Movie sequels can be a tricky beast. Rarely are they a sexy beast, an improvement upon the original film. More times than not they’re either a lackluster follow up to the previous movie and in some cases they’re a complete and utter shitshow of an attempt to move the story along. Movie sequels are a tricky beast indeed.
Some of the sequels to these classic films I do enjoy…parts anyway, but in retrospect and even in the moment when I first saw them, they seemed forced or felt unnecessary. Would the movie going public have been better off without them? Maybe, maybe not. For better or for worse we got them, so while we’re kicking it in our homes in quarantine, let’s kick back and look at some sequels that we really didn’t need.
Slasher horror ruled the 80’s, but by 1987 its Schwarzenegger and Stallone equivalents Jason Voorhees; ie the lumbering killing machine and Freddy Krueger; ie the quicker and more sly (pun fully intended) villain who would pepper you with murderous jabs, both physical and anecdotal, were starting to lose their steam. The horror landscape was beginning to change and us horror fans were introduced to a more visceral and psychological horror from the pages of Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart which he adapted into Hellraiser.
Hellraiser was more about the human psyche and how far one would go to obtain the pleasures they seek, and while he wasn’t the star of the film, Pinhead portrayed by Doug Bradley has become as iconic as Robert Englund and Kane Hodder.
With any sort of success, even a modicum of success comes the need for sequels, and our favorite Cenobite has been everywhere, from space to the internet, to eventually being replaced with the discount version of himself.
The following year we got Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, and while we didn’t necessarily need this film it was a well done and interesting sequel.
It was the subsequent sequel after sequel we received over the next two decades that watered down Pinhead to the point where any asshole could open the Lament Configuration and summon the Cenobites, whether they or us the audience even cared to show up anymore.
The original Caddyshack was drug and alcohol fueled mayhem disguised as a movie about golf with an underlying story about classism helmed by a young Harold Ramis (we’ll come back to him later) anchored by Bill Murray (more on him later as well) and Chevy Chase with a Rodney Dangerfield cherry on top. It was crass, it was vulgar and it was hilarious.
Caddyshack 2, on the other hand…
It was an impossible task for the sequel to even match the tone of the first film, let alone exceed it, and throwing Randy Quaid into the mix, well, watch his performance for yourself and you’ll see why even for as friendly as we Canadians are, we promptly declined his request for asylum from America a few years back.
There are fewer examples of a sequel completely half assing and phoning it in. From the comedy abyss known as Dan Aykroyd trying to follow in Bill Murray’s shoes, to a so bored he’d rather make a sequel to Cops and Robbersons Chevy Chase cameo. The only shining light is the always incredible Robert Stack chewing scenery like only he can, but it’s not enough to save Caddyshack 2 from landing in the bunker, and then landing a double bogie.
Smokey and the Bandit
Remember what I said regarding Caddyshack 2 being a half assed and phoned in sequel to it’s predecessor? Apply that to Smokey and the Bandit 2 but lay on a nice, thick layer of depressing as fuck to it.
Dear god, this movie is a downer, which prompts me to exclaim one of my favorite credos in five simple words.
Why do they hate fun?
You can say the original Smokey and the Bandit is low brow, and easily digestible entertainment all you want. I call it fun to save the time. It’s Burt Reynolds driving a sexy beast muscle car and being a badass as only Burt in the seventies can be, along with his best buddy Snowman and his dog in their big rig trying to deliver beer from Texarkana to Georgia.
The sequel is here to cash in on the success of the original, and more power to them, but why in the ever living fuck did they think taking the swaggering, charismatic Bandit and turning him into an alcoholic, borderline suicidal mess was the recipe to raking in that cash money at the box office?
Oh, plus there’s an elephant. Because we as an audience can relate more to a pachyderm and the Bandit trying to reclaim that old spirit than celebrating alcohol being the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems while reveling in the freewheeling antics of a modern day folk hero.
Police Academy was more or less the answer to the success of Stripes but on a smaller scale, with an assortment of wacky characters assembled including Michael Winslow’s seemingly endless supply of noise and sound effects that myself and likely hundreds of other kids of the eighties tried to recreate with our own less talented mouths. And then there’s Kim Cattrall!
Police Academy 2 isn’t a terrible movie, but it does seem to be missing the same vibe or flavor of the original. It did introduce a mass audience to Bobcat Goldthwait. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to interpretation, and while the dynamic between Zed and Sweetchuck is tremendous over the course of the franchise, each sequel sinks deeper and deeper into a pit of sucktitude to the point that just reading about part 6 and 7 was enough to make me throw up my hands and say PASS without even having watched them.
There’s nothing wrong with screwball comedies, I’m all for ’em, but containing it to one film is usually enough, anything more runs the risk of cruel and unusual punishment.
People who know me know that I’m a big Don Coscarelli fan. From Bubba Ho-Tep to the Phantasm franchise, Coscarelli never fails to entertain me in some way, and the same could be said for his stab at a sword and sandal epic with Beastmaster.
Sure, it’s not quite on the same scale as John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian, but it was interesting, ambitious and never took itself too seriously, which pretty much sums up all of Coscarelli’s films.
One of the tropes in film I’ve never been a particularly big fan of is thefish out of water trope. There can be times where it can be handled well; namely if everything is still contained within the same universe or as close to the same universe as where we started, but when you take Beastmaster 2 here with its whole “let’s take a medieval warrior and thrust him into modern day America and wait for the hilarity to unfold”, you’re just begging me to walk out.
He doesn’t know what a car is! Hilarious! This sweaty brute has no concept of a shopping mall! Oh, the delightful scamp!
It’s tired, derivative and, it’s a lame fuckaround. It’s lazy, hack writing because the screenwriters needed to pad the script in a vain attempt to fill out the “story” when they barely had or knew what the story was to begin with.
Comparing this to Conan, at least Arnold is self-deprecating enough that he could maybe, just barely pull this off, but Marc Singer plays it straight to the point that the whole thing feels like a shitty made for TV movie that the networks would throw out there in the middle of a rain delayed baseball game on a Sunday afternoon.
Ghostbusters 2 is one of those movies I remember liking as a kid. Maybe it had something to do with seeing it in the theater when it was released, but in retrospect this sequel doesn’t hold up and is a perfect example of the whole not being equal to the sum of its parts.
I’m going to paraphrase Harold Ramis here– I believe it’s on the commentary track of the first Ghostbusters DVD. I tried searching the internet for all of 5 minutes, but basically Ramis summed it up as the first film was a success because it was a story of three friends trying to start up a business and the subject of their business and their interactions with each other made the comedy work. Whereas the sequel was more about ramping up the ghosts and the interactions with them instead of the Ghostbusters interactions with each other.
Clearly, Ghostbusters 2 was a cash grab, but a lot had changed from 1984 to 1989 and the whole vibe of the Ghostbusters had shifted with an emphasis on shitty half baked sight gags, lazy comedy and uninspired special effects.
For as much as I love Rick Moranis and contend that as a fellow Canadian he’s a national treasure, when the best part of your sequel to an enormously successful movie from five years earlier is essentially a throwaway gag then you know your movie is in trouble.
Too bad none of these sequels took Louis’s advice.
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