Well, ladies and gents, like it or hate it, the new Halloween is killing it at the box office. I saw the movie on Friday and apart from little nitpicky things here and there, I really enjoyed it. But I’m not here to review the movie. I want to talk about what comes next.
Opening weekend numbers for this flick are very high and since next weekend is when most of us will be celebrating Halloween, I think we can expect a repeat box office performance. The Halloween series is a viable commodity again and I have no doubt that development of a sequel has already been set into motion.
I also have no doubt that the success of Halloween will have other studios digging up and dusting off the horror franchises they own.
It has been eight years since we’ve been to Elm Street, and nine since the last Friday the 13th has been released (and with the current legal quagmire who knows when Jason will slice through the screen again)… Halloween might be the catalyst for the revival of some of our most beloved horror series.
But here’s the problem… most of these franchises have been left in a state of confused mess. Child’s Play, for example, is splitting into two new ventures… a movie remake and a television continuation of the storyline followed since the original. Texas Chainsaw was re-booted and had a sequel and then came Chainsaw 3D which was supposed to be (like Halloween) a direct successor to the original, and then there was Leatherface, the prequel to the sequel (which was also a prequel) of the reboot. We’re all over the place here.
So, does the next Jason movie follow up the remake or do we go back somewhere between parts 8 and 9 or ignore everything after part 7 and start there? Freddy is the character I’d most love to see back in action and I can’t even begin to think how they would pick up where the series left off (I’d prefer a continuation of the Alice storyline, but that will probably never happen).
We could be in a good place, horror fans. We could also be standing at the base of a mountain waiting to be buried under an avalanche of crap.
I always thought the studios and film makers should listen more closely to the fans (even if we can’t agree with each other on what we want to see with our favorite series), so I’m offering up my advice on how to bring back our old favorites without fucking things up too badly:
1. KEEP THE BUDGETS LOW.
The new Halloween was made or 10 million dollars, which is nothing these days. When you think about it, all of these franchises began with independent movies. And those movies are classics. The last Friday and Nightmare had big studio budgets and I honestly don’t know where the money went; it sure didn’t end up on the screen. Low budgets lead to limitations that spur creativity.
2. USE PRACTICAL EFFECTS.
CGI is useful and it has its place, but too many movies are overly reliant on it these days. Plus, the old tricks are good tricks. Find a good FX guy, a student of Savini preferably, and let him and his buddies run wild.
3. NO PG-13; KEEP IT RATED R.
One of the reasons horror movies aren’t being churned out by major studios is they think they will lose money because they don’t appeal to a wide enough audience. I remember when IT was in production there was talk about whether or not it would be rated R; same deal with the F13 remake. I’m not saying that every horror movie needs to be chock full of gore and sex, but let’s face it: those two things are part of the reason most of us got hooked on horror in the first place. And let’s also not kid ourselves that teenagers aren’t going to come see these movies, R rating or no.
4. LEAVE THE ORIGINAL MYTHOS ALONE.
No more convoluted revelations about the past of our favorite killers. No new rules, no surprises, no long-lost relatives we never heard of before that are somehow now integral to the plot (JASON GOES TO HELL and FREDDY’S DEAD, I’m looking in your direction). Simpler monsters are scarier monsters. Operate within the well-established rules and don’t tamper with the origin stories. In fact, feel free to disregard some of the problematic parts of each villain’s mythology if it allows for the series to return to its true horror roots.
5. LET THE DIRECTOR AND WRITER DO THEIR JOBS.
These movies aren’t exactly The Godfather, but even that movie almost wasn’t the Holy Grail of Film it has become because the studio kept jumping on Coppola’s back and second-guessing his every decision. Luckily, he won out. What I’m saying here is let the artists create. Don’t pick a director and scrap all his work in post production. And don’t pick a script just to bring ten other writers in to revise and muck things up. Hire people you trust and let them go. If you follow rule #1, you’re guaranteed to make your money back twice over anyway.
6. RESPECT THE FRANCHISE.
I always cringe when they bring in a director or writer and you hear them say in an interview, “Well, I never really watched these movies”. This is where we get into trouble, when people start tampering with what made these movies so popular in the first place. There is no shortage of horror fans working in the business: find them. Hire them. A real fan will know what works and what doesn’t. They will honor the source material, they respect the genre and its fans, and they know what we want to see.
The new Halloween is a success and a solid entry to the series and I think it’s because they more or less adhered to the guidelines I’ve just laid down. But it all boils down to this: we love these movies, we love our monsters, and we just want to see a return to form for every franchise. It’s not hard to look and see what made each series great in its own way. Horror fans are the most loyal people there are: keep us entertained, keep us scared, and we’ll keep coming back.