Conventional wisdom dictates that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing twice. Applying this to movies, it’s true that many sequels are awesome (Aliens, Friday the 13th Part 2). But did we really need that last Final Destination? Did Rob Zombie really need make a sequel to a remake of a classic film that had never lost its relevance or ability to attract new fans? And, following their new sequel every Halloween pattern, six years from now horror fans can expect to see Saw 12: The Son of Jigsaw Rides Again. Still, in an age when a lot of this recycled cinematic material seems silly and superfluous, here’s my list of films that I think actually NEED a sequel or reboot, even if it’s highly unlikely that any of them will ever be made.
1. Nightbreed (1990)
I love this film (and Clive Barker’s novel Cabal on which it’s based), but I think Nightbreed was a missed opportunity. This film really needs a sequel, because despite some problems with plot and pacing, it has so many intriguing characters with little or no development plus a rich mythology of which we are only given a small glimpse. I’m a fan of the Hellraiser series, but Nightbreed has far more material for a franchise, so a sequel should be a walk in the park. The film has a strong cult following, but it never got a fair shake because for some reason the studio billed it as a slasher film, and I’ve always heard that Barker wasn’t happy with the finished product. Nightbreed left the door wide open for a sequel that could focus on just how Boone will fulfill his destiny as Cabal, as well as how Ashberry will fulfill his role as the Breed’s new arch-villain or any other number of stories dealing with the mythology’s past.
2. Slither (2006)
We don’t need a Cloverfield sequel. There, I said it. THIS is the monster movie that needs a sequel. Slither is smart and fun, with likable characters and monsters that behave as a real monsters should. Slither is wonderfully devoid of annoying media hype, secret web pages, viral marketing, or a monster who makes peek-a-boo screen appearances. Slither was a gift to fans of old-fashioned, b-grade horror, and it left me wanting more. Where did that slithery, parasitic alien come from? Slither takes place in a small southern town, and I loved that, but what would happen if one of those parasites landed in a larger southern city, such as Memphis or Nashville? I know I’d watch a film that has cowboys, country singers, Elvis impersonators and zombies in it. Plus, Nathan Fillion really deserves more time on the big screen.
3. Ghosts of Mars (2001)
While obviously not John Carpenter’s best film, I don’t understand why so many people hate Ghosts of Mars. It has a terrific original soundtrack by Carpenter, Steve Vai, and the enigmatic guitar virtuoso Buckethead. Jason Statham does a competent job in it, as does Natasha Hinstridge, and I even liked Ice-Cube’s portrayal of Desolation Williams. And how could anyone not respect the tough and sassy Helena Braddock, played by the original Foxy Brown herself, Pam Grier. I think people were annoyed by the flashbacks and unconventional narrative style, but the story itself is a simple, straightforward allegory about the conflict between science and magic, good and evil, masculinity and femininity, love and war or whatever binary opposition you care to pick. Carpenter needs to redeem this film by giving it a sequel. The story warrants it, as the evil red horde of Martians that are still loose at the end of the film are, of course, going to make their way to mother Earth and, of course, it’ll be up to Ice-Cube to save the day yet again. But this time, he could enlist the help of always-bad-ass Eliza Dusku (who’s out of work now that Dollhouse has been axed) or maybe 50-Cent, which isn’t all that far-fetched since he’s started acting now. I will go on the record here and now as saying that I want to see that film.
4. The Tingler (1959)
Even though it often shows up on lists for the worst films of all time, I love the shameless, ham-fisted glory that is The Tingler. The film included such gimmicks as placing buzzers under the theater seats, a staff of fake nurses on standby in case of heart attacks, and color sequences added to the black and white film to highlight the shock of the blood-filled bathtub. All of this was designed to exploit the film’s premise that a mysterious creature called “the tingler” lives in each of us watching the film and is responsible for producing fear. None of those tricks would work today, if they ever did, but just imagine what an intrepid, creative director could do with the concept today: a 3d tingler set loose in the theater, complete with surround sound and movable seats. After the film is released, it could also make for a really kick-ass permanent attraction at Disney World.
5. They Live (1988)
Along with Escape from New York, They Live is another John Carpenter film that defined my young adulthood, so I have admittedly selfish reasons for wanting to see what a modern reboot of it might look like. I love the way Nada, the film’s hero (played by Rowdy Roddy Piper) is content to simply “kick ass and chew bubble gum.” He has no moody, complicated brooding, or inner demons to wrestle with—just those legions of alien scum. But, more than that, the film’s anti-corporate, anti-sloganeering, anti-commercial message is very much needed today. In our culture of incessant tweeting, text-messaging, viral networking, and product placement, we need another Nada to smack the slick veneer off it all and show us that there’s more to life if we look hard enough. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been doing really schmaltzy family-friendly movies lately, like The Gridiron Gang and The Tooth Fairy. I’d love to see him in the role of Nada, grabbing those alien scum by their white collars as he shouts “can you smell what the Nada is cooking?”
6. May (2002)
I love the simplicity of slasher film killers. They kill because they’re evil, or insane, or seek revenge, and that’s about it. But it’s refreshing when a director such as Lucky McKee takes this genre to new places. May is much more than a slasher or Frankenstein knock-off. It’s a well-crafted and skillfully unsettling character study of what it means to be a social misfit. Even though the film is terrific as is, I don’t think we’ve gotten to the bottom of May’s psychosis, or exhausted the film’s potential as an allegory of alienation. Just like we needed a sequel to Ginger Snaps to take its original metaphor about puberty and femininity into surprising new directions involving drugs and addiction, we need a sequel to May. It ends with that ambiguous final sequence in which her creation Amy seems to come to life. The insinuation is that it’s all in May’s head, and that’s she’s more isolated and in her head than ever before. But what would May be like if she finally found the companionship and acceptance she so desperately needs? What kind of person could give that her? Together, I bet they would be even creepier than the desperately lonely version of May.
7. Dagon (2001)
Hardcore fans of Lovecraft may quibble with the fact that the film Dagon is actually a version of the novella The Shadow over Insmouth, but it’s one of the more successful adaptations nonetheless. I’m not sure I like the way Ezra Godden plays his character Paul Marsh as a bumbling boob until the last quarter of the film, but Stuart Gordon’s portrayal of the town Imboca is incredible. It captures the combinations of the grotesque, the sublime, the surreal and the serene that makes Lovecraft’s fiction so creepy and compelling. The film had a modest budget and the special effects are mostly terrific, but I would love to see what Gordon could do with a more substantial budget in a reboot of Dagon. I’m talking about the kind of budget and ambition that Peter Jackson had with his Lord of the Rings trilogy. While far more esoteric and hidden, Lovecraft’s world of slithering, sickly gods and half-human mutants has just as much depth and richness as Tolkien’s Middle Earth; that’s more than enough to warrant a proper trilogy of its own.
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