The 6 Baffling Mistakes Every Horror Franchise Must Make

#3. The Unrelated Sequel

Hollywood has a huge number of unfilmed screenplays lying in the slush pile and no way to market them. Make no mistake, studios want to film your shitty movie... if they have a better than good chance of tripling their investment.

This is why, quite often, you'll see seemingly random stand-alone horror scripts crowbarred in as sequels to an established franchise, the film makers just doing a quick rewrite to cram in the existing characters instead of whoever the original writer had in there.

Hellraiser was particularly bad at this. If you saw the last, uh, half-dozen Hellraiser flicks, you would've noticed that they threw out continuity and began offering up any quasi-supernatural police thriller as a sequel. As long as that weird puzzle box pops up and Pinhead drops by for 15 minutes to yammer something evil, then it's a Hellraiser movie, goddammit.

Up until 30 seconds ago, you were watching a romantic comedy starring Greg Kinnear.

One of the most notorious examples of this bait-and-switch was Friday the 13th, which continued well past the fourth film, 1984's misnomered The Final Chapter. Jason Voorhees was killed by a machete through the brain, and seeing that he was just a terrifically durable human being at this point, it'd be impossible to bring him back.

Money, however, speaks louder than story, and soon the studio barfed out a fifth movie about some yutz who simply dressed up as Jason. Fans were understandably apoplectic.

Also, the Internet Gods would never forgive us if we didn't give the obligatory nod to the infamous Troll 2, which was so unrelated to the original Troll that the film's characters never say the word "troll" once.

The Worst Offender:

Halloween. While most franchises will try to somehow tenuously connect their cheat-sequels to the established mythology with familiar themes and namedropping, the producers of Halloween made the baffling decision to make a sequel that wasn't even the same kind of movie.

1982's Halloween 3 wasn't about the ne'er-do-well escapades of Michael Myers, but rather booby-trapped Halloween masks that are magically powered by Stonehenge. Also, there are robots.

Did we mention the masks turn children's heads into spiders and snakes?

There was a little method to this madness. Halloween creator John Carpenter never wanted the franchise to continue past the second movie, and the studio wanted to create an anthology horror series like Creepshow. But when Halloween 3 bombed hard, the studio told Carpenter to take a walk--there would only be another sequel if it was absolutely identical to the first two Halloween films. Nowadays, this is known as "The Saw Method."

#2. The Comedy Sequel

Iconic horror franchises always run the risk of devolving into unintentional self-satire. A lot of filmmakers figure they can just combat this head-on by acknowledging the fact openly (or as they say in the biz, "putting a lampshade on it").

But the fact that a lot of people think that Killer Axe Man 17 is getting kind of stupid doesn't actually change if the film's writers point out that they know it's stupid. This acknowledgment just makes everything stupider. Nevertheless, it happens almost every time; somebody pens a sequel that replaces horror with cute, self-referential jokes.

Freddy Krueger was fairly notorious for the subtle escalation of his clowning as the Nightmare on Elm Street series went on, so much so that people forget that the original film was pretty freaking scary. But the problem was never so explicit as in 1991's A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy's Dead, which attempted to be a straight-up laugh riot and featured bizarre cameo appearances by Johnny Depp, Roseanne and Tom Arnold. It's impossible to take the primal fear of the original Nightmare seriously when Freddy kills a kid by sucking him into a video game.

The sixth Friday the 13th took a similar route, alternating badly between rampant violence and awkward slapstick. The title sequence emulates Jason doing the gun-barrel walk-on bit from James Bond. The next thing you know, Jason's killing people whose faces make bloody smiley imprints on hard surfaces.

The Worst Offender:

Child's Play. It's true that a story about a serial-killing doll is hard to pass off as a genuinely spine-chilling tale. But, there's a fine line here between a "so over the top that it's kind of awesome" B-horror movie, and something like 1998's Bride of Chucky and 2004's Seed of Chucky, which are so ridiculously self-aware that they're bashing you over the head with the kind of "LAUGH, DAMMIT!!!" desperation you usually only see in really bad comedies.

We don't have anything against dick jokes per se--they put bread on the table here at Cracked--but Bride of Chucky took the dick joke to horrifying new levels. The writers make constant references to Chucky's "wood" ("I thought you were made of plastic!") and as for the doll-fucking scenes, we'll let you research those on your own time.

Yes, that is a baster full of puppet semen.

#1. The Reboot

Construction workers know that there's only so much damage a structure can take before you have to knock the building down and put up a new one. This same logic applies to movie franchises. After the sequels go into the double digits and run the gamut of aforementioned tropes, the time has ultimately come for a reboot, otherwise known as the "Ol' Fuck It, Let's Start Again."

Reboots and remakes are different. A remake often works as a loving homage to the original film, whereas a reboot tends to aggressively disown its source material, instantly establishing itself as the new canonical version and asking you to please forget all the prior, shittier films that preceded it.

"Ice to see you!"

There two reasons this is becoming maybe the worst of all of these gimmicks:

One, because it overwhelmingly is the one we're most likely to fall for. Installing a new director, cast and rewinding the timeline to the origin story is somehow supposed to make us forget that all of the creative juice has been squeezed out of the character a decade ago. And we will. The good feelings earned by Batman and Bond reboots have convinced us that somehow you can make Freddy fresh again.

And this leads to the second problem, which is that this will ultimately be more overused than any of the gimmicks mentioned above. In 2003, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot opened the floodgates. Since then, Halloween, Friday the 13th and Children of the Corn have seen reboots, and Hellraiser, Child's Play and the aforementioned A Nightmare on Elm Street have reboots in production. In fact, of all the franchises mentioned in this article, the only one no one will touch is Leprechaun.

Seriously, we'll get word on a Troll reboot any minute now.

The Worst Offender:

Halloween because it's the only franchise that they tried to reboot twice.

1998's Halloween H20 accepted only John Carpenter's first two films as canon and brought back Jamie Lee Curtis for the lead role. Although, the film was actually praised by critics as a return to form, the franchise immediately fucked up again with Halloween Resurrection, which performed abysmally at the box office and killed the franchise a second time.

Almost a decade later, Rob Zombie took another bite of the reboot pie with 2007's hugely successful Halloween. And again, Zombie's 2009 sequel utterly failed to deliver. Yes, even a man whose driver's license reads "Mr. Zombie" could not bring Halloween back from the dead.

Maybe he should call himself Rob Necromancer.

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And check out some other things you had no idea Hollywood was driving into the ground, in 5 Things Hollywood Reuses More Than Plots and 5 Things Movie Trailers Need to Stop Doing.

And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 2.10.2010) to see the new trailer for RoboCop versus the Terminator.

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