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Sequels. The horror genre is notorious for them, and we all know why they keep getting made – people will keep paying to see them. More money for the studio. The thing is though, that kind of sound financial thinking ends up running counter to the art of the films as the story-lines tend to get diluted, recycled, and often more ridiculous. They lose the power of the original film or earlier sequels.
Now I want it to be clear – I am not against sequels per se. They can add to and expand upon the original film, and enrich the universe in which they exist. In very rare cases, they can even improve upon the original. But sequels need limits. There is only so far you can go with an idea before it gets stale, and a series falls into the pit of self-parody.
The examples I will use here are the Friday the 13th films and the Halloween films, because I’m a big fan of the early installments and I figure most horror fans will be familiar. I’m sure we’ve all seen these films, too, so no concerns about spoilers.
Both of these series should have ended with part 4. In Friday 13th 4 (which we all know was supposed to be The Final Chapter…ahem), Tommy kills Jason decisively with the famous brain-destroying machete-slide. We see Tommy in the hospital afterwards and when his sister hugs him, he shows the camera that weird spaced-out expression, that’s supposed to denote something awaking in him…
Much like the end of Halloween 4; Michael is blasted full of holes by the sheriff and his men, but little Jamie inexplicably stabs her own mother while wearing her clown costume that echoes her evil uncle from 10 years before.
The idea of both films is that the villain, either Jason or Michael respectively, is finally dead for REAL….but their evil lives on in Tommy and Jamie.
What a great way to end each series – a neat theme, that true evil never dies, it merely changes form.
The bodies housing said murderous monsters’ spirits can be destroyed, but as Mr Sayer intimates to Dr Loomis in Halloween 4, “You can’t kill damnation, mister. It don’t die, like a man dies”. If both series ended there, it would have been a nice, noir way to end them, leaving the futures of both children up to the imaginations of the audience. The series would have finished with a good deal more dignity too and would have spared us the progressively worse later sequels that ruined the franchises with body-jumping, adventures in space, mysterious cults and Busta Rhymes.
Of course, leaving things up to the imagination of the audience doesn’t make money, (hence the Star Wars prequels….a topic for another day) … but one can dream.
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