We could hardly believe the news, yesterday, that Warner Bros. is planning to reboot Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the movie, without the participation of franchise mastermind Joss Whedon. Although we’ve endured endless offensive remakes in the past several years, this one was particularly surprising: The original film is, after all, only 18 years old and its creator is still very much a force in the industry. Plus, the TV series was always a far bigger hit than the movie.
If anything proves that the possibility of wrongheaded remakes is unlimited, it’s the new Buffy. With that in mind, we present our list of 10 cult films that should under no circumstances ever be remade. Please, Hollywood, trust us on these.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Why: It was 1975, and glam rock’s omnisexual revolution had finally made it to the big screen in a film that united thousands of beautiful freaks around the world for ritualistic midnight screenings. Thirty-five years later, you can still find a weekly Rocky Horror showing to attend. But, as Glee recently proved, times have changed, and recreating the movie in 2010 would feel entirely tone-deaf. Also, there is only one Tim Curry in the world, and you’ll never find a better Dr. Frank-N-Furter than him. So, no, we are not on board with Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s potential Rocky Horror remake.
Why: Promoted as “an exercise in bad taste,” the movie that made John Waters a household name (well, in odd households, at least) doesn’t have much of a plot. Rather, it’s the movie that resulted from Waters’s Dreamland troupe at their weirdest, inspired by the Charles Manson murders. Divine, Edith Massey, Mink Stole, Waters himself — these people are (or, sadly, were) true originals. And if that doesn’t convince you that the film should never be remade, well, try and find a transvestite willing to eat real dog poop and let us know how that works out for you.
Why: Come on, now. Sixties retro-futurism simply will not translate in the 21st century. Part of what makes Barbarella so wonderful is the low-budget film’s technological constraints. A new version could either pump up the production values or self-consciously mimic the original’s camp. We don’t imagine either approach would succeed. Also, who in the world is qualified to play Jane Fonda’s role? Now, there have been rumors of a Barbarella remake for years — and there’s a mysteriously sparse IMDb entry slating it for 2012 — but here’s hoping it never comes to pass.
Why: Jim Henson is dead, Jennifer Connelly is all grown up, and David Bowie has undoubtedly vowed to never involve himself in such a goofy venture again. Not one of these people is replaceable — and even if they were, it’s not like anyone can fill out tight breeches quite like Bowie. We’re not even sure how this movie originally came to pass, but we’re convinced the planets will never realign to make this kind of magic again.
Why: Oh, The Apple. It’s the kind of movie you can never make on purpose, a sci-fi musical set in the dystopic world of 1994, when record label bosses rule the world. Considering what has actually happened to the music industry in the past decade, the premise no longer seems particularly relevant.
Why: A few years ago, word got around that B-movie connoisseur Quentin Tarantino wanted to do a Faster, Pussycat remake starring — we shit you not — Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, and Eva Mendes. Although we tend to enjoy Tarantino even when we’re wary of his premises, we can’t imagine how this could happen without robbing the Russ Meyer original of its softcore frisson and cheesecake feminism. Obvious concerns asides, there’s also the small matter of how much less risqué strong, sexy female characters have become in the 45 years since Faster, Pussycat debuted.
Why: Although the video game adaptation was a very appropriate move, there is absolutely no way to update The Warriors. The movie is about New York at its seedy ’70s worst/best, when the subways actually were pretty damn gross and unsafe. If you need proof of how inappropriate contemporary versions of these types of films are, just watch last year’s laughable Denzel Washington/John Travolta Taking of the Pelham One Two Three remake.
Why: Every generation has its beloved teen mean-girl movie, but what makes Heathers so unique is its late-’80s aesthetic — those preppy ’80s blazers, Christian Slater’s gothed-out style, the Heathers’ kitschy-creepy game of croquet. And, of course, no teen stars better reflected the era than Winona Ryder, Shannen Doherty, and Slater. Even so, Ryder herself has long been spreading rumors that a sequel is in store, Heathers: The Musical made its concert-only debut in New York back in September, and even a TV show is apparently in the works. We understand the urge to keep the movie’s legacy going, and we’re actually kind of excited about the musical, but the other plans just feel cynical. Make more Heathers-inspired popular-bitch movies, sure. We loved Jawbreaker and Mean Girls. But please, don’t mess with the original.
Why: Come on. There is just no way. This Jamaican reggae classic is entirely dependent on the powerful music and political unrest of its time and place. Jimmy Cliff is the living embodiment of The Harder They Come. A remake would just be straight-up disrespectful — and if anyone even dared to touch the soundtrack…
Why: Only the mind of Nicolas Roeg could come up with a film as strange and trippy as Performance. And only a rock star of Mick Jagger’s talent and magnitude could so knowingly portray its reclusive celebrity lead. Mess with the pair’s dark, glamorous, paranoid psychedelia at your own risk.