For every Friday the 13th, there is a Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. For every Nightmare on Elm Street, there is a Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge. For every Saw, there is a Saw 3 through 28. In other words, for every great horror movie, there is a heinously crappy sequel.
There are a lot of great horror films in the genre’s century-plus history, but it’s time to venture into the dark side of the Dark Side. Sit back, Fright Fans, and feast your eyes on something truly horrific—a list of the 12 crappiest sequels in horror movie history!
12. Saw V (2008)
The guilty: David Hackl took the reigns for this fifth sequel and shows none of the chops that made the James Wan original such a fun and inventive film. In his defense, the franchise started sucking at part three, but this one reaches new heights.
The screw-up: This movie lacks the ingenuity of its predecessors. The torture and death scenes have no originality, and most of the original cast had been killed off by this point, so viewers aren’t very emotionally invested in the death scenes anyway. There are only a few scraps of the original story left to work with, so there is not a whole lot there, and the ending is ambiguous and unsatisfying. Overall, it is a major disappointment for those who love the first films.
A better idea: When you run out of ideas, stop making movies. Simple as that.
11. Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
The guilty: Director John Ottman and writers Silvia Horta and Paul Harris Boardman. Shame on you!
The screw-up: This movie fails in just about every away imaginable. The acting is sub-par, the gore, save for one murder, is non-existent, and it occurs at the beginning of the film. And that also just so happens to be the only urban legends-based death to boot! Mix in a moronic twist with “twin” brothers, and you have a disjointed masterpiece of bad filmmaking.
A better idea: Use urban legends in your movie about urban legends. Have a plot. Hire some talent. You know, the basics!
10. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
The guilty: Scream! It’s all Scream’s fault!
The screw-up: Halloween: H20 is a Halloween film that veers away from focusing on how deadly Michael is and instead opts to gimmick it up with Jamie Lee Curtis, while flashing up a sign that says, “Look at all of today’s hot young stars getting in on this!” H20 was a derivative of the Scream formula, which itself was derivative of bad slasher movies from the Eighties. But as bad as H20 was, it did give us a somewhat satisfactory ending. Or so we thought. That’s where Halloween: Resurrection comes in to play, which is derivative of a derivative of a derivative, and thus, very crappy. Just in time to strip the original series of any dignity it had left. The way they “explain” Michael’s decapitation is a copout on par with Bobby Ewing’s return to Dallas, and it takes you out of the movie completely. And that’s before Busta Rhymes even shows up!
A better idea: Leave headless Michael dead and buried.
9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)
The guilty: Tobe Hooper should have been ashamed of himself for this outing, which was a long-awaited sequel to his classic 1974 film. While Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The New Generation were both god-awful films, they were pretty much expected to be. When you have a 12-year wait between a horror classic and its follow-up sequel, with the same director returning and Dennis Hopper attached, you expect a lot more than slapstick Three Stooges humor with chainsaws.
The screw-up: Director Hooper went with a more tongue-in-cheek approach, which was a real head-scratcher considering how unsettling his original film was. While part of you wants to admire his striving for originality, not wanting to make the same film twice, another part of you wants to stick him in a room with Leatherface for desecrating the raw and foreboding tone of the original and creating a comedy instead. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off.
A better idea: Most of the time when a sequel goes bad, it happens because the filmmakers try to stray too far from the source material. They try to do something “bigger and better,” and end up with a contrived mess. Such is the case with Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. The only positive was FX man Tom Savini’s Grandpa—a delightfully disgusting pleasure.
8. Blade: Trinity (2004)
The guilty: Writer-director David S. Goyer got a bit carried away with his own creativity prior to Batman Begins and decided to suck the blood out of the hero vampire franchise he’d helped build himself, taking the Marv Wolfman character from Marvel Comics’ Tomb of Dracula series and turning it into one of the more successful action film series of the late Nineties/early Aughties. Each effort after the 1998 original grew exponentially worse until all that was left was a short-lived TV series on Spike TV that happened to be a lot better than this final theatrical outing.
The screw-up: Again, it’s that damn curse of bigger is better. Not only does Goyer bring back Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) in contrived fashion, he also throws Whistler’s daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel) and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) into the mix. This time, Blade is not acting alone. He’s a mentor for a whole army of vampire killers. Parker Posey, known for her quirky and often humorous roles, takes the lead as villain Danica Talos, a bit of casting which does nothing for the suspense factor. And the WWE’s Paul Levesque (Triple H) co-stars as one of Danica’s minions. His acting gives Hulk Hogan’s a run for its money. Oh yeah, and did we mention that Wesley Snipes is in this and plays the title character? That’s what happens when you get too many kooks in the kitchen.
A better idea: Keep Whistler dead, have Blade embrace the role of loner anti-hero, keep the vampire killers in the background, and tell Triple H to stick with wrestling.
7. The Final Destination (2009)
The guilty: Director David R. Ellis is child actor alum alongside Kurt Russell. Unlike his colleague, Ellis never really grew up. He coordinated stunts for much of his career before getting a chance to shine with Final Destination 2, a film that he actually knocked out of the park. So how could he be guilty of an atrocity that is every bit as bad as the other is good? Unfortunately, some people do not know how to respond to success. While legends are able to reproduce it on a somewhat regular basis, Ellis is the type of guy who chooses to follow it with Cellular and Snakes on a Plane.
The screw-up: CGI has grown to ridiculous levels in this film franchise. The first and second entries did a fine job of using it to accent the blood and guts rather than simply spilling everything in phony baloney digital glory. There are comic books that look more real. From the Wile E. Coyote improbability of the opening race car catastrophe to the laughable movie theater finale, The Final Destination is a movie that uses computers to suck all the fun out of gory death.
A better idea: The first film’s graphic plane crash and the second’s even worse log truck accident set a pretty high standard to live up to. The third one couldn’t do it on the rollercoaster, but it came a lot closer than the eye-rolling hysterics of this fourth entry. The only thing more ridiculous is perhaps the title of part five—coming soon to a theater near you—5nal Destination.
6. Scream 3 (2000)
The guilty: Director Wes Craven does this one without writer and series creator Kevin Williamson, who decided to get out while the getting was good. In his place came Arlington Road-Reindeer Games writer Ehren Kruger, who had the unenviable task of bringing home the final chapter of the supposedly planned trilogy. The results are all the proof you need that Scream was a franchise born out of a love for the Almighty Dollar rather than anything bearing artistic integrity.
The screw-up: Everything changed in this movie. Established characters fell flat, and the plot twist, when the real villain is “finally” revealed, made absolutely no sense in the greater context of the story. Billy, the original villain who had more than enough motivation to be the mastermind of those murders is really just a pawn in the hands of the “real” mastermind, whom we have never seen before this movie, and see very little during it.
A better idea: A copycat killer and a new cast may not be original, but it would have definitely turned out better than this mess.
5. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
The guilty: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez handed the reins to Joe Berlinger for this sequel. An interesting choice, as Berlinger was most well known for his work on the controversial and compelling documentary Paradise Lost. He should have been a great choice given the documentary style of the original film. But that concept was abandoned in favor of a traditional movie narrative. Berlinger also used the film as a personal soap box, making a few pointed references to his previous work throughout.
The screw-up: This is a classic example of a movie sequel trying to ride the notoriety of the original without having any merit of its own. There is nothing about Blair Witch 2 that expounds upon or develops the plot of the original, which really didn’t have a plot either beyond 80-90 minutes of shaky camera work and college kids shouting obscenities with no real direction. Oh, and by the way: there is no “Book of Shadows” in the movie. The name must have just sounded cool.
A better idea: The first was nothing more than a clever marketing ploy, though it did popularize the guerrilla filmmaking technique. A better idea would have been to return to that concept and reveal a bit more of the horror that we didn’t get to see the first time.
4. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
The guilty: The second film in Wes Craven’s Elm Street saga was an unmitigated disaster. No one denies that. But blame cannot be assigned to the horror icon himself as he really had nothing to do with the Jack Sholder-directed and David Chaskin-written fiasco. Whether the ultimate responsibility lays with these two or not, their big screen careers languished as a result. Sholder went on to direct random TV outings for series like “Tremors” and “Mortal Kombat: Conquest,” while Chaskin’s work was limited to films such as The Curse, I, Madman, Midnight’s Child, Love Hurts, and an episode of the long forgotten horror anthology series “Monsters.”
The screw-up: Razor-handed boogeyman Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) and male lead Jesse (Mark Patton) seem to have a homoerotic undercurrent running between them. Krueger spends most of the film trying to “get inside” Jesse. Meanwhile, Jesse’s sadistic coach frequents gay S&M bars, cementing the fact that in the production’s entirety, there isn’t a single flattering portrayal of alternative lifestyles. No matter where you fall on the issue of Gay Rights, the movie sets itself up to fail by inching over into political territories its near-sightedness is not prepared to handle and veering away from what it’s supposed to be: a horror movie. Also, the acting and writing stinks.
A better idea: Abandon the Freddy possession storyline. It didn’t work—that’s why it never turned up again—and keep Freddy’s cracking wise to a minimum.
3. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
The guilty: New Line Cinema acquired the rights to the Sean S. Cunningham creation after the abysmal film that was Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. While Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely’s script—and Adam Marcus’s direction—did the film zero favors, the responsibility ultimately rests on the production company.
The screw-up: Why blame New Line? Instead of borrowing from the films that made the franchise popular—I-IV, and VI and VII, to a lesser degree—they choose to build on the idiocy that started with VIII, which was, until that time, the worst of the series. Reveal more about who Jason is and what makes him indestructible. Sprinkle in a stupid overarching plot that finds Jason leaping from body to body circa 1987’s The Hidden. Bake at $2.5 million, and pull one of the worst horror sequels in history out of the oven after about 87 minutes.
A better idea: This film makes the mistake of thinking that we must have everything explained to us. That we must know why Jason keeps getting up when you hit him with a pick-axe or a shovel or a bulldozer. It stinks. No one goes to a Friday film for story development. They instead want to see what creative methods of murder the vengeful psychopath will have hiding behind his hockey mask. This is one rare occasion where it is best to stick with the formula.
2. Stepfather III: Father’s Day (1992)
The guilty: Each of the Stepfather movies had a different director, so writers Carolyn Lefcourt and Brian Garfield, who wrote all three, are most to blame for this misfire. Granted, Robert Wightman’s acting in place of Terry O’Quinn didn’t help. Neither did the sissy heroics of child actor David Tom.
The screw-up: When Terry O’Quinn did not return to his role for this made-for-TV drudgery, the writers used a lame plastic surgery plot twist. Oh, and that paralyzed kid in the wheelchair? Have him magically overcome his disability in time to save the day at the climax. One of the worst examples of an unnecessary sequel cashing in on name recognition!
A better idea: Different actors and no originality? Give up.
1. Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
The guilty: Director John Boorman didn’t care for the original, and it shows in his sequel.
The screw-up: The acting is terrible. Not necessarily because the actors lacked talent, but because they have absolutely nothing to work with. The dialogue, even the names of the characters (Pazuzu? For a demon? What is this, It’s a Wonderful Life Goes to Hell?), are a joke. The plot is a jumbled mess and hard to follow, and the ending? Locusts swarming, house crashing, complete lack of explanation as to what happens to the main characters. There is nothing of the suspense or true horror of the first movie. Instead it’s just a very expensive, Hollywood-raped version of the original.
A better idea: Get rid of John Boorman. A person who did not like the first movie has no business directing the sequel. Bring back William Peter Blatty, the original writer for both the first Exorcist movie and the novel on which it is based. He did a terrific job with the follow-up to this film, The Exorcist III.