Anderton Schultz looked back at Kent, his eyes wild. One of the contact lenses had slipped, with blue appearing like an eclipsed moon from behind the blood red. The latex appliances were coming off in spots, and hadn’t really been applied properly in the first place.

“Think about what you’re doing!” Kent cried. “You’re not well, Andy!”

“Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!” growled Schultz. “Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!”

“Stop saying that stupid line!” Kent snapped despite himself. “Andy, for shit’s sake, snap out of it!”

Even if Schultz’s hatred toward Kent hadn’t been laser-sharp and incandescent, he wouldn’t have heard a word. The movie had been made in 1990, and he’d been buried under makeup, but in light of his recent reversals, Schultz had realized that after fighting it for so long, it was time for an embrace.

With a gutteral growl, Schultz hefted Kent up over his head with both hands, using the strength that he’d used often in doing his own stunts. Upon seeing the inky abyss before him, concealing the canyon floor 100 feet down, Kent’s wheedling abruptly turned into frenzied, infantile shrieks.

“Cast…the warm-bloods…into..the Caverns of Ice!”

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There was pandemonium in the waiting area between the stages; band members, roadies, burly security personnel, and every species of stoner known to man mingled in a gigantic mob.

“I’m here to see Dinky Gazebo. I’ve been a huge fan of theirs since they got their start in a Cascadia college bar!”

“Woo! Garbage Mashers on the Detention level for life! I have all their albums and bootlegs and bootleg albums and albumen bootlegs!”

“Does anyone know when Bad Pastel Paintings plays its first set?”

“Where’s Stage D? 10-Hour Flight Delay was moved there and they start in 10 minutes!”

“Yeah! Best Don’t Eat the Lobster concert ever! Even better than the 2010 tour!”

The Bands With Stupid Names fest 2013 was off to a strong start.

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The editor put out a cigarette in the ashtray. “Yeah. Sixteen weeks at number one, and a sold-out tour. Starlet’s on the up before the inevitable bullet train to the bottom and tabloid punch lines. Every performance, every song, every goddamn tweet devoted to this guy of hers, who’s so private none of the paparazzi can get a shot of him.”

“More or less what I was told,” Ransom said. “Your man in LA said as much.”

“He also said that you had something for me,” the editor said, lighting another Parliament.

“Yeah,” said Ransom. “I’ve looked and poked and prodded, and there’s no record of anybody by his name, anywhere, ever. The starlet’s muse? He doesn’t exist. He’s a delusion…a hallucination.

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The acclaimed songwriter behind the 1970s pop ballad “My Dear Lovely One” is another example. Stanley McManus had been an art student at the University of Leeds and roomates with Herbert Tretheway, better known by his later stage name “Cordoba.” Cordoba was in the process of assembling his first musical group, and had approached McManus to draw posters for them. The young student had done so and, in gratitude, Cordoba and his band gave him a blanket pass to their engagements.

McManus, shy and retiring, attended out of a sens of obligation even though he had no real regard for the music. He would bring sheafs of paper with him to doodle on and often composed small poems to women in the audience–things he regarded as doggerel and never actually delivered. After one performance, McManus forgot a stack of poems and Cordoba found them. Intending to return them to his friend, he read them and was inspired to use them as lyrics in a song that the group sang as an encore.

The reaction in the dingy club was ecstatic, and within a month the song was getting local airplay. Cordoba and his bandmates were careful to credit McManus as songwriter and when they were signed by EMI for a self-titled debut album, they signed away a portion of their royalties to him. “My Dear Lovely One” went on to become an international smash, charting at #2 in the UK and #1 in the USA, and McManus was quickly overwhelmed with offers to write songs.

For his part, McManus bitterly resented the circumstance. He regarded himself, first and foremost, as a visual artist and dismissed his poems and other writing as worthless. The notoriety made it impossible for him to sell his artworks or to find a career as a commercial artist after graduation, as prospective employers were all convinced that a “songwriter” couldn’t possibly have the artistic chops they sought.

Though he cashed the royalty checks, and didn’t deign to sue when Cordoba turned more of his poems into hit songs (though once again fully crediting and compensating him), McManus eventually withdrew from the world. He purchased a large country home with his royalties and set out to paint on his own terms. But even there he wasn’t truly isolated: throughout the tumultuous rise and drug-addled fall of Cordoba and his various groups, there was no shortage of fans and aspirant musicians to seek out the “lyrical genius” behind Cordoba’s earliest and best-regarded songs. Even after McManus disconnected his telephone, admirers still found their way onto his property.

An intruder who climbed through his bedroom window in 1987 was apparently the last straw for McManus; he overdosed on sleeping pills and died in his home. Cordoba, long past his prime and mired in a cycle of addictions that would take his own life in June 1990, paid for the funeral and a lavish headstone from his already dwindling funds.

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Anderton Schultz had worked his way up in the entertainment industry the old-fashioned way: through hard work and dedicated, scene-stealing supporting performances. Schultz wasn’t a vain man, but there was a measure of deep satisfaction in dropping a mention of his Oscar nomination into conversation with people who’d insisted he was too short or too homely for a successful career in pictures. It had been gratifying, working his way up from “what’s his name” to “that guy” to “that guy from Summers With Charles” “Hey, it’s Andy Schultz!”

Being recognized on the street at least some of the time had its perks, to be sure.

But there was always that guy, that one guy, who’d bring a copy of the 1990 remake of The Lizard Men for Schultz to sign.

It was a trashy movie; he’d spent the entire thing under a mound of Rick Baker latex prostheses. But it had a cult following, as did the campy 1969 original. No matter how many Oscar nominations there were, there’d always be his latex-smeared face leering from a DVD cover and fans snarling his character’s most “memorable” line at him:

“Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!”

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Hollywood loves its trends. From 3D circa 1955 (or 1983 or 2009) to westerns, slasher flicks to torture porn, gritty urban thrillers to disposable-tissue romcoms, moviemakers love molds into which they can pour resources for guaranteed returns. The latest trend is the so-called “reboot” which likens the creative endeavor to pushing the power button on an iMac.

We’ve seen this sort of thing before; remakes have been a part of cinema for decades (lest we forget, The Maltese Falcon was the second adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel). It’s entirely possible for a remake to equal or eclipse the original (as with Infernal Affairs and The Departed). It’s also possible, as during the remake glut of the early 1990s, that the result will be as creatively bankrupt as any other formula.

So why single out reboots? And what, if anything, separates them from a simple remake? First and foremost is the matter of time. The Maltese Falcon (1941) was made a decade after The Maltese Falcon (1931) (I’m ignoring Satan Met a Lady [1936] here, largely because it was such a loose adaptation). Ocean’s 11 (2001) followed Ocean’s 11 (1968) by 41 years. Of course anyone who looks can find plenty of exceptions like the aforementioned Infernal Affairs (2002) and The Departed (2006) with only a 4-year gap.

The second crucial element is that the reboot should be part of a franchise or intended franchise. Batman (1989) had 3 sequels over 8 years when it was rebooted; there were 20 official James Bond films over 40 years (1962-2002) before Casino Royale (2006). The Incredible Hulk (2006) reboots Hulk (2003) since the latter was intended to start a series; Eric Bana signed on for three films at the outset.

With that out of the way, what’s to hate about reboots? Plenty.

The most disappointing thing about reboots, in my opinion, is that they seem to have inspired people to really, meanspiritedly bash the originals. It’s as if the only way many people can enjoy the reboot is to convince themselves that the original was a piece of crap, which is sad if you happen to like any part of that original. Look at how the (for the time) highly original elements of Burton’s Batman were denigrated: Jack Nicholson’s gleefully over-the-top Joker was slammed as a “creepy old uncle,” Danny Elfman’s dark, iconic score was suddenly too “jolly,” and the entire production too “lighthearted” or “unrealistic.” The fact that both the original and the reboot might have their own merits proves to be too much doublethink for most people to handle. What you said is all too true. Listen to people’s comments about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series versus the 2012 reboot: it’s as if the 2002, 2004, and 2007 films and their stars were universally panned at the time when at least the first two were stunning critical and commercial successes. That’s what reboots do: they create dark alternate realities a la Back to the Future II where the previous movies were all terrible despite Tomatometer scores north of 80%. It’s hard to embrace even the best of reboots, like the Nolan Batman movies, when they subtly insist that the old movies were terrible and should be forgotten.

There’s also the formula aspect: reboots must be “darker, grittier, angstier” than the original. The model for this is the admittedly excellent Batman Begins, which managed to do this despite the original Batman being pretty damn dark, gritty, and angsty to begin with. You can see the formula at work in The Amazing Spider-Man, which gives its hero a tragic past with parental issues (like Batman Begins), regurgitates an origin story that was covered previously (like Batman Begins), and includes a villain that was never utilized in the original films (like Batman Begins). Throw in some Twilight-inspired casting choices and a bunch of big names in supporting roles (like Batman Begins) and the formula is complete.

The gap between remake and reboot is shrinking as well. It took 33 years to reboot Planet of the Apes the first time but only 10 to reboot it the second. Batman Begins was made 8 years after Batman & Robin and 16 years after Batman, but The Incredible Hulk followed Hulk by 5 years, the same as Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man. James Bond got only 4 years between Die Another Day (admittedly not the finest hour for the franchise) and Casino Royale. It’s getting to the point where a reboot of any franchise, with both the promise of new box office dollars and those of potential sequels, is on the table no matter how recently or how well the last movies were made. How long before Warner Brothers reboots Batman now that Nolan is done with him? The Amazing Batman starring Robert Pattinson as Batman and Kristen Stewart as Catwoman could be hitting screens as soon as 2016!

Finally, in most cases, rebooting is excessive. Why not just recast? Casino Royale is an excellent film, but did it really need to take 40 years of franchise history to the curb just to make Bond darker, grittier, and angstier? Brosnan and Dalton were both praised for bringing those same attributes to the series in 1987 and 1995 but neither necessitated a reboot; the producers just ignored or minimized aspects of the series they didn’t like. In fact, editing a few minutes out of Casino Royale would leave it pretty firmly in continuity with the earlier film (the same can be said about The Incredible Hulk).

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