The horror genre loves to turn everything into a franchise. Whenever a new horror movie shows signs of being profitable, eyes immediately turn to a sequel, even if the original film’s plot didn’t warrant one. This was especially prevalent in the ’80s, the golden age of slasher movies. Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street were almost yearly franchises in this decade, combing 13 movies between them.
Sawand Paranormal Activityare recent examples of standalone horror hits that spawned juggernaut franchises. Not every horror movie gets the chance for a sequel, however, whether it’s due to poor box office returns or lack of desire from the creators. There are standout movies that feature some of the best villains in the genre, yet none got to exist outside their initial films.
Calvin – ‘Life‘ (2017)
While it comes close to being a knock-off of Alien, Life is still a great space horror movie. When a team of six astronauts discover a creature revealed to be the first sign of alien life, their celebration soon turns to horror as the creature, dubbed ‘Calvin’, turns hostile and begins killing them.
Calvin is cruel and callous, as he seemingly takes pleasure in inflicting maximum pain on the astronauts, which includes the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiriyuki Sanada, and Ryan Reynolds. The movie ends with Calvin reaching Earth, paving the way for a sequel where the alien conquers our world.
John Ryder – ‘The Hitcher’ (1986)
Rutger Hauer provides us with one of horror’s creepiest villains as John Ryder in The Hitcher. The mysterious drifter murders people along an American highway, with no obvious intentions aside from a desire to do so. Through his conversations with protagonist Jim (C. Thomas Howell), it’s clear John is a cold and calculating sociopath.
While John dies at the hands of Jim at the end of the film, prequels could have explored John’s character further and what fuels his desire for murder. This could have potentially spoiled his character, however, as the twisted mystery that surrounds John Ryder is what makes him such a great villain.
Lola Stone – ‘The Loved Ones’ (2009)
One of the best horror movies to come from Australia, The Loved Ones takes the cake for the worst prom night ever. After kindly rejecting shy Lola Stone’s (Robin McLeavy) invitation to the school dance, depressed teen Brent (Xavier Samuel) is abducted by the girl and her father.
Lola is a treat of chaotic energy as the enraged girl tortures her prom date, subjecting him to several disturbing acts throughout the biggest night of their young lives. It’s a shame the pink-dressed killer dies at the end, as she is by far one of the most memorable horror villains of the 21st century.
Harry Warden – ‘My Bloody Valentine‘ (1981)
Released the year after Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine seemed poised to join its hockey-mask-wearing brethren in becoming a staple of the slasher genre. Instead, it became a one-and-done affair, as the mining gear-wearing Harry Warden only received one opportunity to murder teens on Valentine’s Day.
A remake was made in 2009 starring Jensen Ackles, and it is a worthy reboot that takes the original movie in surprising new directions. Despite sharing a similar ending to the original where the killer survives, primed to kill again, a sequel once more never came. My Bloody Valentine is simply content to be one of the most popular standalone slasher movies.
Driver – ‘No One Lives’ (2012)
When a family of thieves abducts a traveling couple, they believe it will be an easy cash grab. What they don’t expect, however, is to find a missing young woman hidden in the trunk of their car. As they free the girl, the husband, Driver (Luke Evans), reveals himself to be a cold and calculating serial killer.
No One Lives is a fun, goofy good time filled with plenty of gore and laughs. The movie never takes itself too seriously, and Evans is clearly having a good time as he dispatches the goons one by one. While he has elevated his career in Hollywood since No One Lives’ release, it would be nice to see him return to the role.
Stitches the Clown – ‘Stitches’ (2012)
Before Pennywise made his comeback and before Art the Clown appeared in Terrifier, there was Stitches. A fun homage to ’80s slasher movies, Stitches follows the titular clown as he’s brought back from the dead to murder the teens who killed him during a birthday party prank gone wrong.
Hailing from Ireland, Stitches is a fantastic horror-comedy that takes the time to develop its characters before the inevitable carnage ensues. Comedian Ross Noble is great as the killer clown, and the death scenes are brilliantly brought to life through some quality visual effects. Criminally underrated.
Leslie Vernon – ‘Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon’ (2006)
Leslie Vernon is a simple man with a simple desire. He wishes to be a famous slasher villain and join the ranks of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. In a world where these horror icons are real people, Leslie follows their lead as he crafts his own horror identity in one of the best slasher movies of the 21st century.
Told in a mockumentary style, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is shown from the perspective of a small film crew as they follow Leslie around, documenting his plans and kills. Ironically, while Leslie’s quest for stardom was well-received and remains a cult classic, he never received a sequel to cement his status.
Cropsy – ‘The Burning’ (1981)
Another slasher to leap onto the summer camp craze of the 1980s, The Burning sees abused caretaker Cropsy take his revenge on the kids at Camp Stonewater. Armed with a pair of gardening sheers, the horrifically burnt Cropsy cleaves through a cast that includes Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter, and Fisher Stevens in their film debuts.
The Burning stands alongside franchises such as Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp as one of the premier “camp-based” slasher movies. Despite the fact it never received a sequel, it has always remained popular since its release and is regarded fondly as a cult classic.
Charlie Wilson – ‘Charlie’s Farm’ (2014)
Another horror treat from the land down under, Charlie’s Farm finds four city friends traveling to the Australian outback to investigate the validity of an urban legend. When the stories end up being very real, the friends are hunted down by Charlie, a 7-foot-tall killing machine.
With Charlie proving to be unstoppable, the giant picks off the tourists in a variety of brutal ways. The movie seemed prime to start a horror franchise in a country that doesn’t have many aside from Wolf Creek (and even that is slow to release new entries), so it is a shame that a sequel has never happened.
Horace Pinker – ‘Shocker’ (1989)
A cult classic from beloved horror director Wes Craven, Shocker revolves around Horace Pinker, a mass murderer plaguing Los Angeles. When he is finally captured, he is promptly given the electric chair. Not even death can stop him, however, as Pinker comes back with electric powers to continue his reign of terror.
Mitch Pileggi of The X-Files fame is terrific as Pinker, and the large man is suitably menacing as he hunts down the teenager (Peter Berg) who put him away. Beginning as a dark slasher movie, Shocker becomes more and more ridiculous as it goes on, ending in a battle that sees our hero and villain hop through various TV programs.