There’s a trend in Hollywood, amongst all genres and not limited to any time frame, that’s usually inevitable for a smash hit film. It goes like this – a fantastic piece of cinema is created, box office success triumphs, studios bask in their momentary glory, and a sequel gets put into motion before the current hype is forgotten.
It usually works too. Fans hype up the sequel, media promotes the crap out of it, a script is ordered to be rapidly completed, production is prioritized to get a hopeful follow-up hit in theaters as soon as possible, and before we know it the next Saw type film franchise is started only a year after the original’s release. Brilliant marketing is used, fans get another franchise entry, it seems like a win-win, right?
While this tactic may not fail every time, or fail to a certain degree, you better believe some of these films are created with the WORST of intentions.
Let’s just look at Paranormal Activity as an example. First of all, some people hated the original right off the bat, so they won’t agree with anything I’m about to say, but as a huge fan of the original, it’s the best example I can think of (aside from obvious ones like Saw). Stick with me here people.
The first film was made for about $15,000 dollars, and made $77,000 opening night alone, finishing with an estimated $193,000,000 worldwide gross. You better believe studios were clamoring for a Paranormal Activity 2, opening a year later in 2010 this time with a much bigger budget (estimated $3,000,000), but seeing similar gross success of about ($177,000,000).
Paranormal Activity 3 was of course thrown at us a year later, created with an estimated $5,000,000, as studios watched the threequel gross about $104,000,000. Do the math, do you think a fourth sequel was greenlit? Of course you do, you’re in reality with me! Paranormal Activity 4 was released this Halloween season, again with a budget of $5,000,000. Well, after an opening weekend of about $30,000,000, we’ve already been graced with the fantastic news Paranormal Activity 5 will be arriving next Halloween! Hooray, right?! Since I’ve only talked financials so far, let’s address quality.
Again, as a die-hard fan of Paranormal Activity, seeing the midnight release out of sheer anxious anticipation and then again with my girlfriend at the time on our next college break, the sequels were the worst thing to happen to Oren Peli’s film. Paranormal Activity 2 was the most acceptable out of the bunch in my opinion, being more of the same paranormal stuff, but you could start to see an inevitable downward slide as Paranormal Activity turned into the next Saw-like horror franchise.
Paranormal Activity 3 was next, being some fan’s favorite of the bunch, but honestly, I saw Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s entry as the worst of the litter, offering the least amount of scares and taking the franchise in a direction I didn’t care for. But, as long as the cash flow was there, more films were warranted right? Well, Paranormal Activity 4 debuted to the WORST ratings of any film in the franchise, critics and die hards alike panning the film for being nothing but another look-a-like copycat to wash up upon the cinematic shore, repeating the same tactics of the first three – a cash in.
I recently re-watched Paranormal Activity after subjecting myself to the next two sequels, and the raw fear that was once struck in me, that kept me terrified at night, awake and paralyzed by unseen horrors, couldn’t be found anywhere. Sure, one can argue initial viewing of a surprise film like that would lose all effectiveness, but before the sequels, I could still watch the original in the same terrifying mindset.
Now, after being dulled down by the next sequels, Micha and Katie’s story has lost a certain sense of individuality. Paranormal Activity was one of the most unique horror films I’ve seen in years, and deserved all the recognition it got. Unfortunately, along with that recognition, comes the bullshit tactic of ruining one of my favorite horror films of recent memory. But don’t worry, maybe Paranormal Activity 5 can save such a tired franchise from banishment to the pit of awful horror.
Well, enough of my rantings on the Paranormal Activity franchise. Let’s take a look at some of the films Remy and I picked that squander such fantastic franchise hopes.Next
Nato – From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money
From Dusk Till Dawn is one of my favorite horror movies of all time, hands down, no argument, so you can imagine how sick to my stomach watching a straight to video sequel directed by Scott Spiegel desecrate Quentin and Robert’s names with superior stinkability of atomic bomb blast radius proportions. It was a feeling only the worst culinary experience could deliver, like eating raw mystery meat left uncovered for days on end, rotting slowly to the delight of carnivorous maggots. Yum.
The charm of From Dusk Dill Dawn is drawn from both Quentin’s slow-paced yet cleverly penned first segment, setting up character and situational elements, then reverting to Robert’s over the top horror tendencies when naked vampire strippers attack. Texas Blood Money tries the same dynamic, slow first part then cue grand finale, except the build up dialog is absolutely atrocious, characters are moronically lame, and the culmination of insanity sputters out with ludicrous delivery. The Robert Patrick starring sequel was a downgrade in every cinematic aspect, from tensionless filmmaking to laughably unprecedented special effects work?! All I remember is weird colors and terrible skeletons.
This time, all the action takes place outside of the now famous Titty Twister, following a group of bank robbers who start turning into vampires after one gets infected during a nostalgic trip back to the titty bar from hell. Except, it’s nothing as we remember, being a cheaply rendered set knock off which bares no history or ancient charm as once before, looking more like a sleazy lounge with no pizzazz. What should have been a glorious return back to one of my favorite horror locales turned into a franchise polluting pox which I wouldn’t recommend on my worst of enemies.
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money takes what could have been a fun-filled franchise and drives a definitively awful stake directly through its heart, squashing all hopes of ever seeing justice done past Clooney and the Gecko brothers.
Oh yeah, they made another sequel released at the same time. Don’t even get me started on the direction that film makes.Previous Next
Remy – The Descent: Part 2
Has there EVER been a horror movie that needed a sequel LESS than The Descent? I think not. The movie was pretty much perfect, but of course, it did incredibly well, so Hollywood and the major studios demanded a sequel. And what did we get? The single stupidest decision I have EVER seen made in a horror movie. That’s the basis of the whole story.Descentand The Descent: Part 2as well, so read on with caution.In part one, one woman survives (and if you see the REAL ending, the funny thing is, she doesn’t) and she is taken off to the hospital. Well, she’s covered in blood and says all her friends are dead down there, so what do the local police do? They make her gear up and go back down into the hole. Immediately.
I’m sorry, but she clearly displays traits of PTSD. Even if she was suspected in the murders (which is what’s implied here), there is NO law agency that would engage in such stupid behavior, and that’s the basis for the whole film. What do you think happens when she goes back into the hole? Spoiler alert: Every single person she goes in with, including herself, dies. Therefore, that makes the entirety of both films completely pointless, and part two just ends up playing like a remake of part one. Way to shit on a neo-classic, guys. Also, it is implied in the film that the creatures have a “caretaker,” a human who brings them humans as food, and then traps the humans down there.
Wait, again, are you kidding me? The most feral, terrifying creatures in the last decade of horror, and you give them a f*cking human caretaker, for no reason, with no backstory?
The Descent: Part 2 is, literally, everything that is wrong with the very concept of sequels.
That’s like making a sequel to The Exorcist. I mean, who would be stupid enough to make a..oh wait. That happened too, huh?
Nato – The Wicker Tree
If we’re talking cult classic horror movies, the 1973 version of The Wicker Man has to be mentioned. Crazy concept, evil cultists, brilliantly brainwashing performances, it’s all there. Then, Neil LaBute remade the film with Nic Cage, and a good laugh was had by all. Cage punching women dressed as a bear? Nothing but a hilarious moment of cinematic glory/failure, but we’re not even here to talk about that clusterf%ck.
Just this year, director Robin Hardy released an indirect sequel titled The Wicker Tree to his original film, based off the book written by original author Robin Hardy. Yes, the author of the novel tried to cash in on his own novel/original release.
At least LaBute’s had comedic moments and epic Cage material which was later cut together for one amazing gag reel. The Wicker Tree had none of this, and was all around just a poorly sutured slow burn cult mentality horror with zero entertainment value.
The film overall possess a fake and empty feeling throughout, seeming more like a bad theater rendition instead of a true Hollywood film. Both lead roles are hammed up by two lifeless characters with absolutely no on-screen chemistry, again feeling like two people were just thrust in front of a camera and everyone hoped for the best. Not even the evil cultists could muster any personas to really fear, being like wax figures against a background of suckage. Not to mention the story was rather rushed and pointless, only aiding to the lack of development and cohesion, making The Wicker Tree an immediate franchise killer which was in dire need of some Nicolas Cage inspired terribleness.
Like I said, at least when he tanks, it’s freakin’ hilarious.
The Wicker Tree, on the other hand, was just abysmally sad.Previous Next
Remy – [REC] 3: Genesis
I know my boy Matty didn’t hate this movie as much as I did, but [REC], much like The Descent, is one of the best horror films I have ever seen. Even [REC] 2 did a good job of sticking with the gore and scares of the first movie, but switched it up enough, and threw enough new elements at us that it kept the franchise fresh and enjoyable. Then [REC] 3: Genesis happened, and all the tension and creepiness of the first two movies has all but vanished, replaced with a laughably bad sense of humor. Yes, you read that correctly – a movie about mass demonic possession turns into a comedy.
I will admit this, the lead in the film, Leticia Dolera, is captivating. She is amongst the most beautiful woman you have ever seen, mixed with a foxy pixie. She is inherently watchable, and was the one element that kept me glued to my seat until the end of the film, but I still kept saying “are you f*cking kidding me?” out loud to the screen, and that is how I knew I hated this movie deeply. How can you take the two previous movies, all the tension and story they built up, and then toss that all aside so a guy can go walking through the “demons” in a full suit of medieval armor so they don’t attack him? If that scenario sounds funny to you, you just might love this film, but if that very scene sounds as stupid as it actually IS, then avoid this movie.
The first two movies had two directors, Paco Plaza and Juam Balaguero, who also wrote the films. As I touched on in my massive [REC] dissection for Unreality, I feel like these two, at this point in the series, had distinctly different visions. I think Juam didn’t like where Paco had intended to take the series (let’s make it funny!) so they decided to split up direction into two movies, [Rec] 3: Genesis (prequel), which Plaza directed, and [Rec] 4, which will be the official sequel to [REC] 2, and will directed by Juam. That being said, I still have faith that part four might not be the worst movie ever made, and may take this story back to its scary, gory roots, but only time will tell.
Oh, and don’t EVEN get me started on the American remake Quarantine and that film’s sequel, because that second Quarantine film is one of the worst horror movies I have ever seen, straight up.
Listen, horror directors: if your movies are awesome, got good reviews, and are respected, PLEASE, just leave the franchise alone. Instead, you get hungry for money, and bang out a sequel that takes a steaming dump all over your first film, and the genre itself. I know in a great deal of these cases the directors didn’t always have anything to do with the sequel, but still. Don’t sell your rights. Don’t just keep retreating and giving us crap. Wrong Turn and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End were great films, but by Wrong Turn 4 and Wrong Turn 5, the franchise became the worst horror series I have ever seen.
Here is my new rule to young horror directors: Don’t be like Wrong Turn. Just don’t.Previous Next
Nato – Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Take my favorite slasher icon and make a bad sequel, shame on you. Take my favorite slasher icon and churn out franchise killing sequel, shame on anyone who let Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare see the light of day.
Seriously, Freddy Krueger is the most creative and devilishly lovable horror icon to grace the genre (don’t bother debating because that will be a discussion for another week). He’s terribly scary, fighting you when you’re at your most vulnerable, he’s damn near invincible in dream world, toys with your psyche while maliciously torturing you, and does it with a twisted smile on his face. So HOW did director Rachel Talalay turn Freddy Krueger into a lame one-liner spewing horror dweeb not worth a damn. Such a low point in horror history.
The film abandoned all horror and painted Freddy as more of a comedic talent, and albeit an unfairly unfunny one, stripping Krueger of the things that made him worthy of fear – solid kills. His death scenes are always amazingly brutal yet fiendishly creative, feeding off fears and dispatching victims with horrific violence. In Freddy’s Dead: The Nightmare Begins though, the kills become bad sketch comedy scenes not wished upon the worst horror comedy, and Krueger himself isn’t even a main force in some of them. I think immediately to Breckin Meyer being stuck inside the video game or the young girl being pulled into the TV, which are some of the lowest moments in A Nightmare On Elm Street history. Both laughs and scares are left out of said scenes, mixing two genres with the worst of results.
Freddy’s Dead: The Nightmare Begins was made with the worst of intentions and by a creative team who obviously knew nothing about what the character represents, and his blatant misuse resulted in one of the most disappointing and fail-tastic exploits of any horror icon to date. Jason, Michael, Chucky, and the rest all have their lowest of lows, and Freddy is no different. Thanks a lot Rachel Talalay.
Now it’s your turn! Feel free to let Remy and I know how we did with our selections, and let us know if we missed any films which killed some of your favorite horror franchises!
*A special thanks to Remy for stepping in to guest write! Feel free to follow either of us on Twitter for even more insanity and updates:
Matt Donato Follow @DoNatoBomb
Remy Carreiro Follow @RemyCarreiro
Like what you read? Check out last week’s article where we pick some of our favorite horror films selectable on Netflix’s Watch Instantly!Previous