The concept of returning movie franchises only took root in the last few decades, but horror movies have been fodder for long-running series for quite some time. Any scary movie with a semblance of popularity will be followed by countless sequels. Eventually, these sequels will scrape the bottom of the barrel for plot points such as Laurie Strode being Michael Myers’ sister—a plot point that admittedly did exist since the original film, albeit as a scrapped concept—and the producers might choose to retcon the continuity in an attempt to course-correct.
David Gordon Green’s 2018 reboot of the Halloween franchise was notable for picking and choosing which parts of the previous canon it would acknowledge. This movie kickstarted a trend of horror reboots doing the same, but it wasn’t the first horror film to retcon its own franchise.
8 Halloween (2018)
David Gordon Green’s Halloween, released in 2018, is a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 original that ignores the dozen or so sequels in between. Not all the Halloween sequels were panned by critics, but none of them were praised on the level of the trendsetting low-budget masterpiece that started it all. The 2018 reboot wasn’t acclaimed on the same level as the original, but it was by far the most well-received of all the Halloween sequels.
40 years after escaping from the clutches of Halloween‘s harrowing villain Michael Myers, Laurie Strode is a gun-toting badass awaiting his return. The movie is a study in generational trauma as Laurie’s obsession with Michael is shown to have affected her daughter and granddaughter.
7 The Exorcist III (1990)
Despite its title heavily implying that it’s the third part of the story, The Exorcist III ignores the events of The Exorcist II: The Heretic and directly follows the classic original Exorcist movie. It follows a police character from the first movie—Lt. William F. Kinderman, played by George C. Scott as opposed to the original film’s Lee J. Cobb—as he investigates a possible link between a serial killer and a priest who died during an exorcism.
The threequel was written and directed by William Peter Blatty, the author of the novel that The Exorcist was initially based on. While The Exorcist III received much better reviews than The Heretic, neither sequel holds a candle to William Friedkin’s groundbreaking 1973 horror masterpiece.
6 Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
It’s rare that a movie franchise goes so far downhill that its first movie is regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made and its last movie is regarded as one of the worst, but that’s what happened when the Jaws franchise came to an unceremonious end with 1987’s Jaws: The Revenge.
The movie is a direct sequel to Jaws 2 that ignores the gimmicky SeaWorld-based antics of Jaws 3-D. It also ignores Hooper’s monologue from the original movie about how sharks don’t seek personal retribution, because the film’s plot revolves around a shark swimming across the world to specifically target the Brody family.
5 Scream 3 (2000)
In an attempt to tie the trilogy together, Scream 3 reveals dweeby music video director Roman Bridger to be the big bad of the whole franchise. Not only is he the villain of the threequel, but he retroactively becomes the villain of all three movies.
He turns out to be the abandoned son of Maureen Prescott who manipulated Billy and Stu into becoming the first movie’s Ghostface killers, which needlessly tampers with the beloved original movie.
4 Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
The simple but effective setup of the Friday the 13th franchise that gets butts in seats is the promise of Jason Voorhees donning a hockey mask and taking up a machete to massacre a series of unsuspecting teens. However, that setup got thrown out the window in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.
Jason dies and ends up in the afterlife, so he’s not actually present for any of the on-screen murders. Instead of Jason himself slashing up his victims as Friday fans come to expect, Jason’s spirit possesses a bunch of random strangers to get them to do his murderous bidding for him.
3 Alien 3 (1992)
James Cameron wrapped up Ellen Ripley’s story in a neat bow with the perfect conclusion of 1986’s Aliens. But, it ended up becoming a huge blockbuster, so 20th Century Fox dragged the franchise out for another sequel, 1992’s Alien 3. This threequel rewrites the finale of Aliens by revealing that the xenomorph queen laid eggs on the evac ship before Ripley killed her. The queen was on-screen the whole time she was stowed away on the ship, so the plot point is flimsy at best.
Plus, the opening scene of Alien 3 reveals that Newt, Hicks, and Bishop all died off-screen. This isn’t necessarily a retcon of Aliens, but it is a massive disservice to three of the franchise’s most beloved characters.
2 Texas Chainsaw 3D (1990)
Much like the upcoming Texas Chainsaw reboot that Netflix has acquired the rights for, Texas Chainsaw 3D follows on from Tobe Hooper’s masterfully crafted original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre without acknowledging any of the previous sequels.
The prequel to Texas Chainsaw 3D, Leatherface, followed this continuity and revealed the blandest possible backstory for the titular baddie; he was just a regular, handsome, normal kid who turned into a murderous cannibal when his face was disfigured.
1 Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
2018’s Halloween wasn’t the first Halloween movie to retcon the franchise. Before David Gordon Green’s 40-years-later reboot, there was 1998’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. This one acknowledged the first sequel, Halloween II, but, ignored all the rest after that one. The most controversial twist on Halloween lore in Halloween H20 is the fact that Michael is Laurie’s brother, something that was initially revealed in the first sequel movie.
This plot point polarized fans of the franchise so much that the 2018 reboot went out of its way to dismiss it as a rumor. One of Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson’s friends asks her, “wasn’t it her brother who, like, cold-blooded mutilated all those teenagers?” Allyson says, “no, that’s just a bit that some people made up to make them feel better.”
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