Oct 31, 2009

Top Five Unnecessary Horror Sequels

I'm trying to steer clear of the straight-to-video fare that would probably populate this list - I'm looking at you, 'American Psycho 2' - and sticking rather with sequels, preferably earlier ones, that just don't justify existence. I won't delve into 'Leprechaun in Space' or 'Freddy vs. Jason' due to their tongue-in-cheek nature. These franchises know they have drained the well, and so to place them on the list would be redundant. Most of the list is populated by movies whose first incarnations had such surprise success at the box office that the studios rushed a lame sequel to the theaters to make a few extra bucks, so most of them deserve my ridicule.

1. The Blair Witch Project 2: Book of Shadows

In a shameless cash grab, Artisan capitalized on the astoundingly unexpected fame of the first Blair Witch Project with 'Book of Shadows'. 'The Blair Witch Project' was so original, and more an execution of a brilliant idea than an actual film, that a sequel would have been (and proved to be) not only ill-conceived but unnecessary as well. How could they have expected to even come close to the phenomenon that was 'The Blair Witch Project'? Not since 'Halloween' had a low-budget flick commanded so much attention, and for good reason. It created a buzz by using the internet against cynics, going so far as to create web sites swearing up and down as to the events' authenticity, and so scores of people bought into the myth created by the movie, which made it even scarier than its stomach-turning camera work.

'Book of Shadows' is a bastard child of 'Scream' and any number of wink-wink-nudge-nudge postmodern horror flicks that dominated the late 90s, and its 'hipness' only takes it so far, which is not very far at all. Each character is a walking stereotype, the plotting is incoherent and transforms the film into a crappy suspense story by the end, and, well, basically everything about it is half-hearted and half-assed.

However, looking backward from 'Burn Notice', I will admit that Jeffrey Donovan's presence almost makes it worth a watch.

2. Jaws 2

Though it didn't entirely wreck the first Jaws movie - the third and fourth ones accomplished that - 'Jaws 2' is on the list for one simple reason: THEY KILLED THE SHARK IN THE FIRST MOVIE. Not only that, they killed off the most charismatic of the characters from the first movie, Robert Shaw's Quint, and Richard Dreyfuss is nowhere to be found. Granted, they were going for something different in the second movie, but the whole draw of the first movie (arguably) was the three main characters and not necessarily the shark. Once the trio of characters are broken up - from the chickenshit Sheriff Brody to the irascible Quint - the movie loses something ineffable.

Plus, the possibility of two such rampaging Great Whites is so miniscule as to defy logic, even for movie audiences, and even forgiving that possibility to a certain degree, certain parts of the second movie are so blatantly ripped from the first flick that they truly make this movie a no-brainer for the list. The ending, especially, makes it hard to believe that they had enough material to make a second movie. He electrocutes the shark. By himself. Out at sea. I'm being overly obtuse, though, since they couldn't very well have ended the movie in a theme park or a football stadium or anything, but watching the movie as an adult makes you wonder how much juice was left in the *shark* tank. Sorry.

3. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

'Still' suffers from some of what plagues 'Jaws 2'. A majority of the cast members did not show for the sequel...because they died in the first movie. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillipe, the dude from 'Big Bang Theory', they're all gone and have been replaced by Jack Black in white-dreads. Terrifying, but in a different way.

Since the movie was obviously too white and WASP-ish the first time around, they went and paired Jennifer Love Hewitt with a black best friend and set them off on a tropical getaway, giving this movie the same sort of Agatha Christie sort of feel as the first one without any modicum of creepiness that helped the first become a success. What we end up getting is a toothless carbon copy of the first film, sporting fewer scares than a car ride with Brandy.

4. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

I'm including the fourth Halloween film at the behest of The Moviegoer, and for good reason: Halloween 4 (and all of the following sequels) steers the franchise back toward Michael Myers, and while plenty of people may say the third film is the most gratuitous (due in part to its incomprehensible and Myers-less storyline), 'Return' just turns the series into a cliched horror romp featuring an unkillable killer. At least 'Halloween 3' tried to do something different with the franchise, and 'Halloween 2' is safe because it ostensibly picks up just after the first movie's cliffhanger ending.

[Let me also take this opportunity to say that I briefly considered the second Rob Zombie 'Halloween' in its place, due in large part to the fact that Zombie originally intended his first movie to render sequels impossible. Only through a few pirouettes of plotting can a second movie take place, but H2 did not hold a candle to the redundancy of 'Return of Michael Myers.]

5. Carrie 2: The Rage

What should have been ostensibly a remake was instead a horrible, half-assed, ham-handed 'sequel' to the wonderful original film by Brian DePalma. 'Carrie 2' isn't necessarily legendary in being inessential, but it is a symbol for every bad (and usually straight-to-video) sequel to a Stephen King-based flick. All of the 'Children of the Corn' sequels, or the 'Mangler' sequels, or whatever, all can be contained in the decision to include 'The Rage' on this list.

This one just stands out because, rather than being a hastily thrown-together cash-raker of a movie - an offense which plagues the other movies on the list and is almost forgivable - 'Carrie 2' is embarrassingly, ridiculously, gut-wrenchingly late and irrelevant. Released an astounding twenty-three years after the original, 'Carrie 2' is a trying-too-hard clunker of a movie, just so filled with cliche that you could just pick the plot points from a list. Absolutely atrocious.

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