Signifying our society’s maturing from the sarcastic negativity that defined the ’90s, into the cheerily positive attitude toward brand exploitation that is the more modern form of cynicism, remakes are now in the works for 10 titles from American International Pictures—the B-movie studio perhaps best known as one of the top suppliers of terrible films to Mystery Science Theater 3000. Among the first MST3K-mocked AIP movies being readied for updates are The She-Creature, Teenage Caveman, Viking Women And The Sea Serpent, The Undead, and War Of The Colossal Beast, all of which were churned out on the cheap by AIP’s Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson in the 1950s, all based on the first focus groups ever held to determine that teenagers are morons.
Arkoff and Nicholson used the responses they gathered from those focus groups to create their movies, first devising the kind of eye-catching titles that could briefly distract 1950s kids from obsessing over milkshakes and brassieres, then throwing together a plot and filming it. That same these-stupid-kids-will-see-anything attitude is behind the remakes, this time with social media acting as the focus groups of today. Or, as Arkoff’s son Lou puts it, “We are now using that independent spirit and our library of classic titles to create something brand-new for the modern media model, with a coordinated social effort to accelerate interest in these properties.” (Which loosely translates to "We'll talk about it on Twitter.")
Arkoff previously produced remakes of several AIP titles for Showtime in the 1990s, though the emphasis here on “new and exciting distribution platforms” seems to suggest that, this time, he’ll be looking to peddle them to Internet streaming sites—the low-expectations, drive-in double features of today. “Our goal is to engage young audiences and drive the spirit of the times with the same excitement that fueled these titles decades ago,” Arkoff concludes of this timeless combination of teenaged sexual frustration and indiscriminate tastes he hopes will make AIP a revived success. And then, in the not-too-distant future, maybe robots will mercilessly mock these new movies, and the cycle will begin all over again.
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