October 21, 2016 by T. Gregory Argall
While half of my Facebook feed currently consists of people ranting about how amazing and/or horrible The Rocky Horror Television Show was last night, I’m excited about an entirely different remake of a 1970’s classic film.
You see, there are two movies from 1974 that I specifically remember watching in 1974. I’ve seen other films made that year, but I saw them later, not necessarily when they were first released. But these two, I know I saw them the first time around and really enjoyed them. For good or bad, they’ve stayed with me and I’ve probably made them better in my memory than they actually were.
The first one, “Bad Ronald,” is definitely better in my memory than it ever was in reality.
But the other one, the second item on my astoundingly short list of things that I recall from 1974, I refuse to believe that it is anything less than the glorious cinematic triumph that I recall from the first time I saw it. I’m talking, of course, about “Benji,” the tale of a lovable, floppy-eared mutt who saves two young children from evil and dastardly kidnappers.
The most striking thing about this movie is how much it is a product of its time (it’s time being the second week of October, 1974). Everything about this film, from the clothes to the haircuts to the dialogue to the cinematography to the theme song sung by Charlie Rich, all of it just screams “1974,” unrelentingly and unapologetically.
Yet in spite of the movie’s complete and thorough 1974-ness, writer/producer/director Joe Camp managed to make a sequel in 1977, “For The Love Of Benji.” In this one, the lovable, floppy-eared mutt helps expose some evil and dastardly international spies while on vacation in Greece with the family he helped in the first film. Joe Camp managed to capture lightning in a bottle and somehow this film is just so 1977.
It seems that Joe Camp created the “three-year trilogy cycle” before George Lucas used it for his first three “Star Wars” movies, because 1980 we were gifted with “Oh Heavenly Dog,” starring Benji and “Mr. 1980” himself, Chevy Chase. This time around, a dead detective must solve his own murder after his soul is sent back in the body of an adorable, floppy-eared mutt.
But back to my original point.
Yes, filming is already under way for the remake of Benji. But unlike some many disappointing remake in recent years, this one has a chance of capturing the quality and charm of the original as it tenuously maintains its pedigree. The new film is being written, produced, directed, and everything-elsed by Brandon Camp, the son of Joe Camp. This guy grew up understanding first-hand the importance of properly telling the story of an adorable, floppy-eared mutt.
I am confident that this movie will be everything we hope it will be an more.
Maybe he’ll get Daft Punk to redo the original theme song.
Try to be nice to each other.