John Carpenter’s Premature Demise

Rob Zombie’s doing Halloween.  Gerard Butler is going to be Snake Plissken.  They’ve already “updated” Assault On Precinct 13 and The Fog.  And now somebody’s come up with the brilliant idea of remaking Christine.  I can only hope it’s John Stockwell, who was in the original and now directs surprisingly good, if underattended, marketable movies (Blue Crush, Into The Blue, Turistas.)  But then, I suppose I wish him better than that.

Point is, John Carpenter isn’t dead.  He’s not even sixty years old.  And while his best days are certainly behind him, and have been for some time, he could feasibly still be working.  But ever since the miserable failure of 2001’s Ghosts Of Mars, he’s been somehow been deemed unemployable (except for Showtime’s Masters Of Horror series, who apparently saw fit to hire any director who’d ever seen a horror movie.)  So why dredge up his past?

It’s not as if anything he ever did was a huge success.  Halloween ushered in the slasher genre, whether it meant to or not, and while many of said genre’s killers have become iconic, very few of them generated the kind of money the studios backing these remakes are hoping to make.  And while Escape From New York and Assault On Precinct 13 are favorites of today’s homage-aholic directors, they were never blockbusters.  At the time of their release, the appeal of something like Halloween or Escape From New York was that there wasn’t anything quite like them being produced at the time.  They were genre movies that went beyond their requirements while still satisfying those requirements.  And sure, there were sequels and copycats and that was a fine business for awhile, but at a certain point you have to find the next thing.

The next thing.  Not the same thing again.  I don’t doubt that the new Escape From New York has the potential to be good, but wouldn’t you rather see something you haven’t seen before?  Instead of being able to say afterwards that they did this or that better than the original, wouldn’t you rather be able to say, “I’ve never seen anything like that before?”

If Robert Rodriguez loves him so much, why not try and involve him in what he’s doing.  He couldn’t have handled one of the precious fake trailers in Grindhouse?  Rodriguez churns out movies so fast, he couldn’t spare three months writing something one of his idols could direct?

It is, of course, unfair to insinuate Robert Rodriguez is in any way complicit in any of this.  Everything he’s ever done has been new.  Risky even.  Which I suppose is the point.  Movies cost too much more than they’re worth now so studios are trying to build in some kind of guarantee by recycling.  But the vast majority of guaranteed audience is whole-heartedly against a remake of Escape From New York.  And it’s been way too long to be expecting anyone else to attach any meaning to the name Snake Plissken.  And if they do, it might not be such a good thing, since they might be remembering Escape From L.A.

I’m not asking for Escape From Earth or Cleveland or any other pre/sequel that’s been proposed.  I want you to take all the people you’ve collected to get involved with this new Escape From New York and start something else.  Something half the internet can rail against remaking in 2034.

And give John Carpenter 5 million dollars to make something.  He’s probably going to surprise you.

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