Horror Remake Watch: The Ships

It really doesn’t matter what you think of all these horror remakes, ’cause they’re here to stay, and there will be more – many, many more. Here’s the latest “re-imagined” scarefest from the Hollywood nightmare machine.

The Ships

Never heard of The Ships, eh? You’re certainly not the only one. If by some chance you’re one of the, like, twelve people who have seen it, then you probably own a battered and bruised copy, most likely a 10th generation VHS from Kim’s Underground in New York. And if you’re one of those twelve people, you’re likely all for a brand new blast-off of this ’70s mini-gem that was all concept, so-so execution.

The Ships was filmed in New Mexico before it was cool to make movies there, on a shoestring budget of $27,000 in the summer of 1972. Tony Gull, then a 22-year-old wunderkind just barely out of UNC Chapel Hill, allegedly wrote the premise of the film on a Kleenex while his girlfriend was giving him a hummer. A humble yet exciting beginning to a humble yet exciting project, one that would feature over 300 citizens of the little town of White Rock staring up at a fleet of jet-black spaceships, ominously hovering over the little ‘burg… and not really doing anything else.

The Ships, from there, is an alternately affectionate and scathing portrait of a group of people living in mega-fear, and the various catharses therein – a lot of random passionate sex, riding on roller coasters, driving monster trucks, frolicking and leaping about with dogs, confessing undying love, etc. – you know, really living before everyone’s vaporized by The Ships. What’s most sad – and probably accurate, albeit cynical – is that everyone, embarrassed by their carpe diem actions, goes back to their boring regular lives when they wake up one morning and find that The Ships have left without a trace.

So, yes, it was a valiant and ambitious effort by a kid with a few bucks and a big vision. It’s also prime raw material for a big-budget Hollywood remake. Word hath it that an unidentified studio (our guess: Lionsgate) has bought the rights from Mr. Gull, now pushing 60 and living at a YMCA in Burbank, for exactly how much The Ships ’72 cost – $27,000. Stay tuned for news on director and cast, though it’s already been announced that principal photography of the remake will take place on the original film’s stomping grounds – White Rock, NM.


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