Don’t Be Afraid of The Remake: Ten Other T.V. Movies Ready For the Big Screen

With a big budget remake of DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK opening this Friday and talks of KOLCHAK leaping to multiplexes in the near future, it seems the remake machine is wising up to something many of our readers have known for a long time; that some of the best horror tales in existence spawn from the small screen. I present to you now a list of ten other T.V. movies that I think might deserve a big screen treatment, Be warned I left out STEPHEN KING classics like IT & SALEM’S LOT because nobody needs my nudging to remake KING and I skipped over some of my absolute favorites like SATAN’S TRIANGLE, BLACK NOON, DYING ROOM ONLY and MANY MORE simply because I either could not convince myself that they could be done better or I wasn’t sure modern audiences would know what to do with them. There are so many great T.V. movies that a list of ten was not easy to compile so if I’ve left out any of your favorites, feel free to sing their praises in the comment section!


I’m just going to get this one out of the way right off the bat. I’m not sure if it should be filed under horror, action or romance but I do know that its fans are some of the most passionately devoted out there. A story involving a giant sea turtle may be a hard sell in this cynical age but it may also be exactly what the doctor ordered if the correct tone is established. In fact, if done right it could appeal to a wide variety of ages. The original T.V. movie did indeed receive a theatrical release in foreign countries so perhaps TBD’s leap to the big screen is not nearly as farfetched as one might think. Screw AVATAR sequels, JAMES CAMERON should be all over this epic oceanic lovelorn adventure.

9. DUEL (1971)

I pity the fool who tries to follow in STEVEN SPIELBERG’s footsteps but if it’s ever going to be attempted this is a good place to start. The original was so well received that it graduated to play in not only European theaters but in US theaters as well. An update could add a class war element with the main character being a snooty modern urbanite and the phantom truck driver being a faceless good ol’ boy/ mudflap girl enthusiast. In any case, car movies tend to do well at the box office, so jack up the stunts and let her roll.

8. MR. BOOGEDY (1986)

This family friendly, haunted house comedy is a no-brainer. Go gross, go goofy, go 3-D, rake in the dough and leave BEETLEJUICE in the dust. Many folks have fond memories of the original but even kids unfamiliar with the title would be chomping at the bit to check out this funky phantom. Clueless Disney owns the rights so don’t hold your breath but the original led to BRIDE OF BOOGEDY, so I see major franchise potential. C’mon on Disney, this is your chance to make up for lousing up THE HAUNTED MANSION to such a vile degree!

7. HORROR AT 37,000 FEET (1973)

This movie may be hokey but there’s no reason why the remake has to be. In fact, I think this would be a great project for my pal and yours JOHN CARPENTER. Think about it, the story involves a plane carting ancient druid stones that ends up being threatened by its supernatural cargo. It’s basically PRINCE OF DARKNESS in the air! The endangered are small group of people from all walks of life and who has more experience directing folks thrown together and forced to battle side by side against an unknown foe? (Think THE THING, THE FOG, ASSAULT ON P13, etc…) CARPENTER can upgrade the scares and the believability and he’d have a blast getting all metaphysical explaining the cargos power with his very own screenplay (which he’ll surely credit to a fictional entity.) The story even has a dog in it and I know he has worked with canines before!

6. THE SPELL (1977)

There was many a copycat in the wake of the success of CARRIE but this one offers several unique wrinkles. THE SPELL’s vengeful conjuring teen is overweight and not only has a “perfect” sibling but also a hyper critical mother hiding her own powers that she must battle as well. It would be easy as hell to slap this story into a contemporary setting and touch upon current topics of interest like high school bullying and the pressures on teen girls to conform to a certain body type. STEPHEN KING’s novel CARRIE features a plump protagonist, since none of the official adaptations of his work has yet had the nerve to feature this element, here’s a chance to rectify that slight.


History has shown that possession movies, particularly ones based on “true” stories tend to fill theater seats. This tale that takes place in Brookfield, Connecticut where yours truly once resided, is ripe for the picking. Of course you might have some trouble securing rights from the folks who it actually happened to who say it’s all a sham but perhaps they could be quelled by a DVD exclusive documentary focusing on their side of the story. All I know is this movie and the corresponding book “The Devil in Connecticut” scared the living crap out of me once upon a time and that some of the details (the demonic old man with hooves and a charred plaid shirt) true or not, still give me the heebie-jeebies.

4. BAD RONALD (1974)

I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough of BAD RONALD. There’s only so much that can be done on television, so here’s an opportunity to delve even deeper into the psyche of this intriguing character. How about using HEAVENLY CREATURES as an inspiration and showing on screen, in detail, Ronald’s elaborate fantasy world? Nerdy outsider characters seem to be all over the place these days, so how about giving us one who is actually interesting?

3. DON’T GO TO SLEEP (1982)

A little girl comes back from the dead to convince her younger sister to kill the rest of their family. Hey, we need more killer kid movies because nothing is more entertaining! It’s fool proof really because if it fails to convince it will still be funny as hell. The story of course will have to be updated with fancier kills. Has the electric pizza cutter been invented yet? This remake will also get extra points if it casts VALERIE HARPER in the role of Grandma and retains the haunting signature closing shot.


The truth hurts but it must be said, nobody cares about the first two stories in this trilogy. The best idea would be to make this an all-Zuni doll affair and return to RICHARD MATHESON’s original story title “PREY.” The Zuni fetish doll is a sleeping giant of a horror icon and if Chucky can run for five films and counting, I think little Zuni has the potential to follow suit. By the year 2022, I personally require a Zuni vs. Chucky movie!


Now this one comes with a genuine, pre-existing fanbase. It hardly matters though because how can you beat that title? What horror fan would ignore such a thing on a marquee? They’d have to be thick! Also, here’s a chance to make something specifically for the Halloween season. My advice would be, amp up the atmosphere a couple notches, pour on some extra blood and just sit back and let the story do the rest. How could it not work? Furthermore this classic tale would offer some seriously meaty roles for actors who were up to the challenge. What A-lister in their right mind would pass up the chance to play a mentally challenged person or an unstable mailman? Both roles are Oscar bait! I’m thinking CILLIAN MURPHY as Bubba and MICHAEL CHIKLIS as Otis and maybe KATE JACKSON as Bubba’s mom as a nod to THE SCARECOW AND MRS. KING. What? Why are you looking at me funny? It needs to happen yesterday. Jeez, give me 20 million dollars and I’ll make it myself!

So that’s my ten and I overlooked only a couple hundred. I wouldn’t talk T.V. movies without asking T.V. movie gal pal Amanda by Night for her two cents, so for ten more T.V. movies that deserve big screen makeovers jump over to MADE FOR TV MAYHEM and check out Amanda’s top ten picks HERE!

The Reef (2010)

They say sharks need to keep moving in order to survive but sometimes the best way to move forward is by going backwards, breaking things down, simplifying and focusing on the essentials. Shark movies seem to be getting more outrageous and ridiculous with each passing year (thanks Syfy Channel!) but THE REEF defiantly swims against the current campy stream. Directed by one of the fine folks (ANDREW TRAUCKI) responsible for 2007’s excellent shock-crock flick BLACK WATER, THE REEF is a streamlined, straightforward jaunt unhindered by the typical needless ornamentation. Much like BLACK WATER, one of the ways THE REEF separates itself from the pack is by refusing to rely on CGI and by utilizing actual real live sharks. The result is hyper authentic and hyper engaging. No computer-generated cartoon can compete with the freaky mug Mother Nature slapped on these deadly fish. Maybe sharks are misunderstood but I think it’s okay to be leery of a creature who might chomp all your limbs off and then use your face as a palate cleanser.

The plot is this: Some people are on a boat but then it tips over so they decide to swim for shore but it’s really difficult on account of the relentless shark(s?) trying eat them. Suddenly life’s usual quandaries seem quaint and very far off in the distance, sort of like the dry land that will prevent them from being din-din. TRAUCKI really has a talent for capturing the beauty along with the danger of the untamed world and he’s careful not to shirk on characterization either. We don’t know an extensive amount about the victims here but they seem like people amiable enough not to deserve being chewed apart while screaming for help that will never materialize.

It’s safe to say that JAWS is in no danger of being dethroned as the ultimate shark movie but THE REEF is more than another also-ran as it truly delivers the suspense. It was certainly not necessary for me to keep my legs on the couch while watching this, but I found myself doing so anyway and that should tell you something. Like much survival horror (OPEN WATER, FROZEN) this tale is bound to work more for those cursed with the unfashionable ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes.

TRAUCKI is quoted as saying, “Reality is far more intriguing than fiction” and THE REEF (which is based on a true story) backs his theory nicely. I’m not sure I enjoyed this film as much as I did BLACK WATER but it’s gratifying to see a filmmaker taking the subject of man vs. beast (or vs. nature, or vs. shitty luck) seriously.

THE REEF is now available on Netflix Streaming.

Dreamchild (1985)

Children’s’ heads are usually force fed saccharine gruel by funnel. The process resembles teaching ducks to grow up to be foie gras. That’s why I’ve always loved ALICE IN WONDERLAND. For a book aimed at malleable brains it is deliciously dark and strange. Imagine WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS writing for Highlights Magazine in a psychedelic beanie. Alice’s encounters mirror a universal part of adolescence when one is trying to decipher their new surroundings and every question is met with nonsensical answers. What child can’t relate to the feeling of being indoctrinated into a world of seemingly random (forks on the left, spoons on the right) protocol? ALICE does more than grab the reader by the hand and tour them through a colorful landscape, it slyly teaches them how to spot the absurdity in their own world as well.

For fans of WONDERLAND, DREAMCHILD is really a must see. It focuses on the twilight of the woman who once inspired the tale as she travels to New York for a celebration of the work and life of its author. Some of the movie is as dainty as a doily, which makes its multiple plunges into near ELM STREET territory all the more disturbing. It’s like having tea with DAME JUDI DENCH and then she suddenly leans into reveal, “I’m tripping my balls off.”

Who is to say how accurate any of the flashbacks are but as the eighty-year old Alice Hargreaves is jolted with lightening blast recollections of her youth, we get a glimpse into her vaguely creepy relationship with the man she theoretically inspired. As played by IAN HOLM (ALIEN, THE SWEET HEREAFTER) Reverend Charles L. Dobson (also known as Lewis Carroll) is at turns off-putting and sympathetic. Plagued by a speech impediment and awkward social skills, one wonders if his fascination with the young quizzical child was merely a coveting of the normalcy she had to look forward to in life. Much speculation is made about the true catalyst behind CARROLL’s work, but here he is presented as a sort of shadowy Jaberwocky himself until elderly Alice comes to terms with her memories and is able to separate herself from her more famous fictional identity.

Whatever. As much as I love my homie HOLM there is literally nothing in this movie that is not utterly and completely upstaged by the fucking incredible creations by JIM HENSON’s creature shop. Don’t get me wrong, there is a very sweet, finely done drama going on here (written by DENNIS POTTER no less) but if you’re a brat like me you’ll only pretend to care whether the old lady gets her act together before kicking the bucket just so you can get a glimpse of the incredibly monstrous and borderline hideous denizens of wonderland that KRUEGER-stalk her psyche. If you want to learn about the real Alice Hargreave, go to the library or better yet Google the lady. Instead, I’m going to stare at these incredible images from DREAMCHILD

NOTE: If you want to check out this barrel of awesome get thee to Netflix Streaming. It has never been released on DVD and the VHS looks like crap. I like this movie a great deal but I have no option but to remove seventy hundred groovy points for not inviting the Chesire Cat to the party.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Stephanie R. on a Turtle Traumatizer


Great website. I had the sudden urge to find a movie I’d seen years ago called the CHILD OF GLASS. The search led me to your site — and all I can say is HA! Love it!

O.K. so it got me thinking…one day in about 1979 on a Sunday afternoon, I’m flipping through the channels and I come across the end of a French (I think) movie in which some kind of reptile or alien or large turtle tears it’s way out of a woman’s back, and then the next scene is of a giant sea turtle swimming out into the blue ocean depths…

The End.

UNK SEZ:: Whenever something crawls out of a woman’s back I think of THE MANITOU and whenever I hear of a giant sea turtle, I think of THE BERMUDA DEPTHS. I don’t know what to think here, does anybody out there have any ideas?

The Bermuda Depths

How does one go about trying to describe the supernatural allure of THE BERMUDA DEPTHS, a 1978 made-for-television film that has cast a lingering hypnotic spell upon anyone fortuitous enough to stumble across it? (Is it too much to suggest that the secret reason for the existence of the Internet itself is so that these chosen people could track down a bootleg copy of their gospel?) This is a film that centers on a giant turtle folks, conventional wisdom would tell you that all recognitions would paint it as a camp classic or at least a guilty pleasure by now, but instead its followers, old and new, hold this oddity closely and sincerely to their hearts like a priceless family heirloom.

Part of the reason may be because THE BERMUDA DEPTHS defies categorization. Actually it may be more accurate to say that there is no genre that it does not embrace at one point or another, horror, fantasy, and action all weaved together with an undeniable leaning toward tragic romance and yes, I’m still talking about a movie involving a giant turtle. Some who have experienced this lush fable in their youth admit to confusing their memories of it with a childhood dream and it’s not difficult to understand why. The soundtrack alone mystifies. Prepare to have it rustling about your brain like a hermit crab trapped in a tide pool for days after viewing.

The movie itself begins as a dizzy stumble between dream, reality and the inchoate memories of youth. Magnus (LEIGH McCLOSKEY of ARGENTO’S INFERNO) is recalling a first love, a little girl named Jennie Haniver he used to play with on the beach. One day the two find a turtle egg. They nurture the newborn into semi adulthood and send it off to sea but not before Magnus etches his feelings upon it’s shell carving “M + J” within a heart. Reciprocating these thoughts, Jennie crafts a necklace from coral and presents it to Magnus. That night a storm rages and an unseen beast attacks and makes off with Magnus’ scientist father leaving their ocean adjacent cliff-top home a REBECCA-like Manderlay shambles.

Now an adult Magnus has returned to his childhood home and is still unclear about what had befallen his father. He keeps coming across a mysterious woman (a surprisingly ethereal CONNIE SELLECA) who he slowly begins to realize is the girl from his youth. Problem is he’s also informed that the name Jennie Haniver belongs to that of a local legend, a woman who sold her soul in exchange for eternal life during a storm at sea. It is said that she can appear as either an adult or a child, and that all those that she presents herself to are doomed to drown. Meanwhile, another childhood buddy (CARL WEATHERS) and an acquaintance of Magnus’ father’s (BURL IVES) are currently getting all kinds of JAWS-obsessed about some giant turtle foot prints they discovered in the sand.

Sounds crazy, I know, but somehow it all comes together like some ancient myth written in the stars. This is a story that could touch anyone at any age. Adults will recognize the bittersweet melancholia of an impossible love. Teenagers get a crashing helicopter and a hot babe with glowing eyes and kids, well kids get that cute giant turtle I was talking about. Grab the whole family, we’ve got a lost classic on our hands! Learning that DEPTHS was penned by ARTHUR RANKIN, JR. of RANKIN AND BASS (THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS) fame first seems astonishing and then absolutely appropriate.

Often when we return to beloved films of our youth we are disappointed and shocked by what we once held in such high regard. Sometimes we may even be left wondering to ourselves, “What was I thinking back then?” But if you watch THE BERMUDA DEPTHS as an adult and fail to be swept away by its poetic beauty and lazy hammock swing charms maybe the question you should be asking yourself is, “What is wrong with me RIGHT NOW?”

NOTE: I don’t know how long it will last, but currently THE BERMUDA DEPTHS can be viewed on God’s gift to obsessive nerds Youtube (Part 1 is HERE, follow it to the rest). If you have any kind of free time at all today, I suggest you uncross your arms, relax and let it take you out to sea.