Hollywood's addiction to remakes and reboots continues unabated, with dozens of films in development. And meanwhile, bookshelves are straining with hundreds of original, thrilling novels that have never been adapted to the screen. Here's a second dose of our list of books that should be adapted instead of yet another remake.
Missed our first list of book adaptations that we'd rather see instead of remakes? Check it out here. Some of those films have already been made, or have been scrapped — but a number of them remain in the pipeline.
Instead of remaking Time Bandits...
Former executives from Handmade Films, which produced Terry Gilliam's bizarre story of holes in spacetime and the little people who use them to steal, announced in 2011 that they want to work with "a Hollywood co-producer" to turn Bandits into a "bigscreen kids action franchise." Luckily, there's been little talk of this since then.
...Film Good Omens instead
The classic apocalyptic comedy by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett has some of the same cosmic overtones as Time Bandits, but with a whole different clever spin on the relationship between Angels and Demons. We're more likely to get something worthy of Time Bandits from a Good Omens film than from a Time Bandits remake.
Instead of rebooting Terminator...
Hard to say what's going on with this project. Supposedly, Arnold Schwarzenegger is coming back, but it's still a reboot. (Speculation is, it's sort of like the 2009 Star Trek, in which the timeline is reset, and thus it's both a sequel and a reboot. Or a seaboot.) But the good news is, Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones, Thor: The Dark World) is said to be in talks to direct. Still, a brand new standalone Terminator trilogy? Really?
...Film The Red Men by Matthew de Abaitua instead.
Talk about a scary story about cybernetic organisms. De Abaitua's novel about virtual copies of people that turn evil, and a terrifying computer named Monad, freaked us out. And if you want to see just how slick a Red Men movie could look, check out the acclaimed short movie Dr. Easy. Or if you want something slightly closer to Skynet, there's always Daniel Wilson's Robopocalypse, which remains in development.
Instead of remaking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...
This one's already filmed, so it's kind of too late to fuss about it. But what the heck. MichaelBay is producing this remake of one of the most famous non-X-Men mutant stories of our times. Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) is directing, and Megan Fox is the main human character. This comes out in the summer of 2014.
...Film Grimjack instead!
Mostly this comes to mind because Grimjack comes from the same era in comics, and shares some of the same loopy sensibility — there's even a cute lizard named Bob who lives on gin. And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles actually pay a visit to the bar Grimjack owns, at one point. Grimjack, the classic comic created by John Ostrander, may be slightly darker with its tale of a mercenary who lives in the nexus between dimensions, but you could have a lot of fun with a movie version.
Instead of remaking Weird Science...
Joel Silver is producing the remake of the early-1980s John Hughes film that Joss Whedon hates. Except that this time around, they want it to be an edgy R-rated comedy like The Hangover. So after the two horny teenage boys create their ideal woman, we get to see them taking advantage of that accomplishment. Eww.
...Film Saturn's Children by Charles Stross instead
Want an interesting story about a sex robot? Go for something really out there, Stross' terrific novel about a sexbot who outlives the human race and struggles to find her purpose without us.
Instead of remaking Timecop...
We have a major soft spot for the original Timecop, the Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle about a cop who walks the toughest beat of them all: the fourth dimension. He has to stop a corrupt politician from corrupting the past, and save his wife. It's goofy great fun — and now Universal is pushing a remake into development, without Van Damme. Do we need another Timecop?
...Film Connie Willis' time travel books instead
Want a really interesting story about people traveling back into the past, and trying to avoid changing history while still solving mysteries? Try filming Willis' hilarious, thought-provoking stories about time-traveling historians, starting with To Say Nothing of the Dog. Also: there's always Kage Baker's Company series, too.
Instead of remaking Night of the Living Dead...
George Romero's seminal zombie classic is getting rebooted, with Bollywood actor R. Madhaven set to star. They're moving it from rural Pennsylvania to New York City, where the survivors of the zombie attack barricade themselves inside an apartment building. And they want to use a revolutionary stereoscopic 3-D filming technique to make it seem more like a graphic novel. (It's unclear how this will work.)
...Film Feed by Mira Grant
It's another novel about the zombie apocalypse, but Grant's novel takes place decades later, during an election campaign when a blogger discovers a dark secret. There's plenty of scope for creepy zombie action, but also a smart, subversive spin on the subject, that's worthy of Romero himself.
Instead of remaking Colossus: The Forbin Project...
This 1970 movie about an evil computer is possibly being revamped, with Will Smith starring. The last we heard back in March, Ed Solomon (Bill and Ted, Men in Black) was rewriting the script, which sounded like a good sign. It's possible the failure of After Earth has dampened enthusiasm for a film where Will Smith creates a killer computer, however.
...Film The Life Cycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
Our understanding of computers, and artificial intelligence, has matured a lot since 1970, so why not make a movie that reflects what we understand now? Chiang's novella is an astonishingly good take on how A.I. could actually come about, and it has plenty of clever twists and turns.
Instead of remaking Akira...
We actually thought the Akira remake was dead and buried, but then director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) came back with a way to make the film more cheaply, and Warner Bros. put it back into the pipeline.
The budget has been slashed from $180 million to under $90 million, by all accounts, and it sounds like this will be a much more bare-bones endeavor. At one point, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart and Helena Bonham-Carter were starring.
...Film Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Butler's fantastic novel includes a post-apocalyptic setting and weird powers, but also delves into some challenging philosophical and theological ideas about survival and community-building.
Instead of remaking Death Note...
Speaking of Japanese classics, this story about a student who stumbles on a notebook that kills anyone whose name he writes in it is possibly getting an American remake. Iron Man 3 director Shane Black was attached to direct — which means it could actually be pretty great. As recently as April, Black was talking about the project as still in the works. Back in 2011, Black said he was under pressure to change the story completely, because they didn't want the main character to be morally compromised — but Black had pushed back, and apparently emerged victorious. So, fingers crossed.
...Film something by Tanith Lee
There is so much great creepy fiction by Tanith Lee to choose from, it's hard to know where to start. Check out her story "Where All Things Perish" for a taste of her strange, unsettling writing and morally ambiguous characters.
Instead of rebooting The Fantastic Four...
We still don't know who's playing Reed Richards and the rest of his crew — but this project is definitely moving forward, with Josh Trank (Chronicle) directing. By all accounts, this new version will be in the same universe as Fox's X-Men movies, although the links may be subtle.
...Film Kurt Busiek's Astro City instead
The mind boggles at the fact that we haven't had an AstroCity movie yet. Busiek creates a rich world of superheroes — and then shows us what it looks like from a variety of angles, including ordinary people on the street level. His world includes a version of the Fantastic Four, but also a number of other great characters, and you could adapt just one strand of his complex storytelling and wind up with a fantastic movie.
Instead of remaking The Crow...
This remake is in full swing, according to new director Javier Gutierrez, and they even released a teaser poster at Comic-Con. Luke Evans is starring, and original creator James O'Barr is on board as a creative consultant. Gutierrez says it's not really a remake, because they're going back to the original source material instead of Alex Proyas' film. (Which is what people often say in these situations. The makers of last year's Total Recall said the same thing. But with O'Barr on board, maybe this gets a bit more credence.)
...Film Bleak History by John Shirley
Shirley actually cowrote the screenplay for Proyas' film of The Crow, and he's written a ton of weird fiction in his time. But this gothic story of a bounty hunter with supernatural powers is one of his best, and it's tailor made for a strange, gritty fantasy drama.
Instead of remaking Troll Hunter...
We would watch Neil Marshall film a grade-school talent show, on the basis of movies like The Descent, Dog Soldiers and Doomsday, plus his work on Game of Thrones. But Troll Hunter is one of those movies that doesn't really need a remake — you can just watch the absolutely stunning original.
...Film Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo
Here's another great Nordic story about trolls, but one that hasn't ever been done on film before. It's the story of Angel, a young photographer, who adopts a baby troll and pays a surprising price. This story doesn't go where you think it will, but it does go to some dark, fantastical places.
Instead of remaking Gremlins...
This remake was reportedly pushed into production back in May, with Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows) producing, and probably writing the screenplay. No clue yet who's directing or starring in the thing.
...Film The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
Seriously, where are all our Pinkwater movie adaptations? The man is a giant of kids' and middle-grade literature, and his work is consistently inspiring and fun. And if you want a bizarre romp about creatures that wreak havoc, you need look no further than this wild tale of a mutant chicken on the rampage. It's a travesty that we're seeing so many reheated concepts, when there are Pinkwater books just sitting there.
Instead of remaking The Mummy...
Universal's horror franchise was last rebooted a dozen years ago, with Stephen Sommers' intentionally campy films starring Brendan Fraser. Now, they want to make a slightly more serious version. The latest news: Len Wiseman (Underworld, Total Recall) has dropped out, to be replaced by the somewhat more horror-oriented Andrés Muschietti (Mama). The script is written by Billy Ray and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus).
...Film The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice
Rice turns her attention from vampires to mummies with this novel set in the early 20th century, and the results are pretty fascinating. Rice deals with a lot of her usual themes about immortality and responsibility here, but through the lens of Egyptology and the World War I era.
Instead of remaking Flatliners...
The original film, in which Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Roberts deliberately try to have near-death experiences, is sort of a guilty pleasure, especially the trippy glimpses of the "other side." Now it's being remade, with Ben Ripley (Source Code) writing the screenplay and Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) directing. We're excited to see Oplev doing science fiction, but why not an original project?
...Film anything by Ramsey Campbell
The man is a genius of creepy horror and weirdness, and as far as we know none of his bizarre visions has ever been brought to the big screen. We need a Ramsey Campbell movie way more than we need a Flatliners remake.
Instead of remaking Leprechaun...
They made a billion films about an evil Leprechaun starring Warwick Davis (and Jennifer Aniston, in the first one) — and now it's getting a dark, gritty reboot. And because this film is being coproduced by WWE Studios, it's starring a pro wrestler, Hornswoggle, as the Leprechaun. Spielberg protégé Zack Lipovsky is directing.
....Film Monster by A. Lee Martinez instead.
Martinez's book about a man who goes around dealing with monsters, and the ordinary people who can't remember seeing monsters, has the same kind of goofy, off-beat feel as the Leprechaun films, but also plenty of potential for horror and weirdness.
Instead of remaking The Black Hole...
Joseph Kosinski (Tron Legacy, Oblivion) has been wanting to remake this Disney space opera film for years, and it's still at the top of his list of projects. Spaihts is writing the screenplay, as of last April, and there are hints that it'll be a slightly more serious look at the science of black holes. Earlier this month, Kosinski told a reporter the new movie would be just as "dark, weird and violent" as the original.
...Film House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds instead.
Or just about anything by Reynolds, really. If what you're after is cosmic awe, cracking great stories, and scientifically plausible yet mind-bending action, then Reynolds has a whole shelf groaning with books that deserve to be movies.