The Top Ten Movies: Sequels that Sunk the Series
Last week, we celebrated movies that were so bad they ended up being good. This week we don’t get that lucky. As we spotlight the 80’s on This Week in Box Office History, we’ve gotten a chance to catch up with some great old movies. Movies that deserved sequels just as amazing as the first movie. Unfortunately, what we got instead was some really really bad follow-ups. Which are the worst? Here we examine sequels so fail-worthy that they killed any chance of a third movie. Check out Hollywood’s terrible two’s!
10. Ghostbusters 2.
From heroes to zeroes, Ghostbusters 2 busted the series so thoroughly that Ghostbusters 3 has become an urban legend of truly legendary proportions. Despite managing to make a ton of money, Ghostbusters 2 squandered fan interest by aping the plot of the first movie without adding any significant new twists. Much of the charming banter is gone, and Bill Murray is obviously interested in being somewhere else, leaving most of the heavy lifting to Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd. Without a straight man to bounce comedy off of, the schtick quickly gets old. A game effort by newcomer Peter MacNicol as the possessed vessel of evil warlock Vigo the Carpathian cannot save the film, as he is thrown overboard in favor of focussing on pink slime and a baby. As John Travolta can attest, if you let the baby get all of the laughs, you’re going to be in for a very long movie…
9. Every Jackie Chan sequel (except The Legend of Drunken Master.)
Jackie got saddled with a plethora of horrible sequels thanks to the unscrupulous practices of Chinese film studios. After scoring his big break with American audiences thanks to 1995’s Rumble in the Bronx, studios scrambled to flood the US market with every film he ever made. Often this meant lucking into a hit, like Operation Condor, and then re-naming a completely unrelated film as Operation Condor 2. Sometimes the chicanery became so ludicrous that a film starring another martial artist would be named a sequel to a Chan film, and then Chan himself would be shoe-horned in with a ten second cameo that had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot.
8. Teen Wolf Too.
When your movie title sounds like a petulant child begging for attention, you know you’ve gotten off to a rocky start. Replacing Michael J Fox with his “cousin” Jason Bateman, this film dully wanders down the same corridors of it’s predecessor. The pathetic “me too!” attitude of this film permeates every scene. Exchanging a pivotal boxing match for the first film’s state finals Basketball championship should be a strong move, but feels flat and listless. You’ve just been here and done that before. So much of the story is a barely reheated version of the first film that you know how it is going to end before you’ve finished the opening credits.
The studio should have cooked this batch of gremlins longer, because it is obvious they weren’t ready yet. Abandoning the mordant wit and dark elements of the original (it was a horror movie, despite the cuteness of the main character, Gizmo) the sequel instead attempts to poke fun at Hollywood sequels (including a cameo from Sly Stallone as Rambo) and to use the horrifying gremlins as punchlines to increasingly groan inducing gags. The film is so cartoonish that it includes a loony toons segment in the middle of the film. While a game effort with some really interesting puppetry, the end result is tacky and hollow. The plot is part farce and part creature-double feature B-movie cheese. The only redeeming features to this film is the appearance of Christopher Lee as a sadistic research scientist, and the addition of several devilishly slick gremlin variants who seem to only exist so that the spin-off Nintendo game could have some variety (by the way, it was a pretty excellent game…)
6. Book of Shadow: Blair Witch 2.
The original Blair Witch Project is either terror or vomit inducing, based on who you ask. The progenitor of the modern “found footage” horror genre, Blair Witch Project saturated audiences with a bizarre and effective media campaign, causing several more credulous viewers to wonder if the shaky-cam film was indeed a true story. Eschewing monsters and gore, the first film was taut and lean, making the most of it’s unique brand of jump-scares. The second film? Not so much. The sequel becomes a completely by-the-number slasher flick, right down to the spooky cabin in the woods and the double digit body count. I Know What You Did Last Summer…you made a shitty sequel to an iconic horror film.
5. Every Disney Animated Sequel (except The Rescuers Down Under.)
Starting with Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar, Disney embarked upon a scorched earth money making scheme in the 90’s: make a sequel to every damn animated film they had ever released. Seriously. Films that ended “happily ever after” got sequels, like Cinderella 2. Even The Hunchback of Notre Dame got a sequel…you know, the story that originally ends with all the main characters dead? Talk about adding insult to injury to Victor Hugo. The sequels stripped all of the voice talent from the originals and mostly went direct to video. The only organic offshoot of this trend was the wonderful The Rescuers Down Under, in which Disney resurrected a film that fell off many people’s radars and gave the characters a second chance at life. If only every one of these films had followed Bianca and Bernard’s lead.
4. Predator 2.
Danny Glover was obviously too old for this shit, but nobody told the studio execs what a horrible idea it would be to follow up a blood and guts action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger with Rigg’s reluctant partner. The casting is such an oddity, since every other aspect of the film vainly attempts to up the ante from the first outing: instead of a single baddie, you get 3 aliens mixing it up in New York City. What should be a colossal gore-fest turns into Driving Miss Daisy, as Glover has nowhere near the physicality to carry this film. And how could he? His weapon of choice is a snub-nosed police pistol. Trained soldiers failed to kill the first creature with a goddamned mini-gun. That is the worst choice of anti-predator weaponry since Chief ran off like an idiot with his knife to get himself xeno-murdered in the first film. As a final affront, this film doesn’t even have the decency to have any shaving scenes!
*Note: Sure, sure, they eventually made more predator movies…but 20 years later, and by basically retconning the sequel out of existence. If you have to wash the series’ mouth out with soap to get a sequel, I’m going to say that is only more proof of how franchise-killing the first sequel was.
3. Troll 2.
If you are unfamiliar with this steaming pile of celluloid, I really don’t know how much I can help you. You probably live a well-adjusted life, with a loving family and fulfilling job. Who am I to drag you into the horror that is Troll 2? This film doesn’t even bother to feature an ever-loving troll in it. In a film called Troll 2! The special effects are special in that way that you use to describe your cousin who liked the taste of arts and craft supplies. It has zilch to do with the original, which is odd, since the first is no prize-winner either. Who decided they needed to bump-draft a shitty horror movie with an even shittier film unrelated in any manner to the subject matter of the first? If you haven’t seen this film, please don’t. There is no redeeming qualities here, unless you consider mercy killing a potentially awful monster franchise to be commendable. Either way, it is no excuse to actually go watch the thing.
2. Airplane 2.
In the spirit of Airplane 2, I should just copy and paste the above paragraph. This is the laziest sequel ever made. Yes, lazier than any slasher-flick retread you’ve ever scene. Lazier than the endless American Ninja films. Airplane 2 is a shot-for-shot copy of the first film, only set on a space shuttle instead of an airplane. So they didn’t even get the fucking title correct! It copies the jokes, it copies the plot, it copies the cast. Exactly. It makes The Hangover 2 feel fresh and novel. It is almost a masterpiece of cynicism. I hope after they laughed all the way to the bank, a 747 crashed into the cast and crew. At least that would have been funny.
1. Caddyshack 2.
Has anyone actually seen this film? Anyone, ever? Surely, you can’t be serious? Oh, wait, that was a joke for Airplane 2. You must be confused that I used a joke intended for another film in my review of Caddyshack 2…and that is why this film is so horrible. It manages to steal shamelessly from every comedic source it can find, and yet manages to be completely unfunny. It is a downgrade in every conceivable way, from casting (including Dan Aykroyd attempting to fill Bill Murray’s shoes…and I refer to Ghostbusters 2 above for how well that tends to go), to plot (essentially Caddyshack 1 minus any fun), to humor (even the freaking gopher seems embarrassed to be in this film). It was so bad, Chevy Chase manages to avoid most of the film. When Chevy has the smarts to avoid a sequel, run. Run silent, run deep. Just get the high holy hell out of dodge. This is worst sequel ever made. Yes, I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.
Bonus! Highlander 2: The Quickening.
I lied. THIS is the worst sequel ever made. There is no movie that squandered its legacy and originality so profligately. While it does manage to tell an original story, that original story is so bat-shit insane, you have to wonder if the script writer even bothered to watch the first film. The Highlander won! By killing everyone! He is now omniscient and omnipotent. He is god. How on God’s green Earth do you follow that act?
By throwing all of the lore and legacy of the first film under the bus, that’s how.
Turns out our semi-Scottish hero is actually…wait for it…a space alien! Exiled from his home planet for opposing the ruthless military leaders, he is unable to age and must murder his fellow refugees in a sick and twisted game of death. Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad on the face of it. Kind of like Survivor, if it was any fun to watch. But Highlander 2 goes for the gold crown of crazy, completely reversing the events of the first film (including de-aging Christopher Lambert for no good reason and resurrecting Sean Connery…only to promptly kill him again.)
The only reason this film does not take the prize on this list is because it managed to somehow not kill the series. Like the immortals itself, it refuses to end. In fact, the sequels managed to get almost as bad as this entry. For a film series that’s tag-line is “There Can Be Only One!” they really should have taken their own advice.