It’s a tough time to be a space enthusiast. The space shuttle’s replacement is still a decade off, budget cuts abound and — most damning of all — the United States hasn’t sent a horror movie icon into orbit since 2001.
That’s right. Those three Lego figurines on Juno are cute, but think back to the slasher trio we sent up in the late 90s and early 00s.
Back then, our future amid the stars seemed assured and space exploration promised us the long-term survival of the human race’s failing horror franchises.
Mission: Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
Synopsis: It’s the year 2127 and the descendent of a an 18th century toymaker has designed a space station that turns into a giant puzzle box — all so he can blowup the villainous Pinhead. Meanwhile, a young Adam Scott of Party Down and Parks and Recreation shows up and dates a demoness for 200 years. Are we having fun yet? Only if you crave trite Pinhead monologues on nature of pain.
What we learned about space: We learned that the sudden change in airlock pressure can make a hellhound explode — and that cenobites don’t know what holograms are. Suckers.
Mission: Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)
Synopsis: On the heels of the failed Hellraiser space venture into theaters, the Leprechaun franchise followed suit direct to video. The filmmakers had yet to discover the winning formula of their “In the Hood” sequels, so a world of alien princesses and space marines seemed the perfect place to send Warwick Davis in a green suit and goblin makeup. The results are some of the worst attempts at humor and horror yet committed to film.
What we learned about space: The distant future will see humans toting guns on other planets and encountering ridiculous Irish stereotypes.
Mission: Jason X (2001)
Synopsis: On the heels of the Leprechaun disaster, Hollywood took its time rolling out its next horror icon launch. This time, however, they nailed it (I favor the Devin Faraci review over the Ebert one). Since Freddy vs. Jason wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, New Line Cinema went ahead and chronically froze Friday the 13th slasher Jason Voorhees so he could wake up aboard a 24th century space ship. A perfect B-movie mix of kills ensues, as nanobots rebuild Jason into a high-tech killing machine and the ship’s crew tries to stop him with holodecks full of promiscuous teens. Also, director David Cronenberg shows up for an early cameo/impalement.
What we learned about space: Undead zombie killers don’t burn up during atmospheric reentry, making them an ideal component for future space vehicles. Consider it, NASA.
Then the dream was over, despite the fact that countless other established and emerging horror movie icons are perfect for cheesy incorporation into a bad “aliens” rip-off.
Why were we denied scenes of Freddy Krueger stalking generation ship passengers mid cryosleep? When will the killer from Scream sneak aboard a Mars mission? And what if we sent The Ring video on a Voyager-esque deep-space probe, and the U.S.S. Enterprise intercepted it?
Finally, just imagine the wonders of a possible Leprechaun: In the Hood: In Space. Hopefully our space enthusiasm will rise to meet the challenge in the years ahead.
Image credit: New Line Cinema
Original Published at HSW: Remembering our Horror Movie Space Pioneers
Robert Lamb is a senior staff writer at HowStuffWorks.com and co-host of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast and blog. He is also a regular contributor to Discovery News. Follow him on Twitter @blowthemind.