When a film proves successful (especially from a financial standpoint) it can occasionally lead to horrible sequels. Unfortunately this can happen whether the story calls for one or not. Often we view horrible sequels as being those that simply don’t add anything or improve to the already existing storyline. We only need to look as far as Horrible Bosses 2, The Hangover 2, Grown-ups 2, Ted 2…all sequels which essentially repeated the first film just with slight variations.
While these horrible sequels may have been far from fantastic, they still managed to entertain moviegoers. So let’s take a look at some truly horrible sequels which tore a hole through the original film(s)! This could be through creating plot-holes, destroying the timeline of a series or simply by ruining characters that we all loved.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
We’ll plunge head first into the deep end and begin with not just one sequel, but two! When we talk about horrible sequels, none shine brighter than those following an epic trilogy. Pirates of the Caribbean is an example of this: great cast, wonderful score, comedy, action, romance all in one…a wise-cracking, borderline psychotic main character with funky facial hair and a sometimes swaying moral compass (and a magical compass)…this trilogy has it all. The ending to the third film left the main characters scattered. Meanwhile Jack is off on his own adventure to find the fountain of youth.
I for one assumed that the latter was just a nod to Jack keeping up his usual shenanigans. In actuality, it was laying the groundwork for a sequel. Arguably, On Stranger Tides wasn’t awful and was just in the shadow of the previous trilogy. So while On Stranger Tides may not earn a place on this horrible sequels list, you can’t say the same for Dead Men Tell No Tales.
It manages to make the series seem ridiculous (keeping in mind that this is a film series that has already covered undead pirates (and monkeys, the kraken, Goddesses, Davy Jones the giant tentacle-faced Captain and his infamous locker). The film also destroys the one essential character to the film’s success: Captain Jack Sparrow. Jack had always liked his rum and his plans were often either “madness or brilliance”. Yet Dead Men Tell No Tales manages to turn him into a drunken idiot. It was as if the very soul of the character died alongside the series itself. Not to mention the numerous plot holes that the film carelessly creates. It seems like “take what you can, give nothing back” was the reasoning behind the two most recent films.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
The Terminator trilogy is absolutely iconic. You’ll see many references to it time and time again in a huge range of films and TV shows, even going as far as ending up as a play in Barney Stinson’s Playbook (How I Met Your Mother). The films create an interesting history and do open many doors in terms of interesting storylines that someone could choose to explore. Sadly, they chose to go with Terminator: Genisys.
I guess it’s debatable as to whether this counts as a prequel, sequel or reboot (due to the timeline aspect) but there isn’t a lot one can say about Terminator Genisys that hasn’t been said before. When you reboot a film series by essentially rewriting the original timeline, there are always going to be a few problems (yes X-Men, I’m looking at you!) You’d think that after Terminator: Salvation (which would certainly be on this horrible sequels list if it wasn’t more of a spin-off), the franchise may have accepted defeat and tried to hold on to what little pride it had left…but no.
The motivation to create this film was due to the approaching deadline of film rights switching to different owners. As such Terminator: Genisys is a fine example of Hollywood creating a convoluted story in order to squeeze another film out of the franchise. I like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I like Emilia and Jason Clarke. Yet none of them could save this film from the disaster it turned out to be. If you ask me, this franchise should have been terminated a while back!
S. Darko (2009)
The original Donnie Darko film is widely viewed as a cult classic. Perhaps not to everybody’s taste, the film follows Donnie (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) as he encounters Frank (the 6-foot tall talking bunny rabbit), time-loops, superpowers and much more. While leaving many audiences confused and requiring a lot of interpretation, one thing you can certainly say about Donnie Darko is that a sequel was completely and undoubtedly unnecessary. When we talk about horrible sequels, none spring to mind quite as much as this one.
S. Darko starts off at a disadvantage by not having the original writer and director, Richard Kelly, involved in the film. I can’t say it shocks me that Kelly wanted to stay a million miles away from the sequel but the film certainly paid the price. With Daveigh Chase returning as Donnie’s sister, the film proceeds to misunderstand the original film, has sloppy acting, poor special effects, is poorly written and unsurprisingly went straight to DVD. Turning what was a compelling thriller into some bizarre Final Destination-like movie tore a hole through the hearts of fans. The film took apart the history and “science” that had been explained in the original. Making it seem like the events in Donnie Darko were regularly occurring.
With recent news that Richard Kelly has a “true sequel” in the works, fans can only speculate as to whether his version will prove to be a necessary sequel or will end up in a ditch at the side of the road like S. Darko! Perhaps it will be getting added to this list of horrible sequels in coming years.
The Man from Earth: Holocene (2017)
2007’s The Man from Earth is simple story-telling at its finest. There are no special effects, no car chases, no explosions, no murders, no sex scenes…nothing. Barely leaving the sitting room of a house, this film manages to take you on a journey through history. While keeping viewers intrigued throughout, the film stumbles across several shocking revelations about the main character, John Oldman (David Lee Smith): A man claiming he has lived for thousands of years and doesn’t age. Jerome Bixby wrote the original story and while not being widely known, many have found it to be an incredible film.
10 years later The Man from Earth: Holocene appears and the very premise undermines the original story. It would be impossible to list horrible sequels and not mention this one. John Oldman, the man who doesn’t age…is now showing signs of aging. The story for this film involved a number of different writers (none of whom were Jerome Bixby) and looking beyond the fact that this film did not need a sequel, perhaps the writers were the problem. In an attempt to replicate the first film in an exciting manner (which it not only failed to do but was an entirely unnecessary step) they ultimately created a monster and now a dark shadow clings to the original film.
Son of the Mask (2005)
It’s impossible to deny the success of The Mask. With Jim Carrey in the leading role of what is ultimately Ace Ventura on crack, most audiences loved the film. Interestingly, Carrey’s lack of appearance is apparent in several of the horrible sequels on this list. With a PG-13 rating, it catered for a range of different age groups and while perhaps not being the sort of film that would leave you thinking, it was undoubtedly entertaining.
Fast forward 11 years and out pops Son of the Mask. This film was like having a Toy Story sequel without Woody and Buzz. The only real connection between these films is the mask of Loki: A mask which proceeds to cause mischief at the hands of one Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy). Tim conceives a child while “under the influence” of the mask’s powers. This leads to “hilarity” as the son displays a wide range of Loki-esque abilities and powers. With cringe-worthy comedy, below average acting and a finale that packed as much of a punch as a dying man’s last breath, overall it was pretty shoddy work. I can only assume that the people responsible for this film invested in masks after releasing this trainwreck. As far as horrible sequels go, somebody should have stopped this one!
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
The Blair Witch Project is one of the films that kick-started the “found footage” style of filming. Creating a successful psychological horror with an incredibly low budget, this film still haunts the minds of many people today. You certainly wouldn’t be rushing to go camping after watching it! One thing that stands out about this sort of film is that you only need one of them. You could say the same about Paranormal Activity: how many times can you have a film with slamming doors and creepy noises? Six times apparently…
Regardless, the sequel plays off the idea that The Blair Witch Project footage created hype for the town of Burkitsville. With Blair Witch tours raking in money, all you need is a group of overconfident college kids (and one goth) and you have yourself a horror film. In fairness, this sequel tried to be different from the first film…sadly, they went a little too far and ultimately lost the essence of what made the original great. With poor acting and a ridiculous storyline, I’m not sure what else there is to say. This is a prime example of a film that just didn’t need to exist and it certainly deserves a spot on this horrible sequels list.
Blair Witch (2016)
Sadly, someone decided The Blair Witch Project needed two sequels. Book of Shadows lost fans by being too different to the original. So to counter this, Blair Witch is basically a copy and paste of the original. Blair Witch follows a group of young adults searching for the original group from the first film after finding their tapes. This of course makes little sense as the tapes from the first film had public fame in the second film…During a time of reboots and remakes, Blair Witch tried desperately to follow suit. Ultimately they created another sub-par horror movie: One that failed to fill the footsteps of the original. The Blair Witch Project was entirely psychological with very little visual scares. Yet this and Book of Shadows relied heavily on the visual element, leaving little to the imagination. These are two films that you should leave in the corner to die.
American Psycho 2 (2002)
American Psycho is the grizzly, dark tale of murderous psychopath Jason Bateman (Christian Bale). It’s really no surprise that a desperate replication attempt exists. Many sequels just lack imagination or can’t compete with the success of the original but this one has very obvious flaws. Originally, the script was a stand-alone film. However, after making some changes it soon became a forced sequel. Rushing through filming in 20 days certainly didn’t help. Not to mention that the awfully done editing process speaks for itself: Simply watching it through once highlights all the mismatched video and audio. Mila Kunis may have made a name for herself now but you only need to watch this film to see how far she has come. Truly the acting in the American Psycho sequel is a horror in of itself.
Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003)
When you hear the title Dumb and Dumber you probably picture Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. This film answers the question of “is it better to be smart or lucky?” While it was a successful film loved by audiences, someone along the line decided it needed a prequel. So yes, technically we aren’t looking at a sequel. However, as it’s possibly the least called for prequel in the world, it made it into this list. Just in case fans needed an original story for the friendship between Harry and Lloyd, this film provides that. Removing the on-screen chemistry and hilarity of Carrey and Daniels was just part of the problem. With poor acting and zero originality, the title Dumb and Dumber should go to whoever gave this the green light.
Addams Family Reunion (1998)
I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t enjoy the Addams Family films. Of course if you mention Addams Family Reunion most people have never heard of it…luckily for them. It’s natural to get excited at the mere thought of another finger clicking entry to the series. With a new cast, new writers, a new director and overall a new studio, perhaps it is best to sit this one out. Without sounding too much like Wednesday Addams: “your work is puerile and under-dramatized. You lack any sense of structure, character and the Aristotelian unities!” They say that actions speak louder than words. I find that to be particularly true when releasing sequels straight to DVD or video. This is the case with many of the examples on this list. Sometimes a desperate attempt to make money from an already existing series pays off. Other times it lands your movie on a list of horrible sequels!
Bonus Round – Titanic 2 (2010)
We all know (and many love) the romantic tale based around the sinking of the Titanic. Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) have become prominent romantic figures and the soundtrack is incredibly recognizable. With there being many, many versions of the event, this is without a doubt the first one that pops into everyone’s mind. The film has a great cast, an appropriate soundtrack and with James Cameron at the helm, there is little room for error. Although there is a reason it’s added as a bonus and didn’t make it on the main horrible sequels list.
Technically, this isn’t a sequel: in the sense that the rights to the original film still belongs to James Cameron. Yet, one can’t help but notice that this story does of course follow a liner aptly named Titanic 2. While changing events from the first film slightly, it really ends up going down the exact same route. Melting of the ice caps creates a tsunami. Rather that this damaging the ship, it’s quite literally an iceberg that does. One unfortunate event after another, the film eventually leads us to an upside-down ship. Most of the passengers are dead and there isn’t a single lifeboat left intact. We end up with a more modern version of the original ending. Remember the issue of trying to fit two people on a piece of debris? Well this couple has one oxygen tank which the male character gives up to save his partner. Even if you wouldn’t consider it one of the horrible sequels, it’s certainly lazy writing.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on this list of horrible sequels? Do you agree? Do you have others to add? Comment down below!
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What movie topic should I discuss next? Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!
How is Pet Cemetery 2 not on this list?
I can think of some movies that should be added to this list:
• The Sandlot 2 (a remake of the original film, but masquerading as a sequel)
• Legally Blondes (adds nothing interesting to Elle Woods’ story)
• The Hunchback of Notre Dame II and Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (sequels that took everything that was good about their original films and threw them out the window)
• George of the Jungle 2 (you know a movie’s bad when the actor portraying George has to explain to the audience (about five minutes into the film) why the previous actor isn’t portraying George)
As I look at my list, I realized all these films have one thing in common: they’re all direct-to-video/DVD films.
Yes, some things are just better left as they are. Good post.
Not sure I agree with this list as some of the sequels aren’t official (S. Darko). Here is my list:
2010 (Dir. Peter Hyams) – trying to emulate Stanley Kubrick is a bad idea, even with Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren, John Lithgow and Keir Dullea in the cast.
GROWN UPS 2 (Dir. Dennis Dugan) – OK, it grossed $247 million, but repeating more of an awful formula. Not sure why the #MeToo campaign hasn’t got to Adam Sandler.
SUPERMAN 4 – THE QUEST FOR PEACE (Dir. Sidney J. Furie) – cut price Superman film featuring Christopher Reeve in his final outing as the Man of Steel, aka the Man of Tin Foil. Truly awful (but well-intentioned) story, special effects. Just ugh. I defy you to watch it. You’ll kneel before Zod faster.
MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI (Dir. Bill (B W L) Norton) – an experiment in split screen masquerading as a sequel. No Richard Dreyfuss, no Harrison Ford – no way. Some of the cast return, sheepishly. No one wanted this – please see the original.
BUTCH AND SUNDANCE – THE EARLY YEARS (Dir. Richard Lester) – director Dick Lester was the king of the sequels in the 1970s and 1980s, working for Alexander Salkind (even ROBIN AND MARIAN is a sequel of sorts). However, this film with William Katt and Tom Berenger trying to fill the stetsons of Robert Redford and Paul Newman deservedly stalled at the box office.
BATMAN AND ROBIN (Dir. Joel Schumacher) – the unwisest BATMAN sequel that almost killed the franchise, with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze as the Emperor of Awful Puns. Mind you, without this, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale won’t have got a sniff at DC Comics most enduring hero.
PITCH PERFECT 3 (Dir. Trish Sie) – once the acapella group had left Barden University, there was only one logical sequel, an American Idol-style talent contest. This was deemed too obvious, so they ended up on a USO Tour instead. Hilarity did not ensue. A case of ‘getting the bland back together’.
BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (Dir. John Landis) – with John Belushi having passed away (on March 5, 1982) there was no way that the magic of the original – a box-office maybe but cult classic – could be recaptured. Why bother? Messrs Landis and Aykroyd disagreed, roping in a non-plussed John Goodman and a kid. Heck, no.
SHOCK TREATMENT (Dir. Jim Sharman) – does anyone remember the sequel to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, minus Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Charles (‘no neck’) Gray, Meatloaf, etc but with Jessica Harper and Cliff de Young? No – next…
STAYING ALIVE (Dir. Sylvester Stallone) – where were you when John Travolta reprised his signature role as Tony Manero to zero effect (‘you know what I wanna do – strut’)? I could have picked GREASE 2 or BE COOL as other sequels to Travolta movies but this one is aah-aah-ahh-ahh-awful.
In what way is S.Darko not official beyond the fact that Richard Kelly didn’t want to be involved in it?
I did consider adding 2010 but I hadn’t seen it so couldn’t make the judgement as to whether it was deserving of a place on this list. As for Grown-Ups 2, I just gave it a mention in the introduction because while it was awful, it followed a trend of comedy sequels that simply copied the original. Also, it didn’t get rated as that much worse overall that the first one. Whereas everything else on the list performed miserably in comparison.
Wow I didn’t know there was a sequel to Donnie Darko but I guess that’s a good thing?
Look this list doesn’t feature Highlander 2. So this list doesn’t know what real pain is.
Great list Cammy! I would also throw Caddyshack 2 into the mix as well!
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