When zombies returned with huge success in the mid-2000’s, I couldn’t have been happier. They were a staple of the genre, after all, a cornerstone in the pantheon of movie monsters. Zombies were particularly popular in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, but during the 1990’s, they were simply gone. There were only a handful of features centering on them during that entire decade, and while most of them are personal favorites, the sub-genre was by no means flourishing. I understood when zombies came back to popularity after 9/11. There was a fear of terrorism, of bio-terrorism, of death in general. The political climate that existed during the era of Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead had returned.
So why, then, are zombies still popular? Horror moves in cycles, it always has. Old fears return and are eventually replaced by new fears and so on. Most of the trends that were popular when 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead were released have fizzled out. Yet zombies continue to oversaturate the marketplace.
Their reign has to be coming to an end soon, although there appears to be no sign of that given that The Walking Dead is the number one show across the world and its upcoming spinoff has already been given a two season order. But if zombie fatigue does win out, here are some other movie monsters that haven’t been in the spotlight for a while that are die for a comeback.
Mummies have a lot of potential that’s very rarely been utilized on screen. They carry a whole mythology with them, after all, although few films actually tap into how interesting and vast Ancient Egyptian beliefs and burial practices actually were. And while most features have focused on that region of the world, mummies come from all over the globe. There are too few movies about Aztec, Mayan or Chinese mummies, all of which would be interesting ways to go about giving a long-dead sub-genre a shot in the arm.
Trolls haven’t had their fair share of screen time either. The most famous movie about trolls, Troll 2, is not only mostly known for being one of the worst films ever made, but it doesn’t have any trolls in it. Other than the entertaining and well done Trollhunter the best movie about the Norwegian monsters to date is probably Ernest Scared Stupid. That alone should be enough reason to give them another chance. As a child, “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” was one of the scariest stories I’d ever heard, so I have faith that there is some way to make trolls interesting and scary again. Trollhunter was certainly a step in the right direction but sadly had no follow up. It did, however, lead to a planned Neil Marshall helmed US remake that we haven’t heard anything about for at least six months.
One of the History Channel’s favorite subjects, the legendary sasquatch has long been an on-again-off-again horror movie monster from The Legend of Boggy Creek to Sasquatch Mountain. Bigfoot’s been involved in creature features for years, but never consistently. It’s not really considered its own sub-genre in the way that vampires or werewolves are. Yet the sasquatch theoretically features everything you need for a fun, horror-oriented B-movie. There’s an isolated location and characters, plus a great creature. It almost seems obvious that there should be more than there are, especially when you compare it to the number of alien abduction films lately.
Yet again, sea monsters seem like an obvious choice but they almost never get their due. We’re not talking sharks here, they fall under the animal attack side of things. But movies like The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Leviathan, Dagon, they all feature a manner of different creatures. After all, the ocean is an inherently terrifying place. We know more about space than our own seas. There could be anything down there. While these things have been explored on film before, they’ve never been given the spotlight. A new, erm, wave of horror features about deep sea monsters is something I certainly wouldn’t mind at all.
In the past fifteen years, they’ve come so close. Movies like Ginger Snaps, Dog Soldiers and even last year’s Late Phases managed to win over critics and garner cult classic status—well, Late Phases isn’t quite there yet but give it time—but none of them were given a major mainstream release. In fact, in that amount of time, werewolves have only seen blockbuster success when they’ve shared the screen with vampires in features like Underworld and Twilight. What happened to the days of An American Werewolf in London and The Howling? Hell, even Silver Bullet and Bad Moon? Lycanthropes are an eternal staple of horror and it’s well past time for them to get back on track. Many argue that they can’t be applied to as many social situations and political climes as zombies and vampires, but in the ‘90’s people were saying the same thing about zombies. There’s always a new angle, it just takes the right creative mind to find it. Sometimes the new angle might even be to go old school. A good, old-fashioned werewolf movie could be a success. If, of course, studios were willing to give it a chance. But that sort of thing happens once in a blue moon, if you’re lucky.