When is a remake not a remake?
When it’s a film based on the source material, not on the film itself. Here’s how that works: John Carpenter’s phenomenally subversive, clever and satirical They Live came out in 1988, and featured a man who finds a strange pair of sunglasses that show him that the world is overrun with aliens. Weirdness ensues. The film is loosely based on the short story 8 O’Clock in the Morning, by Ray Nelson as well as “Nada,” a story from the early 80’s comic book Alien Encounters.
Nelson’s short story is what Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) is planning to adapt for his next project. Not, as he indicated recently, Cloverfield 2. The story is different from They Live — the main character wakes up from hypnosis only to realize that he’s woken up to more than anyone else is aware of — we’ve been invaded and conquered by aliens called “Fascinators,” and they control people’s minds. He receives a phone call wherein a voice simply tells him that at 8:00 AM the next day, his heart will stop. From then, well… read the story. It’s a pretty good one.
Regardless, it’s very different from Carpenter’s film, which makes me happy. A straight-up remake of that would be silly and annoying. But there’s a lot more to Nelson’s story (and a lot of They Live is distinctly Carpenter and never part of the story), which could make for an interesting film. Reeves, in an interview with Deadline where he announced his plan, had this to say:
“I saw an opportunity to do a movie that was very point-of-view driven, a psychological science fiction thriller that explores this guy’s nightmare… There could be a desperate love story at the center of this. Carpenter took a satirical view of the material and the larger political implication that we’re being controlled. I am very drawn to the emotional side, the nightmare experience with the paranoia of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or a Roman Polanski-style film.”
You know what? I’m down with that.