Given that this summer marks the thirtieth and twenty-fifth anniversaries, respectively, of Ghostbusters (enjoying a limited theatrical rerelease this week) and Ghostbusters II, I recently took an opportunity—the first since screenwriting on a professional basis—to re-watch them. This can be something of a perilous exercise—bringing my experienced analytical eye to a movie that carries such personal nostalgic weight for me—but I almost always walk away with an enhanced appreciation for the film in question, be it a newfound recognition of its merits or clearer grasp of its shortcomings.
I’m going to venture a suggestion that flies in the face of over eight decades of Hollywood tradition: Movie monsters are not fundamentally franchisable.
Did the sequels to Psycho or Silence of the Lambs inspire the sheer terror of the originals? The more we knew about Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter, the more comfortable, oddly enough, we became with them. What about Jaws and Child’s Play? Seems to me the shark got faker and Chucky got campier as those went along. Sure, the body counts were higher and the death scenes more elaborate (a provision of scary sequels so concisely articulated in Scream 2), but did any of that make the follow-ups scarier—or merely distract you from the fact that you weren’t as scared?