There was a time (mainly, but not exclusively, in the 1980s) when adding a light-hearted or comedic twist to a movie with a dark theme was quite fashionable. In fact, it’s still done to an extent today but, due to the basic evolution of cinema, it’s a far less prominent trend than it once was.
With that in mind – and in order to bring them to the attention of modern audiences without them coming across as cheesy – a number of films from cinematic history could do with a modern interpretation being produced with a darker tone.
Looking back at most of these films, they’re still enjoyable for what they are, but you have to imagine that remaking them today in exactly the same way they were made originally wouldn’t work.
A successful precedent for updating movies in this way has been set by the likes of the most recent Batman and Superman movies (compare the Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel to the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman movies and the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, for example, and you’ll understand completely) so we know it works and, with that in mind, here are ten movies that need much darker reboots.
10. Child’s Play
Child’s Play began life as a franchise in 1988 and has since spawned five more movies (there’s even tentative talk of a seventh movie in the same franchise coming in the next year or two). However, it really needs to be rebooted, as the Chucky doll we know so well was never really that scary to begin with – and it’s certainly lost the ability to frighten audiences now.
The films got more and more comedic as they went along and it’s about time they were scrapped and rebooted. Chucky could be a truly terrifying character – dolls are extremely scary in horror movies when they’re executed correctly – and a dark reboot with a new, more sinister doll would surely go down well with audiences.
Ghostbusters is a little different to the other entries on this list, as we know it’s getting a reboot of sorts and we can already establish from the cast (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig etc) that it isn’t going to be particularly dark – however, in the future (probably the distant future given the current state of affairs), a darker interpretation of the franchise would certainly be welcome.
The Ghostbusters franchise has the potential to really scare – look at the library ghost, the taxi driver ghost and the Terror Dogs in the first movie in 1984, for example – but never truly managed to do so thanks to the comedic reactions of its cast members. Granted, the name “Ghostbusters” doesn’t lend itself particularly well to a serious, dark movie, but the fact is that the content of a Ghostbusters movie could be geared towards scaring the living daylights out of people – and that absolutely should happen.
Tim Burton‘s 1988 movie Beetlejuice was pretty dark to begin with, dealing with death and the afterlife – but it did so in an undoubtedly humorous and somewhat farcical way. The idea of a “bio-exorcist” who gets rid of the living in a similar manner to how exorcists get rid of ghosts is a scary one – and an even darker, more horrific interpretation could be pretty damn terrifying (and absolutely awesome).
What a character like Beetlejuice (dead, powerful, perverse, vile etc) could do to the living if a movie was made that was more “horror-esque” doesn’t really bear thinking about! However, it could definitely be pretty awesome and, given that the original movie didn’t get a sequel (it did get a spin-off cartoon series, however, and a sequel has been spoken about very recently), a reboot would definitely be welcome.
Gremlins is undoubtedly one of the greatest horror-comedies of all time and, given its cult following, keen fans of the franchise (which spawned a pretty terrible second movie – it was pretty much one big product placement) might be a little miffed if it was rebooted without its comedic elements – but that would undoubtedly be the best way to go about it if it was rebooted.
The concept is wonderful (cute creatures with strict “rules” applied to them, who turn into monsters if they’re fed after midnight), but the original Gremlins themselves really aren’t scary enough to work these days (even as a horror-comedy, they gave people nightmares in the 80s), so a reboot really is the only way to go. More sinister versions of the little beasts would be pretty terrifying in a movie with a darker tone. It simply has to be done!
Spiders are amongst the things that most people in the real world are genuinely scared of. Along with things like snakes and sharks, they’re enough to make people paranoid about the most menial of everyday experiences. Therefore, you’d think a movie based on them would terrify lots of people – but Arachnophobia really didn’t.
Don’t get us wrong, it had some scenes that made arachnophobes cringe to their very core, but when John Goodman‘s comedic exterminator Delbert McClintock turned up – and with Jeff Daniels in the lead role – it was essentially a horror-comedy. A modern reboot of this 1990 offering would be a great idea and, without including comedy elements and really going for scares, it could be absolutely terrifying (especially for people who are already scared of spiders).
Like Ghostbusters, this entry is a little different to others on this list, as there is already an actor in the role of Daredevil ready to take on the role in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. That man is Charlie Cox and the only problem regarding that happening is that he’s only portraying the role in a Netflix show at the moment.
Rather promisingly, however, the show is fantastic – and it’s a lot darker and grittier than the awful Ben Affleck version from 2003 – so there’s every chance that Cox will, at the very least, appear in an MCU movie in the near future. However, what really should happen is that he gets his own film, because the series really is that damn good, the character deserves it and the fans would love it.
Amidst a sea of horror-comedies in the 1980s, House was comparatively overlooked in 1986 – but it still made a decent profit at the box office, spawned three (progressively worse) sequels and has since garnered a cult following.
It saw an author who had recently separated from his wife temporarily move out to his recently deceased Aunt’s isolated house to concentrate on his writing. The house turned out to be haunted and all kinds of ghouls made his life there hell. It was, however, quite farcical and a modern reboot of the franchise could make the tale a lot more terrifying. The idea of being in a haunted old house on your own is a frightening one and, executed correctly, a strictly horror version of the movie could be the stuff of nightmares.
Labyrinth was far from being a horror when it came out in 1986 – it was actually more of a fantasy musical movie – but the fact is that, given the concept and the characters who appeared in the movie, it has the potential to be a very scary production. With that in mind, a darker reboot would be an excellent idea and would definitely be a good way to bring the franchise into the 21st century.
The movie saw Jareth the Goblin King taking Toby – the baby brother of Jennifer Connelly‘s Sarah – and forcing his older sister to solve his vast labyrinth within thirteen hours to save his life. The labyrinth contained all manner of weird creatures – but they were all fairly cuddly in their own way. A darker interpretation could include some seriously terrifying monstrosities and would be awesome! Moreover, given the fact that the first movie actually made a $12.3 million loss at the box office, its cult following would ensure a reboot was more of a commercial success.
2. The ‘Burbs
While the 1989 Tom Hanks classic The ‘Burbs was indeed a black comedy with dark elements, the key word to be taken from that description is undoubtedly “comedy”. The movie poked fun at suburban environments and their eccentric inhabitants, but had a sinister plot whereby the people who had lived in the quiet cul-de-sac in the fictional suburban town of Hinkley Hills were suspicious of a creepy new family called the Klopeks.
In the original movie, it seemed as though all of those suspicions were ill-founded, until it was actually revealed that the Klopeks were murderers, but the fact is they really weren’t a scary family (they were actually quite funny to look at). A truly terrifying family with a penchant for some really sick and twisted stuff could make a potential reboot genuinely horrifying.
1. The Mask
If you aren’t familiar with the Mask comic books, but have seen the 1994 movie adaptation starring Jim Carrey, you can be forgiven for thinking that the character is meant to be light-hearted, child-friendly and exclusively comedic. You would, however, be wrong.
The comic books can be extremely dark, adult-orientated and gory as hell and, as good and as much fun as the Jim Carrey movie was, a movie more faithful to the source material would go down well today – especially given the phenomenal popularity of the comic book movie as a genre (and, in particular, given the success of darker reboots like Man of Steel and the Dark Knight Trilogy). The Mask would often kill people – as would his enemies – in extremely graphic and nasty ways and it would be extremely refreshing to see a comic book movie with that level of violence in it in this kid-friendly comic book movie era of popcorn flicks.