Editor's note: If you've been reading Clive Barker's new Hellraiser comic book series from Boom! Studios, then you know that Barker's co-writer Chris Monfette knows more than a thing or two bout sucessfully relaunching a beloved horror film franchise in funnybook form. So we asked Monfette if he could suggest five other franchises that deserve a second life on the comics page. His choices, and the reasons he gives, may surprise you. (And yes, we know that A Nightmare on Elm Street has already been continued in comics; but in this case, Monfette has, quite frankly, come up with a way to do it better.) Check them out after the jump!
House of 1,000 Corpses
Notice that I say House of 1,000 Corpses here and not The Devil's Rejects. I've always been among the vast minority of viewers that prefer Corpses to Rejects. Forgive me, I know, but Zombie's first outing with the Firefly family maintained a visually-striking, utterly circus-like quality that reveled in its own grindhouse camp. Rejects, however, ultimately fell victim to an almost aggressive sense of self-seriousness, the same raw, impersonal grit that would thrust every successive Zombie into 1970's copycat mediocrity. But the colorful palate and over-the-top, kitchen-sink insanity of the first film would make the Firefly clan a relatively interesting group to follow across a few equally visual, increasingly violent issues. The first film was very much a funhouse, and I always thought that there should have been more rides in that particular carnival. Following a serial killing family on their exploits across the stranger parts of this country would certainly keep me turning pages.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
We dream what we know – strange, surreal versions of the world in which we live. The Nightmare on Elm St. remake failed for a very simple reason: it embraced both a formula and a narrative that had long-since proven themselves to be exhausted. Re-casting the role simply wasn't sufficient, and the film failed to apply modern visual FX to the dream-world in any meaningful, dynamic way. Taking the genie out of the bottle seldom, if ever, works for genre icons, but just as seldom do we find a villain whose power is in manipulating the visual world around him. Jason Voorhees murdering his way through Manhattan or exploring outer space doesn't work because the big, lumbering slasher doesn't truly belong there; he doesn't fit; he's not functional in those spaces. But imagine a Freddy Krueger free of Springwood, invading the dream-space of people whose nightmares are of wide-flung cities and more exotic, more diverse locales. Imagine what an artist or a writer could do if the comic medium allowed them to pull back the camera and broaden the scope, deepen the character while taking him on a journey far beyond the typical suburban streets and into the heads of the world's dreamers.
If you were to ask me which genre universe I'd prefer to explore as a writer, I'd answer, almost without hesitation, the sunken metropolis of Rapture. The world of BioShock is so rich in atmosphere and mythology that there's virtually no fictional setting in either gaming or cinema more captivating, more terrifying, more gothically gorgeous. Sadly, BioShock 2 felt to me like a wasted opportunity, an uninspired narrative within a setting simply brimming with inspiration. It strikes me that comics might be the perfect medium to continue the degradation of Rapture, both backward and forward in the timeline. There's a rich history there, as well as a fascinating future, and with a world so visual, so rich, so vast in detail and construction, a prolonged comic book series, in the right hands, could prove to be a licensed classic.
It's easy to criticize the Saw films as trite torture porn and confused storytelling – and to some degree, somewhere after the fourth film, that's exactly what they became – but there's also something incredibly brave in killing off your villain half-way through the series in the hopes that his message is a powerful enough antagonist. Of course, the subsequent sequels failed to deliver, telling an insular and unnecessarily intricate story, populating its head-scratching continuity with lifeless characters and ho-hum traps. That said, look to the marketing of those final few films – the motion-posters, the banner designs – and you'll find the kernel of a great idea. To explore how Jigsaw's message could potentially ripple across the country, propelled by the media's coverage of his killings, daring the population to test their own mettle in a nationwide string of copy-cats and home-made traps….There's great potential in that concept. The Cult of Jigsaw, ever-growing. That's always felt to me like something sustainable, and perhaps in the comic medium, the Saw brand could live on in a quasi-anthology format.
The Monster Squad
Monster Squad will always hold a bit of precious nostalgia for me. It was among my favorite adventure films as a kid…So much so that when taking my first screenwriting course in college, I'd write as my final project a 45-page scriptment for a sequel to the film: Monster Squad vs. The Atomic Horde. In which the gang, now adults, must re-unite to battle the towering creatures of the atomic 50's as they wake from their slumber across America and descend upon the town. It was fun fan-fic, at best, but the idea that those characters deserved further adventures has never really left my mind. As they right now prepare a script for the eventual reboot of the series (without me attached as the writer, damn you!) I'd love to champion a period-set comic series, exploring a time before the classic creature-features gave way to over-commercialized icons and well-masked, well-marketed serial killers.