep The Weinstein Company afloat. In addition to An American Werewolf in London, there are Hellraiser and Children of the Corn remakes on the way, as well as the sequels Scream 4 and Halloween 3.
Remaking An American Werewolf in London seemed inevitable after the original's director, John Landis, revealed that Hollywood had been after him for years to sell the rights to the film. Last summer he finally caved and the Weinsteins walked away as the new caretakers of the property.
As far as Phillips goes, it's hard to gauge exactly what he's bringing to the table with such a brief resume. I know The Number 23 wasn't a particularly good film but there's no telling how much was altered from script to screen and how much blame should really be assigned to the writer. However, I'll admit that my initial reaction was that they should have gone after someone a bit more experienced and nuanced. An American Werewolf in London has such an impressive blend of scares and laughs and it'd be so incredibly easy to go too far in one direction with a remake.
The bigger problem is that I don't think they should be remaking the film at all. Particularly because it seems like part of the Weinstein's desperate effort to reinvigorate their company and not something born from passion or admiration. If a name like Edgar Wright were tossed into the mix I'd still be skeptical, but somewhat hopeful as well. At the moment though, this seems like the shameless exploitation of a recognizable title with no deeper aspirations.
I suppose we can blame Twilight for the renewed interest in vampires and werewolves. I really hope they don't attempt to pander to that crowd with a new version of An American Werewolf in London. I think it's equal parts hysterical and frightening what some misguided Twilight fans think of Stephenie Meyer's contributions to werewolf mythology.
I remember when our friends at Latino Review covered a story about one particular fan who wrote an angry letter to Universal just before the release of The Wolfman, boldly declaring that those at the studio should be ashamed of themselves for 'stealing the werewolf character from Meyer's series of books.' These are strange times we're living in, friends.
I'm not sure how you'd put a modern spin on An American Werewolf in London, but I do know it seems completely unnecessary.
Source: Los Angeles Times.