A Bloody Good Time 06.05.14: Ten More Horror Films You'll Never See
Posted by Joseph Lee on 06.05.2014
From a Nightmare on Elm Street film directed by Peter Jackson and Clive Barker's The Mummy to George A. Romero's Resident Evil, Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie and more, 411's Joseph Lee looks at the top 10 horror films we'll never see!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
So the big news in the comic book world right now is Edgar Wright leaving Ant-Man. The scuttlebutt says that there were creative differences that never allowed Wright to get his version of the movie off the ground. This, of course, made me think of an old edition of ABGT I did called Top Ten Horror Films You'll Never See. It was basically a list of long-rumored projects that I predicted would never got off the ground. I'm doing pretty well so far, as only one as been finished (that would be Phantasm V). Although in my defense, I'm pretty sure you're still not going to see Phantasm's End. Ravager looks a lot different than what was rumored back in the day.
For those that don't want to read an old list before you read this one (and so you don't say I forgot them), the other nine movies mentioned were: Meg, The Blair Witch Project prequel, E.T.: Nocturnal Fears, All-American Massacre, Helloween: Michael vs Pinhead, Clive Barker's Tortured Souls, Alien 5, Freddy vs Jason vs Ash and Evil Dead 4. I don't think the remake counts as an official Evil Dead 4.
So in honor of the Ant-Man movie that'll never get released (that being Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish's version of it), here are ten more horror films you'll never see.
#10: Strangeland II: Disciple
This is probably one of my personal choices for the most disappointing canceled film project. I'm a huge fan of Dee Snider's original Strangeland and still think it's an unappreciated classic in the horror genre. He put on a surprisingly good performance as Captain Howdy in the original and even the weird stuff seemed to fit. Dee Snider has been talking about a sequel for years and with the increased dangers of the internet today (as opposed to its relative infancy in 1998), Captain Howdy could be made into an even more frightening threat than he was before.
The problem is that this film is never going to see the light of day. Dee Snider tries to remain optimistic at times and said they're working on financing but it's been sixteen years. Even Snider himself said in 2010 that the project was "dead in the water" and there hasn't been a whole lot of development since then. The closest we'll ever get is the prequel comic book that was released in 2007-2008. Even that almost had some trouble getting a proper release.
#9: Godzilla vs The Gryphon
Tristar Pictures wanted to make an American Godzilla in 1994. Not only that, but they wanted Jan De Bont (Speed) to direct. Stan Winston did a design of the Godzilla that would appear and there was even a monster called The Gryphon for him to fight. The Winston version of the Godzilla, which you can find concept art for here, looked like a mixture of a Jurassic Park dinosaur, an alligator and the classic Toho Godzilla. In other words, it looked different enough to not be the same thing but similar enough to be Godzilla, which is what the fans wanted.
Of course, Tristar didn't want to pay $130 million dollars (which is funny considering the budget of this year's movie was $160 million) and De Bont left the project. There were rumors that Toho wanted Tristar to use King Ghidorah or Mothra but this isn't true. It was the budget. After De Bont left, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin came on and decided the script "wasn't the story we wanted to tell" and the rest is, unfortunately, history. I can't say the 1994 Godzilla would have been good, but at least it would have been Godzilla. Check out the screenplay here.
Alfred Hitchcock had a lot of half-finished projects over the years. The killer that appears in Kaleidoscope would have made Norman Bates seem like a kitten by comparison. This was the original version of Frenzy, which was actually made in 1972. This film had a closeted bodybuilder who not only was a murderer, but a serial rapist and possibly a necrophiliac. Not only that, but the film would be entirely through the eyes of the killer, who would be the main character. So it'd be more like the Psycho sequels, except without any redeeming value for our "hero".
Hitchcock wanted to make this movie in the mid-1960s. I think it's safe to say it's obvious that it wasn't going to happen, especially considering the uproar over the violence in Psycho. Kaleidoscope seems more like something H.G. Lewis would could get away with at the drive-in, but no Hollywood studio was going to let Hitchcock make this movie in this time period, no matter what the circumstances. It would have been a very interesting film to watch though.
#7: Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie
Frank Zito was dead in Maniac. Sure, he opened his eyes but he was pretty much done for. However that doesn't mean Joe Spinell didn't want to play another psychopath, as he was lined up to play the titular Mr. Robbie in a sequel to Maniac. I love the original Maniac and the chance to see Joe Spinell take on another psychotic individual with deep mental issues would have been interesting to see. This is the most tragic on the list because the film would have been made if not for the unfortunate passing of Spinell, two months before it was set to enter production.
Not only was this movie ready to go (it would have been a remake of the 1973 movie The Psychopath), but they actually managed to shoot some footage for a promo reel with Spinell in character. The footage still exists and you can see it below. The sequel would have been about a children's television host that murders the abusive parents of his fans. Take a look at the footage and see what might have been if Spinell had not passed.
#6: A Nightmare On Elm Street: The Dream Lover
Along with the many wacky and bizarre ideas for Freddy vs Jason, there was actually an alternate idea for a regular Nightmare movie that never happened. This was The Dream Lover, which was written and would have been directed by Peter Jackson. Yes, we almost got Freddy Krueger directed by Peter Jackson. How amazing would that have been? Do you want to know what we got instead? Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. That's not fair, Hollywood.
The film would have seen Freddy become very weak in the dream world and was considered a joke. So you know, how Freddy Krueger was seen by the general public in the early nineties. Teens would put themselves to sleep with drugs or whatever they could just go get a chance to not only see Freddy in the dream world, but beat the hell out of him. At some point in the movie, Freddy gets very lucky and kills one of the teens, which lets him start to get his strength back. He holds a boy's father hostage and the boy has to go back in one last time to save him. Once again, this is something we could have had instead of Freddy's Dead. Think about that and try to sleep.
#5: Clive Barker's The Mummy
I'm pretty sure you could write a book full of Clive Barker projects that were either changed before the final version or just never saw the light of day. We'll have to stick with his very informative official website until someone writes that book (I'm available if you need me, Clive). Back in the early nineties when Universal was trying to figure out how to get a reboot of The Mummy off the ground, they approached Clive about trying his hand at updating such a non-threatening horror movie monster and making it terrifying.
Barker himself said that his version of The Mummy would be to the original 1932 film what David Cronenberg was to The Fly. The script had an androgynous monster (which would trick men in the audience into thinking it's female before revealing it was male) and lots of Egyptian imagery. Unfortunately Universal didn't think anyone would accept the idea as a film...and then The Crying Game was released years later. It was a violent, dark and surprisingly sexual movie and that's not what the studio had in mind. Universal's 1999 film eventually had very little to do with horror and a lot to do with Brendan Fraser hijinks.
#4: House of Re-Animator
There was set to be a fourth Herbert West movie and I think it would have been a good one. The film sees the good doctor being brought into the White House after the Vice President passes away, so he can use his re-animation serum on him. The film would arrived right in the middle of the Bush Administration and would have taken some shots at Bush and Cheney, among others. But even without a political slant, how funny would it be to see zombies in the White House? A re-animated Vice President murdering people in the White House would make for a nice twist. Also, there's the fact that I really want another Re-Animator movie starring Jeffrey Combs and directed by Stuart Gordon.
Unfortunately this film had a small window of time to get made and that window has passed. It could be rewritten to either mock the Obama Administration or just politics in general, but it was originally planned to spoof an era of the White House that is finished. That doesn't mean we still couldn't get another Herbert West adventure in the future but this particular film is probably dead.
#3: George A. Romero's Resident Evil
It just makes sense. You're taking probably the biggest survival horror franchise of all time and putting the Godfather of Zombies behind the camera to turn it into a film. How do you screw that up? As it turns out, you can ruin it by deciding you don't like his script and deciding to hire Paul W.S. Anderson instead. You know, the guy who made Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. That's definitely who we want making our possible tentpole franchise.
Of course, Resident Evil turned out okay. The first film was decent enough and even though the sequels are (in my opinion) terrible, they're still making a ton of money for Sony so obviously they know something I don't. As a horror fan, I really wanted to see how the guy behind Night of the Living Dead could take on a different type of zombie and adapt a video game. It could have been the first good video game movie. It could have been worse than any of the eventual sequels. But don't you think that George Romero, of all people, should have been the one to be given a chance? Didn't they see the commercial he did for the game? Check out the screenplay here.
#2: At The Mountains of Madness
This one is fairly recent so I still hold out hope that someone will come to their senses and allow it to be made. Think about this for a minute. Guillermo del Toro directs a big budget Lovecraftian horror movie. I mean, you've seen Pan's Labyrinth, right? You know what kinds of creatures he's capable of creating. You also know what he can do with a large budget, as we saw with the Hellboy movies and Pacific Rim. The latter might have under-performed but Universal didn't know that when they passed on the project.
I know the budget would have been huge and the R-rating would have limited how many people could see it. I know that Del Toro's take on the project was similar to Prometheus (by his own admission). But at the time it had one of the few remaining bankable Hollywood stars in Tom Cruise and the visuals alone would have helped bring in audiences. A R-rating has never stopped a movie from being successful if it was good or had a following. Del Toro is still trying to get this thing made but as of now, I'm guessing it won't be.
#1: Dreamworks' Fatal Frame
I love the first two Fatal Frame games. The only reason I don't love the others is because I haven't played them yet. Outside of the first two Silent Hill games, the original Fatal Frame is one of the very few survival horror games that is legitimately terrifying. Not only do you have to be afraid when a ghost comes out of nowhere, but the ghosts themselves are scary. They keep repeating the same phrases over and over, look exactly as they did when they did and make inhuman moans. Your only weapon is an enchanted camera that can banish them or capture their souls. It's not a very good weapon when they can kill you.
I want to be specific in nothing that this is for the American version that is considered dead. The American version would have been produced by Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks, which meant it had a lot of studio muscle behind it. They had a script done and were trying to find a director but when DreamWorks split from Paramount, a lot of projects went into development hell, including this one. A Japanese version was announced in April but I'll believe it when I see it. Even if that movie does happen, it's not the big budget horror movie it was originally going to be. At least there will always be the games.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here, on my Twitter or my Facebook. Next week I take a look at the Hellraiser franchise, specifically what the people involved are up to now. It's the first of hopefully many "Where are the Now" segments in this column! See you then.
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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