THE BIRDS - REMAKING THE REMAKE
Five years ago, an announcement was made. Michael Bay, a Hollywood filmmaker known for sheer spectacle and little substance was producing a new horror movie. Naomi Watts had officially signed on to star while director Martin Campbell, who had just revived the Bond franchise with Casino Royale, was set to direct. The horror movie in question would be a remake of The Birds. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most popular films, the 1963 release terrified movie-goers and introduced the world to the newest of the director’s blonde ingenues, Tippi Hedren.
To say that the announcement was met with a certain level of derision would be more than an understatement. The usual arguments were thrown out by critics, by angry netizens spewing vitriol in the blue glow of computer screens, even by Tippi Hedren herself. When asked (during an interview with MTV) what she thought of Watts taking on her iconic role, Hedren said: “They tried to make Psycho over and it didn’t work. Must you be so insecure [that] you have to take a film that’s become a classic and a great success and then try to do it over? I mean, can’t we find new stories, new things to do?” An unsurprising though interesting stance, considering the fact that in 1994 Hedren played a role in the sequel/remake The Birds II: Lands End, a movie considered so awful that its director, Rick Rosenthal, removed his name from the project (it is now credited to the official pseudonym-of-shame, Alan Smithee).
Of course, this is not the first Hitchcock remake or reboot. Hedren and many others against The Birds remake have often pointed out Gus Van Sant’s unsuccessful attempt to remake Psyhco in 1998. Van Sant’s effort, shot in color, was an ambitious but redundant shot-for-shot retelling (it even had the same famous Bernard Hermann score) which starred Anne Heche and a pre-puff Vince Vaughn in roles synonymous with Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins. Psycho, too, spawned three sequels, all starring a gradually aging Perkins. But Van Sant’s Psycho is only one of the recent dips back into Hitchcock’s work. Over the years, there have been two remakes of Dial M for Murder, three of The 39 Steps, three of The Lady Vanishes, one of Notorious, two of Rear Window (if you count 2007’s Disturbia), a remake of Shadow of a Doubt, a comedy remake of Easy Virtue, and countless TV movies and straight-to-DVD releases.
Movies that currently have remakes in varying stages of production:
Barbarella, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Birds,The Neverending Story, American Pie, Battle Royale, Rebecca, The Black Hole, Cleopatra, The Evil Dead, The Crow, Red Dawn, Annie, All Quiet on the Western Front, House Party, Mad Max, My Fair Lady, Oldboy, About Last Night, Pet Cemetery, Point Break, Robocop, Short Circuit,The Orphanage, Drop Dead Fred, Scarface, An American Werewolf in London, A Star is Born, The Thin Man, The Wild Bunch, Death Wish, Jurassic Park, American Psycho, Gilligan’s Island, WarGames, Yellow Submarine, Overboard, Death Note, Romancing the Stone, Fletch, Dune, Porky’s , The Great Gatsby, Dirty Dancing, Judge Dredd, Child’s Play, Starship Troopers, Seven Samurai, Escape from New York, Lethal Weapon, The Bodyguard