Recently there have been articles discussing that the Friday the 13th and the Evil Dead movie franchise have something in common: Deadites. Yes, director Adam Marcus who directed Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday said that the famous killer from Camp Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees is indeed a Deadite and it’s a decision he made with Evil Dead director Sam Raimi’s blessing. The idea that the unstable Pamela Voorhees read from the infamous Necronomicon in order to bring her boy back to life could be a reasonable explanation for how a deformed 13 year old boy became the tall silent supernatural killer. But it’s a more likely justification that Jason’s constant resurrections were companies wanting to bleed the franchise dry rather than Deadite loopholes. While I have my reservations, it got me thinking about other horror movies that tried to change details about their headliners to often disastrous results. So I did some digging through these collections of nightmares and I remembered these:
1. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
This movie is the Jason Goes to Hell of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. While Freddy picks off the last of the children from Springwood, the movie explains how Freddy keeps coming back. Every time Freddy dies, he gets revived by Dream Demons which take the form of talking, floating silver fish with faces. They want to rip down the barriers between our world and the Dream World and they need guys like Freddy to do it. The movie tried to humanize Freddy as a lonely boy who was tortured by bullies about his “parentage” and beaten by an abusive stepfather but then follow it with killing class pets, inflicting wounds on himself as a way to ignore pain and then later killing his wife when she discovers his secret. By the time his estranged daughter Maggie throws the bomb on him, you can’t believe it took the Dream Demons this long to cut the chord. You had a better origin story in New Nightmare, bitch.
2. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
The Halloween franchise starring Michael Myers has had many ups and downs but the sixth installment tried to continue his obsession with killing his family while also explaining his powers. As Michael executes another family of relatives who just happened to move into his old house, it is revealed that Michael is infected with Thorn, an ancient Druid curse that gives him his strength and invulnerability but requires him to kill family members on the night of Samhain aka Halloween. Michael’s actions are nothing but a simple cycle of evil that was manipulated by a cult who want to pass it on to Tommy Doyle, grown up and still traumatized by his encounter with Michael, so he could continue this trend of family sacrifices. Of course Tommy refuses, the overambitious cult leader Wynn dies at Michael’s hands and the fans hopes for another movie in the franchise suffer the same fate as Michael: they are injected with corrosive acid and beaten unconscious. When Halloween H20 came in 1998, they completely ignored the last three movies and picked up where Halloween II left off. You just can’t kill the boogie man.
3. Scream 3
In Wes Craven’s other horror franchise, people are being killed by another Ghostface copycat on the set of Stab 3 which is simply a device to lure Sidney Prescott out of hiding because her life doesn’t suck enough as it is. As the bodies continue to pile up, Ghostface is revealed to be Stab 3 director Roman Bridger but he’s also Maureen Prescott’s son and Sidney’s half-brother. When he tried to reunite with Mom years ago, she rejected him and he chose to get revenge by secretly filming the men she slept with. He was the one who showed the tape to Billy Loomis resulting in her murder and the events that have befallen Sidney and her friends. When he saw all the publicity Sidney gained from surviving the first two movies, he decided to lure her out of hiding so he could frame her and take all the fame for himself. Although it began with good intentions, Scream 3 became everything it was originally making fun of. Once a scary movie, now they’re truly all the same.
4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
A group of kids during their senior prom get lost and eventually come up on the iconic farmhouse complete with Leatherface and his cannibalistic family. Amongst all of this chaos, we meet a mysterious guy named Rothman who runs an Illuminati-like organization. He hires the family to show people “the true meaning of horror”. The addition of Rothman completely ruins our impression of this family. What was once hidden Americana evil bridging on legend becomes a cannibalistic cleaning team for the rich and powerful only a speed dial away. Even though the character Jenny survives, Rothman pops up again to further crap on the film by stating the entire ordeal was supposed to be a spiritual experience that went very awry. Oh, I wish they hadn’t let the place fall apart.
Uprising: Author Thomas Harris said he wrote the story of the same name to prevent others from writing a Lecter story without his involvement. So he described a young man who lives a double life, one as a promising medical student in Paris and the other as a vigilante hunting and killing the war criminals responsible for his sister Mischa’s death. In the end, he completes his revenge but the ending provides insight to Hannibal’s dietary preferences. His last victim reveals that Mischa didn’t just die, she was killed and eaten by all those men including Hannibal. Even though the film and book pushes that he was forced to consume broth made from Mischa, the film suggests that Hannibal is merely killing them to keep this fact a secret while lying to himself that he has come to enjoy the taste of human flesh. Like most prequels, the explanation of evil usually doesn’t make you more afraid, it waters down what was ominous and scary in the first place. Fortunately Mads Mikkelson’s performance on Hannibal (2015) returned Hannibal to his intellectually sadistic status and left Hannibal Uprising to the bargain bin. All good things to those who wait.
There are other horror movies that probably deserve to be on this list because for all the success the horror genre has made in scaring us, they’ve also made movies that were either poor in comparison to their originals or clearly made to make enough money to justify another sequel. Some of these movies become those “so bad it’s good” films and some are just footnotes in a franchise’s history or stubs on Wikipedia. When it comes to making a good movie, it is quality over quantity or as Ranch Wilder put it in Angels in the Outfield “Less is more.” Thankfully we still have the movies we know and love and may they forever represent the visions of their creators and the inflection of the darkness that haunts the human consciousness.
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