Perhaps no genre is more guilty of its inability to acknowledge the fact that an idea has run its course than our beloved world of horror. But the word "final" or even, say, deciding to kill off the main character, is only so final as the box office receipts and, in some cases, fan response (see the resurrection of Jason below, Randy's cameo in Scream 3 and, in a non-horror offense, Curly's brother Duke in City Slickers 2). Success has a funny habit of bringing the dead back to life.
Two of the more egregious examples are the sixth installment of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise entitled Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and the fourth installment of the Friday the 13th franchise, The Final Chapter. We sure have seen a lot of Freddy and Jason since then, huh? More recently, the fourth installment of the Final Destination franchise was simply entitled The Final Destination. But it was only as final as its $186 million worldwide gross. And hence, we have Final Destination 5 arriving in theaters on August 12th, 2011.
Today we have a look at the "final" and seemingly final installments of five horror franchises of the past three decades.
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Why did we think it was the last? It was called "Final" and we were promised the death of Freddy Krueger... in 3D!
Should it have been the final? Yes and no. Freddy's Dead is a truly terrible movie, the worst of the series (yes, even worse than part 2). It just seems like such a classic villain deserved a better finale than what he got here. And what the hell is this piece of garbage anyhow? The deaths suck, Freddy's one-liner schtick feels more Vegas lounge act than silver screen ready and the characters and situations have little if anything to do with the storyline from the rest of the franchise. Freddy's daughter? Please. Plus it squanders some potentially cool cameos from Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp. Such a shame. So fans needed something to wash the bitter taste from their mouth and, thankfully, a few years later the series creator returned for Wes Craven's New Nightmare. While we can debate the quality of Craven's return ‘till the cows come home, it was distinctly original, highly ambitious and gave the Fredster a fitting finale. That is until the relatively well-received Freddy Vs. Jason and last year's truly terrible remake (on second thought, that remake might have been even worse than Freddy's Dead).
What's next? Mr. Krueger has seemingly been relegated to the boogeyman graveyard for the foreseeable future and we can thank the folks at Platinum Dunes and the inimitable Samuel Bayer (and we don't mean that in a good way) for that. But it wouldn't surprise us to see the dream master pop up again in one form or another eventually.
Why did we think it was the last? For starters, Sigourney Weaver didn't even want to do the movie at first, though she later reluctantly agreed (probably about the time the money truck pulled up outside her house). It's hard not to wince at the squandered potential of this one in the hands of a young David Fincher, though the troubled production was ultimately taken out of his hands and reedited without his consent. But the main reason we figured this was the last one was because Ripley did a back flip into a fire pit as one of the alien beasties burst from her stomach. She clutched her newborn to her chest and disappeared into the fire.
Should it have been the final? Perhaps. Alien Resurrection's Ripley clone idea wreaked of desperation. Reactions to Resurrection were mixed.
What's next? Prometheus might be an Alien prequel and it might not. Either way we're still pretty pumped for this one.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter / Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Why did we think it was the last? Like Freddy's Dead, The Final Chapter was intended as the end of the franchise. Jason was killed off once and for all, or so they said at the time, until it raked in $32 million in 1984 (which is like a billion or something in current day) and Paramount decided they might have been premature with that whole "final" thing. They did try to stick to their promise by offering up a new killer imitating Jason in 1985's A New Beginning, but fans cried foul and in the 1986 sixth film, Jason Lives, no bones were made about the intention. Of course, they didn't really learn their lesson. In 1993 that "final" promise returned with Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday which was, of course, followed by Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason and the 2009 remake.
Should it have been the final? Nah, why stop at four? At this point audiences pretty much knew what they were in for and the Friday series was always pretty unapologetic about what it promised to deliver: Boobs, blood and, in the best case scenario, a clever kill or two.
What's next? The Platinum Dunes remake was a success and an immediate sequel seemed inevitable. But considering the hardcore faithful weren't thrilled with the entry and Dunes pissed off everyone else in creation with their dismal A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, we've gotten the hint WB might have lost their faith in Bay, Fuller and Form team. Latest word is the sequel will move forward without their involvement.
Why did we think it was the last? By the end of the millennium, it seemed as though the Scream series had run its course. After turning the genre on its head and temporarily reviving the slasher flick, there wasn't much more Craven could say or comment on with the self-referential series. Added to that was the arrival of the Scary Movie series, which was already kind of a parody of a satire... or something like that.
Should it have been the final? A decade seemed like a decent breather by the time we got the fourth installment earlier this year, which was much better than we might have expected. On the other hand, ho-hum box office seemed to indicate audiences might have preferred to wait another decade.
What's next? While a fifth installment was already in discussions before the release of Scre4m, The Weinstein Company has been non-committal ever since the release stating only that it's "possible." Seems Ghostface might be in for another long rest.
The Final Destination
Why did we think it was the last? Adding "The" to the title and removing the numeral proceeding the title was the first tipoff. Added to that, the return of director David R. Ellis, who helmed the much-loved second installment (who doesn't remember that epic car crash?) seemed the logical way for the death-cheating franchise to go out with the proverbial bang.
Should it have been the final? Part four received generally negative reviews and was oft-met with the criticism that the franchise had run out of ideas. But this isn't exactly high art, right? With it's Rube Goldberg kill setups, the Final Destination franchise has always been less about the quality of the film as a whole and more about a few top shelf money shots gore hounds can fast forward to or create the inevitable YouTube "Best of" video:
What's next? Final Destination 5 on August 12th and rumors of Final Destination 6 and 7, filmed back-to-back.