Out now in theaters, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes vividly demonstrates that there's still life in the long-running Apes franchise. For horror buffs, that gives us hope that some of our most beloved series might still deliver fresh new jolts with additional installments.
Let's start with franchises that have announced upcoming new episodes, and then we'll consider a couple of other series that need new blood.
Friday the 13th
The first 30 minutes or so of the 2009 reboot featured a gnarly, nasty, propulsive vision before slowing down and -- shocker! -- focusing on the characters. That was a mistake, since the series at its best has always been about creative kill scenes in increasingly inappropriate locations. (Manhattan? A space station?!) We're leery about the found-footage style that will apparently be utilized, but will keep our fingers crossed that it's appropriately grisly. The movie is now scheduled for release on November 13, 2015.
The individual episodes have varied wildly in quality, but we liked the more urban setting of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and remain optimistic. After a couple of delays, Paranormal Activity 5 is now set for release in 2016 and, reportedly, will follow a new family in their new home. To make for a radical break, though, we've love to see it shot… normal! Yes, why not abandon the series' signature found-footage style entirely, and really freak people out?
Plans are underfoot for a new installment, though we don't know yet if it will be a reboot, another remake, or a sequel. Reportedly, Michael Myers will be featured. We like the idea of Michael chasing after his sister Laurie as she moves from town to town, trying to escape her past. It could be like The Fugitive, with Michael Myers in hot pursuit, Tommy Lee Jones-style, with Laurie as the increasingly desperate heroine pulling crazy stunts, a la Harrison Ford.
Last year's blood-soaked remake demonstrated the continuing popularity of the series, and a sequel is in the works, though apparently that will have to wait until after Sam Raimi makes Army of Darkness 2, a direct sequel to the third installment in the series. That leaves plenty of time for the continuing adventures of Mia (Jane Levy). We suggest that she start taking classes as she plots out a new life for herself, only to cross paths with someone who knows her secrets, leading to all kinds of chaos in a new, nonwoodsy setting.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Krueger in space! Since the 2010 reboot disappointed both fans and critics, it's time to return to the one-line-spouting Freddy, but let's divorce him from the young people who are usually his victims. Instead, we'd send him off in a spaceship with a tiny group of macho astronauts whose nerves of steels are melted by the serial killer. The tag line would be: "In space, no one can hear you dream."
We're firmly into fantasy land here, since different studios own the rights to the respective franchises, but we'd love to see a new movie that combined the best elements of each series. In the first act, someone could escape from an elaborate trap set by the Jigsaw Killer, and in the process freeing other people from certain death. In the second act, Death could begin reclaiming those lives, one by one. In the third act, the Jigsaw Killer confronts Death itself, challenging Death to solve a mind-bending puzzle.
OK, that last idea may be pretty silly, but it's the kind of thinking that might eventually lead to really good premises that could rejuvenate more of our favorite, frightening horror-film franchises.