Horror Sequels that Splattered Comic Pages

For certain horror franchises one movie can easily turn into twelve, giving us characters that just won’t stay dead. As horror fans we often revel in this and no matter how much we bitch, we still want the blood flowing, hatchets flung and machetes decapitating. While we have what feels like thirty-seven Saw movies, there are a ton of cult classic movies that never get a sequel or get churned for a profit straight to home video sequels that have nothing to do with the original other than the title.

Budgetary problems, not mainstream enough, actors dying, there are a myriad of reasons why these sequels while planned out or conceived never get made and leave us fans famished for more. Especially in this day and age where it seems that Hollywood throws our horror maestros new ideas away like garbage while picking away at their established films for every penny they can, our beloved franchises and filmmakers turn to the pages of comic books to get their tales told. It’s a great renaissance for horror literature in comics as even John Carpenter has turned to almost exclusively working in the comics medium with Tales of Science Fiction, Tales for a Halloween Night and even Old Man Jack being a few of his newest works to satiate your love for Carpenter. I decided to pick three of my favorites from the past couple of years that you guys should check out at your local comic shop so you can finally have the sequels your horror loving heart deserves.

The Lost Boys is a cult classic vampire flick that you could only get in the Eighties and it’s probably the greatest thing Joel Schumacher has ever done. It was a great balance of teen gothic and comedy that created an atmosphere that you just can’t get anymore. Decades later they tried to make sequels to this classic, straight-to-DVD and devoid of almost anything that resembled the original, so much so that whenever it did hearken back to the original film it just made fun of it. It felt like watching a Twilight movie made for the CW that just happened to have Edgar Frog in it.

Tim Seeley is probably the greatest eighties horror movie director you’ve never heard of because all his films splatter the comic book pages instead of the screen. His most famous book, Hack/Slash, is about a “Final Girl” who survives her slasher experience to become Cassie Hack the Slasher Slayer. She’s Buffy, minus super powers, but fights all kinds of different iterations of slashers. Seeley has had Cassie cross over with Victor Crowley, Chucky, Herbert West and Ashley J. Williams himself. The greatest thing about these crossovers is Seeley’s passionate love and attention to detail on the characters he’s adapting in these books. He takes every precaution to make sure the events of all the films can cross into his Hack/Slash universe and the voices of the characters are so refined it’s uncanny how similar they are to their film counterparts.

Seeley decided to take on The Lost Boys for a direct sequel and it’s the greatest sequel we never got, taking place very shortly after the events of the original film with Michael working an old folks home, Sam working the comic shop and the Frog Brothers training under Grandpa Emerson to be true vampire hunters. A hidden secret from one of our characters in the previous film causes a spike in vampire activity that is older than the human race! Seeley takes every little throwaway line of dialogue and throwaway character to sculpt a story that fits perfectly within The Lost Boys universe. While Seeley gives the drama a bit more urgency than the original film he also still makes it fun with awesome cheesy one liners and the dynamic between the Frog brothers has never been stronger. My favorite aspect of the story though is you find out a big secret about the Saxophone player that makes him one of the most ridiculously crazed yet badass characters in the series, who the hell ever thought that would happen? Seeley did.  Sam really comes into his own in this book too as Seeley evolves all the characters a bit like a good sequel should. It’s a perfect marriage of reverence and world building that keeps the heart of the movie but forwards the plot in a fresh new way.

Freddy Vs. Jason is a fairytale scenario for a horror fan that went through decades of development hell but upon it’s miracle of a release made New Line Cinema huge bank, which begged the question of where’s the sequel? Jeff Katz who started in the New Line Cinema mail room had a dream and that dream was to bring the titans of terror face to face with one of horrors few ongoing protagonists, Ashley J. Williams. This obviously genius idea had so many people fighting over negotiations and takes on the material who knows who to point the finger at as to why it didn’t get made. Katz however being the huge fanboy he is persisted and turned his script into a comic book! This was an awesome little crossover complete with Freddy playing upon Ash’s nightmares about the cabin and even had a giant slaughter fest of S-Mart customers at the hands of Jason Voorhees.

I could go on about how awesome this book is what I really want to alert the fans to is what came shortly after the success of this book. This adaptation brought us the mother of all sequels Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash. Following the events in Katz first script turned comic, the government tracks down where Ash drowned Jason and the Necronomicon, which now houses Freddy’s soul, at the bottom of Crystal Lake. Of course a bunch of government agents end up getting slaughtered by Jason as the head of the Pentagon makes off with the Necronomicon. The scope of this book could never be filmed, not only does it have our three titular characters but every single survivor of every Nightmare or Friday film.

Maggie, Freddy’s daughter from Freddy’s Dead, along with Neil from Dream Warriors assemble a group of survivors who have encountered Freddy and Jason before to figure out a way to get rid of them for good. We’ve got Tina and her psychic powers, Renne and her empath powers, Alice the dream master herself along with Jacob the Dream Child, little Stephanie from Jason Goes To Hell all grown up with her father Stephen and Tommy Jarvis who hunts down Jason Punisher style complete with War Journal. As if this collection of familiar faces wasn’t enough the entire book is littered with references to other franchises and even features Alice Cooper’s “He’s Back” song from Friday the 13th Part 6!

Jeff Katz lets all his love for all these series shine ending with an ultimate showdown of evil on the lawn of the White house as Freddy summons the Army of Darkness, led by Jason, to combat the military and survivors, blood literally raining down on Earth. It gets even more intense as Amanda Kreuger’s ghost shows up with an army of the undead of her own! This book is the Kitchen sink thrown right at your face and as a fan it is everything you’ve ever wanted.

Romero is and always will be king of the zombies and while the last two decades saw him bring us three more “Of the Dead” films to mixed fan and critical reviews, each on gave a little something more to the genre and let’s be honest, most of you thought Land of the Dead was a badass flick. He wanted to keep bringing us theses stories but because of said mixed reviews it became harder and harder for Romero to make these films so he returned to the Dead universe under the Marvel Comics moniker for Empire of the Dead. The comic reads like the perfect accumulation of the entire Of the Dead universe playing heavily on themes that couldn’t be fully realized in both Day of the Dead and Land, tying directly into Night of the Living Dead while giving us several whole new layers to his universe.

Empire of the Dead has double meaning as it is New York City five years after the zombie outbreak. Humans live on the streets alongside the zombies in fear as special police forces patrol keeping both zombie and human in check, rounding the zombies up for coliseum entertainment to keep the poor amused. The rich live in luxury and excess feeding off the poor much like in Land of the Dead only this time the rich are literally sucking the poor dry as the rich that run NYC are secretly vampires. Romero gives us Mayor Chandrake, a vampire who lords over the city acting very much like Dracula but with a more nefarious and greedy demeanor. The humans are blinded by the violence of the arena as well as the false protection of the mayor’s police force, all of whom are vampires that kidnap children off the streets to be put in farms to be drained of their blood for vampiric consumption.

Romero’s themes are heavy in this book and he expands upon the idea of Bub from Day of the Dead very well here with a hero zombie named X. X is a swat member turned zombie that is found by Dr. Penny Jones who wishes to examine her and condition her to co-exist with humans as she displays signs of intelligence and Romero uses her to show how zombies communicate! In the very first issue Romero ties his later franchise films directly into Night of the Living Dead by revealing Penny is the sister of Johnny and Barbara and in a goosebump filled recollection of that fateful Night, it is finally revealed what became of both Barbara and Johnny. This reveal is what drives Dr. Jones to passionately continue her research on X.

The whole book accumulates in a coup of crazed rednecks trying to take over the city and kill Mayor Chandrake. X being so smart, becomes a zombie gladiator in the coliseum and helps lead a zombie gladiatorial uprising with the help of Dr. Jones against the vampires stealing children. In Romero’s eyes all empires crumble under corrupt rule and society will always destroy itself in any form when money is put before survival. It’s a powerful message and one of the coolest ideas to come out of Romero’s zombie universe in a long time. There was talk of a television adaptation, but unfortunately certain networks felt there’s too much zombie competition out there for anyone to care which is complete garbage and people need to wake up and make Romero’s vision a reality.

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Freddy Ruiz

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