With Hannibal on NBC and Bates Motel on A&E, it seems we’re on the verge of a torrent of horror movie prequel TV shows. Everyone wants to know what serial killers were like before they were serial killers because that’s the most interesting part about serial killers. It’s why the Star Wars prequels, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning, Hannibal Rising, and The Thing prequel were all so great.
So here are six ideas for TV shows that are also horror movie prequels.
Children of the Corn
The show’s called Children, and it revolves around the city of Gatlin’s nonthreatening, peaceful children. They play hide-and-seek in the cornfields, have sleepovers, do their chores, and drink milkshakes at the local diner. That’s the whole show. Are some of the kids creepy looking with weird inbred faces? Yes, but it’s okay; they’re just children, harmless children. But occasionally, the parents spank a child or tell him to go to his room without dinner, and he says, in a deadly serious tone, “One day, you’ll regret this. One day, you’ll pay dearly.” And we, the audience, are like, “Oh man, it’s foreshadowing when the kids kill all the parents! This is some intense dramatic irony right here!”
An American Werewolf in London
The show’s called An American Person In America. It’s a hilarious comedy set in the late 70’s/early 80’s about two college friends, Jack and David and their wild antics. It has no references to werewolves whatsoever except for maybe a scene where a professor describes the hunting habits of wolves, and the camera slowly zooms in on David—cut to a wolf’s bloody snout, cut back to David, cut to a wolf tearing at a carcass, cut back to David, who says, “Huh. Déjà vu.” On the series finale, Jack and David plan a trip to London, and the audience is like, “Oh no! Don’t do that! The American werewolf is in London!”
I Know What You Did Last Summer
The show’s called I’m Pretty Sure I Know What You’re Going to Do Next Summer. It’s a family drama about an old fisherman named Ben Willis and his family living on an island in the Caribbean. Episodes revolve around Ben trying to catch enough fish to support his family despite ever-dwindling hauls, a result of overfishing by commercial fishers as well as pollution and global warming. A bleak rumination on nihilism and entropy, we see Ben’s increasingly violent temper rip apart his family, his psyche steadily deteriorating. At one point, his wife wonders whether he’ll go too far one day, remarking, “If you don’t seek help, by this time next summer, you’ll be murdering people.” The audience is like, “WHAT? THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS! SO MUCH FORESHADOWING MY MIND IS BLOWN!”
The show’s called Crocodile Baby Adventures, an animated children’s series about a baby crocodile named Brian learning to survive in a harsh marine ecosystem. He meets friends like Delores (voiced by Betty White), a friendly old woman who feeds him bits of meat, and Jennifer (voiced by Taylor Swift), a fellow baby crocodile with a spunky attitude. In one episode, fellow Lake Placid resident, Tyler the Bear, tries to eat Brian and Jennifer, and they barely escape into the lake’s inky depths. Afterward, Brian says, “One day, I’ll eat that bear and all other land dwellers!” The audience, consisting only of children, does not recognize the ominous foreshadowing and only laughs at the tiny crocodile’s feistiness.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The show’s called Barker’s Busy Barbershop and is basically a white, 1800s version of Barbershop crossed with Downton Abbey. Benjamin Barker and his wife, Lucy, operate the best barbershop in town, a meeting place for all sorts of colorful characters, but, oh no, their business is constantly under attack by the corrupt Judge Turpin, who lusts after Lucy. Mostly, episodes consist of Barker helping to solve his patrons’ different problems and competing with Pirelli’s Barbershop across the street. Viewers, however, will take notice of the scene where he’s shaving someone and says, “Don’t worry; I would never ever cut a customer,” or that other weird moment when he says, “I’ll bet human beings would taste delicious in a pie, especially after they’re murdered. Maybe I should murder all my customers and bake their bodies into pies.”
Night of the Living Dead
It’s Six Feet Under. It’s exactly the same show.