The sinister backstory is a large part of just about any work of horror. Sometimes these tidbits of information don’t work, other times they are more interesting than the movie’s actual plot. But then there are the times when the backstory is so interesting and ties into the overall arc so well that it leaves the viewer demanding more.
Sometimes we get more. Horror prequels are not in short supply and some are better than others. I think almost everyone, though, has those couple they would really like to see. Especially when it concerns the characters thought of as the genre icons. Who was Jason Voorhees before he put on a mask? These are not light questions. And while much of the films have revealed pieces of the monster’s life, there’s always plenty of room to explore.
With that in mind, we will be taking a look at the villainous origin stories that really made our imaginations run wild.
Related: Horror Prequels that Actually Work
Rob Zombie’s Halloween spent a good deal of time with Michael in the sanitarium, but that was his version of Halloween, not Carpenter’s. His Michael Myers was an entirely different character. It would be another thing entirely to go back to that boy at the beginning of Carpenter’s film and follow through his time in the hospital. Interestingly enough, the novelization of Halloween spent almost as much time in Smith’s Grove as Zombie’s did, with many accidental deaths among the patients that Loomis suspected Michael of but could never prove. If you listen to Loomis’ speech in the movie, he says he spent eight years trying to reach Michael before finally coming to terms with what he was. That has the basis for a very sad, scary feature, with Loomis as the protagonist as he begins to understand what he is dealing with.
The vampires are the scariest part of Salem’s Lot, to be sure, but the Marsten House itself runs a close second. Stephen King laid out an intricate and deeply unnerving backstory for that house before the undead even come into play. Hubie Marsten is one of the scariest characters in that book and in the film incarnations and he never even appears. He was dead long before the story begins, but he left a legacy. A reserved former hitman who lived in the ominous house on the hill. A man who many suspect in the disappearance of local boys, but don’t dare investigate. A man who committed suicide in his home and murdered his wife. And, in particular, a man who corresponded with the novel’s main antagonist, the vampire Kurt Barlow. What role Barlow had in Marsten’s actions is never totally explored, but would definitely make for an interesting story.
The upcoming film promises to explore what makes Jason Voorhees supernatural, but that’s not really something I need answered. I want to see more of Jason’s relationship with his mother. What was it like for that child, who could not possibly fit in anywhere, forced to attend the camp in the summer simply because his mother worked there? If a supernatural angle has to be explored, I think it would be more interesting to see an investigation into the lake itself. I bet Crystal Lake and the surrounding area have a dark, dark history that has not yet even begun to be explored.
Strictly talking about the original, My Bloody Valentine does a very interesting thing in that it introduces an elaborate backstory for a killer that we never actually meet. Harry Warden is the dark, urban legend at the heart of the film and the person everyone assumes is responsible for the killings. But that turns out not to be the case. But it would be neat to see something that goes back to the original murders, to Harry Warden who went crazy when he was trapped underneath the mine and forced to live off of the flesh of his co-workers. While it probably won’t ever happen, a prequel that went back to Harry’s original Valentine’s Day massacre would be neat to see.
Angela Baker is still a child when she’s introduced as the protagonist/antagonist in Sleepaway Camp, yet her character has an intense backstory. Most of it is only given to us through brief, fleeting flashbacks. Essentially, Angela’s father and his lover take young Angela and Peter on a boat trip. There’s an accident and Angela is killed. Peter is sent to live with cousin Ricky and eccentric Aunt Martha, who already has a boy and has always wanted a little girl. So, she makes Peter live out life as Angela, assuming her identity rather and developing a murderous instinct. Angela accepts herself as who she is by the time we meet up with them, but that journey would be interesting to see on screen.
Hellraiser is a really interesting case of being given so much information about a character, but very little information at the same time. Pinhead’s origin is fascinating. A British Captain in World War I, Elliot Spencer was disenchanted with life itself after the war and turned to a hedonistic lifestyle. But how did he get his hands on the box? What were the decisions and moments that led him down that path? And what did Hell see in him when he finally found the box, deciding to turn him into its Black Pope? These story elements would make for a very different kind of Hellraiser movie, but a nonetheless intriguing one.
This is the big one. This is the one everyone goes to. For good reason, as well, because Wes Craven created an elaborate mythology surrounding Freddy Krueger that is as infamous as the character himself. It also goes to show how much room a prequel can really provide when you look at how much of Freddy’s past was revealed throughout the various sequels. From the beginning, we know him as the Springwood Slasher and we learn how the parents took justice into their own hands. In the third, we learn the horrors of his conception. And in the sixth, we learn that he was a married man with a young daughter of his own when he was killing the children of Elm Street. There’s a whole, horrific life here worth exploring. Sure, Freddy’s Nightmares tried to cover some of this ground. But it would be very interesting to see a prequel structured as a courtroom drama, studying not only Freddy but also the parents and the sense of desperation that causes them to do what they do.