It’s a well-known fact that many motion picture studios are fond of milking a cash cow until it is dried up and keeled over. Perhaps more so than any other film genre, horror sequels have a tendency to deteriorate to the point of almost unwatchable direct-to-DVD nonsense. The inverse can also occasionally be true: studios leave money on the table instead of making a much demanded sequel to a franchise that still has life and potential left in it.
We believe that just because a franchise has seemingly dried up or deteriorated to the point of churning out a barrage of unwatchable sequels, that does not mean that a series that once showed great promise and potential cannot be revived with a creative script and a director with a unique vision for how to resurrect a dying franchise. The same goes for a series that has been abandoned by the studio conglomerate that owns the rights. New Nightmare was a fine example of how to rejuvenate a franchise that was thought by many to have jumped the shark. It went on to become one of the best films in the entire franchise and erased the stigma left by the almost unwatchable Freddy’s Dead. Wes Craven came back on board to write and direct and the result was outstanding.
FEARnet contributor John Squires recently ran a piece examining horror sequels that were announced but never came to fruition. Following suit, we bring to you: seven horror franchises in need of revival.
Phantasm represents the aforementioned instance where a studio, or in this case, the series’ creator is sitting on the rights to a franchise but not making a lot of effort to breathe new life in to it. Don Coscarelli has gone from exploring the remake route to more recently suggesting that he is open to the possibility of a fifth installment in the Phantasm franchise. Since the cast is not getting any younger, we urge Coscarelli to make good on his word and bring the loyal fans of the series a much needed fifth installment that definitively ties up any remaining loose ends and allows ice cream vendor turned badass Reggie Bannister to grab his sawed off shotgun and kick some more ass.
Slumber Party Massacre
The Slumber Party Massacre films took a major nosedive after the first installment, which is unfortunate, because the first film featured a simple enough concept that still had life left in it. However, the second and third entries went a decidedly different route. A fourth entry helmed by the director of the original film, Amy Holden Jones, with Roger Corman serving as executive producer could find the killer from the first film resurrected and out to show a fresh batch of teens just how much love it takes to stage a massacre with a giant drill and a couple of screws loose.
The Weinstein Group reportedly holds the rights to the Hellraiser franchise and in order to maintain them, they must prove that they are actively creating new content for the Hellraiser brand. Unfortunately, that has caused the series to deteriorate to the point where the original Pinhead (Doug Bradley) has parted ways with the series. A quality sequel that saw Doug Bradley’s return, and Ashley Laurence reprising her role as Kirsty Cotton, could make the Hellraiser franchise not only relevant but also enjoyable again. Clive Barker taking over as writer/director would be a particularly welcome addition.
The original Pumpkinhead film was a blast. Unfortunately, the series quickly went downhill after the first film. The direct-to-DVD sequel Pumpkinhead: Blood Wings saw Lance Henriksen’s departure from the franchise – he was probably busy filming Super Mario Brothers - and the introduction of Soleil (Punky Brewster) Moon Frye. The series continued to churn out direct-to-video sequels and the plotlines got more and more ridiculous with each installment. A direct sequel to the first film that ignored the other entries and reintroduced Lance Henriksen might be able to recapture the magic of the first film. Obviously, a certain amount of age regression efforts would be required and there would be certain other logistical obstacles, but we can still dream. This would certainly be a welcome change of pace for fans.
There was a fourth Candyman film announced that never came to fruition. The first Candyman movie was a brilliant adaptation of the Clive Barker story on which it was based; the second film was passable; and the third was unbearable. A fourth installment that got Clive Barker back in the director’s chair would be the perfect way to close out the franchise and give fans one more outing with The Candyman.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. What started as a chilling and effective film franchise has been bastardized to the point of one of its more recent installments being shot in the ‘found footage’ style and produced by Mockbuster powerhouse, The Asylum. A sequel that made the Amityville house scary again and had a large enough budget to attract reasonable talent would be a huge draw for fans of the franchise and newcomers alike.
Friday the 13th
I would argue that Jason X was not the worst entry in the franchise, but it also shouldn’t be the last proper Jason movie. A final installment with Sean S. Cunningham writing and directing and Kane Hodder reprising his role as Jason would provide fans cause to rejoice and could potentially reignite the franchise. With New Line focusing on the rebooted version of the series, this is not likely, but it doesn’t hurt to hold out hope.