Long before Sharknado and Sharktopus went viral, American International Pictures proved that goofy high-concept action, made on the cheap, usually finds an audience. Now Brain Eaters, Teenage Caveman, She-Creature, and seven other AIP movies from the 1950s are getting rebooted by Cinedigm, which plans to release the new versions next year.
Producer Jeff Katz (Snakes on a Plane) came up with the master plan after wowing executive Lou Arkoff with his contemporary re-write of 1956 exploitation flick Girls in Prison. Katz sums up his vision: “Imagine a universe of R-rated kickass movies featuring bad girls, anti-heroes, and monsters that don’t give a shit whether you like them or not.”
Katz cranked out scripts for all 10 movies during a year-long writing binge, making sure that each installment embodied AIP founder Samuel Z. Arkoff’s 1950s formula. “A for action, revolution, killing, oratory, fantasy, fornication,” Katz says. “I’ve tried to apply that acronym in these movies to give the audience all of those things in a way that PG-13 rated franchises can’t.”
In addition to an inter-connected storyline involving 40 recurring characters, the remakes share one common denominator: catchy titles. Katz says, “In a way, the titles are the gateway drug to these movies. You can scoff, laugh, cheer, or whatever, but at least they inspire a response and get your attention. The challenge for us to fulfill the promise of those titles.”
Katz, who jokes that he should name his company On the Nose Productions, adds, “If you go see a movie called War of the Colossal Beast, you better believe there’s going to be a colossal beast and a war. Titles like Viking Women and the Sea Serpent, The Cool and the Crazy, and Reform School Girl evoke another era, but there’s something wholly unpretentious about them. With so many entertainment options out there, these titles really cut through the noise.”
How will Katz upgrade the laughably cheesy special effects used in AIP’s original genre films? He declines to get specific, but it’s safe to say Katz and his team won’t be counting on expensive CG spectacle to save the day for End of the World. “I believe we’ve hit a level of CG saturation where there’s no point in saying, ‘Here’s the big CG vista of a thousand troops clashing with a thousand monsters.’ I worked at New Line during Lord of the Rings when they innovated all that stuff, but how many times have we seen it since then? For stories like Colossal Beast or End of the World, we’re going to find our own path.”
Check out the original poster art for American International Pictures’ soon-to-be-remade B movies in the gallery above.