At this point, it’s hard to imagine a summer without superhero movies. I’m not here to bash that, I love superhero movies, and I’m not one to agree with the “superhero fatigue” idea (see the grosses for DEADPOOL and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR for reasons why that theory is very wrong). What I don’t get is why the studios, who are so big on comic books right now, are ignoring comics that aren’t about superheroes.
There are so many amazing stories told in comics that would make for fantastic movies. Craig Thompson’s BLANKETS, Jeff Smith’s BONE, Matt Wagner’s GRENDEL. All are well written, engrossing stories could easily find an audience in theaters. Mind you, these aren’t horror books, so we won’t be focusing on them, but I wanted to point to these three for a specific reason – they are three very different comics that focus on very different demographics, and could be made for modest budgets. There’s room for these guys at the box office.
Still, we’re here for horror, so let’s look at a few horror comics that would make for a frighteningly good night at the theater…
Written by Scott Snyder, with art by Jock and coloring by Matt Hollingsworth, WYTCHES is a straight up terrifying story that relies on character, mood, mystery to build scares. The story focuses on the Rook family, who have just moved to Litchfield, NH after Sailor, the daughter of the family, had some trouble with a bully who went missing.
In Litchfield, Sailor’s anxiety attacks increase, and she is certain that someone, or something, is after her. Her parents, Charlie and Lucy, who are dealing with their own personal demons, push Sailor to move past her fears and focus on making a new life in the new town. Then Sailor goes missing.
I don’t want to give away anything because, like I said, the story plays a lot on mysteries and I really can’t recommend it enough. While we wait for someone with some Hollywood heft to realize how great of a movie WYTCHES would make, I suggest you pick up the graphic novel. There’s only one volume, and it has a solid ending, though Snyder has said that he has plans for a second (which I am eagerly waiting for).
LOCKE & KEY
After the murder of the patriarch of the family, Nina Locke decides to move her three children into the Locke house, where the only living resident is Duncan. Bode, the youngest of the Locke kids, quickly learns that there is more to the house than anyone else knows. The Locke House is built on a portal to hell. The energy from the portal has turned the home into a mess of supernatural wackiness.
I must admit, I’ve only read the first volume of LOCKE & KEY, but I loved it. The story plays out well with strong characters, an interesting plot, and a solid finale that, if there were never more comics, would work well enough as an ending. Lucky for me, there’s five more volumes for me to read. Following the setup of the first story – WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT – would work great for a movie.
Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s series has already had one shot at being a TV series with a pilot that was not picked up to series, and Hill has recently said that he is writing a new script for a second pilot. There were also plans to turn LOCKE & KEY into a series of films in 2014, but those plans have been abandoned. That is a dumb mistake. Get on it, you producers!
HOUSE OF SECRETS
Rain Harper, a runaway who can’t seem to ever stop lying, finds herself as a resident of the Reichuss Mansion, a supposed haunted house in Seattle. It is in the Reichuss Mansion that Rain meets a tribunal of spirits called The Juris. When one dies, their spirit comes to the house, and The Juris judges them based on the secrets they kept. Those who had no secrets were sent to the attic (heaven) those with minor secrets are sent out into the world (purgatory) and those with terrible secrets are sent to the basement (hell).
The series itself, written by Steven T. Seagle with the majority of the art by Teddy Kristiansen (other artists on the comic were Christian Højgaard, Guy Davis, Duncan Fegredo and the Pander Brothers), HOUSE OF SECRETS has a long story that could be set into a film pretty well – while the book focuses on Rain taking part in many trials, the movie can select one to focus on. Personally, I would suggest the storyline where Rain’s mother is put on trial for not telling anyone, or seeking treatment for, the cancer that took her life.
Yes, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s FROM HELL was already made into a movie with Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, and Ian Holm, but that movie is garbage. The beauty of the comic is that the focus is not on who Jack the Ripper was, but why he was. The main focus of the story is more about the occult, the oddities of London during the time (there is a great scene where Jack the Ripper has a conversation with John Merrick, the Elephant Man, about the meaning of life) and the odd connections of time (for example – Adolph Hitler was likely conceived sometime between the first and second murders). FROM HELL is about the death of the 19th Century, and the birth of the 20th.
Done right, FROM HELL could be a great movie, though I must admit, it would likely work better as a mini-series on TV.
Imagine V/H/S, but animated and for children? That is what BOO! could be. The comic, an anthology series featuring various writers and artists, features short horror stories, some straight serious, some with a sense of humor, for kids. Now, when I say kids, I want to be clear – some of these stories may be too much for five year olds, but I bet 7-12 would love it. Not every story is a home run, but there are more than enough to see the opportunity for something very fun and different.
Each story has a unique voice with a unique art style that makes it perfect for a series of animated shorts that could be made on a light budget. If you read my piece on kid horror, you know that I really think we need more things like this, and BOO! may be perfect.