Once a horror movie officially pulls out all the stops and becomes a franchise, things get pretty weird, pretty quickly. The people in charge will do whatever they deem necessary to keep that franchise going. So there will, of course, be sequels. There will always be merchandising and tie-ins, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Yet even with all of that, we continue to be surprised.
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Spinoffs are still relatively rare in the horror field. It’s hard to constitute what counts and what doesn’t. Is Freddy’s Nightmares a spinoff of Nightmare on Elm Street? Does Friday the 13th Part V count as a spinoff because a new killer takes over? It’s a hard balance to figure out. A lot of the offerings we’ll be looking at on this list never got off the ground fully. But they were filmed (or released in some form), even if some may never see the light of day. Others did see the light of day, and may only be more confusing for that. Without a doubt, all in all, they are spinoffs you won’t believe really happened.
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares
Real Nightmares is a pilot for a Fear Factor-style reality show. It features Robert Englund, as Freddy, putting contestants through challenges based specifically around their worst fears. It basically is Fear Factor, but with Freddy as the host. But let’s face it, that’s infinitely more entertaining. Not a ton is known about the episode or episodes that were filmed, but one challenge example featured a contestant who was terrified of bulls being forced through the maze of the minotaur.
Pinhead is a spinoff of the popular Hellraiser comics of the early 1990s, in which Pinhead himself was wisely used sparingly. Fans of the character wanted to see more of him, and in a “be careful what you wish for” scenario they were gifted this limited series. It features the Hell Priest in a plot that rips off—of all things—Quantum Leap. Yes, this one is about a time displaced Pinhead being forced to jump between various incarnations of his past selves. These include everything from an Inquisitor with golden pins to a Native American Pinhead with arrowheads in his face. It sounds so ridiculous that it could not possibly happen, but it did.
It might be a stretch to call this a spinoff but what the hell? Sleepaway Camp IV began filming not too long after Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, but production shut down in 1992 and the film was left incomplete. In 2012, it was dusted off and completed by mixing in new footage and archival footage from the previous three pictures with the footage that was originally shot. The result is an incoherent mess. The most awkward part, however, is that it followed four years after Return to Sleepaway Camp, which is technically the fourth in the series. So even though The Survivor had been partially shot in 1992, it is technically the fifth film. Other than completely throwing off the counting system for all possible movies in the series, it was meant to feature a passing of the torch to a survivor who was meant to become the new antagonist. Angela appears only in flashbacks here, which is probably for the best, because the attempts to stitch together the remnants of this movie’s story don’t really work.
This is one of those projects that sadly never got off the ground, but it’s also a little surprising to think that anyone ever thought it would. All that remains today is a 15-minute short film although a 60-minute version was shot. I guess it works well enough on its own but was also meant to showcase what a feature film would have been like had it been made. Directed by William Hooper (son of Tobe) and starring Bill Moseley, it serves as a spinoff of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, revealing the origins of Moseley’s character Chop-Top. The bulk of the story is centered around Chop-Top being interviewed in a psychiatric prison by a tabloid journalist and recounting his origins through flashbacks. Sadly, it was never completed, but hopefully the 60-minute version will turn up, just for curiosity’s sake.