A Bloody Good Time 05.23.13: 10 Horror Villains That Should Stay Retired
Posted by Joseph Lee on 05.23.2013
From Halloween's Michael Myers and the Candyman to Samara from The Ring, Leatherface, zombies in general and more, 411's Joseph Lee counts down the top 10 horror villains that should stay retired!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
It's become obvious that Hollywood just doesn't care for original horror anymore. I've pointed this out several times, but the studios like to go back to the well of old franchises multiple times while new, original and entertaining horror films are stuck in the independent scene. I think it's actually worse now than it used to be, because there was a time when it was all about creating the next big horror monster, which resulted in the new classics we have now: Pinhead, Jason, Freddy, etc. Now we have the well being tapped again with remakes/sequels of Evil Dead and the upcoming Poltergeist. That's to say nothing of Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates getting revived on television, with mixed results.
Sometimes new writers and directors can take these characters in new directions and refresh them. But there are ten that I think just need to be put out to pasture and left to our memories. If not forever, then certainly for a long, long time. These are the ten horror villains that need to stay in retirement. Does this mean that I would never watch a new film involving these characters? No. I'll give anything horror a chance. But at some point someone should try something new.
Have mummies ever been scary? I can't honestly think of a single time I've ever been frightened by a Mummy on screen. Karloff's version was good, but it was never really scary. In that, that's one of the the Universal films that holds up the least. Like the Romero version of Zombies, mummies are slow-moving. More than that, mummies are really slow-moving. They are covered in bandages and move at a snail's pace. At least zombies have sheer numbers on their side. One skeletal mummy should not be able to kill anyone on purpose.
You would think there's no real threat of mummies coming back, but I've read they want to reboot the series at Universal. The last time the monster was presented on screen it was an adventure film. A monster that started as a way to scare people devolved into a series of Brendan Fraser action movies. While I'd love to see someone try, I don't think mummies will ever be scary again.
#9: The Fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer
I think we're pretty safe from another film about the hook-handed Fisherman getting released, but I thought I should mention him anyway. The I Know What You Did Last Summer movies, initially based on a book (and taking very little from that book), were made into slasher films to capitalize on Scream revitalizing the genre. It's no secret that they weren't any good. They took the blandest parts of the Scream films and left out all of the wit and mystery.
You can call The Fisherman another horror villain that just isn't scary. He's got that hook, but he's just a guy. He's also not likely to kill him if you're a) not one of the people he wants vengeance on and b) not in his way of killing those people. Most of his victims are jerks anyway, so you kind of don't care to see him off them. The last film was in 2006, so I'm pretty sure this franchise is dead. Let's just hope it stays that way.
#8: The Creeper from Jeepers Creepers
I was talking about this with a friend just last night, actually. When I first saw the first two Jeepers Creepers films, I was younger and had no idea the kind of things that director Victor Salva did while on the set of Clownhouse. I just thought he was a gay dude who really liked to show off shirtless dudes on the roofs of school buses. Then I found out, and it sort of tainted my view of the movies. I can still separate the work somewhat because of the other people involved, but it's hard not to after knowing.
Salva has been promising (threatening?) a third Jeepers Creepers for some time now. I'd probably watch it (I tend to watch anything horror), but I don't foresee it being very good. If we ignore all the stuff he's done in his criminal life, wasn't the story pretty much told? Do we really need to see the Creeper wake up and attack an old Ray Wise? I think leaving it open-ended is really the best way it could have ended. The last film was in 2003, I just don't think there would be any interest in a third film by now.
The Candyman series has also been dead for a while, although Tony Todd still wants to keep it going. I'm a huge fan of Tony Todd, and the first Candyman is an underrated slasher. But the sequels were outright bad. Not even Tony Todd likes the third film. Even if the sequels were good, it's been fourteen years since the last one. If there was going to be a new Candyman adventure with Todd on board, we would have seen it by now. Candyman doesn't necessarily have to be young, but considering he's supposed to be eternal (due to being dead), it's probably better not to revive him.
The only other option here is a remake, and that just doesn't need to happen. I'm sure there are some really good black actors that could pull off the role (Idris Elba springs to mind), but I just don't want to see it. I'd rather the series stay dead and leave us with the memories of the great first movie and the unfortunately dull sequels. There's only so much you can do with a ghost that kills people who say his name five times anyway.
Dracula has been around for over a hundred years. Even as I write this I know he'll never be dead. They're making a new NBC drama about him. But Dracula isn't scary anymore. Part of that is because of vampires in general not being as scary as they used to be (thanks a lot, Twilight), and part of it is because of brand deterioration. Anyone can use the Dracula character in any way they want. He's public domain. That means in the same year you can have a bloody 3D Dracula movie from Dario Argento (which I heard was bad, but I haven't seen it) and a family-friendly Dracula movie voiced by Adam Sandler.
I have no interest in NBC's new Dracula drama. I've seen the story of Dracula told many times in many different ways. At this point he really is just another vampire. He's not supposed to be. He's supposed to be the vampire. He's supposed to be the smartest, most evil and most powerful vampire ever. Now he's just another creature of the night, sucking blood. I think an extended stay in the coffin would be good for him. He's been at this horror game long enough.
#5: Kayako and Toshio from The Grudge
Ju-On: The Grudge scared me. Kayako crawling the down the steps, making that noise with her throat scared me. The actual curse, which has no way of being escaped and will eventually kill you no matter how far you run, is a scary idea. However, this franchise is heavily repetitive and thanks to the various different versions, incredibly watered down.
Takashi Shimizu has remade his own story twice (Ju-On, Ju-On: The Grudge, The Grudge), plus made sequels to those films. He's never really switched up the game plan or the characters, and there's never been any hint that Kayako will ever be stopped. A villain that is all powerful can only be scary for so long. It seems like that doesn't make sense, because if a villain can't be stopped, that means it should always be scary, right? Wrong. If you have eight films with the same villain doing the same things over and over, it just gets boring. And don't get me started on Toshio. He was never scary.
If there's one thing that Texas Chainsaw 3D proved to me, it's that Leatherface is done. It's sad to say, because unlike some I actually enjoyed the remake and thought it could have breathed new life into a franchise that was on its last legs thanks to one of the worst movies ever, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Texas Chainsaw 3D promised to bring back the series and instead just gave us more of the same.
But this isn't about that one movie, this is about the character and franchise as a whole. Chainsaws are a scary horror weapon. I'm not so sure Leatherface still is, anymore. He has all the necessary parts to be a good villain. He eats human flesh, he wears human flesh and he carves people up with a chainsaw. But there's just something missing that very few people have been able to capitalize on. He hasn't been intimidating in some time and I think more sequels are just going to be just as mediocre as the most recent. There's just no gas in this chainsaw anymore.
#3: Sadako/Samara from The Ring
This is a case of the villain being outdated. Sadako put her curse onto a VHS tape that must be copied and shown to someone else in order to survive. For the record, they don't really make VHS tapes anymore. I still see them for recording purposes, but the days of VHS are long over. Hell, the days of DVD are reaching its final stretch. You really have no reason to be scared of a villain if she's stuck on a dusty old format that no one uses.
I actually want to be wrong about this one. I think there is still franchise potential in The Ring stories and there's a way to bring Sadako out of the VHS age and apply her curse to modern technology. Just the thought of that tape becoming an internet meme and spreading that way would be a good story idea. I just don't think there's any way anyone's going to successfully pull it off unless they're very passionate about it. Even then, it's going to take some extreme retconning to get it going. It's best to just leave her on the shelf.
I've just killed you all.
#2: Michael Myers
This could have easily been Jason Voorhees, but considering he's my favorite villain and I want that series to at least get to thirteen before calling it quits (also, a movie set with snow would be nice), I'm not including him. Really though, what else can you do with Michael Myers that you can't do with creating a brand new slasher villain? The only reason Michael Myers is still being used is name value alone. The Halloween brand is still capable of making money, so they'll bring him out and have him dispatch some teens.
Again, what else can you do with him? He's already went after his family, his story's already been remade. The only things he hasn't done is go to space or fight another horror villain. I'm not really interested in any of those possibilities. Otherwise you can just put Michael in a new location and kill a bunch of new people. Boring. Michael Myers is still capable of scaring, as I found out when I saw the original in theaters last year. But in terms of continuing the franchise, there's not much else you can do. As history has shown, if you do try anything different, it'll get retconned in the next movie anyway.
I'm still a fan of The Walking Dead, but it's not for the walkers. The best zombie tales have never been about the zombies. The zombies are a means to an end, a way of telling stories about people. It just so happens that zombies can kill you in a way a lot gorier than something like the disease in Outbreak. Romero knew that the zombies were a way to tell stories about people (at least he did for a while). It's why I always laugh when people criticize The Walking Dead for not having enough zombie killing. At the risk of sounding like some hipster, they just don't get it, man.
But that's not why zombies are #1. Zombies are here because they're too easy and too prevalent. Anyone can make a zombie movie. Throw some dirt and fake blood on a guy, have him attack someone, throw in some CG blood effects and boom. You've got the latest zombie movie to be thrown onto video shelves and easily forgotten. The Walking Dead is successful, and as a result it's spawning more stories about the creatures, but very few good ones. Zombies are supposed to be a metaphor for disease, but now they're an excuse for Billy Jack Director to make a video zombie movie for $25 in his backyard. For that reason alone, it's time to find another monster to exploit.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. There's been a real resurgence in bringing back things that were long retired. Next week, I'll revive my ongoing look at dead film companies with a look at Cannon.
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