Some Films Should Never Have Been Made.
For any true fan of exceptional filmmaking, there is perhaps nothing worse than an awful sequel. A bad sequel is a blight on society, an insult to the moviegoer, and a disgrace to the original property. In fact the better the original film, the more insulting the sequel. Most of the time it’s a studio trying to beef up their fiscal bottom line by releasing a sequel to a proven box office success. Studios know that fans of the original are going to go see the sequel at least once, and that usually generates enough money to justify it’s creation in the first place. In short, it’s a cynical corporate money grab that often leaves fans of the original hot under the collar. The worst part is that many times there was no sequel necessary. This is a shameful practice that has proliferated since the 1980’s, continues to this day and is showing little sign of slowing down. Can anyone name all of the ‘Friday the 13th’ sequels and remakes off the top of their head? How about the ‘Rocky’ franchise? ‘Aliens’? ‘Halloween’? ‘Jaws’? The list is virtually endless.
#14. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
This movie is so terrible that…seriously I can’t. Just God awful. Trust us. Ugh.
#13. Fletch Lives (1989)
‘Fletch’ (1985) the original was quirky, entertaining and very funny. It’s a film that has a cult following, especially among fans of Chevy Chase. For reasons that remain unclear (outside financial) 4 years later ‘Fletch Lives’ (1989) was released. A decision that was and continues to be a terrible idea. All you need to do is reference the musical montage scene which takes place on a southern plantation with busty chested caucasian field hands, Chevy Chase singing and dancing cartoon characters, to realize the depths of the absurdity. Yes, this film qualifies as a certified piece of garbage. View at your own risk.
#12. Teen Wolf Too (1987)
To be fair it is difficult to follow up a Michael J. Fox film in the best of circumstances. However, it would also be fair to mention that the original ‘Teen Wolf’ (1985) didn’t need a sequel. Jason Bateman took over the reigns as the high school wolf turned collegiate canine in the sequel ‘Teen Wolf Too’ (1987). A regrettable decision for the otherwise solid comedic actor. The good news is that he was still a young actor who was able to outgrow, and advance his career in spite of it. The bad news is everything and everyone else involved in the production of this barely watchable monstrosity.
#11. The Crow: Salvation (2000)
The original film ‘The Crow’ (1994) is an all-time cult classic with more than a few death themed ironies. The tragic accidental death of star Brandon Lee on the set topping the list. Lee’s death caused production setbacks, and almost doomed the films release. However, it was completed and a classic was born. The problem was with the ill-advised decision to make a sequel, ‘The Crow: Salvation’ (2000). Let’s put aside the fact that the films premise was contrived and made sense only to avian species, Eric Mabius’s acting performance had none of the gravitas of Brandon Lee. In addition, director Bharat Nalluri’s film version was simply not in the same class of the Alex Proyas original. This sequel was awful.
#10. Batman & Robin (1997)
Warner Brothers put ‘Batman & Robin’ (1997) on a production bullet train following the commercial success of ‘Batman Forever’ (1995). Both films were directed by Joel Schumacher, and the second was considerably worse than the former. Regardless of the commercial success of ‘Forever’, it was not a good film. ‘B & R’ turned out to be far worse. Val Kilmer and George Clooney were both terrible choices for Bruce Wayne (Batman) but Kilmer gets the slight nod between them, probably because of Tim Burton’s involvement. The initial ‘fight’ scene in ‘B & R’ takes place in a museum turned ice hockey rink between Batman, Robin and Mr. Freeze, with villainous hockey ghouls skating around with a diamond the size of Saudi Arabia. Get all of that? It’s that’s bad, seriously bad. Luckily for true fans of the Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan revived the franchise with excellent films starting in 2005. The 1980’s -1990’s properties were cartoonish attempts to insult our collective intelligence’s. ‘B & R’ being the worst film in a large barrel of film excrement.
#9. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street’ (1987) is an exceptional film with amazing performances by Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor. It is so good in fact that it is credited as being an archetypal example of 1980’s Wall Street excess. It is also responsible for pop culture catch phrases like ‘Greed is good’. The original Wall Street is an all-timer, there was never any reason good enough to make a sequel to this film. But make a sequel they did…23 years later…’Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ (2010). Stone returned to direct this picture, but that fact in and of itself doesn’t validate it’s production. The sequel fell short of the original in almost every way imaginable, including the directing, sorry Mr. Stone. Shia LaBeouf’s performance was lacking to say the least, and not credible in every other way. Michael Douglas failed to recapture the glory of the Gordon Gekko of 1987, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Talk about a tough act to follow. The financial upheaval of 2008-2009 was the reasoning behind this sequel, but like the crash, it left audiences bewildered and wanting…to leave the theatre. #No Bueno.
#8. Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
‘Poltergeist II: The Other Side’ (1986) is another in a long line of ill-advised sequels. In this case to ‘Poltergeist'(1982). The fact that it returned the original family didn’t make for a decent movie, it made for a feeling of incredulous shock. The same family is once again dealing with malevolent forces after their daughter, Carol Anne. What are the chances you ask? Me too. What are the chances that studios produced a third Poltergeist? Very good actually, they did it again in 1988 with Poltergeist III (also terrible, btw). The original sequel received so-so critical reviews and the box office numbers weren’t nearly as good as the original, although it did make some money, an estimated $40 million. Which made it a very expensive bad movie that was nominated for a ‘Razzie Award’ highlighting an awful performance by Zelda Rubinstein, for Worst Supporting Actress. The other actors and performances weren’t much better, if not flat out worse. Watch this one as a comedy.
#7. Carrie 2: The Rage (1999)
The Rage: Carrie 2 is the God awful sequel that was 23 years in the making. The original ‘Carrie’ was released in 1976, this latest incarnation in 1999. Perhaps producers spent the intervening two decades thinking of ways to ruin the Stephen King classic, and royally piss off die hard fans of the original. Mission accomplished. Director Katt Shea’s sequel was a box office flop (losing $5 million) and a critical laughing stock. Apparently Carrie White’s half sister Rachel carries the same telekinetic powers, and predilection for using them in a vengeful, albeit extraordinarily predictable manner. A gold star if you can sit through this.
#6. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Let’s face it, somehow, someway, Keanu Reeves has a knack for starring in successful films. From films that are silly and sophomoric in tone ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’, to science fiction classics like the ‘Matrix’ franchise. It seems that Keanu has the magic touch. The same goes for ‘Speed’ (1994) which came out of nowhere to become a surprise commercial success. In fact, it was honored with not one, but two Academy Awards. (Sexy things like Sound Editing & Sound Mixing) in 1995. The movie was pretty damn good. The story of an LAPD officer trying to save civilians from being blown to bits on a city bus that is wired with explosives tied to fine print details. You would think that this fantastic premise would be a one off type of event. However, you would be wrong. Producers couldn’t stop themselves from the allure of the quick, cheap sequel buck, and released the completely unnecessary ‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’ (1997) with A. Jason Patric instead of Keanu Reeves, and B. Sandra Bullock returning to collect an easy paycheck, presumably prior to reading the script. When she did get around to reading it, she found that the creative team of Jan de Bont, Steve Perry, Michael Peyser, and Randall McCormick had traded in the speeding city bus, for the molasses speed of a cruise liner. How fast is a cruise liner? Answer: Not very. Big mistake. Bad movie. Brazen money grab. Bullshit idea.
#5. Staying Alive (1983)
A cursory glance at the one sheet movie poster of ‘Staying Alive’ (1983) and you might get a deja vu feeling that ends with Channing Tatum in ‘Magic Mike’. After a quick double take you will find that it’s the 6 year in the making sequel to ‘Saturday Night Fever’ (1977). ‘SNF’ was a runaway commercial success that facilitated the popularity of the era’s trendy celebration of disco culture. ‘SNF’ made John Travolta a bonafide star of the time. However by the time of the sequel in 1983, the disco craze had become over medicated. The theme song of the same name was performed by the Bee Gees and basically the only thing that was memorable about this film. The main character Tony Manero is now moved out of Brooklyn, and living in a Manhattan flophouse. The tone of the film is sour and cynical, and it doesn’t really get better although they try to resurrect it by films end. It’s not a good film, but I won’t trash it much more than this…because well, disco is dead.
#4. Son of the Mask (2005)
Let’s face it, the original film ‘The Mask’ (1994) was a huge hit almost entirely due to the legendary Jim Carrey, and his transcendent on screen gravitas, and comedic performance. When you think of an actor ‘carrying’ a film, ‘The Mask’ featuring Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss is what you think about. With that being the reality, any sane person would ascertain that making a sequel WITHOUT Jim Carrey would be film suicide. Well, producers Erica Huggins and Scott Kroopf did, and it was. Nothing personal against Jamie Kennedy and Alan Cumming, but their combined performances do not a Jim Carrey make. Not even close. Watching this film without Carrey makes you realize just how talented he is, as the plot is mind numbingly ridiculous, but the latitude for comedic genius is vast. As it turns out, too vast for Carrey’s replacements to cover. If you have children that you need to pacify for 94 minutes, this movie will work as a mighty elixir for you. Children are transfixed by the ‘Mask’. If you have 94 minutes of your life you want to regret wasting?
#3. Alien 3 (1992)
‘Alien 3’ (1992) is the third installment of the popular ‘Alien’ (1976) franchise. The original was released in 1979 and the second in 1986, this third release follows the second in terms of timeline, but compared to the first two, it kind of sucks. No, it definitely sucks. There are many reasons for this, among them were the various difficulties in pre-production and production. There ended up being several different screenwriters involved as well as numerous directors on the project, not exactly a recipe for success. Finally, a young and talented director by the name of David Fincher began shooting…without a completed screenplay. It should come as no surprise that Fincher has since disowned his involvement in this film as he was given virtually no time to prepare, and constantly forced to re-shoot scenes with script rewrites on the fly. Production was constantly hampered by studio interference. The result was the #3. spot on this list for worst sequels. In fact, of the entire Alien franchise, part 3 is the only film that really isn’t any good at all.
#2. Rocky V (1990)
In my opinion, if Sylvester Stallone would have halted the production of his ‘Rocky’ franchise after ‘Rocky IV’ (1985), it would have gone down among the very best film franchises, ever. The original ‘Rocky’ (1976) was raw, gritty, and compelling. The second ‘Rocky II’ (1979) was inspirational and triumphant. The third Rocky III (1982) starring a primetime ‘Mr. T’, was highly entertaining and solidified the franchise as one of the best. The fourth ‘Rocky IV’ (1985) was good but not as good as the previous three, and would have been a perfect conclusion to the franchise. Sadly however, you guessed it, producers dipped their pen in the ink one time (and more) too many, with the release of ‘Rocky V’ (1990). Oy vey! #5 was awful is many ways, where to start? The late boxer Tommy Morrison, played a terrible character, and he was an equally terrible actor. The plot was stupid. Sly looked old by design and it wasn’t sexy, at all. Stallone later acknowledged his disappointment with this film. Amazingly, there have been two additional releases under this franchise in the years since, bringing the grand total to seven with the 7th being ‘Creed’ (2015) which was a decent film. ‘Rocky V’ though? Garbage on a stick.
#1. The Godfather Part III (1990)
Any endeavor to make a sequel of perhaps the greatest film(s) of all-time would take ‘brass balls’ so enormous, that a wheel barrel would be needed to transport them across the studio lot. ‘The Godfather’ (1972) and the second film ‘The Godfather Part II’ (1974) were basically a single 7 hour epic film spilt into two films, released two years apart. The originals are arguably the greatest crime family drama in the history of film. You would think that if any film had a legacy that was too sacred to interfere with it would be ‘The Godfather’. Sadly, and with great regret, I must inform you that ‘Godfather’ with the release of ‘The Godfather Part III’ (1990), was sequel-ed. Violated by cynical hands squeezing easy money out of a classic original film. It took 18 years but it got done. Not only is the third installment of the ‘Godfather’ series inferior, it’s borderline insulting. This of course is an opinion that is in stark contrast to the fact that the film earned 7 Academy Awards including, yes believe it or not, Academy Award for Best Picture. It wasn’t the best picture. It shouldn’t have been made. It pales in comparison to the original two in every imaginable way. I, like any true ‘Godfather’ fan, choose to simply ignore the existence of the 3rd film. It’s easier to pretend that it doesn’t exist than to acknowledge it. In 2015 HBO released ‘The Godfather Epic’ which is a chronological edit of the original two films over 7 viewing hours. The 3rd is mercifully omitted, and with every good reason under God’s glorious sun. ‘The Godfather Part III’ is a disgrace. Yes, I said it.