Even today, terms like straight-to-video, DTV and VOD are regarded as dirty. They’re second-rate. Movies that get that kind of release are treated as failures before they even come out. We’re getting a little better about this in recent years, but it’s still not great. These features are often judged for the way in which they’re released, rather than being judged on their own merits.
It’s sad, because a movie’s release doesn’t really have anything to do with how good or bad it is. In the mid-to-late 2000s, most horror films that were great were not wide theatrical releases. Many franchises started going DTV as a way to keep the series going in a cost-effective way. Yes, that often leads to studios mindlessly churning out sequels for the sake of easy money. But, believe it or not, that’s not always a bad thing.
Fan-favorite characters returning, true sequels instead of reboots… These are all things you’ll never see in major franchises until they start going DTV or VOD. There are benefits to less money and there is less pressure to making a movie that’s not dependent on topping the box office on opening weekend.
The lack of studio involvement in these sequels can be a blessing as much as a curse. We would never have seen Andy Barclay return to the Child’s Play franchise had Curse of Chucky not gone straight-to-video. Yes, they have less time and money to work with, but with the right approach, I think the following franchises could actually benefit from going straight to video.
Yeah, there’s not a lot of love for Blair Witch 2 or even the more recent follow up, Blair Witch. It was expected to light the box office on fire and it didn’t. But there’s so much supplemental material, so much backstory that could be fascinating to explore. I want more mockumentaries like Curse of the Blair Witch and less attempts to send up or redo the original.
Tales from the Crypt
When John Kassir returned to do newer, cheaper hosting segments for the Tales DVDs, it was clear that the series could continue in some way, shape or form. It would be great to have new Tales from the Crypt Presents movies with wrap-around segments hosted by Kassir’s version of the Crypt Keeper. Yes, I know Ritual was kind of slapped with a video release, but it was intended for theaters before being shelved. I’m thinking of something along the lines of 8 Films to Die For, but with more puns.
I know this one seems strange, even to me, but the thing that I think made the original game work was the paranoia and the claustrophobia. Never knowing what was around the next corner. For the most part, each game manages to be far more restrained than the movies have come to be. The easiest way to take something from large-scale action back to its horror roots is to trim down the budget. That’s something that Resident Evil could really benefit from, if handled in the right way.
While it was nowhere near the scale of Resident Evil, Paranormal Activity was another franchise that got too big for its britches. The original cost very little to make. It would be good to see the series go back to the way that feature was made and the techniques it used to induce fear. If the series was allowed to go in a DTV direction. It could actually work very well.
My Bloody Valentine
Sequels to the original or the remake, I don’t care. I just want them. There’s no reason this should not have become a bigger franchise. Give me more Harry Warden, I don’t care if it’s Mihalka’s or Lussier’s. Sequels were considered to both versions, but they didn’t wind up materializing. They don’t need to be big. These are films about a guy in a mine with a pickax. Or even change the setting. Just give me more My Bloody Valentine, preferably now.
Trick ‘r Treat
I would love to see a theatrical sequel to Trick ‘r Treat, but I’m not sure if it could ever really happen. Krampus did a lot to make up for the studio mishandling of Dougherty’s directorial debut. But even a direct to video sequel would be better than nothing at this point. And anthologies are cheap. We’ve had so many short films featuring Sam at this point that they could almost just be edited together and released as their own movie. Just give me something. Please.
Friday the 13th
Okay. This is where people will start shouting heresy. But I honestly think that DTV might be the best course of action for this franchise at this point in time. Especially because it seems to be working out so well for Chucky. We’d have had at least three or four entries since the reboot if Friday had gone DTV. Think about all the things we want to see as fans. Want to see Tommy Jarvis come back? Want to see all the survivors reunite? Want to see Jason in the snow? We’re probably never going to see any of these things in theaters, but they’re all immediately doable if the franchise would go DTV or VOD. Hell, Jason X was practically a DTV movie that happened to be released in theaters.