Practically any horror movie can get a sequel nowadays. We’re all familiar with popular series like HALLOWEEN and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but those are just the mega-successes. Consider that there have also been five LAKE PLACID movies, including one where LAKE PLACID fought ANACONDA. Yup, just about any horror movie.
I say “just about” because there is a small group of well-known and at least moderately successful horror movies that completely failed to spawn an honest-to-goodness sequel. This in an industry that thrives on franchises and (let’s be honest) a lot of repetition, and this from films that could have survived the transition to a lower budgeted straight-to-video marketplace without necessarily suffering from a huge dip in quality.
Today we look at five horror movies that deserved sequels. Maybe they were simply good movies and we wanted to see more. Or maybe they weren’t good movies, but they nevertheless laid the groundwork so that future sequels could have built upon the original. In either case, they were probably a goldmine (or at least a copper mine) waiting to happen.
Andrew Fleming’s 1996 supernatural teen thriller was a formative film for many teenagers, and I have it on good authority that it was required viewing at many a sleepover. The film is about a group of hot teen goth girls who develop magical powers and go crazy with them, making it basically a TEEN WITCH for badasses. THE CRAFT was a box office success, earning nearly $25 million off of its $15 million budget, and although I don’t have the figures handy, its enduring popularity means that it probably also made a mint on home video.
And yet, despite that popularity, and despite the fact that all you really need to make a sequel to THE CRAFT is a high school and some wire effects for whenever anyone gets Force Pushed out of a window, this movie begat no sequels. A remake directed by HONEYMOON’s Leigh Janiak is currently in the pipeline, but still… it’s been 20 years and in all that time you’re honestly telling me that nobody was able to capitalize on the success of THE CRAFT?
It’s not like teenaged alienation ever went out of style and it’s not like Hot Topic didn’t thrive in the interim. Heck, it’s not like you really need the film’s original cast. Any group of teenaged girls will do, and if another ensemble cast sounds like too much of a gamble for a low budget sequel, you don’t even need a group of them. It’s called “The Craft,” not “The Coven.”
I’m serious. You could take almost any teenaged supernatural movie and make it a sequel to THE CRAFT. Look at ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, a recent film (and a pretty good one) about a teen witch who resurrects a recently deceased cheer squad. Slap THE CRAFT on that and you’ve got THE CRAFT 2: ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, and that would still be a better and more fitting sequel to the original than INITIATION: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4.
If Leigh Janiak’s version of THE CRAFT is any good – and we have no reason to think it won’t be – then sequelize the hell out of that thing. And stay away from the weirdos!
Oh wait… they are the weirdos…
THE DEVIL INSIDE
When a low budget horror film makes headlines based entirely on how unexpectedly financially successful it is, you might think that a sequel would be inevitable. But if the film in question is the 2012 exorcism thriller THE DEVIL INSIDE, you would be wrong. Three years later (which is an eternity in horror time) and a follow-up has never emerged, even though the first film ended in a freaking cliffhanger.
THE DEVIL INSIDE wasn’t a particularly good movie. In fact, there’s a vocal contingent that argues – and rather effectively – that it sucks out loud. But we’re not here to bury the original film, we’re here to say that even if that is truly the case, it just means there is nowhere to go but up. The makers of the sequels to THE DEVIL INSIDE wouldn’t be lost in the shadow of a classic original, they would just have a strong foundation to build upon. The original film, about Catholic priests who perform exorcisms for The Vatican, is a perfectly decent setup on which to build a series. A franchise about exorcisms that doesn’t have to stack up to an Oscar-winning original? Heck, in that one small way (and only in that one small way), that’s better than THE EXORCIST.
And if you’re worried about exorcisms growing stale over time, watch SUPERNATURAL. They’ve performed at least a hundred exorcisms on that series (I haven’t counted, okay, but it’s a lot) and they always find new ways to keep it exciting. New demons, new conspiracies in the church. Add a few more contortionists and you’ve got yourself a proper sequel, and there’s no reason to think it would have to be a bad one.
Again, you could even just take any halfway decent recent exorcism screenplay and slap THE DEVIL INSIDE on it. THE DEVIL INSIDE 2: DELIVER US FROM EVIL. Done. You’re welcome.
Anyone who doesn’t enjoy DR. GIGGLES probably hasn’t seen DR. GIGGLES in a while. One of the last unironic slashers before the SCREAM craze of the late 1990s, this underrated horror thriller stars Larry Drake (DARKMAN) as a malevolent physician who “tee-hees” as he murders you. It’s about as strong a setup for a horror franchise as a momma’s boy in a hockey mask, but DR. GIGGLES still didn’t lead to any sequels whatsoever.
At least there’s an understandable reason this time: DR. GIGGLES only made an underwhelming $8.4 million when it was released in 1994. But less popular films than that have led to sequels. THE HITCHER only made $5.4 million and it still led to a (surprisingly badass) straight-to-video sequel and a high profile remake. So why not DR. GIGGLES?
I’ll grant you that Larry Drake, now 66 years old, may be too old to play the title role anymore. (Then again maybe not, since Danny Trejo is 71 and still kicking ass.) In any case, problem solved: DR. GIGGLES 2: THE SON OF GIGGLES. Somehow the fearsome physician has managed to come into possession of a child, and the time has come to pass his murderous mantle on to his progeny. Easy-peasy. Tell me you wouldn’t see that.
Okay, well, actually watch DR. GIGGLES someday and then tell me you wouldn’t see that.
For a film that was considered a box office bomb, GRINDHOUSE sure has left a lasting impact. The original film was designed as a double feature, complete with two badass throwbacks to 1970s action movies and horror flicks which were directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. In between their respective features, PLANET TERROR and DEATH PROOF, were fake trailers for awesome-looking, but fake grindhouse movies from the likes of Eli Roth, Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie.
If you saw GRINDHOUSE in theaters you can probably attest that it was an awesome cinematic experience, and for once in this era of skyrocketing ticket prices you could also actually say that you got your money’s worth. The movie bombed hard, making only $25.4 million of its $67 million budget, but the brand lasted. GRINDHOUSE has given birth three spin-offs already: MACHETE, MACHETE KILLS and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. And there’s supposedly another MACHETE still on the way, and maybe even (finally) a THANKSGIVING.
So why the hell haven’t there been more of these? A lot of filmmakers would jump at the chance to make a throwback to earlier, sleazier genres that would otherwise no longer have a home at the multiplex. Or if that’s too ambitious for you, just take any two inexpensive and schlocky movies that were already going to be dumped into any given year and just show them back to back. Take unremarkable product and turn it into an event. You already spent the money, now just shell out a little extra cash for fake trailers that – if audiences like them – could become part of the next installment.
All you have to do is throw AS ABOVE/SO BELOW and OUIJA together. Or THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS and MAMA. Or SANCTUM and DREAM HOUSE. Or DEVIL and SKYLINE. How hard is this? GRINDHOUSE is a franchise that could turn your low value films into potential “must see” entertainment.
FRIDAY THE 13TH
This one only sounds weird because there have been twelve FRIDAY THE 13TH movies. But the reason there has only been twelve is because the 2009 remake, which was supposed to reboot the entire franchise, never spawned any sequels of its own. Plans are underway to reboot this series from scratch again, both in theaters and on television, but seriously… what was so wrong with the remake that it actually stopped this whole series cold?
I know it’s not the most popular film in the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise, but a lot of films in this series sucked out loud and they still led to more sequels. Marcus Nispel’s remake may not be amazing but it’s a perfectly functional slasher and it didn’t introduce any elements that fundamentally changed the premise, other than walking back on the supernatural elements (which you could easily reintroduce later). Frankly, you could probably even ignore every single thing that happened in the FRIDAY THE 13TH remake and do any damned thing you want in the sequel, since continuity has – to put it mildly – never been this series’s strong suit.
FRIDAY THE 13TH made money, but not enough apparently. It cost $19 to produce and earned back a healthy but unremarkable $91 million internationally. (“Unremarkable,” that is, by modern standards.) But the longevity of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series has always been firmly rooted in how astoundingly cheap they are to produce. All you have to do is lower the budget way down for the follow-up (without resorting to “found footage” gimmicks, thank you) and you can coast on the name brand recognition.
This isn’t rocket surgery. It’s very simple: make a cheap Jason Voorhees movies with fun kills and enjoyable nudity, without spending a lot of money on them, and this franchise more-or-less perpetuates itself. Enlist promising young directors and give them free reign (if you can handle that). If any slasher villain has been able to weather strange new directions and still emerge culturally victorious, it’s Jason Voorhees. The dude went to space, got replaced by an ambulance driver, fought FIRESTARTER and crawled out of his dead sister’s womb, and he’s still unphased.
The best part is if you screw up, you can always try again with these FRIDAY THE 13TH movies. Why the hell wasn’t there a sequel to this? And if we absolutely must start over again, why the hell is it taking so long to get this upcoming reboot in theaters? Snap to it, people. Chop chop… literally.