The television industry is seeing a surge of new shows based on classic horror movies from past decades. There was a time when I would have bemoaned this trend, as attempts to turn Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street into shows in the late 1980’s were underwhelming. But TV isn’t the watered-down wasteland it used to be. The fact that there are hundreds of networks, many unencumbered by the restrictions of the FCC, means that talented writers, directors, and producers can give seminal classics the treatment they deserve, creating shows that maintain and even elevate their legacies.
Below, in no particular order, are 20 TV shows that are based on horror movies (many of which are still in development). Enjoy!
Ash vs Evil Dead
Season 1 of Ash vs Evil Dead, based on Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead Franchise, was a breakout hit for Starz. The success has everything to do with the participation of Bruce Campbell who reprised the role of Ash from the films. Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 premieres on Oct. 2nd.
Official Synopsis: Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.
Spike TV is currently working on a 10-episode season of The Mist, based on the short story by Stephen King and the 2007 film directed by Frank Darabont. The series will premiere sometime in 2017.
Official Synopsis: Kevin is the epitome of the modern, liberal and civilized man; devoted to his wife and teenaged daughter. He lives his life by high moral values and throughout his life he has refused to give into the anger and prejudice he sees in other people. However, with the arrival of the mist, his moral compass will be put to the test for his and his family’s survival. The cast also includes Frances Conroy, Alyssa Sutherland, Gus Birney, Dan Butler, Luke Cosgrove, Danica Curcic, Okezie Morro, Darren Pettie, Russell Posner and Isiah Whitlock, Jr.
The Lost Boys
The movie that made it cool to be a vampire, The Lost Boys (released in 1987), is currently in development at CW, helmed by Veronica Mars and iZombie creator Rob Thomas.
Official Synopsis (per Deadline): Envisioned for a seven-season, anthology-style run, the series will tell a story spanning 70 years, each season chronicling a decade. Season 1 will be set in San Francisco during the Summer of Love, 1967. Each season, the humans, the setting, the antagonist and the story all change — only the vampires, our Lost Boys, who like the Peter Pan characters never grow up, remain the same.
Snowpiercer, the South Korean film based on a French comic and starring Chris Evans, came and went with little fanfare in the US. Still, the film’s international success caught the attention of folks at NBC who are currently turning the dystopian saga into a TV series. Per Dean of Geeks: “Josh Friedman, who produced Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, NBC’s Crossbones and the upcoming loosely-based Wizard of Oz adaptation Emerald City, is bringing the story of a globe-spanning train that hold that last survivors of an ice age.”
Let the Right One In
The Swedish horror movie Let the Right One In is based on the bestselling novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay. The film became a modern classic for its unique spins on established vampire mythology and the poignant coming-of-age story at its core. The TV series is being developed over at TNT, which is also relaunching Tales from the Crypt in 2017.
What is widely considered the scariest movie ever made will be making its TV series premiere on Fox in less than 3 weeks. While messing with such a lauded classic seems sacrilegious to many, trailers for the show (like the one below) look absolutely fantastic!
Official Synopsis: Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera, “Sense8,” “The Chosen”) is the new face of the Catholic Church: progressive, ambitious and compassionate. He runs a small but loyal parish in the suburbs of Chicago. He has no idea that his quiet life is about to change forever. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, another priest finds himself locked in a life-and-death struggle with evil. Father Marcus Brennan (Ben Daniels, “Flesh and Bone,” “House of Cards”) is a modern-day Templar Knight, an orphan raised since childhood by the Vatican to wage war against its enemies. Father Marcus is everything Father Tomas is not: relentless, abrasive and utterly consumed by his sacred mission.
Friday the 13th
The 1980’s TV series Friday the 13th was related to the prolific slasher franchise in name only, but folks at CW are currently developing a platform for Jason Voorhees on the small screen. Per Den of Geeks: “CW Network President Mark Pedowitz confirmed at the Television Critics Association Press Tour that the network is going to be taking a more grounded approach to the Camp Crystal Lake saga.”
The TV show “will center on a detective searching for his missing brother when Jason Voorhees, believed to be dead, comes back to terrorize the camp.”
The Devil’s Advocate
The Devil’s Advocate (released in 1997) had the legal drama of a John Grisham novel and the terror of a Satanic allegory. Warner Brothers and NBC first announced the joint venture over a year ago and, while there haven’t been any updates, the series has not been officially scrubbed either.
In the original Devil’s Advocate: Aspiring Florida defense lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) accepts a high-powered position at a New York law firm headed by legal shark John Milton (Al Pacino). As Kevin moves up in the firm’s ranks, his wife, Mary Ann (Charlize Theron), has several frightening, mystical experiences that begin to warp her sense of reality. With the stakes getting higher with each case, Kevin quickly learns that his mentor is planning a far greater evil than simply winning without scruples.
Shutter Island, released in 2010, is the closest thing to a horror movie Martin Scorsese ever directed. Now, the story of a secluded mental asylum and its founders will be explored as a prequel. Den of Geeks reports: “The HBO series, tentatively titled Ashecliffe, will document the early days of the hospital and its founders. Dennis Lehane (who wrote the book) is penning the pilot episode and Scorsese will direct the series.”
In the original Shutter Island: The implausible escape of a brilliant murderess brings U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner (Mark Ruffalo) to Ashecliffe Hospital, a fortress-like insane asylum located on a remote, windswept island. The woman appears to have vanished from a locked room, and there are hints of terrible deeds committed within the hospital walls. As the investigation deepens, Teddy realizes he will have to confront his own dark fears if he hopes to make it off the island alive.
Fatal Attraction, the film that did for affairs what Jaws did for beaches, has been eyed for the TV series treatment by Mad Men alums Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton, who are working on the scripts for a potential event series at Fox. The series has neither been confirmed or scrapped.
In the original Fatal Attraction (released in 1987): For Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), life is good. He is on the rise at his New York law firm, is happily married to his wife, Beth (Anne Archer), and has a loving daughter. But, after a casual fling with a sultry book editor named Alex (Glenn Close), everything changes. Jilted by Dan, Alex becomes unstable, her behavior escalating from aggressive pursuit to obsessive stalking. Dan realizes that his main problem is not hiding his affair, but rather saving himself and his family.
Resident Evil/Perfume/The Mortal Instruments
The next installment in the Resident Evil franchise, hitting US theaters later this year, is subtitled The Final Chapter, but German production house Constantin Films hopes to keep the saga alive in TV series form. Constantin Films is also developing scripts for shows based on Perfume and The Mortal Instruments.
The Resident Evil franchise (launched in 2002) follows technologically-enhanced Alice (played by Milla Jovovich) as she attempts to take down the Umbrella Corporation, a nefarious company responsible for unleashing a zombifying virus upon humanity.
In Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (based on the novel by Patrick Süskind and released in 2006): With his incredible talent for discerning scents, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is one of 18th-century France’s finest perfumers. He becomes obsessed with capturing an elusive aroma: the scent of young womanhood. His search takes a deadly turn, and when the bodies of 12 young females are found, panic breaks out, with families rushing to lock up their daughters.
In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (based on the novel by Cassandra Clare and released in 2013): In New York City, a seemingly ordinary teenager named Clary Fray (Lily Collins) learns that she is descended from a line of Shadowhunters — half-angel warriors who protect humanity from evil forces. After her mother (Lena Headey) disappears, Clary joins forces with a group of Shadowhunters and enters Downworld, an alternate realm filled with demons, vampires and a host of other creatures. Clary and her companions must find and protect an ancient cup that holds the key to her mother’s future.
The A&E series based on Alfred Hitchcock’s vastly influential Psycho (released in 1960), Bates Motel, will conclude after the upcoming 5th Season. The show serves as both a modern prequel to (and a remake of) the original film and focuses on the relationship between a young Norman Bates (played by Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma (played by Vera Farmiga).
In the original Psycho: Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), on the lam after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm. Traveling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a young man with an interest in taxidermy and a difficult relationship with his mother.
We first heard rumblings of a TV series based on the monster franchise Tremors back in May, and on Thursday, we got confirmation that Kevin Bacon (the lead actor in 1990’s original) will star in and executive produce it. The series is currently in pre-production at Amazon with Blumhouse and Universal Cable also producing; the series will most likely ignore the straight-to-DVD sequels.
In the original Tremors: Repairmen Val McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) are tired of their dull lives in the small desert town of Perfection, Nev. But just as the two try to skip town, they happen upon a series of mysterious deaths and a concerned seismologist (Finn Carter) studying unnatural readings below the ground. With the help of an eccentric couple (Reba McEntire, Michael Gross), the group fights for survival against giant, worm-like monsters hungry for human flesh.
Phantom of the Opera
Marc Cherry is developing a horror drama over at ABC—with a musical twist. The Wrap reports that The Phantom of the Opera “will be set in contemporary times amid the sexy and cut-throat world of the music business.”
In the most recent film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera (directed by Joel Schumacher and released in 2005): From his hideout beneath a 19th century Paris opera house, the brooding Phantom (Gerard Butler) schemes to get closer to vocalist Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum). The Phantom, wearing a mask to hide a congenital disfigurement, strong-arms management into giving the budding starlet key roles, but Christine instead falls for arts benefactor Raoul (Patrick Wilson). Terrified at the notion of her absence, the Phantom enacts a plan to keep Christine by his side, while Raoul tries to foil the scheme.
MTV won big by gambling on a TV series based on Wes Craven’s 1990’s game-changer Scream. The show, which recently concluded its 2nd Season, was revamped for Millennials but still retained elements that made the original film a classic. No word yet on whether the series will return for a 3rd Season.
Official Synopsis: What starts as a YouTube video going viral soon leads to problems for the teenagers of Lakewood and serves as the catalyst for a murder that opens up a window to the town’s troubled past.
While nothing is set in stone, Underworld co-creator Len Wiseman has big plans for the future of the franchise, including at least one more feature film. If Wiseman has his way, the reimagining of Romeo and Juliet in a world inhabited by vampires and werewolves will also get the TV series treatment. At this year’s Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, he revealed:
“Yes, there’s been a lot of conversations and even development on what that series would be. It’s really appropriate for television, in terms of how those characters can really tie in, but also become something new. It’s really an attractive space. I don’t want to put a date on it because then that’s going to be printed and it might not happen in that timeframe, but it is a thought.”
In the original Underworld: Under cover of night, vampires engage in an age-old battle with their sworn enemies, the Lycans, a clan of violent werewolves. Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire orphaned in the wake of a bloody Lycan attack, works for the vampire clan as a trained killer. When the Lycans take a mysterious interest in Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), an exceptional mortal doctor, Selene struggles to save him from Lucian (Michael Sheen), a ruthless Lycan leader hellbent on ending the vampire bloodline.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Since Robert Rodriguez launched his own cable network, El Rey in 2013, it’s no surprise that a TV series based on his 1996 vampire hit From Dusk Till Dawn is a flagship program. Season 3 premieres tomorrow, Tuesday September 6th.
Official Synopsis: A Texas Ranger is in hot pursuit of the infamous Gecko brothers and their hostages. They all end up trapped in a desert bar secretly run by vampires and discover a vampire conspiracy.
NBC’s Hannibal, based on Silence of the Lambs and other works inspired by author Thomas Harris, was a critical darling with a devoted following. The first two seasons won Saturn Award for Best Network Television Series and the third and final season won the inaugural Best Action-Thriller Television Series. Why this stylish and psychologically probing series was cancelled is a mystery to me. Rumors of the series rematerializing on either Amazon or Netflix have not materialized.
Official Synopsis: Hannibal explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.