Horror franchises trying to return from the dead

Ever since human beings first caught sight of their own shadows, they've burned countless calories contemplating the things that go bump in the night. Paintings, illuminated manuscripts, novels, and of course moving pictures all revel in depicting the darker side of our existence—and speaking of dark sides, the film industry loves nothing more than taking an intriguing original idea and draining the life out of it like a vampire in a nursing home.

Even after squeezing every last dollar from a classic horror franchise, sometimes the studio decides it's time for a classic ghoul to return to the limelight. Over the next couple years, Hollywood plans to try and breathe new life into some of cinema's most beloved (and reviled) horror sagas. You can run, but you can't hide—these brands (and their iconic bad guys) are on their way back to a theater near you.

Halloween (2018)

We're actually a little excited for this one. Ten films deep at present, the Halloween series springs from the classic John Carpenter original, and a popular urban legend about babysitters and boogeymen. After becoming an archetype for the slasher genre (and later, a faded carbon copy of itself), the franchise is back in the hands of its maker—sort of. Carpenter has agreed to executive produce the next trip to Haddonfield, Illinois, and maybe even write the score (hold off on the Moog excitement until further notice). The writing/directing team of Danny McBride and David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) is also on board, presumably checking "writing for a legendary genre franchise" off their bucket list.

With decades of horror know-how between them (well, Carpenter, mostly), and a solid understanding of genre subversion, Blumhouse looks to have put together a Halloween dream team, one able to put the ailing franchise back on its shambling feet. And there's even a little extra pressure on Michael Myers' next visit to the meat market—it'll stab at theaters just in time for the Halloween's big 4-0.

Franchise revival chances: Classic Night of the Living Dead (Might be the start of something new and exciting).

Hellraiser: Judgement (2017)

Hellraiser: Revelations, the most recent addition to Clive Barker's venerable Hellraiser saga, was enough to make even the super-masochist bark a safe word. Combining a sloppy plot involving two utterly unlikable (and shoddily acted) characters with a new, non-Doug Bradley Pinhead, the ninth entry in the wayward horror series couldn't scare an aichmophobiac. The once-brilliant series has long since been consigned to direct-to-video hell; were it not for the perpetual tease of Barker's return, many Cenobite lovers would have given up hope of ever seeing another solid entry. Sadly, Mr. Barker has once again bowed out of the nightmarish realm he created.

The series is set to go on, however, with Judgement, written and directed by Gary Tunnicliffe (who also wrote Revelations). Once again, Dimension appears to be tossing fans shoestring budget scraps to keep their clammy hands on the puzzle-box property rights. Without Doug Bradley, though, Pinhead just isn't anywhere near as scary. The latest entry does, however, offer a couple of casting upshots: classic Chatterer (Mike Jay Regan) will reprise his role and Heather Langenkamp (Nancy from Nightmare on Elm Street) has also joined the cast as the "landlady" (perhaps the most terrifying Cenobite yet).

The plot of Judgement sounds like a neo-noir potboiler a la Se7en, but director Tunnicliffe is passionate about his film, and that stands for something. Meanwhile, Hellraiser fanatics continue to hold their breath for Barker's return.

Franchise revival chances: Flight of the Living Dead (Possibly dead on arrival or worthy of a Rifftrax version).

Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)

The original Jeepers Creepers wasn't the most original concept, but it had a lot going for it in terms of pacing and story. The first two-thirds of the film offer a tense reimagining of classic slasher tropes, and the climactic reveal of the Creeper (still hard not to think of the classic Scooby Doo villain) either dropped the ball or Shyamalaned the hell out of the story—depending upon how you like your horror flicks. Its sequel certainly didn't take 23 years to return, supposedly how long the Creeper waits between flesh harvests, but it did take another 14 years for a third entry to poach audience organs—er, wallets.

Creepers 2 expanded the mythology of the offbeat horror series, but the cast of stock characters—a bus full of high school basketball players straight out of a Jason Voorhees dream—and the ridiculous premise gave it a rinse-and-repeat flavor. The third outing already kicked off with some controversy, as Canada refused to allow director Victor Salva entry due to his criminal past. Jeepers Creepers 3 is now on course again, filming in Louisiana, and brings Trish Jenner (Gina Phillips), who lost her brother in the original, back. Now she has a child of her own…and another whack at the Creeper.

Franchise revival chances: Day of the Dead remake (Could be solid; should wind up as the final film, but probably won't).

Alien: Covenant (2017)

One of the most storied horror/sci-fi series of the modern era, Alien set the stage for both genres heading into the '80s. Ridley Scott's atmospheric classic blended well into James Cameron's pulse-pounding sequel Aliens. The titular xenomorphs and their sloppy method of procreation launched a thousand (mostly awful) imitators and spinoffs; unfortunately, the franchise fell victim to sloppy serialization. David Fincher couldn't save Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection, despite a less-twitchy Winona Rider-bot, was still a bit of a hot mess.

Ridley Scott's mixed-blessing prequel, Prometheus, at least brought the mythos back to its early outer space magic—even if the plot worked better as a rumination on eternity than a character drama. Alien: Covenant takes xenomorph junkies back to the beginning, though, as Scott promises to connect up with the original and return to the graphic body horror he popularized along with David Cronenberg in the late 1970s.

Franchise revival chances: original Dawn of the Dead (A taste of brains and some big scares could equal a satisfying return to form).

Friday the 13th (TBA)

Some folks probably caught the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot just to watch Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) go all badass hunter on Jason Voorhees. Others simply wanted to watch a Friday entry without needless space (Jason X), squiggly, phallic proto-Jason slugs (Jason Goes to Hell), or inter-franchise synergy (as popcorn flick fun as Jason Vs. Freddy was).

To be honest, Sean Cunningham's seminal slasher always had a chunk of its tongue implanted in its cheek, and the reboot managed to successfully tick off some modern slasher boxes but failed to bring home the machete-skewered bacon—at least enough to give the studio heads a case of the franchise feels. The property also lost its way thanks to a film rights tug-of-war between studios. After several years, a prequel/reboot was about to give the monolithic killer new legs, until Rings' box office disappointment cut young Jason off at the knees.

Much like the prolific killer himself, the long-winded franchise will probably still pop up from out of frame for one more jump scare at some point. It's only a matter of time.

Franchise revival chances: Rec 2 (Treading water but at least keeping its head above it).

Saw: Legacy (2017)

Widely known (along with Hostel) for mainstreaming the "torture porn" horror subgenre, Saw dropped Lawrence Gordon (Carey Elwes) into the midst of a gnarly game played by the sadistic Jigsaw (a.k.a. John Kramer, played by Tobin Bell). Utilizing a series of twisted Rube Goldberg devices, Jigsaw, his hench-persons, legacy characters, and little wooden buddy Billy the Puppet tormented dozens of people through seven movies—often with a "punish the crappy people of the world" message at the heart of the plot.

The quote-unquote final chapter, Saw 3D , brought the franchise full circle, as (spoiler) Jigsaw's chosen successor Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) was attacked and presumably murdered. The eighth splatter spill-over, Saw: Legacy, was initially reported to be a total reboot. However, certain evidence has surfaced suggesting a connection to the previous films. Of course, if there are any return-of-the-dead-villain elements or a trip to space involved, it's pretty obvious the Saw legacy is headed for the dustbin of cinematic history.

Franchise revival chances: Diary of the Dead (Completely unnecessary, but we'll watch it anyway).

Children of the Corn: Runaway (2017)

Would you believe this franchise is still sort of alive and kicking? Yep. What started as an adaption of Stephen King's creepy little short story has managed to spawn nine films and a mythology slightly less convoluted than Pinhead's makeup process. The franchise was rebooted in 2009 by those bastions of quality B-film (and now actually decent television), the Syfy Channel.

Children of the Corn: Genesis returned as a bat-guano crazy semi-sequel to the 2009 reboot—at least retaining the "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" mythos and the standard location of Gatlin, Nebraska. Much like Dimension's other legacy franchise, Hellraiser, the ninth entry seems like another "gotta keep the rights alive" movie. Runaway, the tenth film in the saga, also claims a direct lineage to Genesis, for whatever that's worth. Dimension did hire low-budget schlocker John Gulager (Feast) to spin his splat-happy take on the lengthy and often uninspired series.

Franchise revival chances: Return of the Living Dead II (Could be silly fun, but probably only good for one sitting).

Pumpkinhead (2017?)

In 1988, visual effects maestro Stan Winston put together a surprisingly nuanced and freaky genre entry known as Pumpkinhead. His SFX wizardry, merged with brooding atmosphere and an understated performance from journeyman actor Lance Henriksen, turned Winston's directorial debut into a minor horror classic. The second outing, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, saw splattmeister Jeff Burr get the guts ripped from his movie by studio and MPAA interference, leaving audiences with a toothless retread. At least the sequel offered a smattering of backstory, digging into the ugly history of the titular monster and his son (proving there truly is someone for everyone).

The next two entries in the saga rehashed the plot of the first film, even bringing back a mummy Henriksen for Ashes to Ashes (there's a David Bowie reference in there somewhere). Following up, Blood Feud tried to shoehorn a Pumpkinhead movie into a Hatfield-McCoy feud, leaving SyFy viewers with an odd sensation—as though they'd inexplicably lost an hour and a half of their lives. The forthcoming entry into the series, simply titled Pumpkinhead, from Saw producer Robert Block, will restart the series. He claims the remake will include thematic similarities and "Easter eggs" for fans, but will otherwise be a different pumpkin-headed beast.

Franchise revival chances: Land of the Dead (Intriguing but probably should have left well enough alone).

A Nightmare on Elm Street (TBA)

The original Nightmare on Elm Street is a surreal, chilling classic that established director Wes Craven as a true horror master. As the saga progressed, however, Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger transformed from a terrifying child molester/murderer into a joke-slinging adult version of a Saturday morning cartoon (he even played dream Nintendo in the problematically titled Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare). Even though the franchise turned pretty damn goofy, Craven roped the horror back into it with his critically acclaimed box office bomb New Nightmare, a freaky meta-take on the seminal slasher.

In 2003, Freddy returned to his quips and took on his brainless machete-wielding competition in the aptly named Freddy vs. Jason before receiving a complete makeover in 2010 at the hands of Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company. The reboot managed to walk over Freddy's grave while slashing the wit and charm from a movie about a burn victim who torments teens. New Line apparently wasn't done with old knife-fingers yet, as another reboot was announced in 2015, once again sans Englund (have they learned nothing?). Details and dates have been scant, but as long as there's gold in them striped sweaters, there's a studio willing to wring it out.

Franchise revival chances: Day of the Dead remake (Flogging a dead premise).

The Predator

While Predator and its mixed bag of related installments blended action, science fiction, and straight horror, the film effectively breaks down to a beefed-up (literally) stalk-and-slash with an ET Michael Myers. The first chapter pulled Arnold Schwarzenegger and his musclebound cohorts into the South American jungle as an alien warrior picked them off one by one—while also launching a thousand eyerolls as everyone in the late '80s felt the need to say "get to the chopper." The sequel tried its best to expand on the mythos but was really just a vehicle for Danny Glover and Gary Busey (there's a first and last time for everything). Predators returned to the tried and true testosterone-fest formula with some success, while a pair of Aliens vs. Predators cash-grab crossovers nominally sufficed as fan service-driven vehicles.

Actor, director, and writer Shane Black, who also played Hawkins in the first Predator, is helming the latest soft reboot, which apparently refers to events from the first two films but ditches the third sequel and AvP. If Black can return to the claustrophobic feel of the classic film, he might breathe some new life into the franchise that made dolphin-like clicks scary.

Franchise revival chances: Evil Dead remake (Shows promise but could slip and fall on its own entrails).

I Know What You Did Last Summer (TBA)

There was a point during the 1990s when it seemed Kevin Williamson (Scream, The Faculty, et. al.) could do no wrong. Then I Know What You Did Last Summer arrived. While commercially successful, the film's common-sense shredding premise careened from improbable to laughable. The sequels did their best to up the ludicrous ante, especially I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, in which the killer concocts a radio contest and buys his intended victims all-expenses-paid trips to a tropical island—just to murder them. In any case, Sony clearly feels that the slasher series warrants a redux. After all, the Gorton's Fisherman in black has never been scarier (beware the Frankenfood). The reboot ramped up production in 2015, and at least according to writer Mike Flanagan, was still moving forward as of June of 2016.

Franchise revival chances: Night of the Living Dead 1990 remake (Why?).

American Werewolf in London (TBA)

Bursting with humor, pathos, surreal sequences, a surprisingly sunny (for London and a horror movie) ambiance, and howlingly good SFX, American Werewolf in London ushered in the silver (sorry) age of lycanthrope flicks. In fact, the Wall Street '80s were stuffed to the guts with incredible anthropomorphic thrillers like The Howling, Wolfen, and The Company of Wolves. John Landis' own charming contribution owes a debt to the performances of David Naughton (David), Griffin Dunne (Jack), and Jenny Agutter (Alex), as well as Rick Baker's Oscar-winning effects. He also stuffed the film with punny songs like Bobby Vinton's "Blue Moon," Van Morrison's "Moondance," and of course, Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising."

Coming a not-so-sweet 16 years later, An American Werewolf in Paris tried to recapture the magic of its predecessor. It also suggests that werewolves can mate with non-werewolves and breed more werewolves, since the daughter of freshly bitten David and nurse Alex snarls about Paris in this bland follow-up. After years in development hell, a remake was announced last November with Landis' son Max writing and directing it. Here's hoping his father's talents are genetic.

Franchise revival chances: Lucio Fulci's Zombie (Sometimes a redux can take on a life of its own…sometimes not).

The Toxic Avenger (TBA)

Lloyd Kaufman revolutionized low-budget filmmaking with Troma Films. Well, maybe revolutionized is too strong of a word—in any case, he became a B-movie impresario on the back of one malformed nerd, The Toxic Avenger. Since Toxie's 1984 debut, Kaufman and company have carved out quite a niche in the schlock world, with a legacy and large back catalog of Z-grade fare like Class of Nuke 'Em High, Poultrygeist, Cannibal: A Musical (from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone)…and of course, a handful of Toxic sequels, including the in-development Toxic Twins: Toxic Avenger 5.

The remake of The Toxic Avenger, however, made waves due to sparking Tinsel Town's interest in a big way: at one point, Arnold Schwarzenneger himself was attached to the project (he's since dropped out). Meanwhile, acclaimed writer/director Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and Richard Saperstein are among a host of producers looking to revamp the cult classic, and Sausage Party co-director Conrad Vernon is currently on board to helm the remake. Hopefully, the new Toxic Avenger's larger bankroll won't undermine the quirky sensibilities of the original.

Franchise revival chances: Evil Dead 2 (rare is the remake that outdoes its predecessor…but you never know).