With shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story scooping up high ratings and accolades like they’re going out of style, there’s no doubt that horror is dominating TV right now. It’s even becoming a big time trend to turn popular horror movies into their own series’, with spin-offs of Psycho and Silence of the Lambs already moving into their second seasons and others based on The Shining, Scream, The Exorcist and From Dusk Till Dawn currently in the works.
That said, the road to success hasn’t always been an easy one, when it comes to TV adaptations of beloved horror flicks. Over the years we’ve seen many of them come and go, either failing to catch on with audiences the way shows like Bates Motel and Hannibal have or even failing to ever find their way in front of the cameras.
Today, we take a look at eight of those series’ that just didn’t quite work out as planned!
Believe it or not, 20th Century Fox actually tried to turn Aliens into a Saturday morning animated cartoon series for children, in the early 1990s. Titled Operation: Aliens, the series was meant to tie-in with the release of Alien 3, and though production did start on the show at a Korean studio, it never actually aired. It’s been rumored that a pilot episode was put together, though the footage has to this day never been seen. All that remains of the concept are several production stills, which you can see above.
Interestingly enough, Kenner’s line of Aliens toys from the 1990s were actually based on the failed Operation: Aliens series, which would explain why the figures looked so different than the characters in the movies – and why Xenomorph characters not even seen within the franchise were given toys. Though many pieces of merchandise did make it to store shelves with the Operation: Aliens title attached to them, the Kenner toys were released under the title Aliens.
Though A&E’s Bates Motel has proven that fans are into the idea of Psycho being turned into a TV series, the same idea didn’t work out so well back in the late 1980s. After the release and box office failure of Psycho 3 in 1986, Universal thought it’d be best to stop with the movies and instead try and rejuvenate the classic story by turning it into a TV series. Though Anthony Perkins refused to be a part of the project and even boycotted the very idea of it, production rolled on and a pilot episode was shot – with Kurt Paul being brought in to play Norman Bates, an actor who had previously doubled for Perkins on Psycho 2 and 3.
The series was to center around a new character named Alex West, who inherits the infamous Bates Motel when Norman dies, but it was never picked up by a network. With the pilot shot, Universal decided to air it as its own standalone movie, premiering the original Bates Motel on July 5th of 1987. The 100-minute pilot garnered mostly negative reviews, and Universal got to work on the made-for-TV Psycho 4 shortly thereafter.
As we reported here on FEARnet, the 1987 Bates Motel pilot was recently made available on DVD, courtesy of Universal’s ‘Vault Series.’
Though badass vampire killer Blade caught on with fans in both the world of comics and feature films, the character hasn’t been so lucky in the world of television. Showtime had planned a spin-off series several years back, which was to see Wesley Snipes reprising the role. The plug was pulled on that idea when Snipes dropped out, leaving Spike TV to pick up the ball and attempt to run with it.
Replacing Snipes with rapper ‘Sticky Fingaz,’ Blade: The Series became Spike’s very first original scripted series, the 2-hour pilot premiering on June 28th of 2006. Written by David S. Goyer – who wrote all three Blade films – and acclaimed comic book writer Geoff Johns, the pilot episode of the series pulled in big numbers for the network, and it seemed that they had a hit on their hands. Taking place after the events of 2004’s Blade: Trinity, the series saw Blade teaming up with a new character named Krista Starr, and a total of 12 episodes were aired on Spike.
Unfortunately, the ratings plummeted after the pilot, negative word of mouth delivering a death blow to the series that once showed promise. Spike announced shortly after the final episode of the season aired that it had not been renewed.
The remake of Brian De Palma’s Carrie that just recently spilled pig’s blood into theaters was actually the second remake of the film we’ve gotten over the years – or the second adaptation of the novel that made King a household name, if you prefer. The 2002 made-for-TV version of Carrie that starred Angela Bettis was actually intended to be the pilot episode for a spin-off TV series, which would see Carrie traveling around and helping out others with telekinetic abilities. According to Bettis, the plan was to have Carrie and Sue Snell embark on a Thelma and Louise-style road trip, and to possibly delve into the town’s reaction to the prom night massacre.
The 2+ hour TV movie aired exactly 26 years and one day after the release of De Palma’s film, premiering to poor ratings on November 4th, 2002. Due to the poor reception, the series was never picked up, and it left behind a pointless remake that did absolutely nothing to improve or expand upon the original film – or the novel. Its only saving grace was that the always impressive Bettis nailed the role of Carrie White - a role she was perhaps born to play.
THE LOST BOYS
This next one’s a little bit different because it’s a project that never actually got off the ground, in any shape or form. After the release of the Lost Boys sequel The Tribe in 2008, Corey Feldman began teasing that not only was a second sequel in the works, but that a TV series centering around the Frog Brothers was also on the table. Apparently the plan was to have Feldman and Jamison Newlander reprise their roles of Edgar and Alan Frog, and the series was said to be in the same vein as Supernatural.
These rumors persisted for the next few years, Feldman continuing to tease the series while promoting 2010’s The Lost Boys: The Thirst, the franchise’s second direct-to-video sequel. Last we heard, Warner Bros. shut down Warner Premiere, who had been handling the Lost Boys property, which spelled the end of all future sequel and series plans. “The Frog Brothers are homeless at the moment,” said Feldman last year.
After three sequels to the classic horror film The Omen, ending with 1991’s made-for-TV Omen 4: The Awakening, the plan in 1995 was to rejuvenate the popular franchise by spinning it off into its own TV series. Directed by Freddy’s Revenge filmmaker Jack Scholder, the pilot episode – simply titled The Omen – aired on Fox on September 8th, 1995. Though the series was produced by original Omen director Richard Donner, it didn’t actually have anything to do with the films aside from sharing a name, taking a similar approach to the one taken by Friday the 13th: The Series. The pilot centered on a strange entity that uses humans as its host, ala Jason Goes to Hell, and the series failed to generate enough interest to be picked up. It has never been seen or heard from since it originally aired, and Donner has publicly expressed his displeasure with having his name attached.
It’s interesting to note that Omen writer David Seltzer did himself spin-off the idea of the story in 2005, with a mini-series that aired on NBC called Revelations – which starred Bill Pullman. So, in a way, The Omen did make it to TV, after all – albeit, in a bit of a different form!
1990’s Tremors spawned a total of three sequels between 1996 and 2004, all of which went direct-to-video. After 2001’s Back to Perfection, and while production was underway on 2004’s The Legend Begins, those pesky Graboids made the leap from film to television, starring in Tremors: The Series. The 13-episode series premiered on Syfy in March of 2003, to fairly respectable ratings. Taking place after the events of Back to Perfection, the series again starred Michael Gross as Burt Gummer, and focused on the residents of Perfection Valley attempting to live with a Graboid underneath their town – at the end of the third film, Burt and the gang leave an albino Graboid called El Blanco alive, an endangered species that seems to only want to consume those who deserve it.
Many fans will remember that Syfy totally botched the airing of the series, presenting the episodes completely out of order and leaving everyone highly confused. Though all 13 episodes were aired, the series was cancelled before it even wrapped up, and it was finally made available on DVD in 2010. Thankfully, all of the episodes were presented in the proper order, for the DVD release.
Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick originally developed the story of the film as a spec script for a TV series, back in 2005. When Ruben Fleischer came on board the project, he helped them turn the idea into a feature film, which was of course directed by Fleischer and released to big box office numbers in 2009.
After years of on and off sequel rumors, Amazon announced earlier this year that Zombieland would be returning to its original roots, premiering the pilot episode of Zombieland: The Series in April. Written by Reese and Wernick, with new actors playing the four main characters from the film, the 30-minute pilot was put together in an effort to generate fan interest in the series - Amazon promising that they’d pick it up for a full season run if the interest was there. It was one of the many pilots that Amazon made available for voting this past spring, all vying for the green light.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the pilot was pretty fun, the interest just wasn’t there, and Zombieland: The Series was not picked up by Amazon. A true sequel to the film still eludes us.
Which of these do you wish had been given more of a chance? And which ones are better off dead? Comment below and let us know!