Since the early ‘80s, it’s been tradition for any commercial horror film to try and set up a franchise. Most of them do. When we think of horror franchises, we tend to think of cornerstone series like Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. But Prom Night, Sleepaway Camp and even Ghoulies all launched franchises of their own. In the ‘80s, everything was set up to get a sequel and almost everything actually got one.
But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes you set everything up to keep the idea rolling into a subsequent movie or movies, but they just never come to pass. This can often be attributed to poor box office performance. Sometimes there are other reasons, things that go on behind the scenes that lead to complications that a sequel idea just can’t recover from.
Because of this, I think we all have some movies that we watched when we were younger that promised sequels and never delivered on them. I remember assuming that there was a sequel to Chuck Russell’s The Blob that I somehow missed just because of the way that it ended.
It was kind of fascinating to start getting an education in film, by realizing that things never went according to plan and not everything that wanted a sequel actually got one.
Here are several films that planned on a sequel that they never actually received.
I remember the buzz leading up to the release of this movie. Everyone thought Godzilla was gonna be a huge hit. And maybe in some ways it was. But it was a critical disaster, not remotely made for fans of the classic kaiju exploits, but not really made for anyone else, either. In a heavily Jurassic Park inspired finale, the heroes are chased through Madison Square Garden by hordes of baby ‘zillas. When we think the madness has come to a blissful close, the last shot reveals a single intact egg about to hatch. Although it never got followed up by a sequel, the movie was followed by a short-lived animated series.
The credits for Bubba Ho-Tep tease that the King would return in Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires. That one didn’t happen, although there have been a few attempts to pull the prequel together over the years, most of them without Bruce Campbell. Paul Giamatti even boarded the project as co-star and producer, with talk of Ron Perlman taking over the role of Elvis. But sadly this one never came together.
The Blob (1988)
As mentioned, The Blob ends with the reveal that a piece of the creature survived and that the now-deranged preacher might use it to usher in a self-made rapture. It could have made for an amazing sequel. But we never got that. It’s a shame, but it also feels like an homage to the classic ending of the original and that monster movie trope of “The End… Or is It?” Almost accidentally, this proved equally noncommittal.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
This is another that’s been trying to put a sequel together. And hopefully it’s about to happen, but it still hasn’t happened yet. Behind the Mask really set itself up for a sequel. The credits roll over security cam footage of Leslie’s body being prepared in the morgue. It’s very drawn-out. In fact, it doesn’t even reveal that Leslie is still alive until the very end. We’re expecting it, but then it goes on so long that we think maybe it won’t happen, and that’s what’s great about it.
Young Sherlock Holmes
Young Sherlock Holmes was clearly planning a franchise, and it’s kind of sad that it didn’t get one. It’s a really fun movie with some great stop-motion effects by the legendary David Allen. The amazing thing about this ending is how much it feels like a modern franchise sequel reveal. It would be exactly the same if it were released this year. This is a post-credits scene that teases an upcoming villain, it’s practically the Marvel movie model over twenty years earlier.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
So many fans wish that My Bloody Valentine had spawned a franchise similar to Friday the 13th or at least Prom Night. The movie definitely warranted and seemed to set it up at the end, with Axel escaping back into the darkness of the tunnels, promising to return.
My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)
The remake made its plans for a sequel absolutely clear. Tom Hanniger escapes the mine and the movie appears to promise more bloody mayhem down the line. But that didn’t come to pass, even though Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier already had plans for sequels and definitely wanted to do them. Farmer had planned out a trilogy. But even though the remake was a big hit, the studio just wasn’t interested.
Despite the fact that the studio hated it and were really, really nervous about Nightbreed and how well it would do in theaters, they still made the attempt to push a franchise out of it. There were heavy re-shoots to make it more commercial and that included an ending in which David Cronenberg’s Dr. Decker is resurrected, setting up a sequel where he would resume his hunt for the Nightbreed after their escape from Midian. I think it’s kind of fascinating that the studio tried to turn it into the Star Wars of horror, even though they didn’t understand it or were terrified of it.