9 Horror Characters that Failed to Franchise Like Freddy
The Nightmare on Elms Street films is one of the most high-profile film series in history, with Freddy Krueger being the poster child for horror film Franchises. Whilst NOES is not the highest grossing series, that privilege goes to the Aliens films, but Freddy sure can shake his dream dust. Freddy Krueger has a 7 films franchise, 1 crossover flick, a 2010 remake, a tv series, and even a groovy rock music video. Every horror film character wants a big movie franchise like Freddy Krueger and his Nightmare on Elm Street Films.
To be clear, we are looking at films that failed to make it past a trilogy. That third film can make or break you, and not every film series can pull out a ‘Dream Warriors’. Some pull out a turkey, others don’t even make it past the starting blocks, only managing a single film before slouching back into the dark. They have the quirky character, they have the kill count and the gore to boot, but they just can’t Franchise like Freddy. 10 Horror Characters that Failed to Franchise Like Freddy
Jack Frost (1997)
Jack Frost is a heart warming family film starring Michael Keaton… oh no…wait..that’s a different film about a man that gets resurrected into a creepy looking snow man. A year before Keaton’s 1998 movie, writer director Michael Cooney created Jack Frost, a film about a serial killer that is exposed to chemicals that fuse his body into snow. Resurrected as sentient killer snowman, Jack continues his killing spree with the FBI hot on his frozen heels.
The film quickly acquired a cult following, thanks its comical death scenes and cheesy CGI special effects that the late 90s were still struggling with. Thanks to its fanbase, the movie spawned a sequel in 2000 called Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, where the villain is resurrected with a steam mug of hot coffee (We are not making this up!)
Cooney Planned a third film, called Jack Frost 3: The Last Coming, that would have seen the killer snowman grown to a gigantic size. Sadly, due to the death of its big star Christopher Allport in 2008, the project was shelved, and Jack Frost is left with only 2 films under his clod belt.
Dolly – Dolly Dearest (1991)
Dolly Dearest is an unapologetic attempt to capitalize on Child’s Play’s huge success, during the late 80s and early 90s. It’s hard not to draw parallels between the two films when both feature a walking, talking, killer doll as it’s antagonist. The film sells us a gender switcheroo, with a popular line of girl’s dolly becoming possessed by ancient malevolent spirits. Despite both Chucky and his female Dolly Dearest counterpart “Dolly”, having the same goal, to possess her owners body, Dolly does not have the quirky characteristics and voice talent that Chucky has.
Faced with an inferior product, and with many critics just panning the films as a blatant rip-off, the film did not receive a sequel. Dolly Dearest could simply not measure up to the vastly superior Child’s Play.
Gregory Tudor – Ice Cream Man (1995)
Ice Cream Man stars Clint Howard in one of his more memorable characters, as a recently released psychiatric patient with a thing for ice cream and kids. Re-opening an old ice cream factory, Gregory Tudor (Howard) just wants to make the kids happy, even if it kills them.
Ice Cream Man is probably many horror fans guilty pleasure, as the film is nothing more than an extravaganza of gore, with a story line that makes no sense and a cast more wooden than Pinocchio ass. It’s low budget, high thrills and filled with all the stuff we horror lovers soak up like a sponge. Clint Howard’s Gregory is the best thing about the film. With a gravelly voice and a funny limp, his performance deserved at least one sequel, which he sadly never got.
Doctor Evan Rendell – Dr. Giggles (1992)
The comedy horror film Dr. Giggles came at time when the slasher films were just falling out of favour with horror fans. With every other film came a sense of familiarity that simply could not be shaken. Sadly for, Larry Drake and his portrayal as Doctor Evan Rendell, Dr. Giggles was just more of the same.
The film came out close to Halloween, when these types of films are at their most popular, and a two part comic was produced Dark Horse Comics. All the pieces were in place, the film just needed to perform well. The reception was luke warm at best. The film made a nice amount of money, but terrible reviews really put a blow on any further success. The character was right, but the script sucked!
Dr. Giggles potential as the face of a franchise was huge, with plenty of room to develop the character further, and a sequel would have been well received by fans of the film. Whilst the terrible script was mostly to blame, a certain lack of enthusiasm from the horror crowed also did not help.
In the end, Dr.Giggles was born and killed within his one and only film. One thing is for sure, Larry Drake was born to play villains!
Stanley Caldwell – Cabin by the Lake (2000 – 2001)
5 years before Dexter was dumping body parts into the sea from his boat, Stanley Caldwell was dumping entire bodies. Cabin by the Lake is a horror TV movie released in 2000. It tells the story of Stanley, played by Judd Nelson, a script writer who begins killing girls for research for a movie he is writing. In his script, and in his research, the killer starts a “Garden” in the middle of a lake. He dumps his live victims into the drink, where they drown, dressed in various gowns that Stanley had forced them into. As may psychopathic killers swill keep mementos of their victims, Stanley’s Killer keeps an entire graveyard, out of sight and reach of joe public.
The film drew in a large audience which was great, because the films sequel was an amazing tongue in cheek stab at itself. In Return to Cabin by the Lake, Stanley’s film script is being turned into an actually movie. However, unbeknown to the crew and cast, he second-unit director for the production is the presumed dead writer and killer. Stanley continues his work, now in plain sight, killing of the actresses and replacing their real bodies for the fake cadavers in the films tank.
Why Cabin by the Lake never received a third movie is beyond me, as the films were fun, creepy and very different from other serial killer movies.
Dr. Alan Feinstone – The Dentist (1996 – 1998)
Upon discovers his wife is cheating on him, successful dentist Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen) starts to suffer from hallucinations, that lead to a series of gruesome murders. The films release was met with similar reactions, it was painful to watch, in more ways than one. However, that did not stop the film from pulling out a sequel, The Dentist 2, a couple of years later. The problem with the sequel was that it was more of the same, with no new elements to push it further. With a rinse, wash and repeat attitude, the series doomed itself into oblivion.
It could be said that the horrors of dentistry had already been explored fully in films such as Little Shop of Horrors and Marathon Man, and that over familiarity killed the series. I personally believe that the idea of a crazed dentist is more terrifying than the actualities of one.
Horace Pinker – Shocker (1989)
Wes Craven took his Nightmare On Elm Street formula and gave it a shake in his 1989 slasher Shocker. Mitch Pileggi (Walter Skinner from the X-Files) as Horace Pinker, a serial killer loose in a Los Angeles suburb. Pinker is a Television repairman with a pronounced limp, and a thing for devil worshipping. When the mad man is caught, he makes a “deal with the Devil” that turns him into pure electricity, allowing him to travel into people homes, via their televisions, and murder them.
The film had an interesting premise and plenty of slap stick styled action, so why did it never make a sequel. The truth here is that Craven really shot himself in the foot when he sold the rights to A Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy Was making lots of money and Craven had signed that all away. Shocker was his attempt at capturing that lighting in a bottle once more. However, the similarities between Freddy Kruger and Horace Pinker were plain to see, and Pileggi was basically just pulling off a bad Robert Englund impression. With Pileggi chewing on the set and slapstick nature of the film, fans failed to warm to a character who was desperately trying to be someone else.
Trickster – Brainscan (1994)
Brainscan is a 1994 science fiction horror film that introduced us to colourful character called the Trickster, a cadaverous punk-styled avatar of a CD Rom video-game called Brainscan. The film starred Edward Furlong as misfit teen Michael Brower, who plays a new ultra-realistic game that puts you in the role as a killer. When the in-game killings become real, Michael starts to realise that he’s bitten off more than he can chew.
Brainscan is a good movie, but it does have its flaws. Whilst Furlong delivers a lack lustre performance, looking bored and tired throughout, T. Ryder Smith’s portrayal as the Trickster was extraordinary energetic and interesting. We deserved to see more of this zany character and the film was certainly set up for sequels. The film was aimed at a younger horror crowed, with soundtrack features a good deal of hard rock, grunge, and heavy metal, which may have alienated mature audiences. Ultimately, Brainscan sadly failed to materialise any sequels, and the film will forever be remembered for being “that film with the kid from Terminator 2”.
Candyman – (1992 – 1999)
Based on short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker, Candyman became a horror fan favourite when it hit cinemas of 1992. The chilling tale about an urban legend, grabbed cinema goers by the throat. With it’s plentiful gore, chilling soundtrack and haunting performance by Tony Todd, the film about a murder slave seeking revenge, was sure to hit all the right notes.
Candyman was quickly followed by two sequels, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, and Candyman: Day of the Dead, neither of which performed critically and commercially as well as it’s original. With the sequels concentrated on Candyman’s backstory, rather than following in the paths of an unknown such as Hellen (from the original movie), the films lost a lot of the charm. The Candyman frames Helen with murder and child abduction, leading us (the audience) on journey to exonerate her. Candyman is as much as Hellen’s story as it is about it’s titular villain. The sequels failed to duplicate this story arch.
However popular the original, the sequels seemingly failed to make enough noise to justify the franchise continuing beyond its third instalment. Despite original director Bernard Rose stirring the pot for a direct sequel back in 2016, Candyman has sadly never seen any more sequels or spins offs and the character remains one remembered mostly for his first incarnation.
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“Hi Horror Fans – When film makers fail to launch a good character, franchise are killed. So my friends, what are you favorite films that failed to franchise? Did we miss something off our list. Reach out to us via the comments below!