For every horror movie out there, there are about ten more that never got off the ground. It’s just the way it goes and any number of things can be responsible. There are production problems, studio execs lose interest, copyrights turn over… whatever the reason may be, a lot of great movies never get past the script stage: if they even get that lucky. Here (in no particular order) are our top ten picks for horror movies that had great potential, but never happened.
Halloween: Michael Myers vs. Pinhead
This sounds like a fan-conceived project, but it is legitimate. After the enormous success of Freddy vs. Jason, Dimension Films began looking for franchises within their wheelhouse that had crossover potential and settled on Michael Myers and Pinhead. Here’s where it gets really interesting, after a few pitches that presumably went nowhere, Clive Barker – writer and director of the original Hellraiser and the novel on which it was based – decided that he wanted to write it. And as long as Barker was writing, original Halloween director John Carpenter agreed that he would direct it.
No, I’m not kidding. This crossover would have had one thing Freddy vs. Jason didn’t, and that was both original creators at the helm. Michael Myers and Pinhead are polar opposite characters with very different methods, which actually would have made a crossover very interesting. Sadly, it never saw the light of day.
Believe it or not, Resident Evil, had potential as a film once upon a time. Don’t get me wrong, the film is sort of entertaining, but there’s not a whole lot to it. Initially, though, it was zombie maestro George Romero who was called in to bring the game to life. The movie, though, wanted to focus less on the zombie core of the video game and more on the other creatures. Romero’s zombie films were actually the influence for the original game. Capcom hated his script, however, and he was fired as writer and director, despite sticking closer to the game’s origin story.
While Carpenter ended his relationship with the Halloween franchise after Halloween III (which he produced) he was actually going to return to produce Halloween 4 and even worked out a story with Dennis Etchison. Etchison was an accomplished horror author who had written the novelizations of Halloween II and Halloween III. The story would have featured a return to the original Halloween story, like we ended up getting, but the story itself would have been very different.
This film would have featured Haddonfield attempting to ban the Halloween holiday after the horrific Halloween night featured in the original films. But their attempts to repress the evil of Michael Myers would only cause his dark spirit to be resurrected. This is another case of a really interesting initial concept that showed a lot of potential.
I’ll admit it, this movie is still being talked about and news pops up every once in a while suggesting that it might happen. And who knows? It might. But it is very, very unlikely and del Toro has been trying to get this off the ground about as long as he’s been in Hollywood. The movie would be an adaptation of the classic story by renowned horror author HP Lovecraft, which centered on an Antarctic expedition that uncovered the ruins of an ancient alien society and accidentally awoke something long-since dead. Del Toro wrote the screenplay with Matthew Robbins, with James Cameron intending to come on board to produce and co-finance the feature. Tom Cruise was attached to star. It started to gain traction, but Universal backed out just as the movie was about to enter preproduction.
This sequel would have been a weird one. It was going to happen in the mid-1980’s with Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning director Danny Steinnman at the helm. The story would have resurrected the villainous Krug—who would once again be played by David Hess—as a Jason Voorhees-like supernatural killer. In fact, the movie would also have been set at a summer camp, and Krug would be picking off the counselors one by one. From the sound of it, it would have been a mess, but if anyone could pull it off, it would be the sleazy, violent style of Danny Steinnman.
This is a tough one to sum up, because there’s a lot of ground to cover. Freddy vs. Jason was a massive production that took over a decade to come together. Guillermo del Toro, Stephen Norrington and Rob Bottin were all considered as directors, while Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger, Peter Briggs, Brandon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, Joss Whedon, Lewis Abernathy and David J. Schow all made attempts at writing the screenplay. Most drafts centered on a cult called the “Fred Heads” run by Dominic Necros, who was obsessed with Freddy and trying to bring him back to life. He was the actual killer in the film, with Freddy being resurrected later on and Jason being brought forth accidentally. Other drafts included Jason being on trial for his crimes and Freddy haunting the dreams of the prosecutor defending him, another saw Jason and Freddy vying for the position of God’s bounty hunter or Hell’s bounty hunter depending on script. And there were more. They got crazy before Shannon and Swift came in with the idea of simply combining the two franchises into a single movie.
After Freddy vs. Jason proved to be an enormous hit, New Line wanted a sequel right away. The obvious choice was to bring in a third character to pit against Jason and Freddy. Producer Jeff Katz offered up the idea of Ash, of the Evil Dead franchise, and proceeded to write a treatment for the film. It almost entered production, before Sam Raimi decided to decline New Line’s the right to use the Ash character in case he wanted to use the character again in the near future. Luckily, this is one story that was able to see the light of day in at least some form, as Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash was turned into a 6-issue comic book series. The series was so successful that it spawned another titled “Nightmare Warriors.”
When trying to figure out a new direction after the box office drop from A Nightmare on Elm Street 5, New Line took a lot of pitches. They brought in a New Zealand filmmaker named Peter Jackson, at that time an unknown. His script was likened to A Clockwork Orange, with Freddy now seen as a joke and no longer a boogeyman or an instrument of fear. Now, kids would fall asleep intentionally and go into the dream world just to beat and torture the bitter, broken old dream demon. When one teen falls into a coma and becomes trapped in the nightmare realm, though, Freddy finally seizes the opportunity and takes the upper hand to restore his power.
Hellraiser: Hellfire would have been an alternative fifth film in the franchise, following Bloodline, which wound up being the last Hellraiser film to be released theatrically. Hellfire would have centered on a cult called The Nine, headed by a man named Credence who the others believe has mystical powers, which actually come from a deal he had made with the Cenobites after solving the Lament Configuration puzzle box. The story would have been set in London and would have featured the return of every original Cenobite as well as original protagonist Kirsty Cotton. Sadly, when a direct-to-video route proved the only option for a sequel, a new story had to be written for a much smaller budget.
Not much is known about this one other than that writer Shane Black and director Fred Dekker wanted to continue the franchise —had the film been successful —by having the kids face off against none other than the King of the Monsters, Godzilla. Unfortunately, an American version of Godzilla was already trying to get off the ground. Ultimately, The Monster Squad didn’t turn out to be profitable enough for a sequel anyway.