Some times a long dormant franchise gets yanked out of bed, but Hollywood should have pressed the snooze button.
This month we saw Eddie Murphy continue his comeback by dropping a sequel to Coming to America, more than 30 years after the original came out. Recent successes like Coming 2 America and Bill and Ted Face the Music show that it can certainly be done (we even highlighted our ten favorite examples of the trend here!) Unfortunately, sometimes when studios go back to a long forgotten well, the bucket comes up empty. Here we pick out ten films that had us waiting for decades for a disappointing result.
Much like our list of films that paid off on a long wait time, we’ve got some restrictions. First, both films have to have had a theatrical release. Once again, no straight to VHS Disney cartoon sequels. Next, we will consider spiritual sequels, i.e. films that involve the same characters and take place in the same universe, even if they’re not an official sequel. We won’t consider spin-offs, though. Sorry, The Jesus Rolls, you don’t count as a Big Lebowski sequel.
As with the original list, we’re also going to go in order of shortest wait to longest wait instead of which movie was worse.
Top Ten Sequels Not Worth the Wait
10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade > Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The Wait: 18 years.
There’s not a lot to add to what I already said about that movie when I put it in our list of worst fourth movies in a series. The film varies from mediocre to miserable, the CG sucked, Ford did not appear to be having the least bit of fun reprising his iconic roll, and the rest of the cast was poorly written. An all around dud, marring a fantastic franchise.
9. Day of the Dead > Land of the Dead.
The Wait: 19 years.
Land of the Dead suffers from a fatal flaw that many of these movies share: it’s not exactly a bad movie…but it is a bad iteration of a beloved franchise. If you didn’t know this was the OG George Romero returning to his trailblazing zombie movies, you’d probably write it off as an innocuous copycat, more forgettable than detestable. That we waited two decades for the master of zombie thrillers to offer up a film that looks like somebody else’s imitation of a Romero film really puts the bullet in the brain pan of this entry.
8. Independence Day > Independence Day: Resurgence.
The Wait: 19 years.
Now we get to a film that’s just plain bad. Independence Day Resurgence crashes through every gate on its horrific slalom to infamy. It apes the original in its plot. It replaces all of the laudable practical effects of the first film with glitzy and hollow CG. It failed to get Will Smith to return in the leading roll, which is a rare instance where Smith was able to spot a dud before signing on the dotted line. It then trivializes all of the returning cast in an attempt to replace them with a younger (and I assume cheaper) cast, who wind up being thin cardboard cutouts with no personality. The studio also got way ahead of itself trying to jump start a franchise instead of actually making a decent sequel.
The first film was a flash in the pan, the epitome of the big, dumb, bombastic 90’s disaster movie. It charmed with its audacity at being no more and no less than the film equivalent of a Fourth of July fireworks display. It did not need a sequel, a fact that the ill-advised sequel confirmed.
7. Carrie > The Rage: Carrie 2.
The Wait: 22 years.
This film sequel feels almost sacrilegious. The original, based on one of Stephen King’s most famous books, was such a cultural and critical success that it even got Oscar nods. For a horror film. Multiple Oscar nods. It’s routinely in the running for being not only the best Stephen King adaptation, but one of the best horror movies of all time. There was just no way a sequel was going to fill those blood-soaked shoes.
The sequel has a head-scratching story, inventing a half-sibling to the original protagonist out of whole cloth, just to have an implausibly tenuous tie to the first film. It’s not like anyone was not going to recognize this film as a Carrie movie…the director does such a lousy job of hiding that she’s just ripping off the most of the visuals and plot beats from the first film. It’s a feeble and pale imitation of the original that deserves to be locked in a flaming gymnasium.
6. Psycho > Psycho II.
The Wait: 22 years.
Talk about treading on hallowed ground. Who in their right mind thought they could get away with churning out a sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous film? It’s kind of a movie business joke that at any given time some clueless wannabe auteur is cranking out a script to Casablanca 2. This is just about as ludicrous.
It’s not all bad. Anthony Perkins actually manages to rehab his Norman Bates into a character you could look at with pity instead of horror. It’s probably why he would go on to play the character again in the even dafter Psycho III. That being said, the movie itself is fairly ridiculous, reducing the classic tale of murder and madness into a Scooby Doo episode where the people Norman wronged try to get him thrown back into the insane asylum by dressing up as his dead mother. It’s such a farce that Mel Brooks’ actual spoof of Hitchcock, High Anxiety, looks positively sedate compared to this unneeded sequel.
5. Superman II > Superman Returns.
The Wait: 25 years.
This one hits me personally. I just loved Christopher Reeves’ Superman. To watch his affable, charming hero get put through a listless retread was a complete let down. I don’t even place any of the blame on Brandon Routh; his Superman was trying to be MY Superman, in a sincere and mostly solid imitation of Reeves. It’s just that the movie itself was so stuck on trying to pen a love letter to Richard Donner’s films that it seemed completely terrified of doing anything original.
4. The Maltese Falcon > The Black Bird.
The Wait: 34 years.
What a colossal cock-up The Black Bird is. I really want to know what galaxy-brained studio exec decided that the best way to honor the father of American film noir and uncontested classic, The Maltese Falcon, was by making a Pink Panther style comedy follow-up. I am actually a little bit in awe of how such a tremendously dumb idea headbutted its way into reality.
The film follows the escapades of Sam Spade Junior, who has inherited his father’s mysterious Maltese Falcon. While Spade Sr. believed the artifact to be a fake, all of the baddies suddenly showing up on Junior’s door looking for the bird seem to indicate it was indeed the real McCoy after all.
You know, that sounds like an awful lot of bumbling just to ruin the twist ending of the original. Now not only is Humphrey Bogart’s most iconic role a patsy for getting supposedly duped at the end of the first film, he’s an even bigger ninnyhammer for not spotting it as genuine even after having it for years. Thanks, The Black Bird, I was really looking for a reason to enjoy the original less.
3. Easy Rider > Easy Rider: The Ride Back.
The Wait: 43 years.
This film barely skirts being disqualified because its only theatrical release was to a biker festival in Tampa. It more than qualifies for the list, though, because it is a terrifically bad movie. The vanity project of a lawyer who managed to scoop up the sequel rights to the counter-culture icon, Easy Rider, this prequel/sequel mess drives right into a ditch. Not merely content to appropriate someone else’s vision, The Ride Back also seeks to completely re-write the politics of the first film. You know, the thing that made the film a daring act of protest and a cultural touchstone? That’s some big swinging brass balls there.
2. The Wizard of Oz > Return to Oz.
The Wait: 45 years.
I do laud the concept of exploring Frank Baum’s world of OZ in greater detail. I just wish Hollywood would stop fucking it up.
Quite a bit of what makes this outing to the magically insane land of OZ so bad we’ve already covered when Erik relived his childhood trauma for one of our very first Movies That Ruined My Childhood. Suffice to say, this sequel is not warmly remembered here at Deluxe Video Online.
1. Mary Poppins > Mary Poppins Returns
The Wait: 54 years.
In a bit of serendipity, the movie that took the longest time between sequels also happens to be the one I hate the most. It maxes out the stats for pretty much every category: it was completely needless, it did the original story and characters dirty, it was a soulless cash grab by Disney, and it desecrated a classic.
Of all those reasons, the one that chafes me the worst is that it completely crapped on Julie Andrew’s amazing performance and ruins the character. Andrews was prim and proper; Emily Blunt is dull and dour. Did the scriptwriters mistake a copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda for P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins? She’s got some major Miss Trunchbull energy in this sequel!
The original Poppins film encouraged children to find wonder and magic in everything around them. The sequel does the exact opposite.