If you owned a movie studio and one day woke up with the brilliant idea to remake one of the most iconic cult-horror films of all time, who would you tap to sit in the director’s chair? How about the script? Who would write it? If you answered, “a commercial director with little to no experience directing feature films” and “one of the guys who wrote Transformers 3,” then congratulations! Not only are your opinions now completely suspect, but you may also qualify for an executive position at any number of Tinsel Town studios!
Faux excitement aside, the important news here is that Universal is attempting to mount a remake of David Cronenberg’s 1983 techno horror classic Videodrome. A script for this project has been written by Ehren Kruger, and according to Deadline the studio is in talks with director Adam Berg to oversee the film. If you don’t immediately recognize either of those names, don’t worry: neither Berg nor Kruger is really all that notable. Berg’s IMDB listing can only be described as anemic, while Kruger’s credits range from the objectively bad (the last two Transformers films) to the possibly hope inspiring (The Ring).
Then again, Cronenberg wasn’t exactly a household name when he made Videodrome either, so let’s give the two men the benefit of the doubt, shall we? It’s not fair to judge either Berg or Kruger by their past work alone, right? Of course it isn’t, but we can judge Kruger by comments he has previously made about his vision for this Videodrome remake. If you recall the original, you’ll know it as the story of James Woods’ unfortunate cable TV network programmer who is unwittingly roped into a plot by the US government to pacify its citizens with horrific reality television programming. Given everything about our modern pop culture that offers a massive canvas for any sort of satire or meaningful societal commentary a writer might come up with — seriously, the Kardashian jokes just write themselves — and yet instead Kruger apparently believes that the film’s strength is in its out-there science fiction leanings. As Deadline mentions, Kruger once “planned to modernize the concept, infusing it with the possibilities of nano-technology and blow it up into a large-scale sci-fi action thriller.”
Okay, okay, so maybe Kruger totally missed the point of the original film, or he gets a cut of the film’s special effects budget — either way this still might work if the cast can compare to that of the original. Who was in Videodrome again? Oh that’s right, James Woods and Debbie Harry. Given those two names it doesn’t even matter who else was in the film. Videodrome is so revered specifically because it eschewed then-modern horror tropes to show audiences something really weird and unsettling — and, again, worryingly prophetic — and what two modern actors are going to be as capable at effortlessly generating “weird” as Woods and Harry? Forget trying to overshadow their personalities, we’re just trying to come up with any two people working in Hollywood these days who might make suitable stand-ins for this new remake.
Maybe James Franco could pull it off, but knowing Hollywood it would want to ape the original’s “pop star as actor” thing and we’d get another movie co-starring Lady Gaga. Not that her presence is innately bad, it’s just that if this woman who is most famous for wearing a dress made of meat in public is pulled into a television, is it really going to be all that odd? 2012 is a jaded time, boys and girls, and we wish Kruger and Berg (assuming he signs a deal with Universal) the best in trying to show us something that we haven’t yet witnessed on our hundreds of cable channels or the 24/7 hedonism dispenser that is the modern Internet.