The Dreadful Ten: Top 10 Dead Horror Films We’d Love to See!Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
In the horror genre, as well as filmmaking at large, it’s no surprised that there are a mountain of unrealized movies floating around in cinematic limbo. Between scripts that are purchased so that competitors can’t produce them, scripts that are rewritten beyond recognition and the multitude of movies where financing fell apart, the industry is filled with many fright films that almost were. And yet in our imaginations, these films still remain as real as ever to horror fans, with our fervent twisted minds filling in the spaces left blank by cruel circumstance.
Yet thanks to how incredibly well documented the horror genre has become, especially thanks to the amount of collector’s edition releases and documentaries embraced within the genre (as well as longstanding magazines such as FANGORIA), more information on these DOA projects is available than ever before. And for this week’s Dreadful Ten, FANGORIA has decided to revisit some of these hypothetical horrors and share which ones we most wish would rise from the grave…
10. The Original HALLOWEEN 7
Before the grand return of Laurie Strode in HALLOWEEN: H20, the initial plan for the HALLOWEEN series was to bring the franchise into direct-to-video territory following disappointing returns for THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS. Yet even for a direct-to-video film, the original concept of Halloween 7 was quite an intriguing one: with Michael Myers still on the loose, the FBI turns to an infamously cerebral serial killer to help find and catch Myers. Of course, HALLOWEEN 7 was obviously meant to ride the coattails of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS as well as pit Myers against a psychopath that could go toe-to-toe with the hulking Haddonfield horror. But the concept has never been quite explored in a major slasher franchise before, and could have been a cool way to approach the character following all that “Curse of Thorn” nonsense. Fans can find out more about this abandoned project on the H20 Blu-ray on Scream Factory’s HALLOWEEN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Box Set.
9. Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING
While some still have hope that Eli Roth will eventually bring his GRINDHOUSE trailer to life, Roth’s post-AFTERSHOCK career path has certainly suggested otherwise. For a while, THANKSGIVING was being packaged with a sci-fi film entitled ENDANGERED SPECIES that Roth wanted to make, but the financing just couldn’t be found for the pair. Nevertheless, Roth’s THANKSGIVING had been clamored for by horror fans considering just how spot-on the faux trailer emulated ‘80s low-fi slasher fare, with Roth’s penchant for questionable taste, dark comedy and brutal practical SFX could have worked wonders for. Nevertheless, Roth has a full plate as it is, and this writer seriously doubts there’s room for seconds when it comes to a Roth-directed THANKSGIVING.
8. Rob Zombie’s TYRANNOSAURUS REX
Truthfully speaking, this one hurts a bit. After Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN, this writer got wind of this project and instantly became excited; after all, Zombie taking on an action film was exciting enough, let alone one with such a high concept as TYRANNOSAURUS REX. With a plot that was essentially RACE WITH THE DEVIL but with professional wrestlers, demons and Rob Zombie’s exploitation know-how, TYRANNOSAURUS REX was set to be something so much more ambitious and insane than anything Zombie had done before. Yet the project fell into perpetual delays once Zombie was brought upon HALLOWEEN II, and his negative experiences on that film all but put the nail in the coffin of TYRANNOSAURUS REX, joining the ranks of Zombie’s BLOB remake and his hockey comedy BROAD STREET BULLIES in development hell.
7. Hollywood Gang’s THE LAST CHRISTMAS
If you haven’t read Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan and Rick Remender’s ultraviolent graphic novel THE LAST CHRISTMAS, I would highly implore you to do so. Released by Image Comics in 2006, the novel shows Santa attempting to restore Christmas in a post-apocalyptic world of mutants, miscreants and zombies… by any means necessary. It’s bold, hilarious tale from the trio (who would later go on to feature in Earwolf’s amazing NERD POKER podcast), and one that almost found it’s way to the big screen. Production company Hollywood Gang optioned the rights to THE LAST CHRISTMAS back in October of 2007, with 300 producers Gianni Nunnari and Craig J. Flores attached as executive producers. However, Hollywood Gang, which at the time was also producing graphic novels from the likes of Warren Ellis and Frank Miller, never did end up bringing the film to reality, focusing on IMMORTALS and 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE over the course of the last 7 years instead.
6. David Cronenberg’s THE FLY Follow-up
While details on this project are particularly thin, there’s no denying that the idea of David Cronenberg revisiting the mythology and universe of THE FLY was an alluring prospect. After all, Cronenberg has never done a sequel throughout his career, and the idea of him resurrecting his most beloved horror property for a new generation was pretty compelling, especially considering the fringe genre cinema he’s been directing as of late. Cronenberg’s FLY sequel had been carried over from his time at Brooksfilm, however, and the director stated that it would address modern technology as well as the teleportation device from the first film. Yet for budgetary and creative reasons, Cronenberg’s FLY follow-up stalled and does not seem possible for revival anytime soon, even though fans would still love if Cronenberg was given the chance to break his “no sequel” rule just this once.
5. John Carpenter’s L.A. GOTHIC
If this writer wanted to, he could fill an entire list her with unproduced John Carpenter projects, including his Nicolas Cage-starring prison riot movie, his true-story cannibal western, the Cher-starring post-apocalypse film PINCUSHION, supersoldier flick SHADOW COMPANY, and many, many more. But perhaps his most intriguing almost-was project was L.A. GOTHIC, a classically-informed anthology horror that followed five supernatural stories in L.A., all bound together by a vengeful ex-priest and his oft-targeted daughter. While the film was so close to production that sales art had been produced and casting had begun, the project mysteriously and suddenly fell apart in 2008, which lead Carpenter to pursue THE WARD shortly afterwards. And though this writer would have loved to see Carpenter return to his first anthology since BODY BAGS, L.A. GOTHIC has all but become a memory, although the script very recently resurfaced during a one-night-only live read at Jumpcut Cafe in L.A., which would be the closest to fright fans seeing the film in action as you could get.
4. Guillermo del Toro’s AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS
Is there any filmmaker who can spur up the excitement of genre fans as much as Guillermo Del Toro? The Mexican Master of the Macabre has delivered some of the coolest mainstream and foreign genre fare in recent memory, but in his words have also come promises that become harder to keep with his ever-busy schedule. Yet none of his projects has been more prolific, or exciting, than his purported AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS adaptation, which would be the first time the director would bring Lovecraft’s prose directly to the screen.
Yet even with the likes of Tom Cruise and James Cameron in his corner, del Toro’s R-rated horror epic was still considered too risky for it’s $100 – $120 million budget and was never formally greenlit. And while the film has stayed somewhat in flux, with del Toro even hinting that he may be able to do the film in a PG-13 rating to guarantee the budget, this writer has actually read del Toro’s draft of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS, and it’s unbelievably awesome. It’s challenging, it’s violent and it’s massive, and it’s the kind of film del Toro deserves to make, but likely never will.
3. Neil Marshall’s THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER
While this project isn’t officially dead yet, Marshall’s DEMETER adaptation has been years in the making, one of the many in the line of stalled productions in Marshall’s potential big-screen follow-ups to CENTURION. But Marshall has not been the only director attached to THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER, which would follow the doomed vessel that carried Count Dracula to London and the horror in which the hungry vampire inflicts upon the crew. David Slade, Stefan Ruzowitzky and several others had previously been attached to direct in the near-decade before Marshall came aboard, and for good reason: Bragi F. Schut’s script is claustrophobic, terrifying, bloody and genuinely suspenseful.
The Dracula on display would be much closer to the likes of Nosferatu than sensual Vlad as seen in his most recent portrayals, and while casting heated up for the project back in 2012, there hasn’t been word about DEMETER in quite some time. There have been rumors that DRACULA UNTOLD might have something to do with DEMETER’s stalled production, but that’s merely conjecture at this point. This writer doesn’t doubt that one day THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER will take sail, but for it to go without Marshall’s specific horror sensibilities would be a damn shame.
2. Steven Spielberg’s NIGHT SKIES
Despite making two of cinema’s most unforgettable monster movies (JAWS and JURASSIC PARK), Steven Spielberg has been quite reluctant to revisit the horror genre as a director. But that doesn’t mean the director hasn’t had his fair share of temptations, with the closest being the long-discussed NIGHT SKIES. While Spielberg himself had a “no sequels” rule (one he only broke for THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK and the INDIANA JONES sequels), Spielberg was unhappy with Universal’s decision to pursue JAWS 2 against his wishes, and when discussions about a CLOSE ENCOUNTERS sequel came to light at Columbia, Spielberg offered the studio a more horrifying alternative that, even scarier, was based on true events.
With working titles such as WATCH THE SKIES and NIGHT SKIES, Spielberg sought out John Sayles to write the screenplay as he worked on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and realized that he may have to bow out of the director’s chair due to his contractual obligations to Universal, yet still desired to produce the film nonetheless. And with Rick Baker behind the SFX and noted illustrator Ron Cobb taking over directorial duties, NIGHT SKIES looked ready to go… that is, until constructive criticism from screenwriter Melissa Mathison pointed Spielberg towards E.T. instead. And just as quickly as the project, which had been described as “STRAW DOGS with Aliens”, came together, it fell apart; while Spielberg would parlay many of his NIGHT SKIES ideas into E.T., POLTERGEIST and the equally unproduced E.T. II: NOCTURNAL FEARS, Baker was devastated and never worked directly with Spielberg again.
1. William Friedkin’s THE DIARY OF JACK THE RIPPER a/k/a BATTLECREASE
Ever since THE EXORCIST, fans had wondered when William Friedkin would return to out-and-out horror; even though most of his films were incredibly intense, violent and stressful, JADE and RAMPAGE were the closest to a return to genre form before his Tracy Letts productions. Yet before BUG, Friedkin was set to return to horror in the mid-to-late ‘90s with an adaptation of James Maybrick’s diaries which claimed he was Jack the Ripper, with was set to star and be executive produced by Anthony Hopkins, who had just won acclaim in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and Coppola’s DRACULA.
Friedkin was set to bring a big-budget Gary DeVore-scripted Ripper tale to the big screen, at one time titled BATTLECREASE, and described it as a “twisted love story that resulted in the death of five prostitutes.” And the project remained in development for nearly half a decade, announced by New Line Cinema in 1994, and eventually falling apart late in 1997. And while Friedkin would go on to make RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, but a Friedkin-made Gothic horror Ripper film could have really blown away fright fans during the post-SCREAM slasher renaissance, and will unfortunately remain as one of the genre’s most curious missed opportunities.
And now, some honorable mentions that almost made this week’s Dreadful Ten:
Stalled Sequels: DOG SOLDIERS 2 and DEEP BLUE SEA 2:
Two films that have been in perpetual development since their predecessor’s respective release, DOG SOLDIERS 2 (which has carried the subtitle FRESH MEAT) and DEEP BLUE SEA 2 (rumored to carry the title DEEP RED SEA) have both been much anticipated by creature feature enthusiasts. Neither Neil Marshall or Renny Harlin were expected to come back as director’s on the films, and while DOG SOLDIERS 2 has almost happened a number of times (the latest announcement came with the promise of a 2014 release), DEEP BLUE SEA 2 has never been formally announced, mostly appearing as rumors every few years as a possible direct-to-video revival.
Hitchcock Horror: KALEIDOSCOPE and THE BLIND MAN:
Though the number of unproduced Hitchcock films is many, there are few that are prolific as KALEIDOSCOPE and THE BLIND MAN. While the latter, which followed an eye transplant recipient who sees visions of the murderer of the eye donor, was axed due to production problems (many of which spurned by those offended by PSYCHO), the former, which followed a bodybuilder would seduce and murder women, never came to fruition due to the controversial script, which had the killer as the protagonist and featured much explicit sex and violence. Despite the stalled production, many elements of KALEIDOSCOPE were later refashioned for FRENZY and the test footage from the film still exists to this day.
Unrealized Remakes: Alex Proyas’ QUATERMASS AND THE PIT and David Gordon Green’s SUSPIRIA:
Both at the height of their careers, Alex Proyas and David Gordon Green had been attached to bring their unique sensibilities to two of the genres most beloved properties. While Proyas (and co-writer David S. Goyer) found their QUATERMASS remake hobbled by rights issues, David Gordon Green’s SUSPIRIA found the bottom drop out on financing mere weeks before production was about to begin. Even if many are happy both remakes never came to light, it is still interesting to think about what these visually striking filmmakers could have done with those projects.
Abandoned ALIENS: Jon Spaiht’s ALIEN: ENGINEERS and William Gibson’s ALIEN 3:
Both victims of the cannibalistic studio system, the original scripts for ALIEN: ENGINEERS and ALIEN 3 promised films that were much different than what eventually became PROMETHEUS and David Fincher’s ALIEN3. In the case of ENGINEERS, Spaiht’s script was much more of an ALIENS film, featuring Xenomorph-Engineer hybrids, a mid-coitus chestburster sequence, a more malevolent David android and a surprise appearance by colonial marine mercenaries, and didn’t carry the overt philosophical subtext of Lindelof’s rewrites.
Meanwhile, Gibson’s ALIEN 3 almost had Ripley as a peripheral character, whose comatose body is sent back to earth, passing the franchise on to Hicks and Bishop as they battle genetically altered Xenomorphs aboard a socialist military vessel. Gibson would later go on to write a second draft of ALIEN 3, which scaled back the action and corrected many plot holes in the first draft, but nevertheless, Gibson’s vision would end up being scrapped among the many other potential drafts of ALIEN3.
Carpenter’s Close Calls: DEAD SPACE and HALLOWEEN: THE REVENGE OF LAURIE STRODE:
While both Carpenter and HALLOWEEN 7 both made our Dreadful Ten, Carpenter has long stated his desire to bring DEAD SPACE to screen. While it would reunite the director with the big budget studio system, as well as thematic material similar to THE THING, Hollywood has yet to make it happen, and it’s future doesn’t look optimistic either. Meanwhile, Carpenter was initially attached to bring HALLOWEEN: THE REVENGE OF LAURIE STRODE (later known as H20) to the big screen once Curtis signed back on to the project, but his longstanding issues with the Akkad family regarding profits from HALLOWEEN provoked the filmmaker to ask for a $10 million director’s fee, which was not going to happen. However, one wonders what Carpenter could have brought to the HALLOWEEN franchise following his disavowment of the previous three sequels, especially with Jamie Lee Curtis leading the way.