Fatal Attraction, Grease, and Dead Ringers are all being remade. Is it worth it?

Fatal Attraction, Grease, and Dead Ringers are all being remade. Is it worth it?

The 2023 take on Dead Ringers is a six-episode psychological thriller (which will release in full April 21 on Prime) starring Rachel Weisz in the double-lead role of Elliot and Beverly Mantle. Weisz is taking on the role as twin doctors, who have a fascination with the female body, originally played by Jeremy Irons in 1988. The new adaptation will see Weisz reimagine the doctors as women, something that could add new dimensions to the original plot: a deeper understanding into women’s bodies and a new power dynamic. Whereas the male Mantle twins felt opportunistic and exploitative, maybe Weisz’ take will feel complex and empowering?

The synopsis reads: “twins who share everything: drugs, lovers and an unapologetic desire to do whatever it takes — including pushing the boundaries on medical ethics — in an effort to challenge antiquated practices and bring women’s health care to the forefront.”

Like in the original version, directed by David Cronenberg, the twins are groundbreaking gynaecologists. But, unlike the original, their motives seem more feminist and lean more into the science, rather than the original focus on sexual desire and drug-induced-mania. In the trailer, Weisz says “My sister and I do work that is groundbreaking but hopeful, radical but safe. I want to change the way that women birth; it is world-changing.” And “You want me to grow you a baby out of nothing, let’s make it happen.”

Cronenbergian body horror is a specific taste, and not for everyone. His 1988 Dead Ringers is creepy, unpalatable and controversial. This was always the case, and how most people felt when they watched it in 1988. Rewatching it, that doesn’t change. 

From Elliot and Bev ‘sharing’ their sexual partners, without their knowledge, by switching places, to the psycho-sexual medical theatrics. The film is based on, and exploring, dubious medical ethics (mutant surgical instruments and all). The incest, the sexualised violence, the combined desexualisation and sexualisation of women without their consent, the misogyny (of Elliot, especially) is all uncomfortable. Intentionally so. David Cronenberg’s body horror often relies on womanhood as a vehicle for fear: imagery around motherhood, cervixes, wombs can be found in ‘The Brood’, as well as Dead Ringers. Is that right? Is it moral? Probably not, no. But I don’t think that’s his aim. 

Cronenberg wants his films to provoke. He is known for the weirdest and most controversial body horror films of all time. With that being his aim, it still succeeds. It is not a feminist masterpiece, but it does probe important questions around gender politics, morality in science, and the othering and weaponising of women’s bodies and fertility.

After watching the older version, I’m excited to see the remake. It’s a good, complex, creepy story and I’m sure Rachel Weisz will play the twins powerfully, just as Jeremy Irons did. 

Fatal Attraction

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