With the latest installment of Texas Chainsaw revving into cinemas and not getting many good reviews, it got me thinking: Does the horror genre rely too much on the big bads of yesteryear to carry on? Is it time that Leatherface turns off his chainsaw? Is it time for Michael Myers to leave his knife in the drawer? Is it time to avoid heading to Camp Crystal Lake? Is it time that we sell 1428 Elm Street? Is it officially time for the Fantastic Four to retire?
The reason that I’m looking at this topic is that each of these series have literally been done to death. In 1974, Leatherface made his first appearance and since then he’s done three sequels, a remake, a prequel to the remake and a reboot.
Michael Myers stomped his presence on the horror genre in 1978 in John Carpenter’s Halloween. Since then he’s done six sequels, a remake and a sequel to the remake. There was also Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, however with the exception of appearing in an ad on TV for the original Halloween movie, this film doesn’t show Michael at all and has no connection to his story whatsoever so I’ve not included it in the above countdown.
Jason Voorhees was the next big bad up to the batting plate. Not taking into consideration the first Friday the 13th movie as Jason wasn’t the antagonist, his first appearance as the killer was in 1981. Since then there’s been eight sequels, a showdown with Freddy Krueger and a reboot of the first three films made into one movie that could be passed off as a remake attempt.
Freddy was next, entering our minds, our hearts and our dreams in 1984. Since then he’s gone on to create five sequels, a reimagining of the old rules in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, a showdown with Jason Voorhees and a remake.
Is enough, enough? Do these Big Bads still draw in the crowds? Is there any way to make them new and exciting whilst keeping the mystery and the horror of the original film? Is it time to shelve the ideas of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street for good?
As a writer I look back on these series and think that they’ve officially run out of ideas. They’ve been recycling the same old formula for decades, and while it’s solid concept and did well in the 70’s and 80’s, it doesn’t seem to translate well with audiences now. The new ideas have fallen flat too. In a desperate bid to keep Friday The 13th going, the creators of Jason X sent Jason Voorhees into space then made him battle Freddy Krueger where winner kills all.
Michael was given some new ideas too in that of a back-story in the remake directed by Rob Zombie. I don’t personally agree with the back-story (or the film) that Zombie did, I do applaud his concept because on some level, we all want to know what made Michael snap.
Now you can’t really change the formula too much when it comes to these four as that’s what they’ve built their legacy on. However you can tweak it a little to provide something new and refreshing. Wes Craven did that with Freddy back in 1994 and produced Wes Craven’s New Nightmare which was a major success considering Freddy was known, at that point in time, more for his wise-cracks then his fear factor. Although, in saying that, I will cut Krueger some slack and say that he had some amazing kills, despite being the comic relief out of the Fantastic Four.
On Twitter earlier this week when I first began discussing this topic, I threw up the idea of having the original directors returning to their creations to recapture some of the glamour that had faded. The responses were mixed. Some people said they would prefer to see Indie or unknown director take a shot at recapturing the horror magic while others thought it was a good idea, although they were adamant about the gore factor being upped dramatically since the original movies were released.
Most people admitted that as long as the movie was good and provided them with entertainment, they didn’t really care who was sitting in the director’s chair. However there was that one voice that stood out and said that if the original directors still had the passion for their respected series, then by all means they should come back and give the fans something new and fresh while maintaining what made the movies scary to begin with.
Being a Halloween fan myself, I admit that I would love to see what John Carpenter would do with Michael now. Would he use Rob Zombies’ series to create something new, or return to his original concept?
The fact of the matter is, despite the Fantastic Four having an exceptionally large fan base, their stories are becoming tiresome.
So, how this for a fresh idea: What if the next Friday the 13th incorporated found footage into the film, kind of like Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon? Some campers or hikers are walking around Crystal Lake and manage to stumble across a video camera which has captured Jason’s latest rampage in all its gory details. Once the tape stops, they realize that Jason is directly behind them. Or perhaps having a film crew heading out to Crystal Lake to do a documentary on his crimes and having him show up to defend his turf?
Or how about a Halloween story that sees Michael track down his only remaining relative from the H20 movie, John (Josh Hartnett) who’s living abroad? Or have someone who looks very similar to Laurie move into his old house? I’m pretty certain that would piss him off.
Or what about having Freddy as a global killer? Let’s face it, there’s 24 hours in a day at least every minute of that 24 hours there’s someone, somewhere, in the world who is sleeping, and thus dreaming. After one movie, with a concept like that, Freddy could land on top of the body count list.
Is this the end of the Fantastic Four? I don’t believe so. As consumers of their products, we long to see them back in action, regardless of how good or bad the movie is.
Will they ever retire for good? No. They may lie dormant for a decade or so, but they’ll be back with a vengeance, ready to slice and dice their way through new victims and a new generation of fans.
Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger are icons of the horror industry and whether we like it or not, their movies will continue to be made as long as there’s a demand for them from their fans.