When a horror movie is hugely successful, sequels are an inevitability. Quickly after that, it can blossom into a franchise. Typically, it doesn’t take long for the films that follow to become convoluted. Sequels are pumped out on a regular basis with only the vaguest regard for overall quality and generally no attempt at cohesion for the franchise at large. Sometimes these sequels wind up making it harder for the series to continue. Other times, they just drive the ongoing plot into a corner or maybe they present a story that is hard to follow up. This can come about in many different ways. Filmmakers who don’t understand the material or know what direction to take the franchise in can often mean the death of a series. Other times, it might just come down to a fickle audience that isn’t ready for something new.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
This one is obvious. While I admire its ambitions, it didn’t work. It’s actually famous for how much it didn’t work. But its tough to blame it on any particular person or even a single group of people. Curse of Michael Myers inherited its problems from Halloween 5, which introduced random plot elements it had no intent of tying together, leaving a mess for the next guy to clean up. The sixth film did the best it could at trying to tie together the series’ plot holes and it deserves credit for that. There was nowhere to go after this overly intricate storyline and Halloween: H20 essentially had to unofficially reboot the franchise in attempt to get back on track.
Wes Craven returned to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise a decade after he made the original with New Nightmare, which is one of the best of the franchise and one of the best horror movies of the 1990s in general. It’s an incredible, fascinating film. But it actually hurt the series overall. People, at the time, didn’t want a commentary on the movies they just wanted to see Freddy back in action. While New Nightmare did have that, it wasn’t enough to appease movie goers and the film didn’t make much at the box office. It was a great picture, but because of dismal box office returns and a major plot departure, it made a follow-up virtually impossible. After that, it was nine years before Freddy vs. Jason would finally get off the ground.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series has never been much for continuity. Each movie is completely different from the last while, at the same time, being a vague remake of the first. Next Generation is the worst offender though. It was made after the third had a terrible run at the box office and was directed by original co-writer Kim Henkel to try and restore the series to its former glory. It failed miserably. Despite featuring both Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellwegger, it was a totally nonsensical entity that suggested the whole series was actually part of an Illuminati, possibly extraterrestrial plot to maintain control over life and death. It ended the original franchise. An attempt to follow-up the original was made years later with Texas Chainsaw 3D, but it ignored every other film and most fans simply didn’t seem to care too much for its attempts to re-establish continuity.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
This one’s tough because the intent was to end the Friday the 13th series. But it was also planned for Freddy vs. Jason to follow fairly quickly on its heels, as is evidenced by the ending. But Freddy vs. Jason wound up not happening until ten years later. Jason Goes to Hell was so different from what people were expecting that it hurt the property more than it helped. While the crossover had its share of development problems, Jason Goes to Hell did little to help keep Jason alive in the public consciousness.