It takes a village to make a movie. And when constructing this complex narrative it can definitely be a vexing process. Sometimes the film in question fails to find an audience. Other times it becomes a massive success and a follow-up is all but expected. Attempting to not only recreate the same magic once again but then to have the task of making it better can be one of the most daunting tasks in moviemaking, at least for the money people.
Some genres are different than others where some are poised to put out title after title like action films. But one genre that has a tough time pulling off another chapter in a franchise is without a doubt the horror genre. Now every genre has suffered the tragedy of a dud in the bunch, but there are a good number of examples that prove the world of scary movies has some trouble finding its legs and resonating with viewers when the next one is released. Of all of the missteps a horror franchise has ever taken in the illustrious history of cinema, these are probably the ten worse horror movie sequels.
Wes Craven’s film Scream reinvigorated the slasher genre and made the ghost face mask one of Halloween’s biggest sellers. The film has inspired many copycats and parodies over time and has solidified itself as one of the favorites among this type of film. But these films continued to get watered down with nonsense and complicated plots that started to not really add up. After two lackluster sequels, everyone thought Scream was done for but low and behold they managed to come back with what most people would agree is their worst entry in the series so far, and god willing will be it is last.
Scream 4 failed to accomplish what the other films did, making audiences actually care about the victims. The plot established in the first film and how it continues made you seriously concerned for the well being of Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and the others. In the 4th edition, bodies drop like crazy, and we are left asking who and why most of the time. It attempts to recycle the original Scream formula, but this narrative process needs some tweaking for the modern era. The twist is somewhat refreshing in this period of reality TV fame we find ourselves in, but it isn’t enough to make this Scream sequel worth the 103 minutes you won’t get back after seeing it.
Jason Voorhies is one of the most recognizable names in horror. He would have one of the most recognizable faces, but he’s always behind the hockey mask, inevitably turning that piece of sporting equipment into his signature of terror and mayhem. After the first chapter introduced us to his mother, and the second chapter unveiling what the special boy from Crystal Lake was made of, a slew of mediocrity unfolded with several sequels feeling like the people behind the film were attempting the same thing over and over again expecting different results. That is until we get to the tenth entry in the series.
Jason X boldly went where no other menacing masked wearing, machete-wielding killer has gone before. Into the dark depths of space many, many years into the future. This odd attempt to revamp a fearful legend essentially turns Jason into a cyborg resembling less of his old self and more of something like the Terminator. This did less for his horror credibility but significantly increased hist street-cred in the comedy department as this film garnered more laughs than it planned. X marks the spot on this entry is one of the worst things Jason Voorhees has ever done, and that is saying something.
Jaws: The Revenge
Everyone remembers why they were scared to go into the water during the summer of 1975. Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster hit Jaws washed up on shores and terrified moviegoers everywhere. This tale of a giant shark that you never really see until the end resonated so well with audiences it broke box office records and is considered to be one of the biggest box office hits of its time. This terrifying menace of the deep was now in the hall of fame of horror, and it seemed like a no brainer if the powers that be were to play this gag again that they would need a much bigger sequel.
Jaws: The Revenge was the third sequel to Steven Spielberg’s class and the fourth film in the franchise overall. It changed up the game from Sharks being sharks to the finned beasts of the deep having a personal vendetta against the Brody family. This ridiculous premise failed to generate the same buzz the original did, even much less than the other sequels. Critics panned the film, and with it being considered the worst of what was once a great franchise, everyone believed it was time to leave Amity Island for good. The third outing for the giant shark wasn’t a total loss. Jaws: The Revenge was nominated for seven Golden Raspberry awards and walked away with one for worst visual effects.
The Grudge 3
Of all the Asian horror imports, the two most movie fans remember are The Ring and The Grudge. The first entries of both are pretty solid. But what comes after is more horrifying than the film’s creepy premise, especially with The Grudge. People remember The Grudge films for many things. The screaming mono chromed Asian child and his mother who presumably put extreme contortion on the map in the genre. Overall these weren’t masterpieces of cinema but definitely had moments that induced the need to sleep with the lights on. It is hard to imagine seeing these horrific beings in a manner that makes one’s eyes roll instead of cowering in fear.
The Ring films have all been in theaters while the third Grudge entry goes straight to video. And it shows that they definitely gave up on the third try with this one. The quality alone is noticeably worse than either of its predecessors, and it lacks star power is also cringeworthy. The film feels like a generic version of what is supposed to be a good scary movie. In every aspect, it fails in comparison to the other chapters in the series both domestic and foreign.
It is hard to make a sequel to a horror film; there is no question about that. But what is going to make that endeavor more difficult is not having your main character in the followup. That is what some would consider a bold strategy that most likely won’t pay off, and looking back, in this case, it really didn’t. I mean considering that this franchise has been rebooted twice, it is safe to say this little experiment did not work and should never be repeated. Horror fans everywhere are still wondering why John Carpenter kept Michael Myers out of the third Halloween movie and just left us with some weird mask story that probably would have been fine had it not been called Halloween 3.
While the film has a decent following, it is a total smack in the face to those that love Michael Myers. The white masked, mechanic uniform wearing stabbing machine and his need to kill on the scariest night of the year is why everyone shows up for these films. And after the second movies reveal of the connection between Laurie Strode and Myers, the possibilities seemed endless on where you could go with this unique story. Apparently, they went in the wrong direction as the film has nothing to do with its predecessor except for Michael Myers is seen briefly in a television commercial. The lesson learned here is when making a horror sequel, always bring back the monster that made it famous.
The Omen II
There are a lot of films about the devil, but the one that stands out among the rest is The Omen. Most people have probably forgotten the Julia Styles led remake they attempted and failed to find an audience with. So if the reboot attempt missed peoples attention, it would not be surprising if no one remembers the film’s follow-ups. Sequels are hard-pressed to find a way to live up to their predecessor and the second Omen is a testament to that.
The scares are nowhere near as potent, the story is not as compelling, and some of the deaths are downright silly. Damien’s coming of age story, while the one redeeming thing about the film is drenched in the mediocrity mentioned above enabling viewers to continually check how much time is left in this less than stellar sequel. The problems in front of the camera, along with the ones behind the scenes resulted in this gift from Satan coming up just under par of what should have been a film that genuinely possessed its audience.
The Ring Two
Before Gore Verbinski made all those Pirates of the Caribbean movies, he was put on the map by The Ring, the film that made everyone scared of their own televisions, VHS tapes, and children that come out of wells. The way he utilized the color palettes paralleled with the water them was a work of art. And the way he threw it all into a darkly twisted narrative that haunted audiences long after the credits rolled was nothing short of amazing. The only thing that ended up being scarier than getting the phone call with a voice whispering “ seven days,” is the fact that a sequel would be made without Verbinski. Instead, it opted for the director of the original Japanese version. And that couldn’t save this evil beast from disaster. What happened was worse than anything Samara would ever do to another person, and that is saying something given her actions in the film.
The sequel fails in comparison to the original on every level. While it is missing its director, it does bring back Naomi Watts and the creepy boy playing her son. Instead of bringing anything new to the table, it falls face first in its attempt to rehash what audiences have already seen. It is sad when the weird content on the tape in the first one is a more compelling watch than the film’s sequel. Audiences probably expected to get a phone call when they left the theater saying they would run into Samara seven days later. If they did, they’d probably have a few things to say to her about this lackluster follow-up.
The Predator terrified audiences when he took down the elite military unit led by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even though Arnie won it all in the end and took down the notorious hunter, fans knew that wasn’t the last formidable extraterrestrial to grace the blue planet we call Earth. His return to the big screen would switch out the actual jungle for the urban jungle and replace the future Governor of California with Danny Glover. And that sentence is probably the scariest thing about this whole thing.
In the original tension builds as the soldiers continually stare out in the trees, knowing something is watching them but having no idea what it is. The thought of these badass military folk being put on the edge like this resonated well with audiences’ fear factors. The sequel traded in this aspect for over the top gangsters and Gary Busey as one of the guys tracking this alien for the government. Not much else needs to be said about why this one stopped this franchise in its tracks and serves as a wall mounted trophy symbolizing what not to do in a Predator film.
Alien was meant to be a B movie but became a fixture in the world of horror films. This close encounter was the first real example of how in space no one can hear you scream. The creature was terrifying and had a menacing off-screen presence. The sequel upped the ante with having the characters take on an entire hive of these ugly evildoers, capped off by a showdown with a giant queen. So needless to say the third installment had some big shoes to fill when it came to satisfying audiences expectations. Alien 3 failed to do this on pretty much every level.
The film was directed by David Fincher who looks at this as one of his careers lowest points as Fox stepped on his creative toes so much that he attempted to remove his name from the final product. This shows in the final cut which has elements of an Alien movie but feels like one of the biggest swings and misses of any franchise. While Sigourney Weaver brings in a solid performance yet again, the rest of the film fails in comparison to its predecessors. The only fear for people watching this monstrosity is worrying that this terrible story will never end. Thank the movie gods it eventually does and proves the third one is usually the worst.
Blair Witch Project 2: Book of Shadows
The Blair Witch Project arguably kicked the found footage genre into the mainstream and almost every year since then has resulted in wave after wave of new experiences cut together from the last moments of some dedicated videographer wanting to capture all the terror. So when a sequel was announced it was safe to assume that they just found more footage or another documentarian met their demise in attempting to capture the elusive witch on camera. Neither was the case as they were doing something no cult worshipping Blair Witch fan would have ever suspected could happen, they would go full scripted narrative and unleash the visual travesty that was Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows.
This plays out like a bad horror movie from start to finish. It is like a sick fantasy of what the characters from the first film hoped they’d find in the woods but didn’t. While the spectacle of the first Blair Witch project was more than just a film, it was a solid viral marketing campaign combined with what was then an innovative take on storytelling. The sequel takes ten steps backward in that department delivering what amounts to a straight to video snoozefest that somehow made its way to cinemas to scare moviegoers away from the franchise until its even less than stellar reboot attempt. What is really scary about the Blair Witch is how people won’t let her die and keep thinking they can make more of these films.