Cinema #6: Sequels That Killed a Franchise

To get myself in the mood for October, I recently watched the original Halloween II. Certainly not as great as the first, but still delivers the goods with plenty of chills, tension, and straight up horror. I was stricken by the fact that the Halloween franchise could theoretically have continued and never lost its luster. James Bond movies kept audiences coming back for more, why not Halloween?

Well, the answer is a little movie called Halloween III: Season of the Witch. A total piece o' crap, that (incredibly) had nothing at all to do with parts I and II. It put the kibosh on any hopes of Halloween franchise becoming much of a goldmine. This got me thinking of other potentially lucrative franchises that were cut down in their prime by a pathetic sequel.

Here's the Retrospace top 7 sequels that jumped the shark. Each one has 3-4 quick examples of why the movie sucked.

7. Superman III
A. Contradicts 50 years of well-known mythology
B. Richard Pryor, flailing around desperately trying to make this piece o' shit funny
C. A near-complete absence of the major players associated with the earlier films: Richard Donner, Gene Hackman, John Williams, etc. - gone.
6. Caddyshack II
A. Rodney Dangerfield replaced by Jackie Mason
B. Dan Akroyd replaced Bill Murray
C. From an R rating to a PG

5. Jaws 3-D
A. Dialogue like this: ""You tell Shelby Overmann for me he can take a flyin’ leap at a rollin’ doughnut on a gravel driveway, you hear?"
B. Creative desperation: This time it's the original shark's MOTHER! Say it ain't so!
C. The final scene: Look! The friendly dolphins didn't die after all! Praise the Lord! They're alive!!! Hooray!! (loud applause) (children crying)

4. The Exorcist II: The Heretic
A. James Earl Jones outfitted like a witch doctor
B. A giant superimposed locust
C. Richard Burton sweating gallons of perspiration
D. Not a single solitary scare

3. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
A. Lots of little Annie, zero Vader
B. Midichlorians.... what?
C. Jar Jar
D. Jar Jar

2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
A. Lots of stupid exploding masks, zero Michael Myers
B. The masks are made by a Druid who has rigged them with pieces of rock from Stonehedge strapped with computer chips that are set to go off when a special electronic signal is released.... makes sense right?
C. No horny teenagers, no Loomis, no scares, no Jamie Lee Curtis

1. Gator
The White Lightning poster above contains everything I want in a movie. Then the sequel came along and took it all away from me.

A little explanation is in order in case you haven't seen the original Gator McClusky movie, White Lightning; easily one of the best hick flicks ever. It's chock full of muscle cars, pretty ladies, moonshine, and senseless sweaty violence. Gator is an ex-con badass from the swamp who answers to nobody. He's a moon shine runnin' son of a bitch who will tag every chick in town guaranteed.

Then came its sequel, Gator, directed by Reynolds, himself (surprise!). No longer a menace to society capable of brutal violence and stealing your women, Gator McClusky is now a sensitive ladies man. Gator went from being a shit kicking hillbilly from the swamp to.... (gulp) John Tesh! Here's a few scenes to illustrate my point.

A. We get to see former badass, Gator, frolicking on the beach holding hands with Lauren Hutton, with his jeans rolled up so they don't get wet.... makes Nathan Lane look manly by comparison.
B. Gator gushes to his lady, tearfully telling her "I can't look at you all at once. I'm afraid you'll disappear."
C. When he and his cohorts try to steal files from the courthouse, he spends the whole time goofing around like Don Knotts whilst cradeling a pussy cat!

I think you get my point. I'm probably alone in my opinion on this, but I think the Gator movies had great potential, but were ruined by Reynolds' horrible direction.

I could have named Grease 2, but I don't feel there was much of a chance of an ongoing Grease series. And Karate Kid II stunk, but was it really that much different than the original? Same goes for Ghostbusters II and Airplane II - not nearly as good as the first, but not that different either.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear about some of your opinions on sequels that ruined movie franchises.


  1. I think The Howling was a great movie, but all of the sequels are terrible!

  2. I hated all those sequels you mentioned.

  3. Here is my top 10 list of movie sequels that just flat out didn't work:

    10) Saw - Original thrilling movie with a spectacular ending. The tagline read: It's a trap! Saw II tagline: It's trap, again. Saw III tagline: It's a trap, once again. Saw IV tagline: It's trap, yet again. Saw V tagline: Guess what, it is yet another trap, again". You get the point. Not even Betsy Russell could save these sequels.

    9) Police Academy - fresh new comedy about a bunch of police misfits. Police Academy 2 through 6 - stale old comedies about a bunch of police misfits.

    8) Friday the 13th - Parts 1,2, 3 and 4 describe the evolution and destrution of a serial killer. Part 3 even show how Jason gets his hockey mask. This series jumped the shark at parts 6 - 10 however; resurrecting Jason via lightning bolt, telekinetic powers, an underground power cable and DNA. (Remember that Jason was not the killer part 5.)

    7) Lethal Weapon - parts 1 and 2 delivered. I actually thought part 2 was better than the first (enter Patsy Kensit). Parts 3,4 and 5 - very forgetable.

    6) Conan the Barbarian with James Earl Jones - good. Conan the Destroyer with Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain - bad

    5) City Slickers - very funny with Curly. City Slickers II - the search for Curly's gold with Jon Lovitz - ouch!

    4) Revenge of the Nerds - Tri-Lamdas vs. Alpha Betas with plenty of gratuitousness. Lets just say it went downhill from there. Ogre becomes a nerd in Part II?, whew!

    3) Teen Wolf - funny with Michael J. Fox. Teen Wolf Too - not funny with Jason Bateman.

    2) Speed - excellent action thriller with Keanu Reeves facing off against Dennis Hopper. Speed II has Jason Patrick as the hero, on a boat. Where's Keanu when you need him?

    And maybe the worst sequel of ALL TIME...

    1) Saturday Night Fever - watching Tony Manero on the disco floor was awesome! Staying alive - just look at the movie cover to see what John Travolta is wearing, enough said. Wait a minute - Diected by Rocky himself, Sly Stallone. Now enough said.

  4. Great list, Hitch. I'm waiting for you to make a blog of your own... I'm just sayin'.

  5. 'Gator's great -- for a half hour! Starts out okay, has an excellent title track, rivalling 'Truck Turner,' except in this case THE VILLAIN (Jerry Reed, on double-guitar wizard overtime with Chet Atkins) sings the song about the hero. And Jerry Reed is great fun to watch until the plot kicks in at the 30-minute mark. I think the film officially dies with the introduction of acromegaly sufferer 'Bones' and his specially modified Ford LTD II.

  6. rockie- Well put. I had HIGH hopes with the cool swamp-country intro by Reed, and then the motorboat chase. But then, as you said, seeing Bones with his big head jutting through the roof of his car, things took a bad, bad turn. The image of Bones cradling Smiley in his arms sounding like Lennie in Of Mice and Men will forever haunt my dreams.

  7. What's the matter Atom Kid, didn't care for Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf? ;-)

  8. Hey! Season of the Witch was great! How can you not love the Silver Shamrock?

    Eight more days 'til Halloween,
    Halloween, Halloween.
    Eight more days 'til Halloween,
    Silver Shamrock.

    Ok, now I'm singing it and people are looking.

    How about Teen Wolf Too?

  9. I happen to love HALLOWEEN III, personally. However, I HATE the third STAR WARS movie, RETURN OF THE JEDI, I hate ROCKY V, I hate ROBOCOP II and III, I hate PREDATOR 2, I hate ALIEN 3, 4, and 5, I hate STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER, all the CHILDREN OF THE CORN sequels, all the LEPRECHAUN sequels, THE RETURN OF THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER, CROCODILE DUNDEE 2 and 3, BEVERLY HILLS COP 3, and all the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels.

  10. Robocop 2 without a doubt! Like Superman III, Robocop 2 is SO inept, SO mean-spirited, SO completely and utterly wrongheaded in every possible way. A sci-fi station here showed Robos 1 and 2 back to back and the drop-off in quality was astounding.

    Starts off with Robocop having his memory erased to remove all memories of his past life. So any pathos we had for the character is thrown out the window. There's also a foul-mouthed 13 year-old drug dealer, incredibly gory brain surgery scene, and of course, that awful stop-motion final battle that looks like two model kits going at it!

    Like Superman III, Robocop 2 is one of those "cocaine movies". Watching it, you really do get the feeling that everyone involved was whacked out on coke. Or just hated the audience so much, they made a movie so bad they didn't WANT you to see it! Awful!

  11. Here are a few that come to mind.

    Star Trek V-Spock has a half-brother and he takes the Enterprise off to meet God. Shatner directed it too.

    Batman Returns-Too many villains and not enough plot.

    Back to the future 2-Not awful, but messy and not nearly as fun as the original. Really didn't need to be made.

    All the Rocky films after 3. I mean did we really care by that point?

    Battle for the planet of the apes- Virtually no budget, poor acting and everyone just kind of shuffles along waiting for the last apes film to come to an end.

    My wife and I couldn't make it through of all of Teen Wolf too. We turned it off after like 40 minutes.

  12. I didn't get Gator, either. Smokey and the Bandit 3 was a little off-putting, too.