If the old saying “there is no such thing as an original idea” is to be believed, then it would make perfect sense to delve into the cinematic past to find material for the best new movies. And since the movies of the 1980s have a reputation for cheesiness and a lack of realism and refinement when it comes to special effects, there is no better decade to look at for stories begging to be brought into the modern world.
Here are just a few movies deserve consideration for sincere and respectful reinventions, whether its because of their dated effects, their flexible narratives, or their antiquated socioeconomic angst.
10 Krull (1983)
If ever there were a perfect example of an amazing movie that was horribly made, it would definitely be the magnificent sci-fi/fantasy adventure Krull. With such a wonderful and intriguing story that inspired a dedicated cult following, its sad to think about all of the obstacles that prevented it from becoming what it could and should have been in 1983, instead of falling into the shadow of space adventure juggernaut Return of the Jedi thanks to its laughably bad special effects and ungainly dialogue. But as Hollywood has so lovingly embraced the fantasy genre in the past fifteen years, there never has been a more opportune time to reboot this story.
There are a lot of things that would need to come together for the potential of a reboot of Krull, from a director that understands there is a healthy balance between practical and digital effects and a screenwriter that won’t waste opportunities for good action to an imaginative costume designer. If it could garner the support of big names like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Edgar Wright, a version of the film worth the narrative material could one day be a reality.
9 WarGames (1983)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a good zeitgeist film, but when both the topics and the technology of such a film have become relics of a bygone era, it becomes harder for later generations to enjoy and therefore appreciate the movie. It is for this very reason that good movies with time-sensitive politics should be made and remade so all audiences have the ability to both like and understand what’s going on in their stories. While reboots of other Cold War-type films like the abysmal Chris Hemsworth version of Red Dawn make the prospect of remaking WarGames less than promising, enlisting a filmmaker with fresh ideas who isn’t hung up on the recreating the original would all but ensure the quality of the reboot.
Unfortunately, tentative plans for a new WarGames are currently in the works with Horrible Bosses’ director Seth Gordon and The Fault In Our Stars’ Ansel Elgort, which probably means the movie will end up being just another rehash. In the spirit of reinvention, it certainly would be invigorating if we could see something bold and creative out of this movie such as letting a girl take the lead, like Hailee Steinfeld or Keke Palmer… then again, Hollywood’s narrow view of female computer geniuses as esoteric, obnoxiously nerdy, pseudo-goth chicks would probably take the movie in an altogether unsavory direction.
8 The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Rumors about rebooting the Wolfgang Petersen children’s classic based on the Michael Ende novel have been swirling around for a number of years now with nothing to show for it. Granted, kids today could watch The NeverEnding Story and still find it as scary and wild and enchanting as it was when it came out over thirty years ago, but sometimes even the best movies need to be remade and reimagined to spark the interest of its target audience. And now, with the current obsessions with technology, fame, and material possessions that the younger generation thrives on, there couldn’t be a better moment to reboot a story about rescuing the last remnants of imagination.
Like most of the films on this list, the biggest difference between the original and the remake would be the more refined sense of special effects and CGI that came about with the ever-evolving technology of the 21st century. Whichever filmmaker does end up taking on the project of rebirthing this fantastic story for another generation of children should also keep in mind all of the opportunities there will be to sneak in celebrity voices that parents will enjoy and recognize.
7 Clue (1985)
There are certain movies that possess storylines ripe for being reinvented again and again throughout the ages, plots that lend themselves perfectly to varying sensibilities and changing casts, like A Christmas Carol or Frankenstein. Even though its original iteration is a mere thirty years old, the box-office-flop-turned-cult-classic-gold Clue is comedy gem with the perfect premise to enliven the talents of any comedic cast that could act it out.
Granted, the film’s cult following would likely unite in outrage should a remake ever be released, but at the end of the day, it's based on a board game - there isn't all that much to be outraged about. Of course, no one could replace the grand humor of Madeline Kahn, Tim Curry, or Michael McKean. But at the same time, who wouldn’t love to see how brilliant actors like Simon Pegg, Will Ferrell, and Amy Schumer could interpret those roles?
6 Enemy Mine (1985)
If you’ve ever seen the sci-fi adventure Enemy Mine, whether you loved it or you hated it, it can easily be agreed that the film is a sight to behold. With special effects that have held up relatively well over the years and the absolutely gorgeous and realistic make-up, the stark yet beautiful visuals speak volumes on their own – so why remake a movie that is cared about by only a small number of people and blissfully ignored by the rest?
The great tragedy with so many commercially failed movies is the potential they have to be poignant if only they had been made in a different time. The original film tells the tale of two survivors who are marooned on a deserted planet – one is human (Dennis Quaid) and the other is a rival alien species called a Drac (Louis Gossett Jr.) – who, despite their innate hatred of one another, learn to survive together and eventually become great friends. Considering the climate surrounding current race issues, what other movie has more potential to have a social impact than a genre-trendy story about two races that grow beyond their petty perceived differences and discover true compassion and understanding for each other?
5 Cocoon (1985)
Hollywood is infamous for its prejudices when it comes to just about anything that makes people different, but one such difference that seems to escape the notice of most is ageism – apparently, a movie can only be successful if one or more of its lead characters is between the ages of eighteen and forty-five. If only there were a movie that was funny and exciting and full of joy that proved how the older generation is just as amazing and intriguing as the current one…
On the basis that getting old is something to be avoided like it were a plague and considering the original is an adorable and beloved piece of quirky sci-fi, a reboot of Cocoon doesn’t seem that realistic. And yet, like its fellow '80s flicks on this list, it’s dated look and capacity for an interesting new cast screams potential. Besides, everyone already loves Dick Van Dyke and Betty White and Jerry Stiller and the like – why not trust them with a reboot like this?
4 Hellraiser (1987)
As evidenced by the kind of horror movies being made today, it takes a great deal of effort on the filmmaker’s part to scare the audience – ghoulish weirdness, gross freak outs, and spooky monsters just aren’t enough to terrify people anymore. Nowadays you find that people are far more afraid unflinchingly gory and immensely bloody fare in the vein of modern horror icons Eli Roth and James Wan. While the original Clive Barker film Hellraiser had plenty of slime and viscera on its own, there are so many ideas that could be remolded for the world’s contemporary gore hounds.
As long as discussions have been going on about remaking the story of a criminal who is brought back to life by his twisted lover and is chased down by his sadomasochistic torturers from the netherworld, Barker has been adamant that he should reboot his own masterpiece. Even though that might make it easier to uphold the integrity of the story, fresh eyes with fresh ideas might serve it better. Rob Zombie, for instance, not only has a flair for realistic albeit theatrical gruesomeness but he also carries reverence for the horror movies that have gone before him, all but ensuring quality terror cinema.
3 Three Men and a Baby (1987)
No studio executive ever thought it was a bad way to get women’s money by making a movie where three handsome young men show off how adorable, and sweet and funny they could be. Much like Clue, Three Men and a Baby is a movie with a timeless format that could be reused and remolded to show off a trio of dreamy guys – so the question is: why hasn’t this remake happened yet?
Fans of the original and its sequel Three Men and a Little Lady would certainly protest the reboot on the basis that one day the planned sequel, Three Men and a Bride, might happen (Steve Guttenberg’s bank account can only hope), but that has been stuck in production hell for quite some time. Plenty of parties have been tempted by the idea of rebooting the movie in the past – Adam Sandler once expressed interest in updating the film by making its three males stars a polyamorous gay threesome – but anyone has yet to take the movie into production. It’s almost tragic how no one seems eager to remake this movie, especially since it both a comedy and a literal goldmine.
2 The Abyss (1989)
With such a huge mass of cinematic successes under his belt, most people probably think it would be utter blasphemy to remake any James Cameron movie, but there is one thing that every movie he’s ever made has been missing. Even though it is evident that the man has a mind for a great narrative that doesn’t mean that he could write good dialogue to save his life (there’s a reason why Titanic was recognized at the Oscars for every aspect of filmmaking except for the screenplay), which make his movies ripe for reboots.
Considering the fierce followings movies like The Terminator and Aliens have, picking the less famous though still brilliant underwater adventure The Abyss for a remake feels like the best choice. With the guiding pen of a more deft wordsmith, such as A Beautiful Mind and I Am Legend screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, another change over from Soviet to North Korean nuclear war paranoia, some pumped up modern special effects, and an edgy cast, (for instance, Oscar Isaac and Kerry Washington as Bud and Lindsey), a remake of Abyss has the potential to surpass the original.
1 Pet Sematary (1989)
With the slew of Stephen King movie remakes on the horizon, rebooting Pet Sematary doesn’t really seem like a seminal idea – in fact, the idea has already been proposed and 28 Weeks Later’s Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is set to direct. But with so many of those iterations doomed to fall into the pit of mediocrity like the recent Carrie remake, here’s hoping that Sematary gets a reboot more its story’s salt.
The concept of an ancient Native American burial ground that can resurrect any once living thing that is laid to rest there is about as supernatural as it gets, but if the amazingly intense remake of Evil Dead taught the world anything, its that when impossible things are treated as real they become that much more terrifying. A sharp edge of realism and the perfect casting of creepy undead tyke Gage Creed would be the perfect thing to bring this ghoulish Stephen King story into the 21st century.
Which awesome 80’s movies do you think deserve their own reboots? Let us know in the comments section below.