Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.
It’s the nature of the movie business – ideas get tossed out there, studios and creative types get interested, and then a series of insurmountable hurdles arise and projects never come to fruition. This phenomenon occurs in every genre, but it seems horror movies face an even rougher road from idea to the screen because studios have never been particularly enamored with horror in general, and some ideas require more money than a horror film can typically garner.
We’ve seen all of that change a bit in recent years. Horror has proven that it can be profitable to the studios (particularly when they spend a million bucks or less on a movie) and the surge of crowd-funding sources like Kickstarter have allowed fans to get into the game. That’s all great, but we’ve lost some potentially amazing horror films over the years because of the old hurdles. Titles that could have been something special were never made for a variety of factors. Today, we take a look back at some of the coolest sounding horror films that never came to be. Some of them could still happen, but we wouldn't hold our breath on ever seeing most of these.
Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires
Don Coscarelli’s 2002 film Bubba Ho-Tep was a fantastic adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s story of the same name. Bruce Campbell plays Elvis, who apparently did fake his own death, and The King teams up with Ossie Davis to stop an ancient Egyptian mummy stalking the halls of a nursing home. The film became an instant hit with cult-film fans, and Coscarelli teased a sequel with a title card at the end of the adventure.
Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires was reportedly just a joke – but fans went crazy over the idea of Campbell’s the King coming back to take on lady vamps, and Coscarelli decided to move ahead with the idea. A script (reportedly excellent) was written, Campbell was set to return (and would be joined Paul Giamatti as Col. Parker), and then the whole thing sputtered.
Campbell bailed in 2007, and Ron Perlman was set to replace him, but as of last year, Coscarelli says Campbell still wants to make the film. Will it ever happen? The odds seem long, but Coscarelli is still working (he helmed the excellent adaptation of David Wong’s novel John Dies at the End and just dropped a trailer for Phantasm 5) so anything is possible. Keep your fingers crossed for this one.
Worst Case Scenario
The world has more than enough movies focusing on the zombie apocalypse, but Richard Raaphorst’s Worst Case Scenario looked like it was going to stand head and shoulders above most of the walking-dead movies shambling around in the horror genre.
The film first garnered attention back in 2006, when an amazing trailer turned up online. By this point, Raaphorst and his crew had been filming for two years. The tale revolved around an army of German zombies invading the Netherlands after the Fatherland loses the World Cup. Oh those crazy Europeans and their soccer…
Raaphorst pulled the plug on Worst Case Scenario for good back in 2009, leaving many horror fans wondering what might have been. Some of the ideas lived on in his follow-up production, the moderately entertaining Frankenstein’s Army, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that we lost out on something truly magical when Raaphorst shut down production on Worst Case Scenario once and for all.
28 Months Later
From the moment Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later ended, fans have pontificated endlessly about a third film in the “are they zombies or not?” franchise that started with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later – and years later, we’re no closer to seeing that film at the local multiplex.
Fresnadillo’s title ended on a note that seemed perfect for setting up the next installment, but as so often happens, a number of elements have conspired to keep the third movie from actually happening. Danny Boyle is busy, zombie movies are everywhere, no one has an actual script…
Still, it appears as though 28 Months Later (a title Boyle reportedly hates in much the same way Romero hated the fan-anointed Twilight of the Dead moniker that followed him around for years) may eventually happen. Last year, Boyle revealed that he’d like to direct the third film if it ever gets made and gave the odds of it happening as “40/60." For his part, he says he has an idea about where to set it and what takes place – but if we ever find out what those ideas are remains to be seen.
George Romero’s Resident Evil
Speaking of George Romero, many of us are still lamenting the fact that the king of zombie cinema never got to make his movie based on Capcom’s popular video game franchise Resident Evil.
At the time, it seemed like a perfect fit. Romero had directed a commercial for the Resident Evil 2 game, and was the front-runner to bring the franchise from the small screen to the multiplex. Unfortunately, something went wrong along the way – notably the fact that Capcom and Romero apparently had different visions for the series.
Capcom was unhappy with Romero’s script for the film, reportedly because it was too much of a horror movie when it wanted something more action oriented. Capcom went as far as saying Romero’s script “wasn’t good.” Ouch.
Romero was undaunted by Capcom spurning him, and since then he's gone on to make several new zombie films of his own. None of them live up the original Dead trilogy, though.
John Carpenter’s The Thing 2
John Carpenter’s The Thing was a box office failure back in 1982, but has since gone on to garner a huge cult following. It’s not particularly surprising because Carpenter has often seemed ahead of his time with his films – making things that are awesome, but so awesome it takes people a few years to realize how amazing they are.
Anyway, Syfy caused a minor uproar back in 2003 when it revealed plans to make a miniseries based on the film, one that would serve as a sequel to Carpenter's very open-ended version. That never happened. However, this apparently ignited something in Carpenter’s brain – and by 2004 he was talking about his own idea for a sequel, one that would pick up exactly where the first film ended (which seems at least like a bit of a nod to Carpenter’s screenplay for Halloween 2).
In the new story, Kurt Russell and Keith David would return – having been rescued after the climax of the first film, and presumably allowing the alien species to escape Antarctica. Carpenter’s never really said more about it than that, to my knowledge, but that was more than enough to get horror geeks excited.
Unfortunately, the project never came together. Instead, we got a mediocre prequel to Carpenter’s tale of horror from another galaxy – leaving all of us free to continue to debate who was really infected at the original film’s end.
This Steven Spielberg project, which blended elements of horror and science fiction, came into existence when Columbia Pictures wanted a sequel to Close Encounters. Spielberg didn’t really want to make a sequel to that film, but he was unhappy with the way Universal moved forward with Jaws 2 without his involvement, so he came up with Watch the Skies (later changed to Night Skies) – another alien movie, but about as different from Close Encounters as you could get.
The film told a tale inspired by the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter – an incident where a Kentucky family claimed their farm was under siege by a group of aliens. Spielberg uncovered the story while researching Close Encounters, and it stuck with him. He hired John Sayles to write a screenplay, Rick Baker to create the alien creatures, and had designs on getting Tobe Hooper to direct, but then it all came crashing down.
Eventually, elements of Night Skies found their way into other films. The one friendly alien who makes nice with the human family’s autistic son eventually became the basis for E.T. Tobe Hooper got to work with Spielberg on Poltergeist (which found a family under attack from a supernatural force, as opposed to an extraterrestrial one), and the aliens are reimagined in Gremlins (even the film is advertised on a theater marquee). Given how everything’s been essentially farmed out (pun fully intended) to other movies, it seems highly unlikely that we’ll ever see Night Skies. You’ve got a better chance of seeing Spielberg’s E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears (which found a more menacing group of extraterrestrials killing animals and torturing Elliott for information about E.T.’s whereabouts), and since there’s a zero percent chance of that happening, well, that pretty much says it all.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has had a weird cinematic history. Tobe Hooper’s original is a beloved genre staple, his follow-up is not nearly as good, but does feature an awesome chainsaw swordfight. Unfortunately it all goes downhill from there (TCM3 does have its moments, though), culminating in a remake and sequel that fans seem to love for some reason I cannot fathom.
The most interesting Chainsaw project has never been released, though – it’s William Hooper’s unofficial sequel to TCM2, All-American Massacre.
This short film first blipped onto the radar back in 1998, when Hooper (Tobe’s son) revealed that he was working on a short film that would catch up with one Texas Chainsaw 2’s most iconic characters, Chop Top. The plan was for the film to have a tabloid news crew meeting up with the character 24 years later, as he’s released from a mental hospital. Bill Moseley was back and shooting was mostly completed, but he ran out of funds to finish the postproduction work. As such, the project appears lost forever – although you can watch this trailer.
The only reason this title makes the list is because the premise sounds cool and Rowdy Roddy Piper is in it. I’m not a big wrestling fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I love seeing Piper in movies, so this one caught my eye from the moment it was announced.
Basically, the film revolves around an old legend. It’s said that the devil can appear in two places at the same time – in India and in a Kansas cemetery – at midnight on every Halloween. Meanwhile, two federal marshals (Piper and Kevin Gage) are tasked with transporting a mysterious man known only as Sin-Jin Smyth. You can probably guess this Smyth character (played by Korn frontman Jonathan Davis) is more than meets the eye.
The film was scheduled to release way back in 2006, but has set – and failed to meet -- countless release dates in the years since. Most involved with the project, including Piper, acknowledge that it will never be finished. Apparently they ran out of money, and as the years go by it seems increasingly unlikely that anyone will come to the rescue.
Some folks were lucky enough to see a rough cut of the film back in 2010, but it appears the movie is completely dead for all intents and purposes. A shame, really – as people who saw the rough cut seemed to like it.
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