As every horror fan is well aware, we’re getting a new Halloween movie this fall that will ignore all the sequels, picking up with O.G. Final Girl Laurie Strode decades after the events of the first film. It seems like a very effective way to breathe new life into an old franchise. So why stop with Halloween?
Many, many horror films from the 1970s and 1980s have already been rebooted and/or remade, with mixed results—including, of course, Halloween, which has already brought Jamie Lee Curtis back as an older version of her iconic lead character. (Twice.) Still, we’re very excited to see a fresh take that simply imagines Laurie’s been biding her time since 1978, waiting for a rematch with Michael Myers.
And as it happens, there are other horror characters from the 1970s and ’80s that we’d love to meet again. Some have already been brought back to life in completely satisfying ways; Geena Davis played a suitably haunted adult version of the formerly possessed Regan MacNeil in the TV version of The Exorcist. And we have some more to look forward to, like The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, which will update us on Danny Torrance. But what about...
A wholesome high schooler in the first Nightmare movie, Nancy Thompson returned for the third sequel, Dream Warriors. Then, the actor who portrayed her, Heather Langenkamp, played a fictionalized version of herself in the seventh Nightmare film, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Putting the franchise’s many sequels aside—and discounting all the Freddy Krueger lore that’s been built up over the years—would be a monumental task, especially since series creator Craven died in 2015. But the right team could take the story back to present-day Springwood, Ohio, and find a Nancy who’s around the same age as Laurie Strode, and has somehow avoided having a nightmare since 1984... until now, that is.
A few years back, there was a short-lived TV show called Damien that purported to explore what Satan’s spawn had been up to since 1976. Though it adhered to the Halloween playbook, ignoring all the Omen sequels and its remake, the show was unfortunately terrible, with a boring lead actor and a premise that involved Damien first forgetting he was the Antichrist, and then trying to escape his sinister destiny. Dude, no. We need a do-over that showcases a grown-up version of that spooky schoolboy who grinned his way through his parents’ joint funeral. Learn from the TV show’s blunders. As the Antichrist, Damien is sort of one-note by design, so don’t make him the main character—and for the love of Beelzebub, don’t try to give him too much nuance. He needs to be evil, and legitimately scary, albeit in an Angel Heart way, not a Little Nicky way.
Talk about characters in need of a serious do-over. The Brody kids have actually appeared in every single Jaws sequel, including 1983's campy Jaws 3-D, in which Michael is portrayed by a young and hungry Dennis Quaid. But imagine if we’d never seen the brothers working at an aquatic theme park, or being chased by a shark in the Caribbean. They go through a lot of shit in the first film—Michael sees a guy get attacked right in front of him—and it would be interesting to see how that early trauma shaped them as adults. You gotta assume that Michael, at least, would have aged into a Quint-type figure, the kind of guy who knows the best way to silence an excited crowd is by scraping one’s nails across a chalkboard. Younger brother Sean, who would barely be able to remember much about that rotten summer of 1975, is even more of a wild card. You could definitely write a script that works in some Laurie Stode-style survivalism and revenge. And, it goes without saying, shark movies never go out of style... have you seen the trailer for The Meg?
Somehow, there are eight films in this series, though only the first two—the ones directed by Tobe Hooper—are any good, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is more of a pitch-black comedy than a true horror film. The original film, which came out in 1974, still stands as one of the most skin-crawlingly petrifying movies ever. There are a lot of reasons for that (the film’s general atmosphere of sweat and dread; that damn meat-hook skewering; the farmhouse’s DIY cannibal decor), but one of them is the last scene, which sees lone survivor Sally Hardesty escaping a chainsaw-wielding Leatherface by the skin of her teeth, scream-laughing in such a manner that you know she’s teetering on the verge of total insanity. Hooper passed away last year, so sadly he’s not around to offer input on what Sally’s life might’ve been like in the aftermath of her ordeal. But she’s definitely been a character we’ve wondered about—and worried about—since we first saw her flee her Texas nightmare. Could a person ever recover from something like that?
While we’re on the subject of Tobe Hooper movies—although Poltergeist bears the strong stamp of producer/co-writer Steven Spielberg—it’s a shame that the much-loved supernatural classic got an underwhelming remake instead of a more inspired, fresh approach. (As followers of ghoulish Hollywood trivia well know, child actor Heather O’Rourke, who played Carol Anne in the first three movies, died after intestinal surgery when she was just 12.) To do it right, a new Poltergeist would have to ignore the sequels (though Poltergeist II: The Other Side does have a hell of a villain) and catch up with Carol Anne, who’d be in her early 40s and probably still very in touch with the spirit realm, for better and/or worse. You’d have to wonder if “the TV people” would try reaching out through her laptop this time around, though.