This Friday, the prequel to The Thing comes out, and we're going to get to find out all about what happened before John Carpenter's totally self-contained movie. Will Hollywood never stop tacking on prequels to the beginning of movies that don't need them? Probably not.
But here are 10 classic movies that absolutely do not need prequels. Please.
Actually, this past summer proved that prequels didn't have to be awful — X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were both surprisingly decent, maybe partly because they didn't try too hard to establish continuity with the other films in their respective series.
10. Galaxy Quest
We'd still love to see a Galaxy Quest sequel, but a prequel? Apart from the fact that it would require Tim Allen to wear some truly insane wigs and/or mean recasting some of the main roles, it just seems like a terrible idea. We could follow the heyday of the original Galaxy Quest show, while also witnessing Sarris' rise to power, and see all of the jokes from the first movie run into the ground.
9. The Matrix
I think The Animatrix covered some of this stuff anyway — but a movie about the rise of the machines to power, and the fall of humanity into becoming pod-dwelling batteries living in a fake virtual world, would probably make the two Matrix sequels seem coherent and logical by comparison.
8. District 9
Actually, I think there were rumors that this one might actually happen. We could find out just how the dismal situation in the original movie came to be, and just how the aliens came to be trapped in this shanty town. On the one hand, it could give us an insight into the aliens' society, including why they all seem to be worker/soldier aliens — but a sequel could do that, too. And witnessing the slow slide into a dreadful mess wouldn't be nearly as interesting as seeing the final result.
Speaking of witnessing the slide into dystopia — in general, the question of how things became dystopian is usually not as interesting as how the dystopia functions, and what it does to people living in it. Plus there's no way a movie that attempted to trace a path from our world to Terry Gilliam's absurdist nightmare of a bureaucratic-fascist realm would be as full-on crazy, or as memorable. Oh, and we could see the origin of Harry Tuttle! (And Buttle.)
Instead of another Tron sequel, we could have a prequel, in which we go back and see how the programs in the Encom system first gained sentience, and their very first attempt at figuring out how to throw a frisbee with lethal effect. We could see how the MCP grew out of a chess program! We could witness the birth of Bit. And we could see Tron and Clu as young programs, running from the glowing cyber-tanks. Err... no.
Instead of a third movie that Bill Murray seems to oppose violently, you could make a prequel focusing on the early days of Venkman, Stantz and Spengler at Columbia University, teaching parapsychology and getting into trouble with the Dean and the Department Chair for their antics. It would be like Animal House crossed with the original Ghostbusters. With a hefty dose of Revenge of the Nerds. Ack. I think we just found something scarier than any ghost.
4. E.T.: The Extraterrestrial
How did E.T. come to get lost on this planet? (Assuming you don't buy the Robot Chicken explanation, that is.) Where did E.T. come from, and why did he decide to visit Earth? Meanwhile we could also find out where Elliot learned to call people "penis breath."
Just how did OCP get to be so powerful, and get such a stranglehold on the city of Detroit? A prequel could show us the early years of OCP's rise, and we could also discover just how they created the ED-209, and what the first 208 models were like. We could also look in on the young Alex Murphy, and witness his career as a non-cyborg policeman.
Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger had all this history together that we never got to see — but in a prequel we could see it all. (Arnie still looks young enough to play his younger self, right?) Meanwhile, we could see the Predators studying the humans from a distance and deciding to send one Predator to Earth to hunt in South America. Maybe the Predators were keeping an eye on Arnie all along, and knew that he would be the most dangerous game? Maybe they had a bond with Arnie, even before their first meeting.
1. Back to the Future
We already got to see the early days of "Doc" Brown in the original trilogy, as Marty visits the 1950s and meets the younger version of the Doc. But that still doesn't explain how Doc went about inventing a time machine, and what his early failed attempts were like. For all we know, he sent several other teenagers on doomed time trips in a Corvette or a Jaguar, before actually finding a time machine and a teenager that could make the trip. With a prequel, we could see "Doc" Brown bonding with another young man — whom he then sends to a fiery death in a time machine that's not quite perfected, yet. Avert your eyes, Einstein!