[26 October 2011]
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.
Oh, dear. “This time, it’s personal.” Really? SERIOUSLY? How did we, as a society, let this pass? How was it that red flags didn’t go up over a film about a shark with a personal vendetta against the family of the guy who killed his/her family? Or, was this supposed to be the same shark? The producer’s decided to skip over Jaws 3-D, thankfully, in an attempt to jump start the franchise. Oh boy did they ever succeed in the exact opposite of what they intended to do. Needless to say, the opening scene where poor little Sean Brody (who grew up to be quite the handsome strapping young lad taking after his father) is literally torn limb from limb whilst investigating a tangled log, was a pretty effective and stylish little scene. But that’s about it. I dare to you decipher what exactly happens at the end of this film… go on, I dare you!
Apparently the connection between Rachel and her half-sister Carrie is so deep that the taunts from Carrie’s mom transcend generations. When Rachael finally goes haywire, it’s Carrie’s mother’s taunt of “they’re all gonna laugh at you” that plays in the soundtrack. More of a half-assed remake then a sequel, this film managed to trivialize the serious exploits of a religiously and socially tortured young girl who was pushed to the brink of insanity. Rachael in this film is teased(!) to the point of insanity(!). Not to belittle this type of experience, but it pales in comparison to the truly terrifying life of Carrie White, and almost excuses the psychotic behaviour of superbly self-aware teenagers who use teasing as an excuse for poor decisions. Not to mention it wasted the possibility of a creepy cameo performance from Amy Irving.
The power-ballad monologue delivered by Dana Kimmel near the end of the film is the most hilarious monologue ever put to film. I mean EVER!. Friday the 13th Parts one and two are companion pieces, much like Halloween and Halloween II, unfolding a disturbing story of a crazy protective mother and her equally crazy son. Part three attempted to gimmick up the joint with bad 3D effects that in time have turned into one of the funniest movies ever. The guy at the beginning getting it on the toilet, the self-deprecating Shelly who in every scene needs to mention how ugly he is, the “stud-muffin” Rick (who’re more a lover than a fighter), the perpetually stoned dudes, those bikers(!), and oh dear god that monologue!—it’s fantastic.
To me, this is truly the worst Exorcist entry in the franchise. Released 14 years after the wonderfully disturbing, but ultimately box-office bomb, The Exorcist III: Legion, this film was plagued right from the get go. Morgan Creek spent a reported $80 million to make this film twice. Anxious that the slow burn psychological drawl of Paul Schrader’s Dominion didn’t have the “pow” that they were expecting, they hired hack director Renny Harlin to right these supposed wrongs. What resulted? The most expensive piece of crap ever filmed. This film is implausible, boring, and ludicrous with its attempt to infuse a “who’s-really-possessed” mystery into the mix. Part two may have been bad, but it’s this film that secured the nail in the coffin of this weirdly unsuccessful franchise from what is known as the “scariest movie ever”.
Halloween: H20, or more aptly Halloween: Water, skipped over entries four through six in an attempt to restart a fading franchise, but mainly because no one really watched parts four to six. However, as quickly as that jump start happened, it died one entry later. The only saving grace of this film is the opening 18 minutes that over explain the ending of H20 and drive Myers into the insane asylum where sister Laurie Strode is now staying of her own accord. Everything else is pure and utter garbage, complete with stunt casting of the most annoying kind (who in the world thought casting Busta Rhymes or Tyra Banks would be a good idea?), and an amateurish attempt to latch on to the “reality” craze that was sweeping the small screen. But mainly, this entry is a monumental failure due solely to Busta Rhymes’ involvement, who looks and acts like he’s just saying and doing whatever comes to mind and showing the biggest disrespect to one of the scariest movie monsters in horror film history. It’s insulting. Not to mention, you never actually see Tyra Banks die!
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Honorable mentions that didn’t make the final cut: Urban Legends: Final Cut, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Child’s Play 3, Jason X, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, and The Grudge 2.