With Horrible Bosses 2 opening this week, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 slated for early next year, we’ve decided to take another look at everybody’s favorite target for fodder: sequels. Why? Because there are so many ways for them to go terribly wrong. Maybe they just flat-out stink, suffering from dud scripts and lousy performances. Maybe they get released too late, creating such a huge gap between installments that the franchise’s fanbase has already moved on. Or maybe the sequels in question had no good reason for existing in the first place. In other words, they’re completely unnecessary.
These are the bastard films that nobody wanted. They tell stories that don’t need telling—either because the original movie provided enough narrative closure or because its plot was already so far-fetched that it insults viewers’ intelligence to rehash it. Seriously, how many times can two twentysomething doofuses convince people that a corpse named Bernie is still alive? And how long can a corpse hang out on the beach without decomposing anyway? But I digress…
It’s more than just a matter of story, though; it’s also a matter of quality. Since the unnecessary sequel’s primary purpose is making a quick buck, rather than to please fans of the franchise, it tends to skimp on the budget. Oftentimes, this means that the stars that made the film’s predecessor have jumped ship and been replaced by a bunch of B-listers, or that the distributors skip a theatrical release entirely and just dump it on home video. However it comes to be, the unnecessary sequel takes a beloved film and dumps on its legacy. Now here are a dozen of the worst offenders, in convenient list form.
Tremors II: Aftershocks
Tremors is stupid, but in the best way. It’s so charming, nasty, and hilarious that you’re likely to cheer every time a worm explodes into thick ropes of gore. Tremors 2: Aftershocks is also stupid, but, well, not in the best way. That’s because Aftershocks screws up basically everything the first one got right. For one, it’s not scary; the characters are so poorly defined to render every death farcical. Secondly, the tonal balance of the original Tremors is all but shattered by sidekick Chris Gartin, who may as well have bleating tubas underscore his every scene. And look, I like Fred Ward, but he’s never been as good as he was with Kevin Bacon by his side. Gun enthusiast Burt Gummer, played with glee by Michael Gross, steps up as protagonist in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, bringing the series back to its proper level of stupidity.–Randall Colburn
Sex and the City 2
HBO’s Sex and the City series, broadcast from 1998 to 2004, was not a perfect representation of single, thirtysomething working gals in the Big Apple – far from it – but was not without its charms. Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha each had their endearing qualities; and Carrie, despite her constant whining and impossibly large apartment on a newspaper columnist’s salary, managed to garner appeal from her peculiarities: keeping her sweaters in the oven, buying more shoes than she could afford, and meeting her girlfriends almost every day (long lunch breaks?) to discuss the lurid details of their sex lives.
Then came the first Sex and the City movie, which turned the love story between Carrie and Mr. Big, already a problematic pairing throughout the series, into an atrocious disaster of epic proportions (Big leaves Carrie at the altar, Carrie takes him back—all you need is a man in your life, right, ladies?). If only the horror could have stopped there, but no, one hatchet job was not enough. They had to make another, and it had to be much worse.
Sex and the City 2 is what nightmares are made of; it’s where feminism goes to die. It’s where “the girls” can go to Abu Dhabi to escape their one-percent problems (Charlotte has a live-in nanny but raising kids is hard; Miranda is fed up with her fancy lawyer job; Carrie wants to go out and Big wants to stay in; Samantha worries about her dry vagina) and be pampered ‘round the clock at a $22,000-per-night hotel. Never mind the cultural insensitivity, like when Samantha rips off her clothes in the middle of a crowded bazaar and throws condoms into the faces of passersby, screaming “I AM A WOMAN! I HAVE SEX!”
By then, your soul has no doubt shriveled and congealed into a primordial ooze, only to be restored by time, a stiff drink, and some perspective. If you do make it to the end, congratulations: you will never get those 146 minutes back, but at least you can say that you survived them. –Leah Pickett
Harold Ramis walked off and tried to have his name removed from the credits. Rodney Dangerfield threw the script in the garbage. Bill Murray sued, and settled out of court, for the usage of the gopher puppet he helped create. Nobody from the original returned, except Chevy “Choosey” Chase, after he’d gotten a fresh diamond ear stud at Claire’s. They couldn’t even tap Brian Doyle-Murray, or Michael O’Keefe—the raw french toast of leading men. But nine years too late, and with a script diarrhea’d by a team of unknown writers, they went ahead and made Caddyshack II anyway.
And it is, in a word, unwatchable. Not even in a curious trainwreck way. Ninety-eight never-ending minutes of joylessness that everyone involved with should be (and some have admitted to being) ashamed of forever. This is a movie that manages to make farts unfunny. And farts are always funny.
Take a beloved raunchy comedy (one that doesn’t hold up for me at all, but will never leave the quote-rotation of aging bro-dudes), strip it dry of all the raunch and pool doodies that fans have come to love, load it with a cast of geriatrics (top billed: Jackie Mason! Robert Stack! Dyan Cannon! Dina Merrill!), and you get Caddyshack II, a stillborn bore that’ll give you incontinence.
Here’s a rundown: Millionaire Jackie Mason is a slob at heart, so the country club snobs don’t like him, yadda yadda. Chevy Chase is still in the height of his substance abuse problem, so he shows up for 10 minutes for some coke cash and gives the movie its sole chuckle (Mason: “I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.” Chase: “That must have been hard on your mother.” There, just saved you 98 minutes of hell.).
But Caddyshack II proves a long-held theory we have in our household: Dan Aykroyd stopped being funny the second he got fat. Marking the first appearance of his second chin, he shows up as the Bill Murray surrogate to battle that obnoxious gopher…and he’s just awful. Using a “comic” voice that sounds like Marlee Matlin with Down’s Syndrome, he flops…hard. If you make it to the very end, where Aykroyd gets a poisoned arrow in his ass and asks Chase to suck out the poison, you’ll be ready to douse yourself in Crystal Head vodka and immolate yourself. –Roy Ivy
I suspect that writer-director Sylvester Stallone didn’t even bother to watch Saturday Night Fever before making Staying Alive. That’s because SNF touches on all sorts of important socio-political issues including rape, suicide, and the plight of America’s working class, and its sequel most definitely does not. Ol’ Sly scraps all that heady stuff in favor of pure fluff—long dance sequences, romantic subplots, and a poppy ‘80s soundtrack featuring his brother, Frank. This would all be forgivable, perhaps, if Staying Alive wasn’t so laughably bad.
Six years after our hero Tony Manero (John Travolta) made white polyester bellbottoms popular, we check back in on him as he auditions for a new broadway musical called Satan’s Alley. There’s some conflict with his uppity British co-star (Finola Hughes) and put-upon best friend (Cynthia Rhodes), but that’s all forgettable, taking a backseat to the batshit-insane rehearsal scenes for Satan’s Alley. It’s hard to explain just how weird and off-putting this musical is. Imagine what would happen if Liberace directed a high school production of Dirty Dancing in hell. It’s an orgy of fire, loincloths, and bare, oily chests.
Saturday Night Fever may have helped rocket John Travolta to stardom, but its sequel made the actor a punchline for the next decade. –Adriane Neuenschwander
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
“Same ho,” declares the trailer for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, “new lo.” Truer words have ne’er been spoken. Rob Schneider never met a bit he couldn’t hammer into the ground (“That’s a huge bitch!”), and European Gigolo finds Schneider-as-Deuce revisiting each one that culled a mild chuckle on the first go-around. Schneider ups the ante plotwise, however, introducing a whodunit murder plot into the mix and a whole host of “disguises” for a game Eddie Griffin to wear. I wish I could say it were all just inoffensive schlock, but, like its predecessor, European Gigolo is filled to the brim with body shaming jokes, which Schneider justifies with a half-assed message of self-acceptance. New lo, indeed. –Randall Colburn
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde
With the teaser, “Elle Woods heads to Washington D.C. to join the staff of a congresswoman in order to pass a bill to ban animal testing,” how could we not have a masterpiece on our hands? But oh, yes, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde is just as awkward as it sounds, and wholly immaterial to boot. It’s embarrassing to see Reese Witherspoon, so delightful in the first flimsy Legally Blonde with her Election-honed comic timing, not only haul her character back for a DOA sequel, but executive-produce the turkey as well.
A lot of capable actors show up to this one – Sally Field, Regina King, Luke Wilson, Bob Newhart – which makes it even more painful when the recycled blonde jokes fall flat, the “dirty politics” subplot is about as deep as a kiddie pool, and the hackneyed attempts at drama induce laughter and face-palms instead. The story begins with Elle hiring a detective to find her dog Bruiser’s mom; you would be wise to stop there. And although D.C. Elle is dubbed “Capitol Barbie” as a pejorative, a Barbie doll in her likeness was sold in conjunction with this film, right down to the mildly offensive Jackie O. pink suit and pillbox hat. Make of that what you will. –Leah Pickett
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is a film without a target audience. The teenage girls who loved the original in 1987 had 17 years to move on. Did the sequel’s producers imagine a mob of thirtysomething ladies out there, still listening to their cassingle of “Hungry Eyes” and scrawling “Mrs. Patrick Swayze” a hundred times on their Trapper Keeper? Perhaps, but more likely, they wanted to cash in on the popularity of dance movies in the early 2000s and just ran out of original ideas. So, they pilfered Dirty Dancing’s played-out premise of a rich girl falling in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. This time, instead of a Jewish princess going gaga over a brooding dance instructor, we get a WASP princess going gaga over a Cuban poolboy. Yawn.
With the exception of the clichéd love story, Havana Nights shares few of the qualities that made its predecessor a success. There’s no gimmicky dance move like the lift. There’s no hunky Patrick Swayze in his heydey (though the actor, visibly ill from cancer, makes a brief—and depressing—cameo). Plus, the sequel was released in 2004, when teens no longer batted an eyelash over seeing two dancers grind on each other. Hell, they could probably see dirtier dancing at their junior high homecoming. Without the star power or the titillation, what’s the point? –Adriane Neuenschwander
The Last Exorcism Part II
It’s right there in the title. It’s like calling your three-piece band The Lone Rangers. And it’s too bad. Because, in addition to being one of the best found footage horror movies of recent years, The Last Exorcism had a perfect ending, one that was equal parts horrific, ambiguous, and triumphant. To follow it up with a coming-of-age story about that film’s Nell Sweetzer, a possessed teen in backwoods Louisiana, feels anticlimactic, especially once you realize the muddy milieu of the first film has been abandoned for the garish streets of New Orleans. Not that it needed a sequel, but there was so much left to explore in her town of Ivanwood: cults, Pentecostalism, her weirdo brother Caleb. Instead, we get the same ‘ol cliches: black eyes, possessed animals, magic mumbo jumbo. There is a silver lining, however: Ashley Bell, who plays Nell, is a gifted actress with a contortionist’s command of her body. More of her, please. Just not in The Last Exorcism Part 3. –Randall Colburn
The Fox and the Hound 2
In 1981, Disney released one of its best pre-Renaissance animated films, The Fox and the Hound. The story of two unlikely friends, a red fox named Tod and a hound dog named Copper, also stands as an allegory against racial prejudice and the social and societal pressures that come with it, delivering a powerful moral message that speaks to both kids and adults.
Starting in the mid-‘90s, Disney took it upon themselves to churn out a slew of direct-to-video prequels, sequels and mid-quels that are borderline unwatchable, have no reason to exist, and have mostly been washed away by the sands of time: Bambi II, Mulan II, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Pochahontas II: Journey to a New World, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure, Tarzan II, The Jungle Book II, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, The Lion King 1 ½, etc.
But the worst of them all, in terms of leeching on a classic and shamelessly bastardizing it beyond recognition, is The Fox and the Hound 2. And the plot of this straight-to-DVD, cuddly animal-focused, and completely asinine 2006 mid-quel is: Tod and Copper join a band. I am not kidding. –Leah Pickett
We all know what happens at the end of Grease. To the tune of the foreboding “We Go Together”, Danny and Sandy begin their ascent into the sky, where they die together in a burning mass of leather, lipstick, chrome, hairspray, and gay denial. Disagree if you like, but I promise you, only the dying say stuff like “Shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom.”
I propose this theory in an attempt to understand the necessity of Grease 2. Maybe in 1982, audiences were clamouring for another musical where actors in their late 20’s play teenagers and sing thinly, thinly veiled songs about fucking? Who knows. But where are the stars? Sure, we get human lactose Maxwell Caulfield (as Sandy’s cousin? Okay) and the first star-turn of Michelle Pfeiffer. But audiences flocked to the first Grease because the star-power was locked in with Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. This new batch is just as expandable as the new cast of Expendables 3. This “welcome the new blood” strategy, along with the “I’m the cousin!” main characters, is a staple of sequels nobody wants.
Sure, the movie has its many charms. “Cool Rider” is a great song. Michelle Pfeiffer dry-humping a ladder is even better. And the “Reproduction” number sticks in the ears like a bubble gum condom. But the rest of the songs are stinkers. And who really cares if the nerdy hero transforms himself into a greasy motorcycle guy to win the affection of a chick who’s really into mechanics. What did we do to deserve Adrian Zmed’s crotch, and why does Adrian Zmed exist? They explain why
Pinky Frenchy returns (she is a beauty school dropout, afterall), but never tell us why Eugene (serial nerd Eddie Deezen) hasn’t graduated from this high school (maybe because he doesn’t know how to sing entendres about boning?). Why is Pamela Adlon in this? And why is it so rapey? (The “Let’s Do It For Our Country” number is particularly vile.) It’s far from the worst sequel of all time, but like Jeff Conaway, nobody can think of a good reason for it to exist. –Roy Ivy
Mannequin: On the Move
Sure, nobody’s going to mistake Mannequin for Casablanca any time soon, but at least the movie had a few things going for it: an A-list ‘80s cast, an original premise, and the Starship earworm “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Sadly, its sequel only has one of the ingredients that made the first film a hit, and it’s that goddamn song. Given the terrible script, it’s no surprise that Andrew McCarthy, Kim Cattrall, and James Spader all refused to be in Mannequin: On the Move. In fact, only one original cast member—Meshach Taylor—decided to reprise his role, and the film’s producers must’ve been so delighted that they built the entire script around him.
Maybe this would have been okay if Meshach Taylor’s character, an offensively one-dimensional gay window dresser named Hollywood, wasn’t one of the most irritating screen presences in all of filmdom. There are only so many sashays, girly squeals, over-the-top outfits, and cringe-inducing oneliners an audience can sit through, and Mannequin: On the Move crashed and burned at the box office. My only hope is that Hollywood (the place, not the character) learned this valuable lesson afterward: you can’t make a successful sequel based on the shittiest aspect of its predecessor. –Adriane Neuenschwander
Road House: Last Call
John Dalton—known to all of us Road House fans as merely “Dalton.” The coolest of all coolers. The epitome of zen, even when he’s ripping out throats. Helluva lover. Impervious to pain.
Well, he’s dead. And I’ll tell you who killed him. Jake Fucking Busey. Yes, that bucktoothed mutant breech baby of Guy Fieri, Josh Homme (sorry Josh), and Gary Busey…that’s the guy who took down the legendary Dalton.
But Swayze wouldn’t saddle up for this next go round, and MGM had a serviceable script and expiring rights burning holes in their eternally bankrupt pockets, so they forged ahead with Road House: Last Call without the essential main ingredient of its meat-fisted forbearer.
So now we get Dalton’s son, Shane Tanner. Why Tanner? Guess Swayze took the name to the grave with him. He’s played by walking typo Johnathon Schaech, and he’s got tough shoes to fill. He’s a DEA agent who returns to his old hometown of Bumfuck, Louisiana after uncle Will Patton’s (the Sam Elliot surrogate, and way too good for this) road house (The Black Pelican, and it’s no Double Deuce) has been taken over by meth dealer Jake Busey and his ethnic band of cronies (seriously, it’s another all-good-guys-are-white flick. There’s even a Native American mafia). Since bouncing’s in his bloodline (keep your eye out for a hilarious training flashback using a shadowy Swayze impersonator in a tank top), Shane inevitably beats the butts of Busey and his gang.
But why did they bother? While the film is packed with throwback lines and parallel characters (“Thought you’d be taller” “Pain does hurt,” etc), we don’t get a single throat rip. Lame. But nothing’s lamer than Jake Busey. It’s one thing trying to make an audience think that flabby albino woodchuck can actually fight. But it’s downright heresy revealing that he took down Dalton.
In the end, Road House: Last Call is highly watchable. There are some decent fights, jokes that are intentionally funny, and a dead William Ragsdale (the uncrowned king of unnecessary sequels). And instead of blind Jeff Healey, we get a bar band with a dwarf on crutches, so that’s awesome. But with no Swayze, no throat rips, and the most awkwardly edited non-sex sex scene ever, there’s just no good reason for it to exist. — Roy Ivy