At last, the merciful completion of the final five commandments of horror. If you missed out on the most excellent first instalment, you can find it here. Here follows the remaining five, with an extra one because I know you have been losing sleep over this:
5. Thou shalt have as thine protagonist a female, untainted and nubile
There are perfectly valid academic reasons for having a female in the role of thine protagonist. Of course, being untainted is not a requirement for sequels. Nay, the protagonist is to be deflowered in the first instalment to enable the franchise to bloom. If she is not deflowered, she is to be beheaded, but giveth head one way or another she shalt! Although you should definitely make her nubile in the sequels. You don't want continuity errors.
4. Thou shalt have a twist at the end
And let it be filled with surprise. The original Friday the 13th had this right, at least. You could get away without a plot, if you provide a sufficiently macabre twist at the end. Another case in point is Children of the Corn III, but I don't want to give anything away yet. A classy, well-executed example could be found in the Ninth Gate.
3. Thou shalt have a fleeting conclusion
Unless you pay heed to the sound advice of the ninth commandment with much fervour and prolong your film for the sake of that law. Or perhaps to drench the cast in a few more buckets of blood. Or perhaps both. The conclusion should last at most 20 minutes. You don't have to tie up all the loose ends, because you might want to make a sequel. Or seven. Which leads us to our next commandment.
2. Thou shalt sequel, and often so
Because you will get it wrong a few times. Nightmare on Elm Street is an excellent example of a franchise that had its very high points and very low nadirs. The Final Nightmare is not bad at all, despite the reviews you may read, and the DVD version even comes with a 3D ending. The secret is to keep your protagonist in character. Do not get artsy, you want to expand the fan base of the original. Rather than changing the rules or the personality abruptly, try to let the personality think of cunning ways to work around the rules you establish in the first film of the franchise. It's called a catharsis. Just because your audience only wants to see gratuitous inexplicable boob shots and buckets of blood, does not mean you should not develop a character. You must have a bigger budget by now, which means - yes: more buckets of blood, more elaborate real fake latex heads, more ooze and more inexplicable boob shots. A developing character, which unfolds onscreen, would result in more sequels. Which means more buckets of blood, and you get the idea.
1. Thou shalt not remake, ever.
Not even if thou can't sequel due to man made copyright laws. Thou shalt spawn then a prequel, but nay, a remake never. It is a grave sin and your children shalt be struck by pox. A business of rabid ferrets shalt devour them, and then the business of rabid ferrets shalt be infected with pox, and then the children of the business of rabid ferrets infected with pox shalt be infected with pox, and infect your children's children with pox before the children of the business of rabid ferrets infected with pox shalt devour the children of your children, who had been infected with pox originally, before their children devour your children's children again. Then an unknown film maker of straight-to-video nasties, who used the business of rabid ferrets infected with pox as a more economic solution to latex heads in one of his films, which would probably get reviewed here at one time or another, shalt be infected with pox, and spit on the graves of your children, and your children's children, before digging them up, infecting them with pox again and then your children, your children's children, the film maker's children and the film maker himself shalt be devoured by a business of rabid ferrets, with no known relation to the business of rabid ferrets from before, or the business of rabid ferrets from before before. I am not sure if they too would be infected with pox, but I hope so.
If you ever think of making a remake, remember that being struck thrice by pox carried by a business of rabid ferrets is not ponies and rainbows. There are countless of terrible remakes, some of which feature Paris Hilton, none of which I am going to name. Not even if it sticks to all the other commandments of horror can a remake be excused.
The only remakes which are to be excused, are the ones on my list. But I only made that list to cast a silver lining around a dark cloud of ferret morsels.
Just to be perfectly clear:
0. Thou shalt not remake, ever!