2017 and 2018 have seen a tremendous surge in classic horror sequels. America’s greatest haunting was resurrected after years of setbacks in Amityville: The Awakening. The pint-sized terror returned for his second straight-to-DVD sequel in Cult of Chucky. The box from Hell was opened once again in Hellraiser: Judgement. We all turned our backs on Jeepers Creepers 3. Saws and booby-traps thrilled audiences again after a seven year gap in Jigsaw. The youngest Hewitt received more of a backstory in Leatherface. Adam Green’s hulking murder turned the bayou red in Victor Crowley (aka Hatchet 4). The Puppet Master series churned out another z-grade installment. And Michael Myers will grace theaters this October in a new a Halloween movie. While it’s true that some of these new entries weren’t too bad, some of them left much to be desired and, of course, the horror fandom was split down the middle. Some viewers cheered that their favorite mass murders were back in new stories, and others desperately want Hollywood to stop poking sleeping bears. And while it’s also true that the magic from the 80’s and 90’s (and the rare lightning in a bottle that new classics like Hatchet generate) can never be captured again, should we really desert going forward and exploring new plots and characters in our favorite franchises for fear of damaging their legacy with unnecessary and under-produced sequels? It’s a tricky question, to say the least.
Horror film continuations have also made the jump to television screens, and received more or less the same amount of fan wars. Either the content was too mainstream and teen oriented to fit the die-hard fans of the original, or worse, the shows had little or nothing to do with the films that served as their predecessors. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” was praised by Evil Dead fanatics and hailed by critics, but was vastly under-watched and cancelled, while “Bates Motel” was a huge hit for A&E and adequately fleshed out Norman Bates’ backstory. “Exorcist,” “Hannibal,” “The Mist” – obviously one out of three was more worthy of viewers than the other two. “Scream: The TV Series” pulled off two lackluster seasons that existed outside of Woodsboro and Sydney Prescott, but was shelved after the Harvey Weinstein scandal. And later this year we can look forward to television series dedicated to Clive Barker’s Nightbreed and The Purge. In this case, more than the content and its guidance rating, horror fans tend to skewer these types of continuations because they never seem to feature any of the original cast members (besides Bruce Campbell). So, there’s one medium where classic horror movies can continue with new titles and new stories – books, comic books and graphic novels. These old-school forms of entertainment fly under the radar when it comes to canon and continuity, but some original works of fiction have added tremendous depth to our favorite franchises.
Just look at Halloween. The white-masked slasher saw three young adult novels published by Berkley Books and author Kelly O’Rourke. Original stories with no relation to the film series, “The Scream Factory,” “Haddonfield City Hall,” and “The Old Myers Place” featured new characters, unrelated to The Strode bloodline, who are butchered around Michael’s old stomping grounds on Halloween night. These novels were released in late 1997 and early 1998, but they’re still available for purchase on Amazon. Halloween also received comic book adaptions by Brian Pulido’s Chaos Comics, with the Tommy Doyle fronted series including three issues – “Halloween,” “Halloween 2: The Blackest Eyes,” “and “Halloween 3: The Devil’s Eyes.” Then, in 2003, a Lindsay Wallace one shot, “One Good Scare,” saw publication based on an original story by Stefan Hutchinson; followed by original stories, “Halloween: Autopsis,” made specifically for the 25 Years of Terror DVD and “Halloween: Nightdance,” a four part comic series. Also, in the film to book adaption Jason Lives, Friday the 13th fans were introduced to a new character – Elias Voorhees, Jason’s father. “Mother’s Day,” “Jason’s Curse,” “The Carnival,” and “Road Trip” make up the four part young adult novel series that saw various new characters finding Jason’s mask and becoming possessed by his spirit – meaning Jason doesn’t appear! Despite someone’s lack of judgement, Jason X even received novel continuations with “Jason X: The Experiment,” “Planet of the Beast,” “Death Moon” and “To the Third Power.” New Line Cinema also released a slow of Friday the 13th comics from 1993 to 2005 before the rights were picked up by WildStorm.
The list goes on and on, especially when looking at the classic slasher series. Freddy Krueger made the jump from narrative film to comic books through Marvel Comics, Innovation Publishing, Trident Comics and Wildstorm. His “vs” series was even expanded with “Freddy vs Jason vs Ash” and “Freddy vs Jason vs Ash: The Nightmare Warriors.” Texas Chainsaw Massacre comics started as far back as 1991 when Northstar Comics released “Leatherface.” Chucky was drawn into glossy pages in his own installment – “Child’s Play: The Series,” which only ran for five issues between 1991 and 1992. He returned to this medium in 2007 with Devil’s Due Publishing’s “Hack/Slash vs Chucky.” Another series following the pint-sized terror was greenlit in 2009, but never made it to print. Pinhead received his own anthology set in 2009 with “Hellbound Hearts” before Clive Barker himself penned a new novel with “The Scarlet Gospels.” And according to one source, over 100 Hellraiser comics have been published since 1989. Of course, modern classics like Hatchet and Saw have also received comic book continuations, same as television’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Here’s why I think the greatest horror film series of all time could survive if they made the jump from film to novel. The beauty of reading in the first place is that you get to envision the majority of the written word in your imagination, in your own mind. Even with small characterizations and descriptions, the reader still makes up 80% of the world in their brain as they follow along with the story. That gives anyone who picks up the book the power to join the story like they’re experiencing it in real time, instead of watching it in the moment on a TV screen. Also, budget and time constraints aren’t an issue. Because a book exists in its given format, the writer can space out the story for as long as they want without worrying about aging actors and changing landscapes. Budget is the most important reason to jump from film to novel because money is and always will be the name of the game. A writer can write anything they want into the book. Anything – no matter how grand and creative. Without having to put the effort into producing the scene, it keeps the cost of the narrative down. It would only cost five figures, from start to finish, to create a new classic killer novel and I think fans would gobble up a new Friday the 13th, Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street story if it was written correctly, promoted correctly, and featured the characters we’ve all grown to love.
Would you support your favorite movies turning to new novels to tell their stories? Comment here or on our social media pages.