Remake This! is a response to the incomprehensible choices Hollywood has made in terms of movies that it has remade recently. Total Recall? Footloose? Let Me In? These remakes were unnecessary, and seem to be an unbelievable waste of money, when there is an entire legion (and I mean that in the “embodiment of evil” way) of cinematic dumpsterpieces that may become worthy, viable movies in their own right, with complete revisions and a bit of spit and polish. Hollywood…call me.
For those who may have blinked and missed it, 1985 brought the moviegoing public The Bride, a remake of the classic 1935, Boris Karloff/Elsa Lanchester vehicle The Bride of Frankenstein.
Dig that crazy grey streak! Ahhhh, that’s some old-fashioned monstery good times.
The opening premise for The Bride is the same feminist nightmare as The Bride of Frankenstein, in that the monster needs a mate and so, Herr Doktor (God only knows why, but the casting director thought Sting was the man for this job) kindly creates one for him. Here ya go, buddy! Have a lady! Vajayjays for everyone! However, the monster’s matedness is short-lived since said Bride (played in prime 1985 fashion by an enormously-haired Jennifer Beals) is just toooooo beeeyoooootiful to give to the monster (played by the ever-fantastic Clancy Brown, and more on him later) and so, the good Herr Doktor decides to keep her for himself. For, you know. Inventory purposes.
The things I watch for your reading enjoyment, I swear.
Seemingly unaffected by the loss of both assistants (Timothy Spall, who Harry Potter fans know better as ”Wormtail“, and a purple-haired grande dame Quentin Crisp) in the fire that breaks out in the tower after The Bride’s reanimation, good Herr Doktor Sting becomes protective of The Bride, renames her “Eva” and declares her to be his “ward”. Meanwhile the monster escapes the fire, falls in with a midget and heads to Budapest to join the circus. That’s pretty much all I’m going to say about that particular part of the storyline. So. The Good Herr Doktor tells fellow upper-crusty friend Clerval (Anthony Higgins) that his new and lovely ward, “Eva”, came to him after being found naked and amnesia-y in the woods, and he plans to teach her to become a modern woman, intelligent and free and proud. Which, for those playing along, sounds amusingly (disturbingly?) like the plot of My Fair Lady, another festering blight in the face of feminism.
1) Re-imagine the lyrics as, “Why can’t a reanimated corpse/be more like a woman” in this song, and it’s pretty much spot-on. And they even have a ripoff of the “Eliza screws up the small talk” scene starring Veruschka as the Countess, who along with Quentin Crisp makes this movie one of the most iconically craptastic movies of all time.
2) My Fair Lady fans, I know this is tough for you to hear but you’ve really got to face it. That movie sucks. I know, I know. I’m stepping on your beloved memories, I even had a friend tell me that my saying MFL was a stinkbomb was like I punched her in the stomach. I watched it again a scant few weeks ago, to double-check my perspective. So. If someone can explain to me whywhywhy Eliza Dolittle goes back to the emotionally vacant, bombastic control freak Henry Higgins, I’ll listen. But bear in mind, not even George Bernard Shaw thought that was an acceptable ending when he wrote Pygmalion in 1912 (underline underline underline) and thus a full 52 years before the film version of MFL.
Anyway. I digress.
Despite the fact that this movie (I’m going back to The Bride, not My Fair Lady, as I realize my statement does require clarification) is really not very good, it’s developed a bit of a cult following and while my next statement is entirely unfounded on anything except what I believe deep in the pits of my inky black heart, I think it’s got to do with Clancy Brown‘s performance as Frankenstein’s monster. Clancy Brown, for the uninitiated, is an American treasure, a fine character actor who brings his A-game to Every. Single. Thing. I have ever seen him in. Want someone to play a vicious, power-addled cop? A supernaturally creepy preacher? A money-hungry crab? Clancy Brown is your guy! His resume is an enormous cross-section of genres, ranging from film to TV to voice work, though I stand behind my assertion that his role as The Kurgan in The Highlander elevates him to one of the greatest movie villains of all time.
I’m sure the question has now become, why would I want to reimagine this story and see it remade, if I think it’s a feminist nightmare and a miscast, crappy movie? Good question, but here’s why: there are some things they’ve done exceedingly well, starting with the casting of Clancy Brown. One of the things they get really right in The Bride in relation to Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus is the humanization of the monster. He was most certainly wretched and undead and in the chapters told from the doctor’s perspective, an abomination the doctor regretting foisting upon mankind almost as soon as he was reanimated. But in the chapters told from the monster’s perspective, he was also a sad and lonely creature with legitimate emotions and heart, struggling to understand his place in the world. Frankenstein… recognized his human origins and his dreams and ideas in a way the horror movies never do (with the possible exception of the monster’s portrayal in The Monster Squad), and left the reader wondering who was, truly, the monster. Was it the creation? Or was it the creator? In The Bride they continue to explore the monster’s humanity, especially as the good Herr Doktor grows increasingly sexually obsessed with Eva and switches from benefactor to near-rapey Herr Doktor Creepenstein.
Plus, they end up in Venice. What’s not to like about that?
The Bride is pretty glum, thanks in no small part to Sting’s atonal, uninspiring acting job. For real: as an actor, he’s a really talented musician. ’nuff said. Though he can’t be the fault of The Bride‘s downfall alone, no no. The script is terrible. It’s moody, it tends to plod rather than unfold. The characters are cartoony rather than horror-y, and the timescale is indecipherable. It’s hard to tell if this takes place over six months or five years. So here’s my pitch: Rom-Com! An updated, romantic comedy version should be at least a bit more vigorous (as in, it should have a pulse), so bag gloomy Dr. Stingenstein and get someone with a tendency towards evil mania. Two words for who should play the once and future Dr. Charles Frankenstein: Russell Brand. Close your eyes and imagine him shouting “It’s aliiiiiiiiiiiive!” and you’ll know that I’m more right about this than I’ve ever been about anything else in my life. Keep Clancy Brown, of course, because with makeup it won’t matter that he first played that role 28 years ago and he’s brilliant. And make Clancy Brown the straight man if you’re worried about him being funny, though if you’ve ever watched Spongebob Squarepants and listened to Mr. Krabs, you know he’s got the comedy timing, too. As for the part of The Bride, you need someone funny-funny-funny. My first pick is Rashida Jones, though I’d be willing to give a listen to Rose Byrne (though I’d worry there’d be too much Get Him To The Greek association with Russell Brand to allow this movie to exist on its own) and/or Mila Kunis (though I’m the least sold on her, unless she starts speaking Russian).
Clancy Brown — from listal.com
Russell Brand — from thefilmstage.com
Rashida Jones — from rottentomatoes.com
Here’s how I see the opening in the proposed remake: they’re on the set of some horrible show, like Say Yes to the Dress (refuse to link to it, sorry, but here’s a story from someone who went to the SYTTD store and hated it) only since one can’t steal their copyright, it would be Get Down With the Gown. Their plan is to reanimate the corpse on national television during Sweeps Week but of course, the reawakening/immediate marriage doesn’t go well. The electricity needed for undead reanimation is attracted to the metal in the mannequin holding the proposed gown and jumps across the set, ultimately burning said gown and the surrounding studio to bits.
Zany hijinx and wacky misadventures ensue!
The monster, escaping to the wilds of New York City, discovers that his superhuman strength and preternaturally long arms make him a natural to become a bottle-flipping flair bartender, and he becomes a hipster darling, eventually dating troubled paparazzi magnets like Schmindsay Schmohan. The Bride, having been rescued from the fire and with no memory of it, has been whisked away to Herr Doktor’s home in an apartment overlooking Central Park, where she studies voraciously and secretly becomes a computer mastermind. Upon discovering the real nature of her relationship with the doktor, The Bride hacks into his accounts and transfers all of his money into her own private holdings, except for the smallish but significant amount of money she funnels into a group fetishizing nun pornography. After alerting the media to his nun fetish, she calls some friends and organizes an extravagant girls’ night out on the Doktor’s dime. While out with her friends, The Bride walks into the monster’s bar, and it’s his last night working there before taking time off for his impending wedding to SchmiSchmo. The Bride thinks flair bartending is a silly skill and is unimpressed, but stays because her friends are having fun. After copious shots she tells the monster she just left “Doktor Chuck” and, through further conversation, she and the monster realize their innate connection. SchmiSchmo comes in and flies into a jealous rage at the sight of the monster and The Bride talking. However, she severs any emotional connection she might have had with her fiancee when she tries to pick a girl fight with The Bride who, like her fellow monster, is supernaturally strong and, unlike her fellow monster, learned how to fight from watching professional wrestling, Mexican-style.
The two lovemonsters head to the airport and take the first flight to anywhere which, because this is a romance, is Venice. Because Venice, that’s why.
Hollywood, I await your fevered call.