Watch: ’80s Remakes This Month and Beyond

Break out your yellow paisley power ties: The eighties are back — at least at the multiplex, where three familiar titles return to the big screen.

Watch: ’80s Remakes This Month and Beyond
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp./Photofest Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp./Photofest

Repo Men
March 19

The story: Jude Law and Forest Whitaker repossess high-tech artificial organs out of transplant patients that can’t pay for them. Law gets a new heart, finds his “heart” not in his job, falls behind on his payments — and his buddy has to go after him.


Relation to 1984 cult classic Repo Man: Marketing. It’s a great title. “If it brings up positive connotations, that’s cool,” says story creator Eric Garcia.

Probability of kind of sad but unintentionally hilarious Emilio Estevez cameo: 0% (Sorry, film nerds)

Parallels: Dystopian sci-fi future, check. Dark comic tone, check. Protagonists who live by their own moral code, check.


Fun fact: Garcia expanded his short story, The Telltale Pancreas, into a novel, Reposession Mambo, then adapted it for the big screen.

Franchise potential: Republicans will endorse health-care reform before there’s a Repo Men 2.

Clash of the Titans
April 2

The story: In a retelling of the ancient Greek myth, Zeus’s mortal son Perseus embarks on a quest to save the gods from the evil ruler of the underworld, Hades, battling demons and giant snakes along the way.


Relation to 1981’s cheesetastic Clash of the Titans: Remake, taking advantage of advances in special effects over the past 30 years.

Probability of a kind of sad but unintentionally hilarious Harry Hamlin cameo: 0%. Sorry, L.A. Law fans.

Parallels: Stellar international cast of actors, check. Those actors — Laurence Olivier in the original, Liam Neeson in the remake — shamelessly chewing the scenery, check. CGI monsters that will soon look very dated, check.


Fun fact: Warner Bros. converted the movie to 3-D after the success of Avatar, and Sam Worthington, Avatar‘s star, plays Perseus.

Franchise potential: Hades will freeze over first.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
April 30

The story: Freddy Krueger is a serial killer who attacks people in their dreams.


Relation to 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street: A reboot of the franchise that spawned nine movies and two TV series.

Probability of a kind of sad but unintentionally hilarious Robert Englund cameo: 0%. The filmmakers went with the genuinely creepy Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children) to play Krueger.

Parallels: Ratty striped sweater and hat, check. Glove with four blades, check. Scary set pieces in beds, bathtubs, and boiler rooms, check. What’s missing: the jokey tone of the later sequels.


Fun fact: Producer Michael Bay (Transformers), who came up in the world of ads and music videos, hired someone with a similar history, Samuel Bayer (Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”), to helm the picture.

Franchise potential: Haley has already signed for two sequels.

The Karate Kid

June 11

The story: A young boy moves with his mother from Detroit to China — 8 mile to 8th wonder — where he encounters bullies and meets a potential girlfriend. He studies under an eccentric karate master to learn kung fu for self-preservation and to win said girl’s heart.


Relation to 1984’s box-office smash: Remake, replacing the original’s Los Angeles setting with Beijing, Ralph Macchio with Will Smith’s son, and Mr. Miyagi with Jackie Chan.

Probability of a kind of sad but unintentionally hilarious Ralph Macchio cameo: 0%. The original Karate Kid took offense to the reboot, telling MTV last year, “It feels pretty good that so many people are angry that they’re trying to remake The Karate Kid…Are you going to remake E.T.?” Macchio continued, “I’m not necessarily putting it [The Karate Kid] on that level — I guess I am, but in the respect that sometimes you go back to that well when you shouldn’t.”

Parallels: Fish out of water storyline filled with cultural tensions, check. Ridiculously intense martial arts classes and tournaments, check. Fly-catching sensei, check. What’s missing: chopsticks. Jackie Chan opts for a fly-swatter in a jokey-homage to Mr. Miyagi’s famous skill.


Fun fact: This won’t be The Karate Kid‘s first franchise reboot. In 1994, Columbia Pictures released The Next Karate Kid — the fourth movie in the series — replacing Macchio with future two-time Academy-Award winning actress, Hilary Swank, in her first starring role.

Franchise potential: Only if producer-parents Will and Jada Pinkett Smith decide to fund their son’s career.

Piranha 3-D
August 27

The story: Spring break pleasure dome Lake Victoria (a stand-in for Lake Havasu, Arizona) is terrorized by a pack of hungry, flesh-eating fish.


Relation to 1978 cult classic Piranha: Loose remake of the campy drive-in knockoff of Jaws, but according to actor/comedian Paul Scheer who has a role in the film, “This movie is not a comedy movie, it’s very serious, and I hope people realize that,” he told SlashFilm last year. “[Director] Alex Aja, he’s doing the same thing he’s done in his prior movies, like Haute Tension and The Hills Have Eyes; but at the same time it’s going to be funny to see a fat guy in a hula-skirt get eaten by piranha.” (And yes, this isn’t technically an 80’s remake, but it feels like one.)

Probability of kind of sad but unintentionally hilarious John Sayles cameo: 0%. The art-house auteur wrote the original screenplay for the first Piranha film, but it’s safe to say he’s moved on.

Parallels: Hot young adults in bikinis and board shorts (and often even less clothing), check. Bad acting, check. Piranha, check.


Fun fact: James Cameron made his directorial debut with Piranha 2 in 1981. In other words, this shouldn’t kill previously well-regarded Alexandre Aja’s career.

Franchise potential: Bite me.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
September 24

The story: Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) gets out of jail after 20 years on an insider-trading rap to find Wall Street’s greed culture run amok in society at large. Do investment-bank meltdowns and the bursting of the housing bubble sound familiar?


Relation to 1987’s Oscar-winning Wall Street: Sequel

Probability of a kind of sad but unintentionally hilarious Charlie Sheen cameo: 100%

Parallels: Morality play, check. Glamorization of Wall Street money excesses that unwittingly influence a generation of kids who watch the movie relentlessly on cable to seek their fortunes in finance, check.


Fun fact: “When I was struggling in Hollywood, I got my Series 7 and became a licensed broker-dealer,” says screenwriter Allan Loeb. “I find the markets to be the most fascinating world. It’s my soap opera.”

Franchise potential: Only if there’s another financial crisis.

Correction: A previous version of this article listed the release date for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps as April 23.

Tron: Legacy

December 17

The story: Sam Flynn, the son of famed ENCOM hacker/software-engineer/arcade-owner/video-game developer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), searches for his long-lost father inside a computer program.

Relation to 1982’s visually-stunning cult classic: Less-pixilated sequel

Probability of a kind of sad but unintentionally hilarious David Warner cameo: 0%. The villainous ENCOM head and deep-voiced Master Control Program did not survive the original.

Parallels: Flynn’s Arcade, check. Light cycles, check. Glow-stick-Frisbees, check. Made-up computer jargon, check. Lack of explanation for why this virtual world exists, check.

Fun fact: Disney recently “re-opened” Flynn’s Arcade in Los Angeles, where you can play Space Paranoids just as in the original film. Part of a viral marketing campaign, the promotion also includes, a “fan” site that has been tracking Kevin Flynn’s disappearance since 1989.

Franchise potential: Jeff Bridges, Michael Sheen, John Hurt, Olivia Wilde, and two MP3 Programs portrayed by Daft Punk? Cha-ching.

Additional reporting by Austin Carr