Saturday, May 27, 2017

It's New-ish! Top 9 Movies from the 80s Still Waiting on a Reboot

On the heels of Tom Cruise’s announcement of a forthcoming Top Gun sequel, MarketWatch published an article this weekend titled ‘Hollywood is running out of hit ’80s movies to reboot.’ A sequel to the Tony Scott-helmed 1987 film is just the latest in a long line of film properties from the 1980s that have been updated for “modern” audiences like RoboCop, Friday the 13th, and Ghostbusters to varying degrees of success.

The main point of the MarketWatch piece was not necessarily decrying reboots and long-gestating sequels for the sake of art (although that does come up), but more that studios reaching in their vaults to refurbish existing properties no longer provides the financial benefit it once did. Recent reboots of popular film or TV series such as Rings, CHiPs, or this weekend’s Baywatch haven’t really connected with critics or audiences, leading many to barely break even.

Many decry Hollywood’s reluctance toward new properties as artistically bankrupt and chasing the easy dollar even though of last year’s highest grossing films, six were sequels, remakes, or adaptations of existing properties. As such, it’s easy to see why studios keep greenlighting these films as trips down memory lane appear to be more financially lucrative than untested ideas.

That said, MarketWatch’s article is dead wrong about a lack of 80s nostalgia to mine. Below are nine movies or series that I am surprised haven’t been brought back into movie theaters.

Almost any John Hughes movie

Yeah, it’s a cheat but so what? John Hughes definitely had his pulse on the teenage scene in the 80s and while I doubt there is someone today as talented, I’m surprised it hasn’t been tried. Ferris Bueller? The Breakfast Club? Weird Science? With the exception of the doomed Uncle Buck series from last year, most of Hughes’ output is languishing in relative 80s obscurity. A remake of a John Hughes film will bring about some sort of publicity as such.

Note: I do not think this will be a good idea.

Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)
While Weekend at Bernie’s is no classic, the ridiculous premise of two guys carting around their boss’ corpse was popular enough to garner a sequel and a lifetime in the mainstream vernacular, even if ironically. An absurd one-note comedy can make its mark (just ask Adam Sandler) so why not bring Bernie into the 21st century? Bonus points if it incorporates Bernie Sanders.

Hellraiser (1987)
Even though the Hellraiser series has spawned about a thousand direct-to-video sequels that are presumably canon, with another apparently coming this year, the real Hellraiser series died sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s. Dimension Films keeps chugging out badly received sequels presumably to keep the rights but a well-thought-out Hellraiser reboot could inject life into the struggling franchise.

Police Academy (1984)
Misfits-in-X-profession movies were all the rage in the 80s like Stripes or Major League but none had the shamelessness of the Police Academy series. With six sequels of rapidly declining quality, nearly all coming in yearly installments, the outcasts of the Metropolitan Police force were a regular staple for any kid like me who had HBO in this time. Unlike the recent reboots/remakes/whatever like 21 Jump Street or Baywatch, Police Academy never took itself seriously giving us a perfect opportunity to revisit what intentional wackiness is really like.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
What stands the test of time other than a fish-out-of-water story? Eddie Murphy has been threatening another sequel to this series for years and was sidetracked for a while by a TV pilot that failed to get picked up. But Murphy is no spring chicken so why not pass the baton to another talented black comedian like Donald Glover or Kevin Hart? Laughing at stuck-up elite types rarely gets old so I would not be surprised for this one to actually come back.

WarGames (1983)
WarGames apparently had a direct-to-video sequel come out in 2008. Who knew? Since I didn’t, it stays. Both Russia and computer hacking are popular topics these days, so why not shift the focus to politics rather than nuclear war as depicted in this film? Cybersecurity is probably more important now than when this film came out and a remake has more than enough fodder to make the Cold War seem obsolete.

Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Nerd culture is way more accepted now than it was 30 years ago, considering the frequency comic book films and fantasy TV series come up around the water cooler. But the titular nerds in this film aren’t necessarily on the avant garde of pop culture but those with hobbies and interests outside of the norm. Perhaps the ‘nerds’ of today shun Game of Thrones as too mainstream or cling to even more obscure media but there are always outliers. And seeing the retaliation of the put-upon is always entertaining.

Maniac Cop (1988)
In a year from now, this entry may be no longer relevant as Nicolas Winding Refn is reportedly producing a remake of this very film. However, this has been in the works for several years so I will wait to count my hatched chickens. While I’m not sure that a film about a rogue police officer murdering innocents will be escapist fun, there is a lot of room for social commentary given the current state of affairs between police and civilians.

Runaway (1984)
Even with the combined star power of Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons (!), Runaway made less than $7 million in its release in December 1984. While likely a disappointment to the studio, Runaway stands out today as pretty decent and also a film ahead of its time.

While automation wasn’t really a thing in 1984 except for large manufacturing jobs, Runaway posited a future filled with robots taking menial jobs in construction or security. It’s not that crazy for a sci-fi concept but semi-sentient robots involved in everyday life is much easier for a 2017 crowd to get behind. Gene Simmons could even come back as an evil hacker if needed.


Fletch (1985)
From Jason Lee to Zach Braff to Jason Sudekis, a Fletch remake has been bandied about for years at the hands of many different creative forces. Maybe this will come to fruition one day.