Television shows inspired by horror movies are nothing new; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ended in 2003, is one of the genre’s most successful examples. But there’s a trend afoot, with the likes of Scream, Damien, and Ash vs. Evil Dead hitting the airwaves (and Hannibal having just left).
Naturally, when one thing catches on, that means Hollywood starts scrambling through any and all potential source material to find something similar to pounce on next. In the case of TV inspired by horror films, this can be a good thing (Bates Motel has been a solid entry for A&E), or a what-were-they-thinking misfire (Blade: The Series) We gaze into our blood-stained crystal balls to make some recommendations both ways.
On the “yes, please, we’d watch the hell out of this” side ...
1) What We Do in the Shadows
Jemaine Clement, one-half of the New Zealand directing-writing-acting team (with Taika Waititi) behind the 2014 to the cult-hit vampire mockumentary, already hinted that a potential sequel was in the works... and the Flight of the Conchords vet also mentioned that a TV series had also been discussed. At least in theory—in August, Clement told the AV Club:
Me and Taika have pitched a TV show in New Zealand. Do you remember What We Do In The Shadows’ cop characters? The male and female cops?
We’ve pitched a show for those two cops in New Zealand and we’ve made a mini-pilot. At the moment it’s a paranormal activity division of the New Zealand Police Department. But we’ve already been told before we even handed it in that there’s no money for comedy and that TVNZ tried to make a comedy about a real estate agent and it didn’t go very well so they’re probably not going to do another one. But we still handed it in.
“No money for comedy” is no excuse. We’d fistfight a werewolf to get this show on the air... or at least to get a look at that mini-pilot.
Nearly a decade before he hit box office gold with Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn made his big-screen debut with this delightfully gross horror comedy about a small-town sheriff who leads the defensive charge against a rather slimy alien invasion. Slither paid judicious homage to B-movies past (most famously/controversially, Night of the Creeps), and it became a cult hit in its own right.
A TV series version could keep the South Carolina setting, recast Nathan Fillion’s resourceful cop with a younger actor (or actress) possessed of the same wry sense of humor, and dial back the intensity of the movie’s pace (but not its splatstick, please!) while introducing either an ongoing slug-creature menace or a monster of the week (or both). With a superstar like Gunn’s name attached, a TV Slither might get a chance to find its audience and become a cult hit, too.
3) Monster Squad
Speaking of underground hits and specifically Night of the Creeps, that film’s writer-director, Fred Dekker, also made one of the most beloved cult films of all time: The Monster Squad. “They’re young and inexperience ... they’re a bit disorganized” (per the trailer, above), but a TV series about a group of ragtag kids who’re obsessed with monster movies and then find themselves living one on a weekly basis (see: the film’s end; they already have business cards!) could be a hoot. Make them older high school or college age and you’ve got even more scare-factor potential. If Teen Wolf gets a series, why not Monster Squad?
4) The Conjuring
Vera Farmiga already has the horror-movie-made-into-TV thing on lock with her standout turn as Norma Bates on Bates Motel, so her role would need to be re-cast. But a drama about married paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren could be great fun, with an endless canvas of ghost-story potential beyond creepy dolls and faux-haunted Long Island houses (though the Warrens’ real-life case files, and that room o’ spooky objects, would surely provide plenty of material). Exploring their relationship, and what it would like to be in such an unusual field of work alongside one’s clairvoyant spouse, could also prove both fascinating and entertaining.
Because the found-footage trend isn’t going to die anytime soon, why not guide it into the coolest direction possible, by making this clever and actually pretty scary Norwegian thriller into a TV series? Trollhunter’s premise, about a group of camera-wielding college students who realize the wild-animal story they’re tracking has a much more ancient and fantastical bent, could lend itself to a sort of a supernatural Cops kind of vibe.
Or, a series could explore the film’s notion of Norway’s “Troll Security Service” by imagining what it might be like to work for a secret government branch working to both control a nation’s monster population—and to keep it completely secret from family members, the media, the skeptical/blissfully unaware public, etc.
And on the please, PLEASE never, ever make these shows side...
1) The Shining
Stephen King’s novel beget one of the greatest, most terrifying horror films of all time; it also inspired a 1997 mini-series and a widely-circulated YouTube clip that imagined it as a sitcom. While the latter was amusing, a real Shining TV show would be difficult to pull off. The only way it might work is as a prequel would be to explore the cursed Overlook Hotel’s early incarnation as the West’s most chic resort destination. But the best part of the Stanley Kubrick film, other than Jack Nicholson’s performance and Kubrick’s gorgeously sinister style, is the sense of isolation and dread that builds throughout. This is enhanced by the ticking clock narrative device that counts down the days until Jack Torrance’s full-blown descent into madness.
These aspects would be impossible to sustain over a period of weeks and episodes, and would end up doing a disservice to the material’s greatest strengths. Although, can’t lie, we wouldn’t mind if someone made a short film about a day in the life of the Grady Twins: “On Fridays we wear blue!”
2) The Ring
How would this work, exactly? Every episode would take place over a week, with different characters viewing the cursed VHS tape, then shrieking through their final seven days on this mortal coil between nightmares and croaky phone calls, before meeting a soggy end?
The first film (itself a remake of the unsettling Japanese original) offered scares aplenty, but we’re still amazed they managed to keep the story going with a part two. Rings, a third installment which will “once again feature a deadly videotape” is due in November. Just stay on the big screen, long-haired well-dweller Samara, and we can still be friends.
3) Friday the 13th
Too late, alas. This one’s already happening. And it’s not what you’re thinking; we also have a soft spot for late-1980s horror anthology Friday the 13th: The Series, which was related to the never-ending film franchise in name only.
Nope, as Deadline reported in August, a movie-inspired Friday the 13th is heading to the CW of all places. Read it and weep:
Network topper Mark Pedowitz today confirmed that the CW is developing Friday The 13th, a drama series based on the long-running feature franchise. The series adaptation will be written by Steve Mitchell & Craig Van Sickle, creators of the 1996 NBC series The Pretender through CBS TV Studios. “They are new in development,” Pedowitz told Deadline.
I hear that in the series reimagines the masked Jason with a stronger feel of grounded reality. Described as a sophisticated, horror/crime thriller, the potential Friday The 13th series is about the ongoing quest of a detective’s search for his missing brother that is somehow tied to Jason Vorhees, a long thought dead serial killer who has now returned to wreak havoc in the new Crystal Lake.
This premise replaces an earlier idea that was apparently floated about, imagining “Jason in multiple time periods.” Which actually might’ve been kind of rad: Jason vs. the Roman Empire? Jason vs. the Nazis? Jason vs. the aliens that will come to Earth in the year 2090? Now that might have potential.