Jigsaw trailer

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. With Jigsaw reviving the Saw series after a lengthy hibernation period, this week’s edition asks “Which dormant or failed movie series do you want to see make a comeback?”

Ben Pearson: F/X

I’m guessing most of you haven’t seen the 1986 thriller F/X or its 1991 follow-up F/X 2, but I’d love to see the F/X franchise make a comeback. The first film is about a practical effects guru (Cocktail’s Bryan Brown) who works on Hollywood movies, and the government hires him to use his skills to convincingly fake an assassination so the subject can go into witness protection and testify against the mob; naturally, things don’t go quite as planned and the hero gets sucked into a conspiracy. The second film sees him teaming up with a cop (Brian Dennehy) who tracked him in the first movie to solve a new murder, and while the first one is a legitimately good action thriller, the sequel descends into much goofier territory.

Still, the premise is terrific and it’d be great to see Bryan Brown come back to reprise the role of Rollie Tyler again (what a name). There’s a lot of potential for commentary on how the film industry has changed in the intervening years with the proliferation of CG technology – maybe in a new film, people wouldn’t believe that Rollie’s effects are real – and there’s also an opportunity to inspire a new generation of would-be effects wizards by showing a slick action movie character work his magic on the big screen again. Bring on F/X 3!

Ethan Anderton: John Carter

The year 2012 was not a good one for Taylor Kitsch. That year brought starring roles for the Friday Night Lights actor in Battleship, Savages and Disney’s hopeful franchise starter John Carter, and neither of them did Taylor Kitsch any favors. But if one of those movies deserves a second look and needs to make a comeback as a full fledged franchise, it’s John Carter.

Pixar Animation director Andrew Stanton was at the helm of the live-action sci-fi adaptation featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic character, and unfortunately it stopped any future he had outside animation dead in its tracks (at least for the time being). That’s rather frustrating though, since Stanton delivered an exciting sci-fi adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones and Star Wars. There are compelling action sequences, interesting characters, intriguing alien creatures, and even a kick-ass heroine played fantastically by Lynn Collins.

But audiences just didn’t turn out for the movie, and it bombed hard at the box office. I’m not sure if the vague title didn’t do anything to get butts in the seats or if Taylor Kitsch wasn’t a big enough star, but this movie deserved much more attention and acclaim than it received.

I’m not sure if a John Carter sequel starring Taylor Kitsch would be the route that needs to be taken, but at the very least, rebooting the franchise from scratch isn’t a bad idea. There’s a lot of material from Burroughs’ novels that is ripe for the big screen, but the trick might be getting audiences on board with the character. Still, I’ll always wonder what an entire franchise of John Carter films could have been like if the first movie wasn’t such a hard flop.

Matt Donato: Feast

Remember 2005’s Feast?

Or no, let me start with a more noteworthy event – remember Project Greenlight? The likes of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck giving indie filmmakers the chance of a lifetime? Fast-forward to season 3 and the winning project – a bar-set action/horror/comedy titled Feast – was selected. Damon, Affleck, Chris Moore and Wes Craven were among the film’s producers, and thus one of my favorite horror films ever was born.

From writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (various Saw films/The Collector series/Piranha 3DD) comes a story of pitstop travelers who must defend their middle-of-nowhere eatery/drinkery when monsters attack. Director John Gulager (Feast series/Piranha 3DD) knows the fun-loving creature flick he wants to make, and with Melton/Dunstan’s immature, humorous sense of grotesqueries, the team architects this violent, vicious and very entertaining hybrid of horror highs. Genre satire on BLAST, from tongue-in-cheek character introduction cards that predict their survivability – each arc a familiar trope – to practical effects that splatter and spill blood, bile and anything gooey.

After the first film received a limited festival and release schedule (home sales were $4.5 million vs. $690K at the box office), two sequels were churned out straight-to-DVD. Feast II: Sloppy Seconds and Feast III: The Happy Finish. I know, I can feel some of you rolling your eyes and while there’s a definite dip in quality (egregious green screens and silliness abound) the franchise is BEGGING to be rebooted with the right budget. Today’s horror landscape is so predictable, and these Feast films are anything but safe and assuming. We need that spitfire and spunk back. We need the franchise that’s willing to not only kill a child, but a baby too! This is horror, people! No rules, no boundaries!

Honestly, that last bit about killing kiddies in horror films is only partly a joke. The best part about these Feast movies is that they got away with such unsightly gags and the acts never felt cheap. Feast – and to a lesser degree Sloppy Seconds/The Happy Finish – works because it truly, honestly subverts everything we know about horror setups and does whatever it damn-well pleases.

“But Matt, this sounds like a horror franchise that started on the wrong financial foot and was just swept under the rug for two cheap-o sequels. Why reboot it?” For that exact reason. Feast scored with the right audiences – a 56% on RT but loved by the right critics – and has a very Scream sensibility about it (meta horror exercise, albeit a different subgenre). Everyone is obsessed with “arthouse horror” or whatever you want to call it nowadays, which means there’s prime real estate for a guns-blazing, gut-tearing horror comedy that’s going for midnight hoots all-the-way. To me, no franchise reboot would be better for that than Feast.

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