Greetings everyone! Today we’re talking about the one-shot wonders of the horror world; the books or movies that for one reason or another never became a franchise.
It’s hard to say why some of these properties never became as popular as their contemporaries. Some of these stories did gain a cult following years later, but that was too late for any kind of sequels or prequels to arise from these stories. At least until they fall under the public domain.
Since we started the Month of the Macabre with the Universal Studios monsters, I guess it’s only fitting that we start with one of the last films in their horror line up. 1960’s The Leech Woman told the story of a mysterious woman named Malla, who claims to be over a hundred years old. She reveals to a scientist and his wife, Paul and June, the secret of how she has lived so long. This secret involves the use of a special ring to make a special potion, with a dead man’s pineal gland being a key ingredient. I’m not sure what that is, but I don’t think you want to drink something that has it.
After Malla demonstrates the formula in action, June kills her husband and steals the ring. She proceeds to murder multiple men in order to maintain her youth, as the formula wears off over time. When the police come to investigate the various murders, she tries to take the formula one last time, only for it to fail since her latest victim was a woman. She jumps out a window to avoid the police, and her body is found horribly withered.
What’s that? The Leech Woman doesn’t count as a monster? Well, some of the other movie villains I’ve covered this month probably shouldn’t count as monsters either. Okay, fine. How about 1958’s Monster on the Campus?
This film features a scientist that is exposed to the irradiated blood of a prehistoric coelacanth. After being exposed…a coelacanth is a type of fish. No, I’m not making this up! You can look it up online!
Anyway, after being exposed to the blood, the scientist temporarily devolves into a primitive caveman. At first the scientist is unaware of the transformations, but over the course of the film he learns about the affect of the fish’s blood. He eventually commits suicide by cop in order to prove that he is the murderous caveman.
Of course, the slasher movie genre was no stranger to the one-hit wonder either. I already mentioned the 1974 film Black Christmas briefly in other posts, but I can talk about it more here. This film takes place in a sorority house at Christmas time. The girls in the sorority start receiving obscene phone calls from someone who identifies as “Billy”. This doesn’t seem to faze the girls until they start being murdered one by one.
As I mentioned in previous posts, this movie was one of the first slasher films. It seems that a lot of the early slasher films had a “murder mystery” element to them, and this movie may have been the start of that trend. The film is shot in a way that we never see “Billy”, even when he murders the sorority girls.
At one point, one of the girls thinks that her boyfriend Peter may be the killer. His general creepiness and bad attitude, along with a phone call from “Billy” that quotes an argument they had earlier, hint to the audience that Peter may be the killer as well. She eventually beats Peter to death out of self defense, only for it to be revealed that “Billy” is still alive.
While this movie never had any sequels, it did get a remake in 2006. That technically means that this is a “two-shot”, but the remake didn’t have any sequels either, so I’m counting it. The remake lost the mystery element in favor of giving Billy a definitive backstory. This movie was generally not as good as the original in my opinion, but from what I understand it does have it’s fans.
For those of you thinking that a slasher movie that takes place around Christmas makes for an awkward viewing experience, then you probably never heard of the Valentine’s Day film from 1981, My Bloody Valentine. This movie tells the story of a miner that went insane after a mine collapse forced him to eat his fellow miners in order to survive. Blaming his supervisors for leaving the mine early to go to the town’s Valentine’s Day Dance, he murders them and threatens to kill again if the town ever has another Valentine’s Day Dance.
Many years pass before the town decides to start having the Valentine’s Day Dance again. After a couple of murders attributed to the original murderous miner take place, the mayor cancels the dance again. This doesn’t stop the town’s teenagers, who decide to hold their own dance in the mine. They find out just how stupid of an idea this was when they start being murdered.
It’s eventually revealed that the killer is actually one of the teenagers. He had apparently witnessed the original miner killing his father, and this had driven him insane. The film ends with him escaping, hinting at a sequel that never came.
Now that I think about it, it’s kind of odd that the slasher films that didn’t get sequels typically ended with the killer getting away with their crimes. You’d think that the movies where the killer dies at the end would be the ones that wouldn’t get sequels. Oh well. I guess that’s one of the many reasons that I’m not an executive at a film studio.
This film also got a remake with 2009’s My Bloody Valentine 3D. This movie is largely the same as the original, except that it changes the identity of the killer to one of the other teens. I’m not sure why the filmmakers did that. My best guess is that they wanted to surprise the fans of the original.
There are plenty more of these one-shot horror movies, ranging from the giant creature movies like 1955’s Tarantula and 1957’s The Deadly Mantis, to science-fiction classics like 1941’s Man Made Monster and 1957’s The Monolith Monsters. There are really too many to list here. I recommend watching as many as you can find.
With that said, that leaves us with just one more day in the Month of the Macabre. What is tomorrow article going to be about? Come back tomorrow to see.