5 Horror TV Shows Fans Wanted But Never Happened
This week the ELEVATOR TO HELL column tackles five hotly anticipated horror tv series that never got made.
For every horror project to hit V.O.D, countless others end up D.O.A. Every week new horror films and television series are announced, but only a fraction of these titles ever seem to get made. Do you ever wonder what happened to the rest? If so, you’re not alone. Just like with films, there’s never a limit to the amount of horror TV caught in the seaweed of development hell.
Elevator to Hell is the new Dread Central column documenting my journey through the best lost and forgotten horror projects of lore. Here are five infamous horror series that never made it past the pilot. First up:
ZOMBIELAND: THE SERIES
The Zombieland franchise is no stranger to Development Hell. Well before the long-delayed sequel Zombieland Double Tap, there was an attempt to turn the concept into a network series…
First announced in October of 2011 for CBS, Zombieland: The Series was spearheaded by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. Casting notices revealed a few familiar characters, although none of the original cast would be returning.
The project sat dormant at CBS for two years until Amazon Studios stepped in and ordered a pilot. The episode was released in 2013 on Amazon Instant Video. A month later Rhett Reese, the creator of the show, announced online that Zombieland: The Series was officially scrapped.
When asked about his show’s failure to launch, Reese said, “I’ll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence.” Yikes.
THE DARK TOWER
The 2017 theatrical adaptation of Stephen King’s master opus “The Dark Tower” left fans much to be desired. Was adapting an eight-book fantasy series into a 90-minute feature something of an impossible task? Hard to say.
It wasn’t always going to be like this. In 2007 a horror tv series based on the books got assigned to J.J. Abrahms and Damon Lindelof. Fresh off the massive success of their primetime hit LOST, these two seemed primed to tackle Stephen King’s epic fantasy. But it wasn’t meant to be. A few years later Abrahams left The Dark Tower for the Star Trek films, while Lindelof moved on to make Cowboys & Aliens.
Enter Ron Howard, who had very big plans for this IP. He wanted to split the story into two features, each connected by a full season of television. Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen were in line to play the lead character of Roland, and Howard even announced that he had partnered with HBO.
Ten years later Ron Howard would produce a much smaller vision of The Dark Tower with director Nikolaj Arcel at the helm.
Lukewarm response and box-office draw left the rights available for Amazon Studios to snatch up. The Walking Dead‘s Glen Mazzara developed the series, and a pilot is shot. Unfortunately, Amazon passed, leaving production company MRC to shop the series elsewhere.
Horror fans likely remember writer/creator Bryan Fuller’s cult series adaptation of Hannibal on NBC. However, they’re less likely to remember his failed 2012 television reboot of The Munsters.
Mockingbird Lane ended up playing as a one-night-only television special on NBC. While the studio had the option to pick up the pilot for a full series, due to poor ratings, it didn’t happen. The Munsters falls short of being horror tv in the strictest sense, yet it’s still a classic property many fans were excited to see reimagined.
But there’s good news. Rob Zombie officially announced his film adaptation of The Munsters via Instagram earlier this month. Rob Zombie has worked in animation to critical acclaim before, so is there a chance of him taking the adult animation route yet again?
DARK SHADOWS (2004)
Way back in November 2003, The WB (now The CW) began adapting a millennium-age reboot of the cult gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.
Written by Mark Verhiuden, this version stars Alec Newman as Barnabas, Marley Shelton as Victoria, Kelly Hu as Dr. Hoffman, and Jessica Chastain as Carolyn. The WB passed on this very expensive pilot, but you can still find it online fairly easily.
The WB even went as far as to cancel their hit series Angel in an attempt to make room for a different vampire property on the network. The gamble didn’t pay off.
A WB Chairman in July 2005 said, “We had a new director come in who was accomplished in movies but frankly didn’t do a particularly good job … The script was terrific, but creatively, the end result did not come out the way we’d all hoped for.”
In 2012 Tim Burton crafted a large-scale theatrical adaption of Dark Shadows starring Johnny Depp. The film received negative reviews and a poor response from fans.
FAITH THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended in 2003, demand for a spinoff was palpable. Talks of a BBC drama starring the character of Rupert Giles even sounded serious. However, the fans were most excited about was a Faith the Vampire Slayer series. An anti-hero, Faith was always a complicated and interesting character, making her a great choice for taking on a lead role.
Tim Minear, one of the creatives behind the possible spin-off had this to say:
“I had come up with a pitch. There are no hard feelings there. It would have been Faith, probably on a motorcycle, crossing the earth, trying to find her place in the world. The idea of her constantly on the move seemed right to me. And she broke out of prison (on Angel) so there would have been some people after her.”
Eliza Dushku made the decision to star in Tru Calling instead, leaving hopes for a Faith series dead in the water.
If unmade horror is your type of thing, then consider subscribing to the Dread Central original podcast DEVELOPMENT HELL anywhere you get your podcasts. And keep your eyes peeled for a new instalment of ELEVATOR TO HELL every other week, right here on Dread Central.