Normally I am opposed to rebooting already good or great movies from decades past and often, with many, many exceptions, sequels are poorly written cash grabs attempting squeeze money from franchises never intended to go farther than one film. The same is true of television where shows *cough The Killing cough*run longer than they were intended due to their initial success.
But in my more whimsical moods I imagine some sequels that never happened. Either because the film wasn’t popular enough to warrant one or because a star had aged past the point it was feasible or a host of other reasons. Were I a good or even passable writer, and were I possessed of the dedication and follow through it takes, these are some out-there sequels to movies I loved that I would write.
In 1985 John Candy was the hilarious goof everyone loved and it would be two years before Planes, Trains and Automobiles would prove to the world that he could be more than a slapsticky clown and that downtrodden, sad and eminently pitiable were also in his range. It was that year that Candy hit the big screen along side Richard Crenna, who took a break from making Rambo films, in the Carl Reiner directed Summer Rental.
Candy played Jack Chester, an air traffic controller in desperate need of a vacation, and Crenna played Al Pellet, the rich owner of Chester’s vacation house who takes an instant dislike to the out-of-towner. After a disagreement over the last lobster available at the local restaurant the pair hatch a bet centering around the annual regatta and hilarity ensues. Throw in some classic Rip Torn antics and this was a special movie, at least to the younger version of me.
Candy and Crenna, sadly, are both gone now, so a direct sequel is obviously out of the question and a reboot of a classic John Candy movie would be heresy. My vision for this is so outside of the box it’s probably lunacy. I see an indirect sequel written as a dramedy where Jack Chesters now fully grown children return to the vacation house, having not been there for years, after their fathers funeral. There they reminisce about that one deliciously bizarre vacation, remember their departed parents and run into the new owner of the home, Pellet’s son. With some sibling conflict, an exploration of how their lives turned out after that summer and the stewing beef with the Pellet family now hitting its second generation there’s a chance for something funny, touching and nostalgic. Maybe there aren’t enough people out there who love the first film as I did for this to work, maybe it’s a terrible idea. But I have been thinking about it for about a decade. If I hit the lottery tomorrow I am hiring a skilled writer and producing this.
Night of the Comet
1984, a long time before Robert Beltran hit the deck of Starship Voyager, he starred alongside Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney in the cult classic, and much beloved, Night of the Comet. A simple movie about two hot girls surviving a comet that turned most of the earths population to dust, and the rest into stark raving mad ghouls, the movie took years to find an audience. Full of 80’s awesome cheese and made on an incredibly miniscule budget every sci-fi cinephile worth his salt has seen this at least once.
As with any cult classic a reboot would be torturous for me, but a sequel could work. The girls in the movie, Samantha and Regina, were tough-as-nails sisters raised in a military family. Unsure if their primary responsibility as teenage survivors was to repopulate the earth or loot the local shopping mall for shoes their adventures were tense, fun and full of the same zombiesque creations that are so popular today. So, the iron is hot Hollywood. Do the right thing and give me this one.
The sequel, in my mind, would focus on the girls, now much older, trying to raise children with the men they met in the first movie while a post apocalyptic world attempts to destroy them daily. In the original the disaster had just occurred so we saw no real struggle for resources, gas pumps were still pumping, power plants still apparently powering, at least temporarily, without human help. In the sequel food that was plentiful then would have spoiled, ammunition become scarce and the lights gone dark. The gritty sisters would have to struggle to be self sufficient in this new world and their teenagers would just be itching to leave the nest and see what’s out there, as teenagers foolishly do; and there’s your new adventure. Think Mad Max meets The Waling Dead with plenty of 80’s nostalgia tossed in.
Ok, this one is a little dicey. They Live is another cult classic and, having been graced by the genius of John Carpenter, is probably untouchable. Nobody can replicate Roddy Pipers performance because nobody can kick ass and chew bubblegum like he could. So it’s likely that a direct sequel is out.
However, the main premise remains fascinating today. A drifter, Piper, discovers a pair of sunglasses that reveal a whole new world. A world populated by aliens disguised as people and by subliminal messages commanding him to “obey and consume” buried in popular media. By now, if you aren’t from the 80’s, you’re sensing a trend in the eras horror and sci-fi films, mainly that we were over consuming as a society and obsessed with shopping malls. Hell George Romero set an entire film in a mall when he made Dawn of the Dead.
Anyway, They Live left plenty unanswered. After the initial discovery, and subsequent defeat, of the aliens did they just give up and go home? What happens to an entire society when it’s suddenly snapped out of a trance and get to think on their own for the first time? Does the society that follows replicate that which came before because it was familiar or do they over-correct and attempt a society that eschews consumerism to a silly, and perhaps detrimental, degree? Do any of the now discovered and visible aliens assimilate? Surely they weren’t all nefarious characters. Some were probably beloved neighbors or valued employees before their true face was revealed to the general public. There has to be potential for some interesting characters in that aspect alone.
If you can’t let me have this I will take a sequel to James Caan’s unheralded 1988 film Alien Nation. But that’s a last resort.
Three Days of the Condor
Sidney Pollocks 1975 espionage thriller starring Robert Redford may seem dated 40-years later but if you can look past the antiquated technology you find a beautifully directed and tensely written film about a CIA bookworm who returns from lunch to find all his co-workers murdered. As he tries to determine the reason for the slaughter he unravels one conspiracy after another. Together with Faye Dunaway Redford really takes this movie to the next level.
But as with They Live I was left with questions. What will become of the unassuming analyst, Jospeh Turner, now that he has knowledge that threatens the power of so many. Can he ever step out of the shadows again? What of the hired gun who came to track him down, does he ever pay for his crimes?
I don’t want to say too much here because many, or all, of you probably haven’t seen it. But I implore you, look this one up and watch it. If you, like me, have questions you want answered let me know in the comments below.
Bear with me here because Dirty Harry, and all of it’s sequels, are some of my all-time favorite movies. I am an enormous fan of all things Eastwood and would say that Unforgiven is the best western of all-time in my opinion. So I don’t take this lightly.
But for years now I have imagined a passing of the torch kind of movie. Thinking back now on what Harry Callahan went through in 1971, with meddlesome politicians more worried about headlines than results, with an apathetic public seemingly more concerned with a criminals well being than with his crimes, its not a stretch to say we’re back in that same cycle. The genesis of Dirty Harry’s popularity was in the film-going public being fed up with touchy feely policing and the perception of a revolving door justice system. That whole decade saw the same sentiment sprinkled though movies like Death Wish and a host of other movies that showed criminals getting what they had coming to them.
Stick your finger in the air and the wind is blowing in that general direction again. My vision here would be for a younger cop struggling in San Francisco’s super liberal (and lenient) environment. Looking to tame streets that are, in his view, spiraling out of control he seeks advice from the long retired Callahan, a local legend whose stories are now viewed as so barbarous they are barely whispered about in the hallways. I can almost see Dirty Harry sitting in a darkened apartment, drinking an old-school beer and eating cold pizza, sneering at the young advice-seeking beat cop. Through the film he would return for counsel, leaving the very old Eastwoods screen time limited but impactful, until his superiors discover just who has been giving him advice. Now he must decide if he does what he feels is right in using tougher tatics to police the streets or if he caves to the new age policies of a city who now despises the man they once idolized for his bravery.
It could work, I think, if written with reverence and if the young protégé was cast just right. I was thinking, when I had this notion years ago, of Timothy Olyphant, but that window may have closed now. He’s still right for the part of a Dirty Harry style cop, as he demonstrated in Justified, but may be a little long in the tooth to play a rookie anything.
Anymore ideas let me know in the comments or just tell me how wrong I am. Either way, as a lover of movies, these are the kinds of things I day dream about.