After “The Thing,” which horror films also need a prequel?


By Adam Frazier
Hollywoodnews.com: With Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s prequel to John Carpenter’s “The Thing” now in theaters, we decided to look at three horror films that could use a bit of the old retroactive storytelling treatment.

The problem is, most of the influential (and not-so-memorable) horror films of our time have already been remade, which makes it hard to justify a prequel. If you look at recent horror remakes like “A Nightmare on Elm Street” or Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” these films serve more as prequel/remake hybrids as they attempt to explain the motives of their killers by showing us their origins.

We’ve seen this before with 2006’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” which showed the birth of Leatherface. Oh, and don’t you dare forget about 2004’s “Exorcist: The Beginning.” Years before Father Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil’s soul, he encountered the demon Pazuzu in East Africa.

Pazuzu. Yeah, sure – whatever. Also consider “Amityville II: The Possession,” the 1982 film which served as a prequel to Stuart Rosenberg’s 1979 original. No other genre has seen more remakes, sequels, prequels and reboots than horror — but there are still a few titles worthy of further exploration.

“Predator.”
Ok, so it isn’t necessarily a horror film. It’s more of a science-fiction thriller with loads of explosions — but it’s got a scary looking monster who stalks soldiers in the jungle and kills them (in grotesque, terrifying ways) one by one.

The most interesting thing left unexplored about the Predator to me is the creature itself. The Predator isn’t just some mindless movie monster. It’s an advanced life form with its own code and set of beliefs.

It hunts for sport, but refuses to fight an unarmed opponent. In various films we’ve seen the Predator as an honorable, deadly opponent – and yet we only have hints as to where they come from or why they honor the hunt.

Think “Apocalypto” meets “Avatar” — a prequel that takes place on the Predator homeworld and examines the culture of these intergalactic hunters. Tribes of warriors riding fierce beasts, hunting exotic game, elders teaching younglings the way of the hunt.

There’s so much to explore – why do they hunt? What is their relationship with their environment? Do they have any natural predators? Who are their Gods? How do they behave socially towards one another — do they interact in families? What are their politics?

Of course the prequel would follow our hero Predator on his first intergalactic hunt — a trip to our planet that would no-doubt reference the antique flintlock pistol labeled Raphael Adolini 1715 that was presented by an elder Predator to Danny Glover’s character in “Predator 2.”

“Trick ‘r Treat.”
Mike Dougherty’s 2007 film is an anthology of four Halloween-related spook stories. The common element that ties the stories together is the presence of Sam, a creepy pint-sized trick-or-treater wearing shabby orange pajamas with a burlap sack over his head.
Sam makes an appearance in each story as a ‘friendly-reminder’ to those who break Halloween traditions, which brings me to why “Trick ‘r Treat” should be horror’s next great franchise — the possibilities are limitless.

First off, there’s only been a handful of truly great horror films that are related to Halloween. Instead of watching a watered-down “Saw” or “Paranormal Activity” sequel each October, we could be enjoying the spiritual successor to “Creepshow” that actually gets us in the holiday spirit.

In a prequel we could explore the origins of Halloween and the Celtic festival of Samhain, an anthology of stories filled with witches and warlocks — pumpkin carving and apple bobbing, the origins of trick-or-treating — and of course some ghoulish mishaps involving monsters and madmen.

A couple of recent shorts for FEARnet (http://www.fearnet.com/) have featured Sam, which gives me hope that he’ll be back. You can check out “Back to School” and “Making Friends” over at YouTube:

“Back to School”: http://youtu.be/Su4zZPgDzaE
“Making Friends”: http://youtu.be/xWWATh905tk

“Alien.”
If there was ever a film that deserved a prequel, it’s Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” The 1979 film features an aggressive extraterrestrial creature that stalks and kills the crew of a spaceship. A truly terrifying film, “Alien” keeps its audience in the dark (literally and figuratively) with pitch-black interiors and a plot riddled with mysteries.

What is the Space Jockey? Why is it transporting the Aliens? What is the Derelict Ship? Where do they come from?

Luckily, Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” coming in 2012, will attempt to answer these questions. The film is technically a prequel to “Alien” but won’t be directly related to the storyline. Instead it will be a different story in the same universe that deals less with space marines and Xenomorphs and more with the very meaning of human existence.

Early rumors and vague plot details suggest the film is poised to play with the idea that what think people of as “gods” are, in actuality, members of a highly-advanced alien race – what we’ve known for all these years as the Space Jockey.

So maybe it was a bit of a copout to include “Alien” on this list, but honestly of all the horror franchises that have been remade and rebooted, no one ever bothered to explore the ideas and mysteries presented in Scott’s original film. “Prometheus” looks to be an extremely promising prequel – just the fact that Ridley Scott is still interested in exploring that universe 30 years later gives me hope this won’t be another case of Father Merrin and Pazuzu.

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