Overhyped Horror Films That Were Never Released

The Rolling Stones had it right when they crooned "you can't always get what you want." Such is the case with these 12 movies, doomed to languish in production hell for eternity. A fitting image considering the genre, but that doesn't make it any more entertaining for horror fans. 

Here you'll find prospective projects both familiar and obscure that almost made it past the pre-production stage. From the unfilmable work of H.P. Lovecraft and a pre-Creepypasta hoax to video game adaptations, iconic franchise crossovers, and so much more, the /Film team has put together a wild collection of hypothetical titles that were so close to being real.

This Man

Back in 2009, the still functional website ThisMan.org appeared, asking viewers if they have ever had a dream that featured the face of a balding man with dark eyes, bushy eyebrows, and a wide grin. The website claims that a patient seeking psychiatric assistance drew the face of the man that she kept seeing in her dreams, despite swearing she's never met him in real life. Her doctor kept the portrait on his desk but was alarmed when a different patient with no connection to the first saw the portrait and identified the man from their dreams. The site claims that over 2,000 people have seen the face of this man in cities all over the globe, and the site's operators are looking for a way to make sense of this inexplicable phenomenon. 

The notoriety of "This Man" sparked worldwide debates, even inspiring a season of "The X-Files," and people everywhere shared their stories of seeing this man in their dreams. In 2010, however, Gizmodo proved that the entire phenomenon was an elaborate hoax concocted by sociologist and marketer Andrea Natella. Sam Raimi's production studio Ghost House Pictures had quietly obtained the rights to Natella's website, allowing the viral phenomenon to work as an in-universe marketing campaign for a movie from Bryan Bertino ("The Strangers," "Mockingbird," "The Dark and the Wicked"). Unfortunately, shortly after the film was announced and people realized "This Man" was just a psychological hoax, all forward momentum was killed, and the project was ultimately scrapped. 

It's a shame, really, because there's an untapped world of CreepyPasta stories begging to be turned into films, and "This Man" could have kickstarted a new subgenre of horror. (BJ Colangelo)

The Overlook Hotel

Back in 2014, Warner Bros was actively looking to expand their "Shining" universe and developed two projects simultaneously. One was "Doctor Sleep," the sequel to the original based on the book by Stephen King. The other was a prequel tentatively titled "The Overlook Hotel" written by "The Walking Dead" showrunner Glen Mazzara and to be directed by Mark Romanek ("One Hour Photo"). The basis for Mazzara's script for "The Overlook Hotel" (which he told me all about on the podcast I host, The Kingcast) was King's supplementary writings on the history of the haunted hotel, "Before the Play." The short book offers a quick summary of all the bad stuff that happened at the Overlook since its construction and focuses on the very first family to stay at that hotel. 

Bob T. Watson was the main character, a real Daniel Plainview type, who embarks on a great journey in the newly tamed West to build a grand hotel. Turns out, the mountain is home to a great evil and the hotel gets off to a bad start even before the foundation is laid. Dozens of workers are killed in freak accidents, Bob T.'s own family starts dropping like flies, and cannibal ghosts abound. 

The tone of the script found a perfect soft spot between Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick, honoring both very different fathers of "The Shining." This script pulled no punches. 30 pages in, a child chokes to death on the hotel's opening night while a terrified doctor-in-training tries to perform an emergency tracheotomy that goes horribly wrong. This scene was so extreme that it shook off Brad Pitt, who was being courted for the lead. When Mark Romanek joined the project, he envisioned something even grander that went back even further into the history of the haunted landscape, which Mazzara described as equal parts Kubrick's original film and "The Revenant." But that version never even made it into a finished script before "Doctor Sleep" was greenlit and "The Overlook Hotel" was shelved. (Eric Vespe)

28 Months Later

When "28 Days Later" came out in 2002, it changed the game in many ways, contributing to the zombie's reclaimed spot in pop culture and a new discourse on what actually counts as a zombie. The story is simple enough: a rage virus outbreak leads to most of Britain becoming zombified in the way that Ty Burrell lays out in Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" remake: "They fell down, got up, and started eating each other." While it wasn't the first movie to feature numerous sprinting zeds (that honor goes to Umberto Lenzi's 1980 banger "Nightmare City"), Danny Boyle's raw, fast-paced, post-apocalyptic horror was a seismic force to a post-9/11 audience, as was its 2007 sequel, "28 Weeks Later." Director Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting") and writer Alex Garland ("Annihilation") have kept themselves busy since its release, the former with a "Methuselah" feature and the latter with an under-wraps Civil War picture, but they have both teased the idea of a third sequel for over a decade. 

Boyle hinted to /Film as early as 2008 that he wanted a sequel, and that it would be set in Russia. At the time, the rumor mill had "The Cottage" director Paul Andrew Williams attached to direct before Garland squashed any notions of a new entry in 2012. But in a 2015 interview with The Playlist, Garland said: 

"About two years ago, Danny started collaborating on the potential to make 'Trainspotting 2,' another sequel. In that conversation, an idea for '28 Months' arrived. I had a sort of weird idea that popped into my head. Partly because of a trip I'd taken. I had this thought, and I suggested it to Andrew and Danny, but I also said I don't want to work on it. I don't really want to play a role, and Andrew said, 'Leave it to me.' So he's gone off and is working on it." 

So, out of all of the entries on this list, it seems like "28 Months Later" might have a decent chance of happening, and that's worth celebrating. (Anya Stanley)

The Blob

In 2009, Rob Zombie was announced to write and direct a "totally different, pretty dark" remake of 1958's "The Blob" (not to compete with Chuck Russell's already superb 1988 remake). Years passed without any update on the project until Simon West emerged as Zombie's replacement in 2015. Zombie's treatment was scrapped when he walked from the project because he didn't feel comfortable moving forward with another remake after his experience on "Halloween" and "Halloween II." 

According to Zombie

"...everyone talked about what it wasn't and not what it was: 'you can't do that with Michael Myers; you can't do that with Loomis...' It's like people have a set of rules in their minds about how these things should function, and you can't work like that." 

What a shame, because the rockabilly metalhead eyed a bold new vision for "The Blob."

In 2018, artist Alex Horley shared concept art that was unlike any blob attacks we'd seen before. Blobified mutants can be seen digging up corpses from graveyards to seemingly create zombie blob monsters that attack a Mars Burgers diner in one picture and a nurse in another. A gigantic monolith is illustrated with a sea of decaying bodies at its base, while the 5th Annual Monolith in the Park Festival takes place on the other side. It's all wildly different from anything in the original or the remake, featuring all of Zombie's sleazesploitation signatures down to a bride blasting "Blobies" with an assault rifle. 

What a shame this version of "The Blob" never saw the light of day — it's the exact kind of revitalized approach you love to see in a remake. (Matt Donato)

At the Mountains of Madness

Director Guillermo del Toro is a master of fantastical horror, so it's no surprise that one of his longtime passion projects has been adapting the H.P. Lovecraft novella, "At The Mountains of Madness." Not to be confused with John Carpenter's "In the Mouth of Madness," which pulls title inspiration from Lovecraft's source material, del Toro has been trying to get "At The Mountains of Madness" made for over fifteen years. 

The story follows ​​Miskatonic University geologist William Dyer and his team on an expedition in Antarctica when they uncover fantastic and horrific ruins beyond a range of mountains taller than the Himalaya, and the terrifying civilization it has been hiding for centuries. After leaving "The Hobbit" in 2010, it was announced that Universal Pictures was looking to make del Toro's adaptation as a 3-D film starring Tom Cruise and produced by James Cameron, but that never came to fruition — the studio considered a $150 million budget for an R-rated film too big of a financial gamble. 

During an interview on The Kingcast, del Toro mentioned that "At The Mountains of Madness" was one of the first films he pitched to Netflix after signing a multi-year deal with the company back in 2020, potentially bringing a 15-year dream to life. 

As it stands today, "At The Mountains of Madness" is still del Toro's white whale, with no current movement on the project. Lovecraft's work isn't the easiest to adapt to film, but if anyone can make it happen, it's the brilliant Guillermo del Toro. (BJ Colangelo)

Freddy vs Jason vs Ash

In 2007, a fun little comic miniseries called "Freddy vs Jason vs Ash" debuted from WildStorm and Dynamite Entertainment. The books pitted Freddy from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" against Jason from the "Friday the 13th" films, then put them both up against Ash Williams, the Deadite-killing king from "The Evil Dead." There were rumors of a potential movie crossover that would see the three greats duke it out on the big screen, but it never happened. Ash went on to fight plenty of other crossover creatures in the comics, including the Marvel Zombies, but a movie never materialized.

In an Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit in 2016, Campbell explained that, while the idea of a huge crossover sounds fun, it would completely remove creative control. Campbell and the rest of the "Evil Dead" team would only have a say when it comes to Ash, which means he could have potentially been at the mercy of Freddy or Jason. In his explanation, Campbell said:

"I'll be honest with you. I'm not real interested in crossovers. One of the main reasons why 'Ash vs. Jason vs. Freddy' did not come to pass is because we couldn't control any other character other than Ash. That felt like a creatively bankrupt way to go. Not to mention, you're splitting the proceeds three ways with partners you might not want."

While a three-way mash-up of this magnitude sounds fun on paper, it might not translate that well to the screen. "Freddy vs. Jason" worked in part because Freddy and Jason are so completely opposite to one another, and Jason's silence gave Freddy plenty of time to quip. 

Freddy's funnies and Ash's one-liners might be too much sass for one movie, so maybe it's better this one stayed six feet under. (Danielle Ryan)

World War Z 2

Horror movies, for much of their history, have been the backbone of Hollywood since they can be made on the cheap and put meat in seats. But in 2013, Paramount Pictures decided to take a big swing with "World War Z," a mega-budget zombie blockbuster with Brad Pitt in the lead role that ranked as the most expensive horror movie ever made. While production on director Marc Forster's film was famously messy and required significant reshoots, the very loose adaptation of Max Brooks' novel of the same name managed to bring in $540 million worldwide. That being the case, they started working on a sequel that then languished in development hell for some time, with various filmmakers becoming attached and departing over the years.

The situation hit critical mass when Pitt convinced his "Fight Club" collaborator David Fincher to sign on to direct "World War Z 2." Understandably, this got people's attention and brought a great deal of renewed interest to the project. Unfortunately, further delays and the studio dragging its feet resulted in the project being shelved for good in 2019. Fincher and Pitt have certainly kept themselves busy since the sequel fell apart, but the actor teased in 2019 that "We had really good story" and "the things [David Fincher] had planned for it just hadn't been seen yet." Sadly, it seems we're left to wonder what could have been with this one. (Ryan Scott)

Hellraiser vs Halloween

Two of the most recognizable horror villains are the unstoppable Michael Myers and Cenobite leader, Pinhead. While Dimension Films owned the rights to both the "Halloween" and "Hellraiser" franchises, they had two different crossover treatments in the works. Unfortunately, they didn't think such a production would be a lucrative investment, so they dropped the idea. Doug Bradley, the man under the pins in almost every "Hellraiser" film, told Your Move Magazine that after "Freddy vs Jason" proved to be profitable, Dimension decided they wanted their own crossover immediately. As Bradley tells it, Clive Barker was committed to writing the script with none other than John Carpenter reported to direct ... so why didn't it happen?

According to Bradley, the Akkad brothers (the producers of "Halloween") had retained control over any sequels and simply nixed the idea altogether. We may never know exactly why they objected, but momentum waned and eventually, Dimension lost the rights to both "Halloween" and "Hellraiser." 

As much as it hurts to say it ... that may be for the best. While both franchises can get over-the-top, it's a pairing that likely just wouldn't work. Michael Myers may arguably be evil incarnate, but his ambiguous mortality is one of the series' strengths. To pit him fairly against a supernatural Cenobite would require a definitive upgrade for the infamous Haddonfield slasher. It's also hard to imagine how the conflict would start — it's tough to imagine Myers solving the Lament Configuration. Still, it's borderline tragic that we lost a possible Barker-Carpenter collaboration, so we're stuck imagining what might have been. (Jeff Ewing)


David Cronenberg's "Frankenstein" is a phrase that seems too good to be true, like "Jodorowsky's 'Dune'" or "The Coen Brothers are making a real-deal Holyfield horror movie." The body horror maestro's take on Mary Shelley's classic science fiction novel was never much more than an idea, but what an exhilarating one it was! 

Cinefantastique recounts how close the project came in a 1990 issue of the magazine. Canadian film producer and frequent Cronenberg collaborator Pierre David approached the "Dead Ringers" filmmaker in the '80s with the idea, and Cronenberg casually agreed that it sounded like a story he could tell: 

"Pierre David, the producer, came up to me one day and said, 'Listen to this. Just listen, and tell me what you think.' And then he said, 'DAVID CRONENBERG'S FRANKENSTEIN.' So I said, 'Sounds good to me. What about poor Mary Shelley?'" 

Soon after, a full-page ad appeared in Variety, touting "David Cronenberg's Frankenstein" as "A contemporary vision of a timeless, chilling tale." In the collection of interviews titled, "Cronenberg on Cronenberg," the director is quoted as calling the concept "more rethinking than a remake. For one thing, I'd try to retain Shelley's original concept of the creature being an intelligent, sensitive man. Not just a beast." It would have been a freaky, fantastic fit, especially in the '80s when the director's transformative work would undergo its own mutation, from the grotesque women of "Shivers," "Rabid," and divorce horror "The Brood" to a more introspective era, when "The Fly," "Scanners," "Videodrome," and "Dead Ringers" would unpack duality and disease in men. 

His filmography is further filled with mad science and hubris of the Mary Shelley tradition and this moral gray area, where good and evil don't sit on a binary, pathos can be found within monsters, and depravity found among men. The potential re-thinking never made it to the big screen for unknown reasons, but fans can take consolation in the knowledge that the storyteller's 1986 hybrid horror "The Fly" is the closest thing to a modern Prometheus tale Cronenberg has to offer, and it already rules. (Anya Stanley)

Halloween 3D

Before Blumhouse brought the "Halloween" continuation trilogy to life and reintroduced scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis back into the world of Haddonfield, we had Rob Zombie's "Halloween" remake, and its subsequent sequel, "Halloween II." Despite mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, both films performed rather well at the box office, and Dimension Films felt like they had a money-making venture on their hands. "Halloween II" came out in 2009, the same year as another slasher release, "My Bloody Valentine 3D," which was also financially successful and got longtime "Halloween" producer, Malek Akkad of Trancas International, and Dimension Films thinking about the possibility of "Halloween 3D." 

Rob Zombie had already declined to return for a third film, so screenwriters Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier of "My Bloody Valentine 3D" were commissioned to pitch the sequel. The goal was to continue the world of Zombie's remake while melding it with John Carpenter's original, writing the script in only eight days. Four days into production, the Weinstein brothers, who owned Miramax and Dimension at the time, pulled the plug on the project. The constant delays inevitably forced Lussier out of the director's chair, but in 2011, The Weinstein Company announced a 2012 release despite not having a director, a new script, or any actors attached. 

While it would have been interesting to see a film try to marry the two timelines, the Weinstein Company's decision to jump into production with a script written in such a short span of time was foolish. A 3D movie based on one of the most successful film franchises in history deserves a little more tender loving care. (BJ Colangelo)

Resident Evil

In the 1990s, zombie movies were still a relatively niche subgenre that hadn't yet earned mainstream appeal. So when Sony decided to adapt the hit video game series "Resident Evil" into a movie, they hired the man who had almost single-handedly brought zombies to the big screen: George Romero. 

Romero's "Night of the Living Dead," "Dawn of the Dead," and "Day of the Dead" inspired generations of filmmakers to create their own zombie stories, and he developed many of the tropes we now relate to the walking undead. As such, Romero and "Resident Evil" sounds like a match made in horror movie heaven.

Romero went as far as to write a screenplay for the adaptation, which curious fans can still find online. Unfortunately, the people in charge at Capcom weren't big fans of the script, and since they own the games, they nixed the project. Romero's version hewed much more closely to the source material than the Paul W.S. Anderson films a few years later, which makes the decision by Capcom all the more confusing. Romero's film was less action-packed and more horror-driven, opting to stay inside the dilapidated manor from the first video game instead of running around an underground facility. It also focuses heavily on Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, two characters from the games that don't get any screen time in the films until the sequels. While the Anderson films are a lot of silly fun, it would have been great to see what the Godfather of the Dead himself would have done with the franchise. (Danielle Ryan)

Friday the 13th Part 13

Horror fans are well aware that it has been a long time since we've seen Jason Voorhees on the big screen, with the 2009 "Friday the 13th" reboot marking the last appearance of the slasher. While the movie was quite successful at the box office taking in $91 million, a sequel never got off the ground — even if one was publicly touted for quite some time. But before the ongoing, messy lawsuit over the franchise rights curbed any chance of seeing another round of Jason killing people at Camp Crystal Lake, several pitches for a follow-up came pretty close to happening.

The first idea that producers were very seriously considering was a found footage movie for what would have been the 13th entry in the franchise, with the news initially surfacing in 2013. However, the reaction to the idea was so bad that it killed the idea altogether, according to a 2015 statement from producer Bryan Fuller. Sadly, Jason would not be chasing the found-footage trend.

Another, perhaps more compelling idea came from the reboot screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift back in 2017. The duo revealed several pages for a script titled "Friday the 13th: Camp Blood — The Death of Jason Voorhees." This movie would have seemingly brought Jason's story to a close while also taking place during winter, meaning we would have seen the killer in the snow for the first time, bringing entirely new elements to the table. Alas, the movie never came to pass, and now the franchise is tangled in a messy legal web that will prevent anything from happening until it is good and truly settled. (Ryan Scott)