Classic movie sequels resurge: Nostalgia isn’t enough for fans

By Marilyn MacLaren, Assistant Buzz Editor

With the long-awaited sequel “Terrifier 2” finally hitting theaters six years after its predecessor, supposedly causing fans to puke and pass out in theaters, there appears to be a recent resurgence of horror and Halloween film sequels returning to the screen after years, sometimes even decades since the original release.

From “Hocus Pocus 2” to “Halloween Ends,” more and more franchises are being revisited for new generations, bringing into question when the right time to finally let these series rest in peace is.

Halloween can be a very nostalgic time for many people, with many enjoying films surrounding the holiday and other spooky elements associated with the season. These can range from family-friendly fun to bone-chilling thrillers. For 2022, this year in particular saw a slew of horror film franchises being continued from their initial premise or being adapted for more modern audiences.

Films such as Scream followed a similar plot to its original story, bringing in audiences by featuring main characters now grown up and facing a new Ghostface. Another is “V/H/S 99,” the fifth sequel in the series of found footage anthology films, with horror segments reimagining the year 1999.

Yet with the overabundance of remakes and sequels, these films seem to be doing more harm than good for the future of their respective franchises. Audiences are baited back into theaters based on the nostalgia connected to these films and characters, becoming very dangerous territory when navigating the addition of new character development, while staying true to the original content.

The intertextuality strategically placed in the new films can potentially have long-term effects that damage the reputation of the original, not to mention the difficulty of disappointing die-hard fans while gaining new ones from a different and typically younger generation.

Fans that are more forgiving of a plot simply because it features their favorite characters or familiar tropes restricts the subsequent film, therefore suffering from being held back in the past. On the other hand, fans who are fiercely loyal and protective of these characters keep any attempts at new arcs or development overshadowed by the past.

With “Hocus Pocus 2,” a sequel released almost 30 years after the first, the promised return of the Sanderson sisters was assumed to be enough to sustain the film. This type of marketing garners the attention of subscribers young and old, luring them into a false sense of security with characters they know and love. Unfortunately, the outcome creates incredibly high standards that do a disservice to the sequel regardless of the plot or additional characters.

Many were left disappointed with the bittersweet end of the sequel. What made the Sanderson sisters such entertaining villains was completely changed for a more forgiving character arc. The driving force for the witches to wreak havoc in Salem was drastically altered to include a more tragic backstory, as outsiders to their village that led them to witchcraft.

Yet, seeing Winifred Sanderson, played by Bette Midler, break down and be forgiven by the main characters despite killing and stealing the souls of children feels completely out of character. The unnecessary and frankly messy push for redemption leaves a stain on the franchise when it couldn’t leave well enough alone.

As enjoyable as it can be, taking a new turn down memory lane and exploring familiar films in a new light, the risk is simply too great to start messing around with a beloved film or series. The temporary thrill of seeing favorite characters return to the screen competes with the already perfected image and emotions tied to those films in the audience’s heads.

 

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