Stranger Things season three, which riffed on The Thing and The Blob (among others), was the latest testament to the enduring power of sci-fi horror — until we heard that Amazon was circling a series adaptation of Event Horizon. While the iron is hot, here are four more sci-fi horror titles perfect for TV translation.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
David Twohy and Vin Diesel’s Riddick trilogy started off strong, but the third movie, 2013’s Riddick, offered a textbook illustration of what happens when your antihero main character is surrounded by a lacklustre supporting cast.
The less-than-rapturous reaction to that film didn’t dampen Diesel’s enthusiasm for the franchise. In 2015, he announced he’d inked a deal to develop a TV series based around the character, tentatively titled Merc City, that would follow “the mercs and bounty hunters of the Riddick universe.” He also teased another feature film: a Riddick origin story set on Furya, the character’s home planet.
The latter may end up seeing the light of day first, especially considering that last month Diesel revealed he’d just received Twohy’s script for Riddick 4: Furya. But a fresh canvas for the “Riddick universe” seems like a more interesting move.
A TV series would give Twohy room for more of that eerie, hostile sci-fi worldbuilding he loves so much, as well time to flesh out the kind of interesting, complex characters that someone like Riddick needs to balance out his full-force badass persona.
As for Diesel, he’s been in that Fast and Furious/“I am Groot” zone for a while (he also has Bloodshot on the way), and one suspects he’d welcome the chance to dig even deeper into a character he’s so obviously fond of (not this one).
Brian De Palma made 1978’s The Fury right after Carrie, but despite its incredible cast (including Carrie’s Amy Irving, as well as Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgrass and Charles Durning) and some similar themes, you never really hear anyone talk about The Fury.
That’s surprising, considering its main plot — about psychic-telekinetic young people targeted by sinister government agents — feels very of the moment, very X-Men, Stranger Things, Midnight Special, Fast Colour, really any story with a “mutant youth on the run” situation. (Unsurprisingly, a remake was floated a decade ago, but it never came to fruition.)
A TV series could go back to John Farris’ source novel, which focused mostly on the gifted teen played by Irving in the movie, and slowly build up the conspiracy — including a more in-depth look at the special school she starts attending before realising to her horror that the students’ powers are being weaponised.
Of course, to avoid being seen as a Stranger Things rip-off, a Fury series would need to be set either in the present day, the future, or in an era far earlier than the 1980s, and definitely avoid all varieties of giant, squishy monsters.
Director Robert Rodriguez turned his vampire Western From Dusk Till Dawn into a TV series, but another genre-bender — awesome alien-invasion teen-angst horror comedy The Faculty — also seems ripe for small-screen exploration.
The Faculty came out in 1998, when screenwriter Kevin Williamson was at the height of his Scream/Dawson’s Creek zeitgeist, but the basic plot is pretty timeless. High school sucks no matter what, but the suck is extremely amplified once you realise that your conformity-obsessed classmates and teachers are actually pod people in disguise… and you’re next on their recruitment list.
The O.G. movie had a huge ensemble cast (Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Josh Hartnett, Famke Janssen, Robert Patrick, Salma Hayek, Piper Laurie), and a series could bring back one of the characters as a teacher or parent, doubling down on the film’s gleeful delight in making as many pop-culture references as possible.
It could even be set in the same Ohio town as the movie, and focus on another alien leader arriving on Earth to finish the takeover job that got foiled by meddling kids 20 years earlier. You’d already have a built-in audience thanks to The Faculty’s status as a cult film — and that would only grow if the series pulled an Ash vs. Evil Dead and stayed true to what made the movie so enjoyable, while expanding its story in clever (but still gory as hell) new ways.
Prince of Darkness
In 2015, John Carpenter announced he was working on several different TV projects, but we haven’t heard much on that front since then. In the meantime, the Halloween reboot train roared into motion, with Carpenter’s blessing, and the esteemed writer-director turned his attentions to things like music and comics.
While we’ve used up most of our Carpenter-adjacent wishes to hope against hope that the long-rumoured Big Trouble in Little China remake never happens, we sure wouldn’t mind floating the idea of a Prince of Darkness series out in the universe.
Satan is an evergreen TV theme, but Prince of Darkness brings its own flavour of otherworldly to the table. It imagines that the Devil has taken the form of some spectacularly sinister neon goo, the sudden discovery of which attracts the attention of a group of college students who intend to study it but are soon sucked into its spiral of malevolence.
You’d definitely have to adjust things so the characters aren’t trapped in a crumbling church the entire time, but there’d still be plenty of nightmare material left with claustrophobia removed from the equation. Amid all the body horror, bug swarms, urban malaise, and interdimensional apocalyptic warnings, Prince of Darkness (written by Carpenter, who credited himself as “Martin Quatermass”) floats all kinds of freaky mythology that it never really gets a chance to properly unpack.
It would be bizarre as hell to watch — but why do we have a zillion streaming services anyway, if someone’s not going take a chance on the weirdest stuff? A TV series could do all that, and more.