Horror franchises never truly die. Many can lay dormant for years or even decades, but horror fans have a rare enduring love for their favorite creations and that usually means any franchise worth its salt will eventually make its way back to screens in one way or another, whether through a reboot, remake, or long-awaited sequel.
There are a great many current and strong horror franchises — Conjuring, Purge, and Insidious come to mind — but there are also a number of franchises that seem far overdue for another chapter, either through a reboot or a direct sequel.
Here is a look at ten horror franchises that should make their way back to life and a few ideas about how they can do so.
Considering Marvel reportedly owns the film rights to their vampire-killing Blade character now, it’s hard to understand why the franchise hasn’t been mined yet. Original star and producer Wesley Snipes is constantly asked about the possibility of a fourth film and he seems completely game to do it.
“I am very much open to all of the possibilities,” Snipes told The Hollywood Reporter this year. “If Blade 4 comes along, that is a conversation we can have. And there are other characters in the Marvel universe that, if they want to invite me to play around with, I am with that too. I think the fans have a hunger for me to revisit the Blade character, so that could limit where they could place me as another character in that universe.”
While the first two Blade movies were impressive gothic-like creations with striking imagery and charismatic turns from Snipes, the 2004 third installment, titled Blade: Trinity, was unfortunately nothing but a flat action film with Snipes sleepwalking through his role.
Comedian and costar Patton Oswalt would later reveal Snipes’ heart wasn’t in the picture and he would barely communicate with everyone else on set.
“Wesley [Snipes] was just fucking crazy in a hilarious way. He wouldn’t come out of his trailer, and he would smoke weed all day. Which is fine with me, because I had all these DVDs that I wanted to catch up on. We were in Vancouver, and it was always raining. I kept the door to my trailer open to smell the evening rain while I was watching a movie,” the comedian told The A.V. Club. “Then I remember one day on the set — they let everyone pick their own clothes — there was one black actor who was also kind of a club kid. And he wore this shirt with the word “Garbage” on it in big stylish letters. It was his shirt. And Wesley came down to the set, which he only did for close-ups. Everything else was done by his stand-in. I only did one scene with him. But he comes on and goes, ‘There’s only one other black guy in the movie, and you make him wear a shirt that says ‘Garbage?’ You racist motherfucker!’ And he tried to strangle the director, David Goyer.”
Oswalt revealed Snipes tried to get Goyer to quit the production multiple times and he eventually would only communicate through post-it notes that he would sign, “from Blade.”
Blade is too good of a character to let end with a stinker and mess of a production like Blade: Trinity and since Snipes is still cranking out plenty of action fare today, we know he still has the goods to pull off the world’s greatest vampire hunter.
If Marvel did bring back the Blade franchise, they would likely be more inclined to wipe the slate clean than invite Snipes back in, but it would be a true gift to fans to let Snipes give a proper farewell to his character — in the same vein as Hugh Jackman’s sendoff in Logan, his most impressive turn as Wolverine.
If they did end up inviting back Snipes then there’s only one director fans would likely want behind the camera — Guillermo Del Toro, whose unique aesthetic and impressive monster creations were first successfully gifted to American audiences through Blade II, the strongest installment in the Blade franchise.
A new Final Destination likely hasn’t been made because fans were relatively pleased with the fifth and final installment of the franchise in 2011. The film’s ending created a time loop of sorts for all the installments and gave a fond farewell to fans. But, as we know, nothing in horror stays dead forever. And the Final Destination franchise is centered around a concept that could simply go on forever. A variety of directors and writers could take it in new and bold directions with various installments.
Imagine the Destination franchise having its reigns handed off to someone who typically would not work with such genre fare, like Darren Aronofsky. Imagine what the director of mother! and Requiem for a Dream could do with the concept of people cheating death and then constantly trying to escape its clutches.
Or we could get a film exactly in line with what came before from someone who knows how to give us unforgettable kill scenes (mainly what the franchise was famous for). Someone like Eli Roth could provide an appropriate sequel.
Despite there being five movies and a well-received ending, many fans are surely always up for another round of Final Destination.
Friday the 13th
There is obviously still a huge hunger for Jason Voorhees content, especially when you consider the success the new video game has enjoyed. A reboot of the franchise has never been far from Hollywood’s mind as it’s constantly talked about, but no one has quite figured out how to follow up 2009’s so-so remake from director Marcus Nispel and producer Michael Bay.
At this point, it would be great to see less of a straight forward continuation and more of something surprising and completely out of left field for the franchise. A found footage movie was mentioned at one point. And former Friday the 13th franchise star Corey Feldman (who played a young Tommy Jarvis) had a cool idea about creating a Voorhees continuation.
“I’ve long had this vision of doing our own kind of H20, which I thought would be great,” Feldman told Yahoo last year. “Everyone seems to have this huge crush on the Tommy Jarvis character. People really got, I don’t know, into the concept about where Tommy is going. They tried to bring him back with three different movies. And every single one never panned out the right way. And yeah, that’s because it’s not Tommy Jarvis, it’s a guy playing Tommy Jarvis. But let’s get back to the roots. Same thing they did with H20.”
He continued, “What would have happened if all those other movies were just some kind of bad nightmare? And the reality is that we last saw Tommy in the hospital room with his sister, and we think Jason is dead. You want to bring him back from that point, and continue the story thirty years later. Oh, my god, he still exists! That’s the movie I think everyone wants to see.”
At this point, why not give it a shot? Once the rights issues clear up, of course.
Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare on Elm Street is a tough franchise to continue as Robert Englund is so important to the character of Freddy Krueger. He had a wonderful sendoff in the seventh installment of the series and no one has quite figured out what to do with Krueger since then.
The talented Jackie Earle Haley took over the role for a 2010 remake, but that ultimately failed to impress too many people. A sequel never happened.
Even though Englund likely isn’t putting on his knives anytime soon, Krueger is still a horror icon that can always scare audiences in fresh ways.
Perhaps like Friday the 13th, this franchise just needs something different and out of left field.
Candyman was a surprisingly strong performer when it was first released in 1992. The horror film starred Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd and concerned a grad student studying the myth of the Candyman, a killer with a hook for a hand. She ends up accidentally awakening the monster and he lets loose on a killing spree.
The film was followed by two underwhelming sequels, but the original remains a mostly well-regarded film. It seems odd that in an age where so many films are being put through new lenses and retooled that Candyman hasn’t been revived.
Put in the right professional’s hands, a new Candyman could be a thrilling and engaging start to a new franchise. It could expand its urban legend theme and turn the Candyman into the classic horror figure he was always meant to be.
Oh yes. The Mangler was a franchise. The totally ludicrous original film was followed by not one, but two sequels. How a movie about a killer laundry-folding machine gets two sequels, but we have never seen a Mr. Brooks 2 is anyone’s guess, but this is the world we live in, folks.
Based on a short story by Stephen King, The Mangler followed a homicide detective as he investigated murders done by a laundry-folding machine possessed by a demon. The film was full to the brim with horror royalty. Silence of the Lambs’ Ted Levine was in the lead; Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund was the man in charge of the building containing the laundry machine; Stephen King inspired the film; and Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper was behind the camera.
How all that talent got together and made The Mangler is a mystery that will forever be fascinating.
The film is actually silly B-movie fun in a lot of parts and some joy can be found from it in a cult sort of way, but the reason the franchise should be revived is because this is a loony concept that could really ignite a fire in the right artist’s belly. Imagine giving the challenge of a story about a killer laundry-folding machine to a filmmaker like S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) or an artist of a similar caliber.
The story is so utterly ridiculous that a perfectly fun tongue-in-cheek B-movie could be made or it could be pushed to weird greatness like Tusk, Human Centipede, or other films that make most viewers scratch their heads, but leave others salivating for more.
The Hostel franchise never should have ended. It had an endlessly fascinating concept: people paying to play out their deepest and most evil fantasies upon innocent travelers just looking to have a good time.
The first two films, directed by Eli Roth and produced by Quentin Tarantino, dug into the minutiae of the world being represented and that was what was so creepy. Sure, there was plenty of gore and lots of kills, but the real creepiness to the films was the unblinking eye they were turning towards pure evil and how people react when faced with such darkness and depravity.
The third film in the franchise skipped theaters altogether and was not helmed by Roth. It was a bit more of a standard affair, but there are still endless possibilities for stories to be told within the Hostel franchise.
Perhaps Eli Roth would enjoy coming back as a producer to help find his horror roots again. He could even pick young, up and coming filmmakers to take the concept in some weird and fascinating new directions.
The Toxic Avenger
Believe it or not, a reboot of the Toxic Avenger franchise actually almost happened with Tusk director Kevin Smith behind the camera.
“Somebody asked me, ‘Hey man, we’ve got The Toxic Avenger and we’re gonna remake it, do a reboot, and hey, you’re from Jersey,’” Smith recounted recently on his Fatman on Batman podcast. “And you know, I always kind of dug what Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma people do, it was right in Jersey, I remember seeing them on the news all the time — ‘Hollywood, motion pictures in New Jersey? Right here at Troma!’ And Toxic Avenger was insanely well known. So I always respected the Troma world and Toxie franchise. So I was like, all right, I’ll go down the rabbit hole a bit and see what’s what.”
Smith ultimately parted ways with the project because producers wanted a more expensive and polished Toxic Avenger, while Smith wanted something more in line with the franchise’s cheap, but charming origins.
“They were like, ‘No no no, it’s a 35 million dollar movie.’ And I was like, ‘It’s a fuckin’ remake of The Toxic Avenger, the guy in a tutu with a bad makeup job, what are we gonna spend all the money on?’ So right then and there, I’m clearly not on the same page. In my head, if I need to see a Toxic Avenger remake, it should be done in the spirit of the original. Instead, they were literally trying to start a franchise, Marvel-ize it and stuff like that,” the Clerks director said.
Smith had the right idea. Toxic Avenger is too strange to become a slicked-up Marvel franchise, but today it can absolutely find an audience as charming Troma-style throwback. Before Smith was in talks to be director, stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Travolta were rumored for the lead, which suggests producers know which direction they are going in — and it’s likely the wrong one.
Here’s hoping they wake up and bring back the lovable toxic waste hero in the right way. The world needs him.
The Hills Have Eyes
The Hills Have Eyes is a wild enough concept that it deserves to be told every decade or so by young artistic voices looking to prove themselves. Wes Craven blew audiences away when he first introduced the story of a suburban family trying to survive the wrath of mutated hillbillies in the middle of nowhere in 1977. Alexandre Aja impressed in his own way with a 2006 remake.
Both films were followed by separate sequels — and then nothing.
The Hills Have Eyes is prime material for a remake. It’s a story that that can drastically change based on who is behind the camera, especially in today’s culturally divided times.
Yes. Yes. I know. A shared universe with the Universal monsters is (maybe still?) already in the works. But let’s be real. The Mummy was a total flop met with little fanfare and the prospect of promised films like Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man is looking dimmer and dimmer every day.
The real problem with Tom Cruise’s The Mummy is that it didn’t know what it was. It never fully embraced the franchise’s horror roots, but it also never fully embraced the low-rent Indiana Jones style fun that Brendan Fraser’s movies had so much success with.
The Universal monsters don’t need to become action heroes in a Marvel-style universe. What we need are films akin to Guillermo Del Toro’s recent The Shape of Water, a loving nod to monster movies of old. Del Toro was actually at one point offered an opportunity to tackle the Universal monsters and he recently revealed it’s a professional regret of his that he didn’t accept.
“I’ve said no to things that are enormous and I’ve never looked back, you know? The only time I repent I didn’t do something was in 2007, when Universal in an incredibly gentle and beautiful manner said do you want to take over the Monster Universe? And they gave me the reins of several properties, and I didn’t do it. That I repent. So this is a confessional moment, I repent. That’s the only thing,” the filmmaker told The New York Times.
It’s a wonderful “what if” to imagine the Pan’s Labyrinth creator taking the reigns of Wolfman, Dracula, and others. Maybe it could still happen. The original monster movies stand the test of time because they are powerfully personal tales about what it means to be human told through the incredibly dark lens of monsters living among us.
Even if Del Toro wasn’t to take over the franchise, there are plenty of other filmmakers who have fallen in love with the Universal Monsters at one point or another. They should be the ones making these films. We don’t need an $80 million Mummy movie. What we need are smaller budgeted and more personal and darker films like Shape of Water. Perhaps Universal should turn to Blumhouse (they distribute many of their films) and ask them to make darker monster movies with limited budgets, but big ambition.
The Universal Monsters franchise deserves to go on and on, but right now it’s simply in the wrong hands.