Can we all just agree that The Exorcist II: The Heretic is the worst horror movie sequel ever put to film? It’s no surprise that it’s universally loathed for its absurdity and fantastical elements that fly in the face of the sheer brilliance of the original, and as a result ends up in at least the top five of any list which counts down the worst horror movie sequels. I personally don’t hate the film as much as so many others do; I think the director was ambitious and tried to tell a different kind of story. However, I will concede that it is an awful film and is as bad as the original is good. Now that we agree on that, we can turn to 10 otherawful horror sequels that are not The Exorcist II.
As the seminal sequel film Scream 2 describes: “Who would want [to make a sequel]? Sequels suck!” The beloved Randy continues to argue that the horror genre was destroyed by the sequel, and although some sequels are welcome additions to a series franchise, or do their best to continue to build on an interesting premise set up by the first, it is very common to see sequels or prequels attempt to capture the magic of the original, only to fall short. With the release of Paranormal Activity 3 (doing surprisingly well and pleasing critics the world over) and The Thing (a remake thinly disguised as a prequel), it would do us well to take a trip down memory lane highlighting those sequels we looked forward to, and then immediately wished we never watched.
This list is comprised of 10 sequels and/or prequels that are just downright awful. Their awfulness is so extensive that at times they’ve tarnished the highlights of the original material. Most are unintentionally funny, but all are magnificently bad. In compiling this list I researched as many similar lists as I could find. I think this list represents films that are recognizably bad but do not necessarily retread the path of so many other “Worst Horror Movie Sequel” lists.
Note: the films listed here are sequels/prequels that were major theatrical releases. This list would have been very different if I included any straight-to-video releases.
The original A Nightmare on Elm Street hasn’t completely aged well, mainly due to the horrendous and often laughable performances from the teenager leads, but most notably from the awful Ronee Blakley. Regardless of the acting, the story and direction was spot on, creating a sublimely creepy little film that spawned a massively successful franchise. Everyone expected a sequel, but no one expected it to suck this much. Although the film begins promisingly enough, it quickly deteriorates into an embarrassing homoerotic tale that is not only ludicrous, but breaks the rules of the Freddy-verse. Had the intention been to create a horror film that bent gender roles and took a stab at the psychosexual undercurrent of most horror films, this film might be applauded. But alas, this was not the intention—nor was it completely the outcome. The producers knew this sequel missed the mark, which is why they simply pretended it never existed when creating part three. If you want the perfect film to sit around with friends and laugh at some of the worst dialogue and performances, complete with an exploding parakeet, look no further.
I really liked Saw, up until that ridiculous convoluted plot point where Monica Potter doesn’t take the opportunity to kill the man that has just terrorized her and her child, but of course she couldn’t because then everything else that happens afterwards wouldn’t have happened and the movie would be ruined. The film did however set up an interesting and superbly creepy little premise and not before long, a sequel was released (with another sequel to follow for every year thereafter until Paranormal Activity bumped it from its prime spot). The first of six(!) sequels was by far the worst—featuring a boring bunch of one-dimensional characters working their way through a cheap looking booby-trapped house. It’s barely watchable.
Mary Lambert’s only good film was the original Pet Semetary—expertly executed and based on source material that couldn’t fail. It wasn’t until producers decided to attempt a duplication of the original’s success that it all went horribly wrong, and not in the good horror movie kind of way. Pet Semetary Two starts out promising with a rabid dog running amok (Cujo anyone?), but once Clancy Brown is resurrected trying to fit in with the living, the entire film feels like half-way through the producer’s decided to change direction and instead make a comedy. It’s a mess of a film with unlikable characters doing ridiculous things. This film single handedly killed any hope of developing an interesting franchise of films based on an idea that pushes the boundaries of how far loved ones are willing to go for each other.
The original is hailed as a masterpiece of the macabre. The last 45 minutes just give me a headache with Marilyn Burns’ unrelenting screams, but I will admit that it is a terrifying film—you just can’t have the volume too high or your neighbors will think you’re torturing some poor girl. This sequel, released more than a decade later, is a bad chaotic mess with characters straight out of a Rob Zombie film running around nonsensically for the better part of its running time. It’s not scary, it’s not interesting, and it’s not entertaining. Not even in that “so-bad-it’s-good” kind of way.
I always believed that the original film was a good teen horror flick. Until I revisited it last night only to discover implausible plot devices and the most horrendously uneven performance from the film’s awful lead. So, with the bar already set really low, you’d think this sequel had nowhere to go but up. You’d be wrong. Throw in an even worse performance from Jennifer Love Hewitt (it’s possible), supported by the hackneyed Brandy Norwood and a young Jennifer Esposito, and you have yourself a worse film. Not to mention the ridiculousness of the killer flying Hewitt and company to the Bahamas to kill them at the resort (run solely by Americans) where he and his family used to live(!). But it does make for one of the funniest bad films to watch with a high group of friends.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.