Although it's spawned three sequels, Phantasm hasn't really gotten its due of widespread notoriety. The original might suffer a bit from its semi-linear narrative and occasionally surreal nature -- not to mention the dated '70s look -- but it has such a rich mythology, with the iconic villain The Tall Man and an anything-can-happen supernatural flair, that today its out-of-the-box plot would stand apart from the glut of slashers, ghost stories and torture porn.
Prince of Darkness (1987)
John Carpenter's provocative plot involving demonic possession, alien life forms, time travel, zombies, theoretical physics and the resurrection of Satan through a sentient fluid is a bit "out there," but it's a welcome risk-taker that can benefit from a remake's increased budget and scope.
Pumpkinhead is one of the great, truly intimidating movie monsters, but his films have never used him to his full frightening potential -- particularly the later direct-to-video efforts that rendered him in cheesy CGI. Why not "reboot" the franchise with the butt-kicking demonic glory that we know Pumpkinhead is capable of?
This overlooked British flick is sort of like The Subway Has Eyes, with descendants of railway workers buried in a turn-of-the-century cave-in living in the subways and picking off stray passengers as food. A remake would infuse some adrenaline and twists into a simple story whose pace is slow, thanks to attempts to humanize a cannibal as a sympathetic Frankenstein figure looking for a mate.
During the heyday of slashers, this Australian production dared to go a Hitchcockian route -- despite the presence of scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis -- in this tale of a trucker who suspects a fellow traveler of being a serial killer. Sort of like Rear Window on the open road. A remake could eliminate some of the talkiness and focus on the action, with an outcome along the lines of The Hitcher or Joy Ride.
The movie that served as the springboard for David Cronenberg's career still proves thrilling to this day, but it suffers from a low budget. The apocalyptic mayhem of a disease spread through a contained apartment building -- later exploited in Quarantine -- combines with a social statement about sexual promiscuity, seeing as the parasite is spread through sexual arousal and contact.
The Stuff, in which an ice cream-like food turns out to be a living creature that eats people from the inside, is like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (itself always ripe for a remake) with a dark comedic spin satirizing consumerism. A remake could provide fun commentary on our diet-conscious culture, fears about disease, the tobacco industry and the war on drugs, while also fixing the poor editing and cheap special effects.
This challenging Spanish film has one of the most ingenious, yet most simple setups in recent memory: a man lets a stranger inside his mansion to use the phone, and after a few moments out of his sight, the stranger is gone. Slowly but surely, he begins to suspect that the man never left and becomes paranoid, obsessed with finding him. A series of intriguing twists makes for a delicious thriller that needs more exposure.
Warning Sign was something of a precursor to Resident Evil, with a government facility locked down after an experimental virus contaminates the workers, turning them into murderous semi-living beings. A remake could tap into the appeal of not only the Resident Evil films, but also pics like 28 Days Later and Quarantine.