Austin Stowell, Michael Peña, and Lucy Hale in the new Fantasy Island.
Austin Stowell, Michael Peña, and Lucy Hale in the new Fantasy Island.
Photo: Christopher Moss (Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.)

Fantasy Island is a horror movie now, thanks to the crafty upcyclers at Blumhouse—though, let’s face it, that TV show was already kind of creepy to begin with. Since our reality is silly now, we decided to round up some other vintage TV series ripe for transformation into big-screen horror movies.

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Dads and daughters, part one.
Dads and daughters, part one.
Image: Metromedia Producers Corporation/20th Century Fox Television

1) Small Wonder

This sitcom about an inventor who creates an eerily lifelike robotic girl—the “Voice Input Child Identicant,” though you can call her “Vicki”—and then convinces his family they should pretend she’s their monotone-voiced, frilly-dress-wearing adopted daughter played its premise for laughs from 1985 to 1989. A more devious version of Vicki popped up on occasion, though “Vanessa’s” flaws were mostly due to the fact that her advanced technology gave her the ability to better mimic the salty attitude of a real tween.

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A horror spin on Small Wonder is so obvious it feels like it already exists—the story could easily exploit moviegoers’ seemingly limitless appetite for robots gone rogue (especially if they have super-strength and enhanced intelligence) and little kids who only appear sweet until they reveal they’re actually sinister to the core.

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Dads and daughters, part two.
Dads and daughters, part two.
Image: Bob Booker Productions/MCA TV and NBCUniversal

2) Out of This World

Here’s another take on the age-old “weird kids are hilarious” sitcom idea. It aired from 1987 to 1991 and instead of a robot, this time main character Evie is half-alien, something she only finds out when she turns 13 and realizes she has the ability to freeze time, among other powers. Her extraterrestrial father (voiced by the never-actually-seen Burt Reynolds) sorta helps parent her from afar, but most of the heavy lifting falls on her mother, who runs a school for gifted kids and may or may not regret falling in love with a spaceman from “Antares Prime.”

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There’s so much here that, again, already feels familiar; Hollywood sure does love to make movies about kids who suddenly manifest superpowers, and then either turn them into heroes, villains, or (most frequently) targets for bad guys and/or government agents. Think Midnight Special, Brightburn, or Escape to Witch Mountainthough the totally 1980s Stranger Things might be the most aesthetically reminiscent of Out of This World’s puffy bangs, neon colors, and general “let’s go to the mall” time-capsule appeal. Plus, “Evie” is already almost the same as “evil,” so the horror tropes practically write themselves.

Mr. Shumway, I presume.
Mr. Shumway, I presume.
Image: Warner Bros.
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3) ALF

Mr. Robot’s second season reminded us that this sitcom, which ran from 1986 to 1990, was still capable of generating surreal nightmares. And horror versions of ALF already kind of exist—one in the form of 1998 drama Permanent Midnight, which chronicled the addiction struggles of one of the show’s writers (played by Ben Stiller; ALF was loosely fictionalized to Mr. Chompers), and the other in the many, many behind-the-scenes stories of how joyless it was to film a sitcom that revolved around an unwieldy puppet that hogged all the fame and punch lines. We’ve been threatened with ALF reboots over the years, but if Hollywood can get it together enough to make Hanna-Barbera’s Banana Splits into stone-cold killers, surely we can get the furry, cat-eating, socially awkward, existentially challenged refugee from Melmac a true scary-movie scenario of his very own.

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A mullet crafted by the cosmos.
A mullet crafted by the cosmos.
Image: Michael Landon Productions/NBC

4) Highway to Heaven

Beloved Little House on the Prairie patriarch Michael Landon created and starred in this hit fantasy drama, which ran from 1984 to 1989. His character, angel-in-training Jonathan, spent each episode roaming around with his human sidekick, helping people who desperately need a little celestial nudge and, in some cases, full-on divine intervention.

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Network TV has already repurposed this uplifting concept more than once (most recently, with CBS’s earnest, Facebook-adjacent drama God Friended Me), but all you’d need to blaspheme everything it stands for is to make Jonathan a demon-in-training instead. He’d be steering people onto the wrong path (or maybe helping them...for a price), and taking orders not from “the Boss” upstairs but a more malevolent sort of supervisor down below. And you’ve already got your title and maybe even a new opening-credits jam to go with it: Highway to Hell, of course.

5) The Love Boat

If you’re gonna do Fantasy Island, you really gotta give its sister show, The Love Boat—a similarly frothy and guest star-laden affair; it ran from 1977 to 1987—its due, too. Cruise ships are inherently terrifying, so there’s half the storytelling already figured out. Come aboard, we’re expecting you...to die!

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Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island is out February 14.


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