Star Trek Reboot Nearly Directed By a Horror Icon

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

For better or for worse, JJ Abrams has really defined the face of modern sci-fi. He directed two films in the generally disappointing Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, and, arguably, the main reason he got that gig was his experience directing two of the three Star Trek reboot films. Those movies were about a different franchise timeline, and it turns out we almost had our own very different timeline: as it turns out, Paramount first offered the Star Trek (2009) reboot directing gig to The Evil Dead director Sam Raimi.

Abrams Revitalized The Franchise


In retrospect, JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboots were generally very successful. Into Darkness rightfully gets a lot of crap from fans because it was a lame retread of The Wrath of Khan and a generally disappointing sequel in its own right. However, Star Trek (2009) was a major hit that brought new fans into the fold, and we arguably wouldn’t be enjoying the current Star Trek television renaissance if not for Abrams’ work on that first film.

I mention this because it’s tempting for jaded fans to say that Sam Raimi or almost any other big-name director could have done a better job with the reboot universe. Into Darkness sucked harder than the vacuum of space, but it led to Star Trek Beyond, a non-Abrams joint that is arguably the best of the reboot trilogy. In short, Abrams kicked off a trilogy of films where two of the three movies were very good, which is more than the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy can say (but like how Maz Kanata got Luke’s lightsaber, that’s a story for another time).

Star Trek Has Always Had Strong Horror Elements

sam raimi

Now that I’ve given Abrams his credit, though, I can’t help but wonder what a Sam Raimi Star Trek reboot would have looked like. Thanks to the Evil Dead franchise, Raimi is mostly known as a horror director, and it’s possible he would have leaned into that (fitting because, as Dr. McCoy reminds us in the final film, “space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence”). A horror director could have been perfect for a Trek reboot: as Red Letter Media’s Mike Stoklassa points out, there is a strong case to be made that The Original Series was always a horror show as much as a sci-fi series.

Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness

sam raimi marvel horror

While it may be difficult to imagine a Sam Raimi Star Trek film, we already got a taste of what that could be like. Raimi directed Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but he subverted much of the Marvel formula by giving us a film filled with horror trappings like walking corpses, dark magic, and a seemingly unstoppable corrupted force that threatens all of reality. The mix of horror elements with the traditional superhero elements didn’t result in a perfect film by any means, but it gives us an idea of how Raimi might have utilized his horror experience to create a very different kind of Trek film.

First Contact


While Star Trek (2009) was a major hit, it’s worth considering that it could have been even more successful with Sam Raimi in the director’s chair. Horror may seem like a strange fit for the franchise, but 13 years before the reboot, we had First Contact, generally considered the best TNG film. Jonathan Frakes turned First Contact into a very horror-inspired film, and Paramount’s belief that the Borg were too much like a zombie horde is what led to the (very controversial) development of the Borg Queen.

The Quick And The Dead

sam raimi

In retrospect, Sam Raimi certainly seemed destined to direct a sci-fi film: after all, Evil Dead II introduced a major time-travel cliffhanger that effortlessly blended horror and science fiction. He also gave us an almost perfect Western film in The Quick and the Dead, proving that he’s a master of multiple genres. While he didn’t get a chance to direct the Trek reboot, we hope that Paramount considers the veteran horror director for future films, especially because they may be taking the franchise in a different direction with the upcoming origin movie.

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