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Erasing the Past, Embracing the Past

By Michael David Sims
26 October 2018 — As of this writing, Halloween (2018) has netted over $100 million in its opening week. On a budget estimated to be no more than $15 million, the $85 million gross all but guarantees a sequel will be in the works before you finish reading this sentence. But what it also guarantees are more continuations of horror franchises from the 1970s and 80s. Not remakes, mind you. We've already had remakes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, which went nowhere as a fresh franchise. Friday the 13th, which was a rather solid Jason movie, also failed to spawn a new series of movies. And Halloween itself had the two Rob Zombie movies, but that remake series seems to be dead now. What we're talking about here are continuations of the original movies. While that might seem like a cynical takeaway, Hollywood is well-known for not being able to resist a trend. Or, starting one when they see the potential to make money hand over fist. Considering how little money it takes to make a horror movie, the financial investment is hardly a risk, so you can't really blame them.

That said, let's look at five horror franchises Hollywood could dust off for some nostalgic frights. Some rules, though:

  • At least one of the original stars must be alive and able to return to their respective franchise.
  • The original series must have had at least two sequels.
  • The original movie had to be made in the 1970s or 80s.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

Movies in Continuity

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
We're going to start with a big one. Possibly the biggest one on this list. However, we're not doing so because it's the biggest. Rather, because it's the easiest to resurrect.

The Nightmare series has a baked-in reset button. Thanks to the conceit that anything can be a dream, as proven by the ending of the original movie which throws everything into question, it would be exceptionally easy to ignore every Nightmare movie after the original by saying when young Nancy Thompson fell asleep before her final battle with Freddy Krueger, she never awoke. Which means she also never defeated him. But it also means he's been trapped in Slumberland with her. Nancy made a cage of her formidable mind. The ultimate trap for the ultimate foe.

And that's where this continuation comes in. Set 35 years after the events of the first movie, we come to learn that Nancy has been in a coma-like state ever since that night in 1984. No science can explain why she slumbers, nor why her brain activity is so high. But she lives and breathes, if little else. Along comes a young, brilliant doctor who's able to pull Nancy from her permanent sleep. Inside her dream world, as Nancy and Freddy battle with wits and fists, they both feel a change coming. Nancy panics: "No! No!" Freddy laughs with pure evil glee. Nancy fades away, protesting her long-awaited return to the real world. Freddy dusts himself off, puts his hat back on, and he too fades away. His cage has been unlocked.

Freddy quickly makes up for lost time, ripping a swath through the current generation of Elm Street teenagers. Specifically, the grandchildren of his murderers.

With no one to stop him, the teenagers are helpless. That is until a wheelchair-bound Nancy returns to her hometown. She enlists a small group of teens and arms them with knowledge of the dream demon and ways to fight him.

Nancy ultimately sacrifices herself to save the children. In the process, however, she becomes a protector of the dream realm. Through her sacrifice, she becomes a permanent force to ward off Freddy.

Sequel: While there could be a sequel, I like the idea of ending the story of Freddy Krueger by pitting him against an ethereal Nancy Thompson for all of eternity in the dream world. Also, Robert Englund is in his early 70s. Getting him back to play Freddy one more time is possibly doable. Getting him back for sequels would most likely prove slightly more difficult. Recasting Freddy is an option, but Englund is so synonymous with the role it's virtually inconceivable for anyone else to play The Springwood Slasher. Just ask Jackie Earle Haley.

ALIEN

Movies in Continuity

  • Alien
  • Aliens
It's 2222. A full century has passed since the ill-fated, seven-member crew of the Nostromo discovered a deadly alien lifeform, and 33 years since a crew of Colonial Marines were wiped out by said aliens on exomoon LV-426. While Ellen Ripley was the sole survivor of the Nostromo incident, three people escaped the infestation of LV-426: Ripley, Corporal Hicks, and a child nicknamed Newt. Only two of three are still alive.

Shortly after Ripley, Hicks, and Newt entered hypersleep, the Sulaco was found. Upon reaching Earth, and before waking the three, it was discovered poor Newt had been implanted with an alien queen. She was quickly euthanized and the budding queen extracted. For the next 30 years Weyland-Yutani scientists bent and reshaped the offspring of that baby queen, making them subservient to humankind. Making them tools and weapons — even pets to the ultra-wealthy.

But then something went wrong. Control was lost. The aliens did what they always do: evolve and kill.

Cities were overrun in a matter of days, countries in a fortnight.

During the chaos the stasis pods Ripley and Hicks had been kept in since their return to Earth are damaged, freeing them into a world they certainly do not recognize — and have little chance of surviving. The two confused-but-resilient survivors of LV-426 search for Newt, not knowing she's been dead for decades. As they make their escape from the facility in which they had been stored, the two meet up with scientists, soldiers, and civilians. Along the way they are filled in, piece by piece, of the events that led to this moment.

Hicks is horrified. Ripley expects nothing less from Weyland-Yutani.

A decision is made: to live, they must escape Earth. It's dead. Nothing can bring it back from a planet-wide infestation of aliens. In their hunt for a ship, most of their party is lost. But they must push forward in their quest for a ship to take them off-world.

This sequel would not be that dissimilar from 28 Days Later. Aliens have simply been swapped for zombies. But whereas 28 Days Later posits the world will return to normal after a set amount of time, this world is truly lost. Everyone and everything will die — and that's the difference. There is no hope. Even those who do escape have nowhere to go. Maybe they'll find another ship, maybe they'll find a colony, but chances are they'll drift in space until they too die.

Yeah, it's bleak. But the Alien franchise has never been a hopeful one.

Some, myself included, complain about what Aliens did to the titular creature. In Alien were faced with a nigh-unstoppable killing machine. Even in death it proves deadly, what with its acidic blood. Then Aliens comes along and makes the creatures easily dispatched fodder. And yes, the difference is that the Nostromo crew were unarmed blue-collar workers pitted against an unknowable beast, while the Sulaco was filled with heavily armed soldiers briefed on what they were about to face. So it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. But the aliens still come across as mindless beasts in Aliens, while the single creature in Alien seemed to possess a cunning intelligence. All that said, with this being a sequel to Aliens, the alien threat has to be ramped up even further. Almost impossibly so. Hence, the complete and utter infestation of Earth.

This also serves to create an unwinnable situation for Ripley, Hicks, and their companions. One alien can be killed. Dozens can be survived. Thousands? Millions? No. You're dead. What I would do here, however, is bring back the aforementioned cunningness. These beasties attack in packs, but they're not savage, mindless creatures. There's a purpose to their actions. Often to lure a single human or small group into a space where one waiting alien can go in for the kill.

And that's my aim here. Alien is brilliant because it's a horror movie set in an inescapable environment. Everyone is trapped. Aliens replaces the horror with action. And that's something the rest of the franchise would keep: action over horror. That's a shame, and it's what I want brought back: the quiet terror of not knowing what is around the corner and if you can escape.

Sequel: No. The Alien franchise opens on a brilliantly bleak, silent shot of space as the Nostromo slowly drifts towards its destination of Earth. From that shot alone one knows everything they need to know about the movie: whoever is on that ship is alone, and whatever is about to come their way is going to be nasty. And I would like to end the series on a similar shot, but this time with a ship leaving a dead Earth for the vast, silent void of space. After killing Earth, there's nowhere else to go.

THE OMEN

Movies in Continuity

  • The Omen (1976)
  • Damien: Omen II
Before we go any further, I must admit I'm not that familiar with The Omen franchise beyond the first movie, the remake, and the amazing elevator death in Damien: Omen II. Though I owned all five movies on DVD at one point and know I've watched Omen III: The Final Conflict and Omen IV: The Awakening, I remember nothing of the final two films in the original Omen franchise. I must also admit I always had it in my head that Damien Thorn became President of the United States by the end of the third movie. He does not; he takes his father's job of Ambassador to Great Britain.

That said, that's where we're going to take this version of The Omen III.

Okay, okay. Yes, it's a bit clichéd to have a 70-year-old man who inherited his business from a relative become an unrepentantly corrupt President of the United States. I mean, who would ever believe a narrative like that?

I joke, but I don't. Because that's the trouble with this movie. As much as I would love to see a third Omen where Damien ascended to the Oval Office and could not be stopped by anyone — not rivals, facts, the media, or even God — people would cry foul. And who could blame them? Even if it wasn't a direct reference to the current administration, someone would find something. (Remember when conservative media claimed Bane was chosen as the villain of The Dark Knight Rises because Christopher Nolan was taking a shot at Mitt Romney, the co-founder of Bain Capital? Yeah, that happened. So someone would find something here even if it wasn't intended.)

But fuck all that. This is my piece and that's the movie I want, and, no, it has nothing to do with my politics; it's the Omen movie I've wanted to see since I was a kid so it's the Omen movie I'm pitching right here.

Back to the movie: despite Omen III: The Final Conflict not being part of this continuity, I would most definitely bring back the brilliant Sam Neill as Damien Thorn — who's just entered the White House as Vice President. The head of his ticket, the newly elected President of the United States, would be a young, charismatic champion of business prosperity and social programs, border security and immigration rights, peace through strength and diplomacy. Her ability to bring both sides of the aisle together is unmatched. It's almost as if someone created Delia York to be the perfect president.

Little does she know this is exactly what's happened.

Her entire life is a lie. She is not the child of a Virginia congresswoman and her powerful attorney husband; she is the daughter of Damien Thorn himself, who has spent 40 years plotting and scheming and molding his secret daughter to become The Leader of the Free World. And he's positioned himself as her successor should tragedy befall her.

Through his role as Vice President, Damien is able to shape the world in his image. He drafts backchannel deals with other world leaders to undermine and erode democracy the world over. So while America prospers, little does Delia know she's a pawn in a globe-spanning plan to bring about the fall of freedom and the rise of an eternal damnation on Earth.

Sequel: Oh heck yes. By the time the second movie begins, Delia would be running for reelection. Her projected numbers would rival those of Ronald Reagan's in the 1983 election. While on the campaign trail, however, an investigative reporter uncovers the truth about Delia's heritage and Damien's ties to darker interests. Delia is horrified by the revelation, and begins the process of removing Damien from the ticket and ordering an FBI investigation of her father. But an assassin attacks, taking Delia's life. Damien hadn't planned the attack; it's pure coincidence — or so he thinks. Either way, he must continue the campaign as the head of the ticket. And the second movie ends with a shocker: our would-be hero is dead and Damien Thorn is President of the United States. The third movie in the series would see Damien's machinations come to fruition. A spree of attacks around the world force America to join their military might with those of more aggressive nations. Evil must be stopped at all cost, the people are told. And they believe it. They love it. They ask for it. Never knowing it was all orchestrated by Damien and his cohorts who've pledged their subjects and their nations to Damien for little more than a seat next to his throne. When Damien and the other leaders stop these global threats, a new global order is erected to the delight of the world. One in which the immortal son of The Devil reigns supreme for all time.

THE STEPFATHER

Movies in Continuity

  • The Stepfather (1987)
The Stepfather is one of the most underappreciated slasher films of the 1980s. Terry O'Quinn's portrayal of "Jerry Blake" (in quotes because we never actually learn his real name) is one of the most frightening roles of all time. Whereas most slasher-killers of the 1980s were doing so out of some sort of twisted revenge, "Jerry" does so because his ideal Reagan-era family values can never be achieved. His want for the supposedly perfect Leave It to Beaver-style family is so pervasive it becomes perverted. Each time he cannot achieve his dream, blood runs. And that's what so frightening. Jason and Freddy are immortal, aliens and demons are otherworldly. They might jolt us when they appear and chill us when they kill, but they can only ever appear in fiction. What "Jerry" brings to the table is domestic violence, which is all too real and as much a threat in 1987 as it is now. No matter how happy his family truly is, he will never be satisfied with anything but his impossible dream.

This new sequel would pick up some 30 years later, with The Stepfather having been happily married for a decade. "Nathan" (I picked a name at random) and his wife, Sue, are set to go on a weekend getaway with Mia, Sue's college-age daughter. On said trip they will also meet Mia's fiancé, Rafael, for the first time.

Sidebar: Much like Jim Ogilvie hunted down "Henry" / "Jerry" in the original movie, this time around Stephanie Maine is searching for the stepfather she knew as "Jerry." She suspects "Jerry" survived being shot and stabbed all those years ago, and has spent decades looking for the elusive master of disguise. Stephanie tracks him down just in time to stalk "Nathan" and his new family on this retreat. (End sidebar.)

Upon greeting Rafael, "Nathan" is clearly none too pleased to see he is of Mexican descent. This shocks Sue and Mia, neither of whom have ever seen "Nathan" display any sort of racist tendencies before now.

"Nathan" apologizes to Rafael and Mia for his shock and behavior and asks to start fresh. They accept his words of apology, but little by little his displeasure creeps through. Mostly through jokes and barbs. (Think Get Out before everything goes upside down.) Eventually shit hits the fan when Rafael reveals he has a daughter from a previous unwed relationship.

"Nathan" excuses himself. Outside he begins a friendly conversation with another person on a midsummer respite. When the man openly solicits "Nathan" and Sue for a wife-swap, "Nathan" murders him by drowning the man in a pool. He covers his tracks (and wet clothes) by claiming he was attempting to save the fellow.

Killing the swinger seemingly calms the rage of "Nathan," but that night his family dream ends. After Sue expresses her embarrassment and disgust with her husband's behavior towards Rafael, he brains her with a cast iron skillet. Mia and Rafael witness the aftermath of Sue's murder, and flee for their lives from the blood-splattered "Nathan."

Knife in hand, "Nathan" catches up with the two. They're able to fend him off a few times, but "Nathan" eventually catches up with Mia and Rafael. Just as he's about to slaughter them both, "Nathan" is shot in the chest by Stephanie. He has enough strength and breath left to see his killer. Upon seeing her face, "Nathan" beams. Despite being critically wounded he turns back into "Jerry" one last time, opens his arms, and says, "Stephanie honey, give daddy a hug." He drops dead with a twisted loving smile.

Sequel: Nope. He's dead for real this time.

HALLOWEEN

Movies in Continuity

  • Halloween (1978)
  • Halloween II (1981)
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
What's that you say? How can Halloween be here when it just had a reboot?

Simple.

But not really.

For a movie franchise that doesn't have a lick of time travel, Halloween has an exceptionally fractured timeline. There are, in fact, five Halloween timelines.

The Laurie Strode / Jamie Lloyd Timeline

  • Halloween (1978)
  • Halloween II (1981)
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
  • Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
  • Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Laurie Strode survives two attacks by Michael Myers (her brother) on Halloween night 1978. She later gives birth to Jamie Lloyd. Laurie and her unseen husband die in a car accident. When Michael Myers learns he has a niece, he hunts Jamie down. Twice. Eventually she and Michael are captured by The Thorn Cult, Jamie is impregnated. After giving birth she escapes with her child / Michael's grandniece. Michael kills Jamie, but the child survives thanks to Tommy Doyle (the little boy Laurie babysat in Halloween), Kara Strode (Jamie's cousin), and Dr. Loomis.

The Silver Shamrock Timeline

  • Halloween III
In this universe Halloween exists as a movie that's so popular it is played on TV on Halloween night. Laurie Strode and Michael Myers are fictional characters.

The Second Laurie Strode Timeline

  • Halloween (1978)
  • Halloween II (1981)
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later
  • Halloween: Resurrection
Laurie Strode survives two attacks by Michael Myers (her brother) on Halloween night 1978. She fakes her death via car accident, changes her name to Keri Tate, moves to California, and gives birth to John. After another horror-filled night of murder and stalking, Laurie seemingly decapitates her brother. However, it was a ruse by Michael; Laurie murdered an innocent man and spends the next two years institutionalized. When Michael finds her again, he finally kills his sister. In this timeline Jamie Lloyd does not exist.

The Rob Zombie Timeline

  • Halloween (2007)
  • Halloween II (2009)
Complete remake focusing more on Michael's upbringing, and Laurie's deep PTSD after surviving the initial attack by her brother.

The New Laurie Strode Timeline

  • Halloween (1978)
  • Halloween (2018)
Laurie survives one attack on Halloween night 1978. Four decades later Michael Myers (who is not her brother) escapes a prisoner transport and stalks the streets of Haddonfield once more. Laurie has spent the subsequent time preparing herself for this eventuality; she is armed, trained, and has weaponized her loved ones. In this universe, Laurie has a daughter named Karen; neither Jamie nor John exist.

With five timelines, including one that's only one week old (as of this writing) how and why would I introduce a sixth?

First the why: Because I can.

Then the how: Jamie Lloyd.

Cards on the table, I love Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. It's a solid remake-ish of the original which keeps the continuity alive but introduces new characters and aims to drive future movies in a different direction. And its ending is amazing. Arguably the best. While Laurie decapitating (who she thinks is) Michael at the end of H20 is such a cathartic moment, seeing little Jamie Lloyd dressed in the same costume her uncle wore 25 years prior while holding a knife dripping with the blood of her dead mother is utterly tragic. And that's where we pick up.

Thirty-plus years later, a now 40-year-old Jamie Lloyd is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, she returns home to Haddonfield. A Haddonfield that has seen two killers in the same bloodline and wants nothing to do with the Myers / Strode / Lloyd clan. So when a new series of killings begin, everyone automatically points to Jamie. Who is the killer, what is their goal, and why is Jamie having visions of their killings?

Sequel: Nah. If this sequel to Halloween 4 is meant to redeem Jaime by having her atone for her mother's murder and save Haddonfield from another killer, what would be the point of a sequel? Jaime would either have to hunt down another killer or become a killer once more. That's too similar to Psycho II and Psycho III for my liking. Instead, I'd rather end the Myers / Strode / Lloyd timeline with the bloodline being redeemed in the eyes of the Haddonfield residents.

* * * * *

There are obviously plenty more horror movies from the 1970s and 1980s that could easily be nostalgia-mined for sequel-ignoring sequels. Hell, I have an idea for Friday the 13th that clearly didn't make the cut, as well as one for a movie most people don't realize is a horror film. But I'll have to save those for another day.


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