Seven More “Remakes” We’d Love Werner Herzog To Direct

Seven More “Remakes” We’d Love Werner Herzog To Direct (photo)

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Controversy has followed Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” right from the start. When word got to director Abel Ferrara that his original “Bad Lieutenant” film was being remade by Herzog and star Nicolas Cage, the outspoken director wished the other outspoken director would “die in hell.” Herzog’s response? “I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is. But let him fight the windmills, like Don Quixote.” To which Ferrara shot back, “I’d rather chase windmills than steal other people’s ideas. It’s lame.”

Ferrara’s protectiveness is understandable, but his outrage is a little excessive, particularly given that, as Herzog’s insisted all along, the new film is a remake in title only. The central premise may belong to Ferrara; this particular execution, with its sweaty atmosphere and iguana hallucinations, is all Herzog. The result is like watching a jazz musician riff on someone else’s composition. You appreciate both the original author’s intent and artist’s interpretation simultaneously. It’s something Herzog has done before, too, first in 1979 with his rendition of F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” and again just a few years ago, when he remade his own documentary “Little Dieter Needs to Fly” (1997) into the narrative film “Rescue Dawn.”

In all of these cases, Herzog’s remakes don’t negate the original, they build upon them, layering Herzog’s unique obsessions atop the existing material (or in the case of “Little Dieter”/”Rescue Dawn,” giving the director a chance to work through his obsession once more). As far as we’re concerned, Herzog has carte blanche to remake any and every film in his own inimitable style. When you start to imagine the possibilities, they all start to sound good. To wit, here seven examples we’d pay to see. And there are many, many more.

11192009_herzogator.jpg“Predator” (1987, John McTiernan)

Adrien Brody was recently cast in the remake of “Predator” that’s going to be executive produced by indie genre guru Robert Rodriguez. After penning the script, Rodriguez handed the directing gig on to “Vacancy” filmmaker Nimrod Antal, which is a shame; this material is tailor-made for a Herzog remake. We’re talking about an antagonist who’s described at one point in the ’87 original in the line, “She says the jungle… it just came alive and took him.” The cruelty of nature is a frequent Herzog theme, with the jungle a frequent setting. He’s never been a big science fiction guy, but that’s fine; his version would just tone down the Predator’s alien origins and instead present the creature as a more ambiguous force of primal, ecological terror. In “Rescue Dawn,” the jungle is the prison; in Herzog’s “Predator,” the jungle would be the killer too.

Still, he shouldn’t have any problem adapting the original storyline to suit his personal taste: just as in John McTiernan’s version, mankind, represented by the elite American soldiers and their enormous weaponry, think they’re hot shit, and the Predator comes along to remind them of their place in the universe. Herzog could bring back his “Rescue Dawn” star Christian Bale, giving the more believably ferocious actor lines to growl like, “If it bleeds, we can kill it,” which come to think of it, already sounds quite Herzogian.

11192009_2012og.jpg“2012” (2009, Roland Emmerich)

It’s a bit surprising, given Herzog’s distrustful attitude towards nature, that he hasn’t made a true disaster movie yet. Then again, many of his fiction films are disaster movies in miniature, stories of destruction on a small scale that are often caused or at least hastened by mean old mother nature. As Herzog himself put it in “The Making of ‘Nosferatu,'” “All my films come out from pain. That’s the source. That’s where they come from. Not from pleasure.” The disaster movie — where onscreen pain becomes the foundation of audience pleasure — could prove fertile ground for Herzog, and something like the recently released “2012,” where the entire planet spontaneously erupts into chaos and every manner of ecological disaster befalls mankind simultaneously, seems like ideal source material.

Since Herzog is known for his intense focus, we wouldn’t expect him to recreate Roland Emmerich’s more macro take on disaster, nor would we expect to see him reaffirm the power of the nuclear family in the midst of global extinction (more likely, he’d just kill everybody off). Best of all, can you imagine the sort of quotes in the press from Herzog about the Mayans and their predictions and the conspiracy theorists who spread them? The possibilities are almost too delicious to comprehend.

11192009_herzoglight.jpg“Twilight” (2008, Catherine Hardwicke)

Herzog already tackled vampires in his version of “Nosferatu.” So you know he likes the bloodsucker milieu, and I’m guessing he’d like the material too. Not that his version would look much like Catherine Hardwicke’s glossy, romantic take on Stephenie Meyer’s epic romance between human teenager Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen. Herzog’s “Nosferatu” exhibited a deep skepticism about the traditional vampire narrative and its erotic overtones. Receiving a vampire’s bite in the Herzogiverse isn’t sexy, it’s disgusting; the Count himself is a walking cadaver whose physical features eerily resemble the legions of plague-carrying rats he beds down with every morning. That makes Herzog the perfect choice to make a version of “Twilight” that examines the underlying creepiness in a story about a 100-year-old creature swapping spit with a 16-year-old girl. Naturally, Herzog’s Cullen wouldn’t be anywhere as handsome as the current onscreen Edward, Robert Pattinson. He’d need a contemporary actor who could bring some of the angular corpsiness that Klaus Kinski provided back in 1979, somebody like Adrien Brody. Pair him with a starlet like Evan Rachel Wood, who’s already proved herself capable of feigning romantic interest in a man decades older than her in Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works,” and you have the makings of a classic.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.