Fans of classic horror have an embarrassment of riches waiting on them over the next two years. Or maybe a just a lot of embarrassment.
Although it could be argued that the vampire craze has at least crested (if not disappeared), horror continues to appeal to mainstream audiences. The Conjuring shined in a summer of lackluster blockbusters. World War Z has already made more than half a million dollars. The zombie spiral will become a cash spiral in September when it’s released on Blu-ray/DVD.
So, we have announcements over the last several weeks that both Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist are likely to get reboots as TV series. We’ve got a Sleepy Hollow series on tap for the fall. We’ve got a teaser for the new Dracula series. Both Frankenstein and Dracula will get another big screen treatment as early as 2014.
Genre fans are right to be suspicious. Bates Motel has been a mixed effort while Hannibal has not had the creative freedom it has deserved. I remain especially dubious about network TV plans given their history of botching good ideas and the possibility that they will take these important aesthetic documents and turn them into exactly the kind of lurid sludge too many already consider the horror film to be.
I love American Horror Story but that’s in part because its original material, self-consciously lurid bizarre and over the top and, most importantly, features Jessica Lange. The Walking Dead features actors and a stable of writers that have been able to make a zombie TV show compete with the best series of TV’s golden age.
But we are also in for some disappointing reboots of material that can’t possibly work as sequential weekly television. NBC’s Dracula series plans to have the King of the Vampires chasing down those who cursed him and becoming infatuated with a woman who looks like his dead wife. Oh no.
Its always great fun to see works that you love reimagined. In some cases, nuances and subtexts can be introduced that make such works an homage to their source material rather than a watered-down rip-off. But I’m afraid the interest we see in producing horror series and films based on the success of classic tales will produce more eye rolling than chills. Let’s hope one or two gems come out of horror’s new heyday.