Horror movies and unnecessary sequels go hand in severed hand. But there are still some follow-ups whose pitches were just too wacky to put into production. Yes, the same genre that gave us a Jaws sequel with a voodoo-powered shark and a Blair Witch sequel with honest-to-god time travel had the restraint to stonewall a few projects. Meaning we'll never get to see ...
The original Halloween is a slick, concise thriller that somehow spawned the most frustratingly convoluted franchise in movie history. Still, the series is beloved, which is why we continue to get new Halloween movies, even though Michael Myers really should have traded in killing sprees for butterscotch pudding and The Price Is Right reruns years ago.
The Crazy Sequel:
Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers wasn't amazing, but it featured a young/identical-looking Paul Rudd, so how bad could it really be? Originally, though, the sixth entry was titled Halloween 666: The Origin, and it was fucking bonkers. The movie would have followed a reporter named Dana, who suffers Michael-Myers-themed nightmares and is coincidentally assigned to cover the town of Haddonfield lifting its Halloween ban (which they imposed due to all the grisly murders). Little Tommy Doyle from the original (who was eventually played by Rudd) is now an adult "hacker." As for Michael, in this draft, he's homeless. Now, technically he was always homeless, but the script explicitly has him sleeping in alleyways and chilling at a local men's shelter.
Dana eventually realizes that, like Laurie Strode, she is also secretly Michael's long-lost sister, because ... coming up with new ideas is hard, you guys. Similarly to The Curse Of Michael Myers, this movie would have explored the pagan origins of Myers' evil. But since this was the early '90s, we learn about it through virtual reality. With a little help from Tommy, Dana plugs in to a VR apparatus, which is pretty much magic. Tommy calls it a "high-tech Ouija board," and it essentially sends her back in time, in a way no Oculus Rift ever could.
According to one review, Michael was the "comic relief" of the script. He has some surprisingly wacky kills, like standing on a toilet to propel himself through a ceiling, or murdering a dude dressed like Jason using a beer bong.
The climax features Michael being pushed into the grave of his dead (non-secret) sister, because it's a portal "into the otherworld." So ... maybe we all owe Rob Zombie an apology?
I Am Legend stars Will Smith as Dr. Robert Neville, the survivor of an apocalypse so harrowing that he doesn't even rap about it during the closing credits. Neville spends most of the movie hanging out with his dog and battling crazed mutants. Since test audiences didn't like the original ending, which had the gall to go for sensitivity and nuance, the studio insisted on a new climax in which Will Smith blows himself (and a bunch of mutants) up with a grenade.
The Crazy Sequel:
The studio really shot themselves in the foot with that whole "Let's kill Will Smith" thing. After insisting on that ending, they badly wanted a sequel. And it turns out that the thing people generally like about Will Smith movies is, well, Will Smith. So how do they get him into the sequel, what with his character having exploded? Could some of the remaining survivors maybe pop in a Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air DVD from time to time? The idea they came up with was somehow even dumber than that.
At one point, the filmmakers considered making a prequel focused on Neville's life during the original outbreak, but that "felt forced." As for a sequel, the movie would just open with a surprisingly alive Will Smith, later dropping the bomb that he was "cloned and brought back to life" like a common velociraptor. Since even the director thought that was "really dumb," it was scrapped as well. Meaning audiences had to wait 12 more years to get a shitty Will Smith clone movie.
A Nightmare On Elm Street spawned numerous sequels, comics, toys, a bizarre 900 number, and a board game for children fed up with the subdued violence of Clue. But apart from some flashbacks and a TV show in which Freddy was (no joke) a rogue ice cream truck driver, we never got a prequel to the original film. We almost did, though.
The Crazy Prequel:
The same year A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors hit theaters, John Saxon (Nancy Thompson's dad) pitched a movie which would shade in some of Freddy Krueger's backstory. And it wouldn't go quite the way you'd expect.
New Line Cinema
The proposed story would be set in 1969, when Nancy is five years old, Freddy is still alive, and Bryan Adams gets his first guitar (hopefully offscreen). In some deleted scenes from the original, Nancy had a stepsister named Betsy. The new story focused on this previously non-canonical character becoming "caught up in the hippie movement" and getting murdered along with some of the other neighborhood teens. Soon a gang of Elm Street parents round up Freddy, force him to confess, then burn him alive for his crimes against humanity and, to a lesser extent, fashion.
But it turns out that Freddy is in fact innocent. Really, the parents were more to blame for not noticing that their hippie kids were hanging out with ... Charles Manson! Yup, this movie would have revealed that the real killer behind the original Krueger murders was the infamous cult leader, thus beating Quentin Tarantino to the revisionist Manson movie punch by more than 20 years.
What started out as a quaint little movie about a nice, albeit somewhat murderous summer camp slowly spiraled into a sprawling franchise that grew wackier with each passing year. The Friday The 13th movies eventually saw Jason go to New York, Hell, outer space, and even The Arsenio Hall Show, for some reason. But apart from the time Jason fought Freddy Krueger (instead of bonding over their shared love of murdering teens), the Friday The 13th movies never crossed over with other franchises. But it wasn't for a lack of trying.
The Crazy Sequel:
After wrapping Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, director Tom McLoughlin had some ideas for a follow-up. Since Freddy vs. Jason hadn't ironed out all the rights issues, he suggested having Jason cross over with another popular film series, one the studio owned the rights to. Like, say, Cheech and Chong.
Yes, there was a pitch to have the lovable stoner duo meet the masked serial killer. The idea was a throwback to the Abbott and Costello monster movies, wherein they met ghouls like Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the specter of old-timey racism. Ultimately, the studio decided that the violence of the Friday The 13th movies wouldn't mesh with the antics of Cheech and Chong, and that Jason should eschew comedy for a more dignified path, like murdering naked women on a goddamn Holodeck.
Gremlins is a classic allegory about the responsibilities of pet ownership quickly spiraling out of control. The original is a violent Christmas horror story, while Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a Looney Tunes-inspired media satire. It's easily one of the best movies in which Leonard Maltin gets strangled to death by a puppet.
The Crazy Sequel:
We may be getting an animated prequel series about the mysterious Mr. Wing, but the proposed reboot/sequel doesn't seem to be happening anymore. Luckily, the project's screenwriters put some pages of their treatment online for us all to scrutinize. Apparently their Gremlins would have addressed how time zones affect the "Don't feed Gremlins after midnight" rule, the most nagging logistical problem in a movie filled with magical murder demons.
And according to original screenwriter Chris Columbus, the sequel would have also tackled a far bleaker question: Why don't the humans just murder Gizmo? Sure, he's almost painfully adorable, but no more Gizmo means no more Gremlins. Columbus claimed "that comes up in the movie," adding that it's "probably a good idea" because "too many people are dying." But since the movie probably isn't being made, we may never know if it would end with our favorite Mogwai being taken out to a shed and given the Old Yeller treatment.
While most college students backpacking through Europe pick up a pretentious new accent or a classy continental STD, An American Werewolf In London sees David Kessler coming down with a bad case of lycanthropy. The movie works so well because its story is so simple: Boy gets bitten by a werewolf, boy turns into a werewolf, boy gets gunned down outside a porn theater filled with the angry ghosts of his victims. It's basically perfect.
The Crazy Sequel:
While we eventually got a pseudo-remake with An American Werewolf In Paris (updated for the '90s with designer drugs and bungee jumping), director John Landis was once asked to write a sequel himself. Which he did. Landis' idea focused on Debbie Klein, whom you probably don't remember from the original, because she's not in it. There's just a scene in which David's friend Jack casually mentions that he wants to hook up with a girl named "Debbie Klein," whom David hates.
It's like if The Empire Strikes Back decided to focus on some unseen Tatooine teenager Luke Skywalker had the hots for. The sequel would have retconned the story slightly so that David was secretly sleeping with Debbie without Jack's knowledge. And because David apparently wrote her a letter during the events of the first movie, Debbie starts investigating his death. Oh, and remember those Nazi monsters from David's nightmares?
The audience was led to believe those were the result of the werewolf bite, but in the sequel, Debbie randomly starts having them too. And she eventually starts seeing those guys when she's awake. Soon "the violence becomes so overwhelming that the audience would eventually lose sight of what was real and what wasn't." Toward the end, Debbie tracks down Alex, David's nurse and love interest from the original. In a shocking twist, Alex is a werewolf now too! Presumably because David bit her while we were all in the bathroom or getting popcorn. She's also still dating David, and they even make out, despite the fact that he's now the revolting apparition of a rotting corpse.
Alex actually has her lycanthropy under control until Debbie and her boyfriend show up, leading to Alex's death. This ends the curse, freeing Jack and David's souls. And as the two friends saunter into the afterlife, Jack turns to David and says, "So you fucked Debbie Klein?" Not exactly Casablanca.
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