The Crow Remake: Desired or Required?

I’m going to talk about the movie The Crow, and the potential remake that’s been discussed time and again – but first I’m going to talk a bit about the first season of American Horror Story.  As you may know, I try to avoid spoiling people whenever I can, so if this matters to you, skip down to where it’s safe.  Don’t say you weren’t warned!

So, the first season of American Horror Story features a teen named Tate, who’s been having dreams about getting gothed up and shooting up his high school.  From his very first scene, I literally said, “Aww, how 90′s.”  Not just because of the obvious parallels to Columbine, which occurred in the late 90s; there was just something very throwback about Tate.  The angst, the delinquent Lost Boy sort of quality, the life-sucking Romeo and Juliet-esque romance he shared with his girlfriend, Violet.  Still, I couldn’t tell if I only thought this because I myself was an angsty teen in the 90s.

There were other, more obvious clues, though, like his love of Kurt Cobain, some of his clothes, and the fact that half the people in the house were dead.  When I found out he was, in fact, a ghost from 1994, I cheered. Of course he was.  He just embodies that time period.

Back to The Crow

I feel the same way about The Crow – that it just belongs in a very specific time period.  You could do a remake of Sixteen Candles or any John Hughes film, technically, but it’d have to be updated a fair amount and you’d always be adapting a story written for a specific time.  At that point you might as well write a new story that speaks to the current generation.

I was too young to see the film when it came out in theaters, but I caught it only a few years later. At thirteen, I was already going through a goth phase that would last years. The movie spoke right to my teenaged soul: it featured romance that withstood death, black makeup, and a killer soundtrack (I’ll admit, I’ve listened to the soundtrack in the past year. Okay, I’m listening to it now).  It quickly became one of my very favorites.

Objectively speaking

Now let’s wipe the eyeliner out of my eyes and consider why I loved the film so much.  If I’m being completely honest with myself, it was because I was thirteen years old.  My life experience was incredibly narrow; as such, I had never experienced a movie that dark, that gritty.  And, of course, there’s the love story that appeals to every hopeless romantic.

And if I’m being less cynical, this was essentially a comic movie that helped redefine comic movies. If you were to make Tim Burton’s Batman a starting point, you could probably veer off in two directions – one, super glossy like the other Batman films of the 90s, and another, darker path that leads us to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.  Movies along the way flirt with style and grit to varying degrees – Blade and Sin City, for example – but who knows what the state of that path would have been without The Crow as a signpost?

The other defining feature of the film is Brandon Lee.  Tragic and untimely death aside, the film would not have been the same with a different actor.  The man has charisma in spades.  The final edit is likely influenced by Lee’s death, but he gets to really take his time in the film, adding that sense of melancholy that sets the film apart.  Sure, he’s essentially a vengeful spirit, but he’s also really sad.  It’s the extra humanity that helps set it apart from other shoot-em-up films.

Remake worthy?

It’s been years since I’ve watched The Crow – probably close to ten years.  I owned the VHS, but never felt particularly compelled to buy the DVD.  It faded away, along with my wide-legged jeans and BOP posters and everything else from my youth.   When I heard the recent rumors that a remake is again in talks – this time possibly starring fangirl favorites Tom Hiddleston or Alexander Skarsgard, depending on which day you search – I threw on a few scenes to refresh my memory.

Oh my goodness.  Take Brandon Lee and novelty out of the equation and the film can be pretty cringeworthy.  When I went to Youtube I was still full of fond memories, but The Crow has not aged well.  Or, conversely, it still appeals to the romantic counterculture teens of the world, but it no longer speaks to me.

Which then raises the question: without Brandon Lee or the sheer novelty of a gritty comic movie, why bother with a remake at all?

Other Crow incarnations have been tried and failed – a handful of sequels with different stories to back up the same premise.  Despite including a handful of well-known actors – Kirsten Dunst and David Boreanaz, for example – they were pretty much direct-to-video efforts.

Now, the original The Crow was actually, at one point, intended to be a direct-to-video release that obviously became much more than that.  So what was the secret ingredient?  Brandon Lee’s talent?  The media attention from his death?  Was it just, perhaps, the right movie for the right time?  And what secret ingredient do filmmakers and producers see in the property today?

What do you think of the idea of a remake of The Crow?  What do you think could make it worth seeing?  Do you have fond memories of the Crow franchise yourself?  Share below! 


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