A Twisted move to remake some RKO Classics

iwalkedwithazombie.jpgA little history for you folks.... In the 1940's there was a film producer known as Val Lewton who was famous for producing highly atmospheric horror films that are now rated very highly in critics circles. You see Lewton was a man who took pride in his work, he would not just settle for making a "run of the mill money making horror flick". No. Instead he wanted to do something artistic, something worthwhile. Lewton was the head of the B-unit horror subsidary of RKO, which meant he had less power than other producers at the studio. For every film he would see over, he had to follow three simple rules...
1) Each film had to be under a strict budget 2) Each film had to be under 75 minutes 3) And most important of all, he had to make the film under a title given to him by superiors.
This is where the interesting part of this story comes. Although he was given a certain title for the horror movie which he couldn't change, the subject matter was completely up to him. So when in 1943 he was given the title I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, RKO were clearly expecting a typical fast food like horror flick that would have cheesy scares and typical gore (well as much gore as there was in the 40's anyway). Instead what Val Lewton produced was something far more interesting. He made I Walked With a Zombie a social drama that dealt with the themes of race, gender and even relegion whilst having some great scares too. The movie was a financial and critical success. One of the best horror movies of the 40's, which is no small statement considering the movies from Unviersal were released in that decade.

So now in 2007, production company Twisted Pictures have formed a joint venture with RKO and plan to remake four titles from their vault, each with a budget under $20 million. All theree of them mentioned are Val Lewton pics made under the same rules as above... These include the awesome 1945 flick The Body Snatcher, the Boris Karloff 1946 movie Bedlam, a currently undecided flick and the 1943 classic I Walked With a Zombie. Please don't remake the flick Cat People as well. That movie is an undoubted "one of a kind" also. One of the people behind this project, Peter Burg spoke to Variety...
"We've thought a long time about how to update these classic titles to make them commercial....If these films go well, we hope it leads to more."
Here's what I'm thinking. Ironically when a genius like Val Lewton can make a highly influential and artistically worthwhile horror movie that was highly popular despite it's Z-Movie title, the guys today at Twisted Pictures will no doubt dumb down all the elements from the original and make something more akin to what you would expect with the title I Walked With A Zombie. Twisted Pictures will make the film the RKO studio were looking for... but it won't make any money I'm afraid. I Walked With a Zombie should not be remade. Not now. Not ever. It belongs in an era when directors like Orson Welles would fight the studio's to the hilt to get their artistic vision on screen. It's something directors like Oliver Hirschbiegel (The Invasion) and Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) still have to battle with today, and sadly they are losing.
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.