Complaining about Hollywood’s lack of creativity is a worn-out cliché at this point, and has been for many years now. The overabundance of sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots has been blamed for the downfall of western entertainment, but many critics fail to realize that the movie industry has always been this way. The rise of cinematic universes has certainly over-saturated the market in recent years, but original films are still out there, they just don’t make the same ridiculous amounts of money.
In any case, sequels aren’t an inherently bad thing. Some movies are just begging to be expanded upon, and there are quite a few mediocre pictures with untapped potential that could benefit from a second (or even third) chance to shine. I almost always prefer creative original films over fun sequels, but since franchises are the only sure way to win big at the box office these days, we might as well get used to the idea.
However, the horror genre has a peculiar relationship with franchises. Since scary movies are relatively inexpensive to produce, but can still compete with big-budget summer blockbusters, it wouldn’t make much sense not to capitalize on frequent sequels and spin-offs. That being said, studios often make questionable decisions regarding which movies deserve a follow-up, and that leaves us with bizarre choices like American Psycho II, S. Darko, Return to House on Haunted Hill or even Alien vs Predator: Requiem.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at six films I believe deserve another chance at the big screen. Most of these movies were either overlooked by studios or unable to raise the necessary funding for a sequel. Others are already part of dormant franchises, never having had the chance to conclude their stories. Of course, no good movie truly needs a sequel, but it would be a shame if these films never got one.
I’ll be excluding obvious choices like new Friday the 13th and Halloween films, since I’m pretty sure we’ll be getting those eventually. In any case, be sure to share what your dream sequels are in the comments below. After all, you never know who might be reading!
6. Laid to Rest
Robert Green Hall’s microbudget slasher, Laid To Rest, is one of those rare horror movies that manages to stand out from the crowd while still being a faithful homage to the slasher formula that birthed it. Compelling protagonists, fun kills and a memorable villain made this charming 2009 flick a prime candidate for a new horror franchise.
ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 finally arrived in 2011, but by then, much had changed. Gone was much of the charm and simplicity that made the first film so enjoyable, and so were the likable characters. The story also became extremely convoluted, though the kills and special effects work were as great as ever.
Luckily, the open-ended nature of the ending made it clear that Chromeskull would be back for a third movie, which could hopefully redeem the franchise. Six years later, that cliffhanger is all we have, with barely a sign of the promised sequel. Laid to Rest 3: Conception may be listed on IMDB as “in-development”, but we can only hope that Hall returns to the series that put his name on the horror map.
5. John Dies At The End
Don Coscarelli’s quirky adaptation of David Wong’s even quirkier novel, John Dies at the End, wasn’t exactly a smash hit at the box-office. Even so, it was one hell of a ride, and a refreshing comedic take on supernatural tropes that we horror fans know and love. Delightful practical effects, cosmic horror and Phantasm connections came together to form one of the weirdest and most fun films of 2012.
What some people don’t realize is that Wong’s novel actually gained a sequel that very same year, titled This Book Is Full of Spiders. This new novel was hugely successful as well, and it would be a shame not to see that success translated on the big screen by the same team that produced the first movie. If a possible sequel could keep that same level of absurdist humor and Lovecraftian overtones, I see no reason for us to be denied one.
Discussing yet another Re-Animator sequel is a little tricky at this point, as we’ve already had three films and quite a few multi-media crossovers (not to mention the apparent reboot that’s on its way). Nevertheless, the Brian Yuzna-produced franchise has been dormant since 2003, which is a damned shame.
Regardless of your thoughts on the last entry, Beyond Re-Animator, there’s no doubt that Jeffrey Combs is still as likable as ever in the role of Herbert West. Horror fans could definitely benefit from a dignified send-off to the character, and it’s clear that there was interest in producing such a film in the past.
As our own John Squires covered last year, a new sequel entitled House of Re-Animator was initially planned, and would have featured the return of director Stuart Gordon to the franchise. Sadly, we never got to see anything beyond some promotional artwork. However, as long as Combs, Gordon and Yuzna are in the business, there’s still hope, right?
3. Behind The Mask – The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Scott Glosserman’s mockumentary slasher, Behind the Mask – The Rise of Leslie Vernon, is honestly one of my all-time favorite films. From Nathan Baesel’s memorable performance as the titular Leslie to the tongue-in-cheek dialogue about the great slashers of yore, dark comedies don’t get much better than this one, especially for us horror nerds.
The film also boasts an exceptionally clever end credits sequence (featuring The Talking Head’s Psycho Killer in one of its best cinematic uses yet!) that makes it clear that Leslie will be back for more. And yet, here we are eleven years later with only a failed crowdfunding campaign and a few rumors to show for it.
Personally, I feel that the horror world will be worse off if we never manage to get a sequel off the ground, and Glosserman apparently agrees with that sentiment. A sequel has actually been planned for a while now, though only time will tell if the team can secure funding to make this project a reality. If all goes well, Leslie will be back to stalking virgins in no time.
2. Trick ‘r Treat
There isn’t much to say about Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat that hasn’t already been said. This little direct-to-video anthology movie has somehow managed to join the likes of John Carpenter’s Halloween as the gold standard for movie marathons on All Hallow’s Eve, and rightly so. Featuring fun, thrills and impressive practical effects, it’s no wonder that we’re still clamoring for a sequel ten years later.
Dougherty still teases us with the possibility of a new film, and most horror fans believe that it’s just a matter of time before we see Sam terrorize another Halloween celebration. Hopefully, it won’t be too long, as the sequel comic books can only keep us satisfied for so long…
1. George Romero’s Dead Movies
There are few directors out there that can claim to have single-handedly changed a genre forever, but George Romero is certainly one of them. Regardless of what you think of his last few films, this guy is a cinematic legend. That being said, it’s a sad world we live in where the creator of the modern zombie movie can’t get the necessary funding to make new films.
We’ve seen 6 big-budget Resident Evil movies, 7 seasons of The Walking Dead and countless zombie videogames, but the 77-year-old father of the sub-genre, who is miraculously still willing to grace us with more of his work after all this time, can’t catch a break in the industry? Well, that just doesn’t seem right to me.
I can’t think of any film series/franchise more deserving of another shot than Romero’s Dead movies. There’s obviously no guarantee that any new film would be a masterpiece, but there’s only one way to find out, and until we do, we’ll be missing out. In an ideal world, Survival of the Dead shouldn’t be his last movie.