Thanks in large part to modern audiences’ perceived fascination with the extraordinary (or perhaps just special effects), the majority of modern horror movies seem to be weird supernatural concoctions that borrow and steal from one another and regenerate constantly. That’s not to say there haven’t been some good ones, or even original ones in recent years. But for the most part, the genre’s in a little bit of a repetitive cycle of generic supernatural phenomena causing horrific events.
Some might attribute this to the common stigma that Hollywood is “running out of ideas,” but that’s always been nonsense. Even if screenwriters aren’t constantly coming up with original stories, literature and real human history are so packed with spooky tales there should never be a shortage of unique or interesting horror flicks. Keeping that in mind, I wanted to point to three specific stories that simply need to become horror films.
Jack The Ripper
No doubt you know the name. He’s the late-19th century serial killer who plagued London (and specifically its prostitutes) but was never caught or definitively identified. Frankly, there have been a lot of serial killers throughout history who were equally mysterious, but the name “Jack The Ripper” and the setting of 1890s London have always heightened the aura surrounding this particular character.
As shown in this list by Movies Drop, there have been numerous attempts at a Jack The Ripper movie, with the most recent one being the largely forgotten 2001 film FROM HELL. But here’s the really stupid part: none of these films were simply called “JACK THE RIPPER.” Why would a studio trust trailers and hearsay to get the word out that a film about arguably the most notorious serial killer in history was being made? Why not call it what it is and (undoubtedly) attract droves of horror fans to the box office?
Done (and titled) correctly with a strong cast, a movie about this shady character could be spectacular. And incidentally it would also fit in with modern entertainment quite nicely given people’s fascination with late-19th century England. Sherlock Holmes fiction has been very popular of late (even if it’s thanks to a contemporary spin on the series), a game called The Order: 1886 was all about a steampunk twist on the industrial London setting, and this recent Assassin’s Creed game even included a Jack The Ripper subplot. People love this setting and are mystified by the character. It needs to happen!
Suggested Casting: Lead Investigator – James McAvoy; Jack The Ripper – Tom Hiddleston
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
It’s nothing short of strange that this iconic horror tale, which has inspired so many spinoffs and imitations over the years, hasn’t really been tried as a modern studio movie. While it’s grounded in fiction (specifically a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson), it would seem to have some of the same advantages Jack The Ripper might have with modern audiences.
The Jekyll & Hyde tale takes place during that same era in London that seems to fascinate so many people today. Additionally, it has at least a small place in modern entertainment, with this section of Gala Casino including a Jekyll & Hyde-themed casino game. As a digital slot reel, it’s naturally light on plot and action, but it does show how easily a film could drum up intrigue simply through setting. The sinister characters and potions on the slot reel are enough to make you want to go back and read the short story.
Aside from all that, this is also simply a bona fide horror story. The idea of a doctor with a positive reputation drinking a potion to turn himself into a monstrous individual purely out of self-indulgence is about as creepy as it gets. And thanks to the iconic source material, a film about all this could dwarf any other horror movies that deal with schizophrenia or hidden identities.
Suggested Casting: Jekyll/Hyde – Johnny Depp; Gabriel John Utterson (Jekyll’s friend and in a sense the protagonist) – Daniel Craig
The Cecil Hotel
Odds are that if you really combed into the history of large, old hotels you’d find lists of people who died while staying at any of them. But The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles has been home to a disproportionate and spine-tingling number of suicides, murders, and unexplained horrors.
A film about The Cecil Hotel was actually suggested in this article by Moviepilot, which also outlined just how many horrible things have happened there. The most recent incident was that the body of a woman was found in a water tank on the roof, and camera footage later showed the woman (likely minutes before her death) evidently hiding from someone. Thus far, her apparent murder remains unexplained.
This last incident was just in 2013, making it insensitive to include in a film so soon after. But a more general horror movie about the hotel’s bizarre history with suicides and murders would likely draw a crowd. Furthermore, because so much of what’s happened at The Cecil Hotel is unexplained, a screenwriter would have a lot of creative flexibility with this one.
Suggested Casting: There aren’t really set characters for this one, but for some reason I love the idea of Michael Caine playing a mysterious hotel manager who may or may not know what’s going on.
There you have it! By looking at one legend, one work of fiction, and one mysterious setting, we have three ideas for fresh horror movies. Here’s hoping they’re eventually made!