There's a small window between the sweltering heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter where some of the best things in life exist. Fall is a time when most people pull out the warm blankets, feast on harvest bounties and unpack their prized collection of horror flicks (at least I do). There's nothing like cozying up to a good paranormal thriller during the best part of the year – Halloween.
There's got to be a way to extend Halloween into the wastelands of winter. While watching the undead rise during the holidays probably isn’t the best way to give thanks (unless you’re watching The Nightmare Before Christmas), a live thriller on Broadway would be a perfect alternative (holiday gift anyone?).
Just like the movies, live horror productions can be insultingly bad. So in order to see success on the stage, these frightening theater productions have to follow a strict set of protocol to avoid some serious live action faux pas:
- Blood and gore - too much of this stuff is straight up cheese whiz (RE: Carrie Off-Broadway Flop). There’s no realistic way to pull off an excessive amount of sangre, unless you’re going for the Evil Dead look, then by all means.
- Location, location, location – A little variety never hurt anyone, unless you’re working with theater sets. 28 Days Later was a great zombie film but the sheer number of set locations would make this undead thriller off limits in the theater world. Speaking of zombies, all you Night of the Living Dead/ Zombieland fans would have to pay top dollar for a zombie-inspired production featuring hoards of the undead. Large cast = large expense. Sorry to rain on your parade. Or in zombie speak - "UHHHMMMMRUhhhhMmmhbrains."
- Monsters, poltergeist and special effects – While morphing werewolves and vaporizing ghosts work for the silver screen, a large-scale beast or fluorescent poltergeist would be an insurmountable feat for the theater. Sorry, Lycanthropes.
If horror ever finds its home in the theater, here are my top three film to stage adaptations:
- The Shining (1980) – “Here’s Johnny!” This movie really built its scares off of anticipation. Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall created an unsettling juxtaposition in their roles as deranged husband and oblivious wife. If the axe was wielded by the right hand, a live audience would experience an electric tension worthy of some Tony award recognition.
- Psycho (1960) – “We all go a little crazy sometimes,” One of the first movies of its kind to film blood, Psycho has spanned over 50 years of film history and maintained its spot as one of the best horror films of all time. Psycho follows an Oedipal hotel owner and his developing obsession and eventual murder of a blonde bombshell tenant. The shower scene would be tricky to pull off but incredibly frightening if done properly. (Speaking of psychos, we’re still waiting for American Psycho on Broadway).
- Misery (1990) – “I’m your number one fan.” Kathy Bates played the ultimate nutcase in the 1990 film adaptation of the Stephen King novel about an obsessed fan. Imagine a bigwig like Patti LuPone playing Annie Wilkes, an infatuated fan with a love for sledgehammers and best-selling authors. LuPone is no stranger to the deranged female role, having played Mrs. Lovett in the Broadway production of Sweeney Todd. (Note – a small-scale production is going up at the Bucks County Playhouse in PA this November!)
Honorable mentions go to Lost Boys (1987), Sean of the Dead (2004), and The Exorcist (1973). Which horror movies would you like to see make the big leap from clapboard to curtains up?