The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! Today, we’re thinking and pondering the future of some classic horror villains. One has gotten a new time to shine, but what about two other notable ones? Read on for more!
Whether you’ve enjoyed the films or not, the Halloween franchise has never really been dormant for long. The original sequels took a small break before picking back up, and then once things were quiet, Rob Zombie stepped in for two divisive efforts. Now, it’s David Gordon Green at the helm of a new trilogy. With Halloween Kills (my review is here) having opened in theaters and streaming this weekend, it seems like a good time to ponder the cases of two other horror icons…
So, Michael Myers is continuing to have his moment. What about Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees? Why have efforts to keep their franchises going been so difficult, while Halloween never seems to be a hard sell? Obviously, legal rights and various non-creative issues are at play, but that can’t be the only reason. Can Hollywood ever figure out Freddy and Jason (and ideally not another Freddy vs. Jason) like they’ve seemed to have figured out Michael? The prior efforts were mediocre (at best) Platinum Dunes efforts, so the bar isn’t particularly high, that’s for sure.
Freddy Krueger headlines A Nightmare on Elm Street and its sequels, and interestingly, that franchise has had some success with subsequent installments. While the general consensus with horror sequels is that it’s always a case of diminishing returns, one could argue that Nightmare On Elm St 3: Dream Warriors and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare are among the most successful and well-regarded of any. So, Freddy clearly has the ability to work as more than just a one-off. Part of the secret sauce there is keeping the dream killer scary, as opposed to just a one-liner machine. A Nightmare on Elm Street sought to terrify, while some latter installments has Freddy almost as a stand-up comedian.
Jason Vorhees, on the other hand, never talks. Hell, in the original Friday the 13th, he wasn’t even the killer. Jason didn’t take up the violent mantle until the sequels, and no one has ever really made a top-tier new installment since (and even saying that about Friday The 13th Part II is a stretch). Filmmakers have gotten desperate over the years, sending him misguidedly to New York and even into space with the almost fun Jason X. As a big lumbering killer, Jason is a brute, so it takes more to make him interesting, plain and simple.
A new Nightmare on Elm Street just requires a back to basics approach and some creativity. A director really leaning into the dream aspects of it all could have a ball. Imagine if Michel Gondry directed a reboot? Just think about the care Mike Flanagan would put into it? One could also go the meta route and try for something referential once again. As long as the focus is on horror as opposed to bad comedy, Freddy will be terrifying.
Rebooting Friday the 13th means figuring out if you want Jason to even be the bad guy, but one has to assume that will be the case. Finding a way to make Camp Crystal Lake scary shouldn’t be hard, but some degree of style is required here. It’s not like Freddy where the dream aspect will let a visual filmmaker run wild, but someone creative with gore could have a blast. The hulking villain, all power and force, can wreck things and cause havoc if some storyteller finds a good reason. Easier said than done, but this series can certainly look at the new Halloween flicks as a template.
Realistically, it’s going to be up to studios to figure out how to get both horror icons back on track. I’m sure Blumhouse has sniffed around the properties, at the very least. Mostly, it’s a matter of finding writers and directors who actually have a take on them. When that happens, and the legal wrangling is done with, we’ll hopefully see new Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movies that horror fans can be proud of. Until then, we wait…
Stay tuned to see what becomes of Freddy and Jason!