The movie-making business is a fickle one, with projects oftentimes appearing one day, then completely disappearing the next. There are so many factors that go into making a movie that it's quite frankly a miracle so many movies actually do end up getting made. But what about the ones that are planned and announced, but never actually materialize? There are a whole lot of them, and today we take a look at a handful of horror movie sequels that found themselves stuck in the dreaded Development Hell.
Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon
One of the most frustrating stories in recent years within the horror genre is the story of the sequel to 2006's utterly brilliant cult classic Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon... a follow-up that, for whatever reason, just can't seem to get off the ground. Described as a "spreemake," meaning a sequel, prequel and remake all rolled into one, Before The Mask took to Kickstarter last year after Anchor Bay refused to fund it, and the campaign unfortunately only raised less than half of its $450,000 goal. Despite the fact that the script is written, and director Scott Glosserman is itching to bring Leslie Vernon back to life, the project is at this point in time dead in the water, due to a lack of funding. Though if all the great slashers have taught us anything, it's that they'll always be back for more...
Blair Witch Project 3
Rumors of a third installment in the Blair Witch Project franchise have been circulating around the internet since the release of the second film back in 2000, which was at the time supposedly going to be a prequel to the two films, telling the story of the titular witch. Many years later, in 2009, the writing/directing duo from the first film (Eduardo Sanchez & Daniel Myrick) announced that they would taking back the reins of the series and were hard at work on a second sequel, reporting that they had come up with an idea that they were really excited about. Talks resumed in 2011 when Sanchez was promoting his film Lovely Molly, telling the press that the sequel would disregard the events of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and feature appearances by the cast members of the original film. He said the ball was in Lionsgate's court, but to this day they've still never taken that ball and run with it.
The closest a fourth installment in the Candyman franchise ever got to being made was back in 2004, when the film was being actively developed. According to Candyman himself, Tony Todd, rights issues halted the production, as no one at the time was really sure who owned the rights to the franchise. In 2009 Todd began talking about Candyman 4 again, saying he had been coming up with ideas for it and talking it over with Deon Taylor, a director he was currently working with. Right around that time, there were rumors circulating that the franchise would be getting a complete remake, without Tony Todd in the lead role... though not a peep has been heard about either project in several years. Maybe if we all collectively chant his name in the mirror, Candyman will soon return...
If there's any sequel that horror fans have been itching for over the years, it's Gremlins 3, which has been rumored and teased for as long as Ghostbusters 3. It was in 2006 that Joe Dante revealed that a third Gremlins film was in the works, but that he likely wouldn't be asked to direct it. He also expressed concerns most of us have been expressing since rumors began: that the incredible animatronics and puppetry that made the first two films so awesome and loveable would be replaced with CGI. In 2010 rumors picked up again, this time indicating that the sequel was on the fast track, and that it would be Gizmo and pals' first foray into 3D. It was also rumored that original stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates might be returning, which further excited Gremlins fanatics. Unfortunately, it was more recently announced that the sequel was going to be thrown out in favor of a remake, and only time will tell if that project ever actually hatches.
House of Re-Animator
In 2006 it was announced that Herbert West would return in a brand new Re-Animator trilogy, the first installment of which was to be titled House of Re-Animator. Conceived as a satire of then-president George W. Bush's term, House was going to feature West being called into the White House to re-animate the dead president, who was set to be played by William H. Macy. Bruce Abbott's character Dan Cain was also going to be in it (the character was absent from the previous sequel, Beyond Re-Animator). Director Stuart Gordon cited fears of offending the Bush administration as the reason why no studio wanted to fund the project, with the final nail in the coffin for the film coming when Bush's term ended. A damn shame, considering all parties involved seemed quite passionate and excited about giving the series a healthy dose of West's reagent and bringing it back to life.
Last House on the Left Part II
Decades before getting the remake treatment, Krug and his band of murderous slimeballs almost returned to the big screen in the form of a sequel to Wes Craven's horrifying exercise in exploitation excess. Fresh off writing/directing Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning, the late Danny Steinmann was approached to bring Krug back in the mid-'80s, and he quickly set to work on writing the script and scouting for locations. Steinmann's script took place at a summer camp, where youngsters were being knocked off one by one by an unseen force, which turned out to be none other than Last House villain Krug Stillo. Though he wasn't in love with the idea, David Hess had planned on reprising the role that turned him into a horror icon. The project ultimately fell apart when Steinmann learned the proper rights to make a sequel hadn't actually been secured, which meant that all of his work was flushed down the crapper.
Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie
The return of Frank Zito? Well, not exactly. Though Maniac director William Lustig had no interest in making a sequel to the 1980 cult classic, star Joe Spinell thought otherwise, and came up with an idea that was very much in line with the original without being a direct follow-up. Spinell's idea saw him as Mr. Robbie, the makeup-wearing host of a children's television program who targets parents who are abusing the kids who watch his show. When funding was finally secured, a promo reel was shot by Combat Shock director Buddy Giovinazzo, but the film never made it past that stage. The death of Joe Spinell in 1989 spelled the end of the production. Listen to the full story and see the Maniac 2 promo reel right here:
Maniac Cop 4
1993's second Maniac Cop sequel, Badge of Silence, ended with the strong suggestion that we hadn't seen the last of undead lawman Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) and his murderous ways. But for over a decade, it seemed that we had. It wasn't until 2008 that director William Lustig started talking about Maniac Cop 4, revealing that he and writing partner Larry Cohen had gotten back the rights to the franchise, and were planning on bringing Cordell back from the dead for one last bloody hurrah. Lustig said he had planned on "re-inventing the series" with the fourth installment, and that Z'Dar, for the first time, would not be returning to play the title character. Late last year came the surprising and exciting news that Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn was in talks with Lustig & Cohen to produce a remake of Maniac Cop rather than a sequel, one which would essentially serve as a prequel/reboot of the first film. [Update: Fangoria recently confirmed that the project is still in the works, though Refn says he will not likely be directing.]
Originally conceived as the fourth installment in the franchise, Phantasm superfan & Silent Hill writer Roger Avary wrote a screenplay which at the time was called Phantasm 1999 A.D., but was later re-named Phantasm's End. Set to star original cast members as well as Bruce Campbell, the script was billed as the epic conclusion to the series, set in a desolate future and centering around high-tech troops trying to destroy the Tall Man once and for all. Due to budgetary issues, Original director Don Coscarelli instead wrote and directed Phantasm 4: Oblivion, reportedly hoping to follow it up with Avary's more ambitious film. That never happened, and Oblivion still to this day remains the last we've seen of the Phantasm film franchise. As recently as last year, Coscarelii began talking about Phantasm V again, expressing interest in satisfying fan demands with a new sequel starring the original cast. Whether or not he uses Avary's script, or even makes any sequel at all, remains to be seen.
The Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space... In 3D
As far back as I can remember there have been talks about a sequel to the cult horror-comedy Killer Klowns From Outer Space, talks that tend to pick up and then die down with each passing year. But it wasn't until 2011 that it seemed the film was finally on the horizon, when Klowns star Grant Cramer revealed that a 3D sequel was most definitely in the works, and that he would return to star in the film, with the original film's creators, the Chiodo brothers, at the helm. He went on to say that the film would feature brand new Klown designs, and that the character of Mike Tobacco would serve as mentor to two new young leads, who would be tasked with saving the world from the Klown invasion. Last I heard, funding was secured, but a distribution deal was not in place, and it's been a couple years now since Cramer has revealed anything further about the production. With a script written and both fans and filmmakers eager to bring the Klowns back, we can only wonder one thing at this point; what the hell is the holdup?
Which of these films would you most like to see find their way in front of the camera? And do you know of any other horror sequels that almost entered our lives? Comment below and let us know!