Yes, a sequel can be superior to its original, but their reputation for being inferior films are understandable. Most are. Even so, it takes a lot of doing for one to get disowned altogether. Sometimes it’s due to said disowned sequel painting its franchise into a corner, thus making future films difficult to pull off creatively. (Not unlike those old chapter serials where the hero plummets off a cliff in a car at the end of Chapter 1 only to be saved by a BS last-minute parachute-attached ejection seat at the start of Chapter 2.)
Other times it’s because the sequel idea was so poorly conceived and executed that the persons involved really should have known better.
When picking out these 16 Sequels That Were Disowned By Their Franchises, we have included a mixture. In most (but not every) cases, we’re perfectly willing to disown these movies ourselves. Some are bad TV movie continuations. Others were quickly pulled from theaters. On a few occasions, the movies did well in spite of themselves. And some are “meh” to pretty good. See if you agree.
16. Bates Motel (1987)
Before Bates Motel, there was Bates Motel! While A&E has done a commendable job of injecting life into the Norman Bates character with a richly told ongoing story arc, the 1980s weren’t as fresh with ideas. Producers and executives latched onto something recognizable and quickly rushed sequels together. Some were so awful they never had a chance of making it to the big screen. In the case of this continuation starring comedian Bud Cort, there was hope that the film would be used as a pilot for an ongoing series. Nope.
Bates Motel (’80s version) tried capitalizing on the success of Psycho II and just made a royal mess of things. Cort stars as Alex West, a good-natured but mentally disturbed man who was friends with a now-deceased Norman Bates during his time at the same mental institution. Bates leaves the iconic motel to West, who makes a beeline for the place upon his release. Eerie things start happening. And by eerie, we mean stupid.
While Psycho IV: The Beginning — a made for cable film that would bring back the original’s screenwriter — would sort of pretend II and III didn’t exist, though they weren’t rejected with such fervor that one could necessarily realize it. The Psycho franchise actually brought a major character back from the dead in order to obliterate Bates Motel from the public’s memory.
15. Halloween III, 4-6
Halloween may be one of the most confusing franchises ever made to general audiences. It started well enough with the original Halloween — a scary slasher movie made for $220,000 that grossed the 2016 equivalent of $172 million. Against director John Carpenter’s preferences and good judgment, producer Moustapha Akkad insisted on continuing the non-existent story with Halloween II. Carpenter, in an admittedly drunken state if you watch the DVD interviews, decided, “Ah what the hell, we’ll just make him her (Jamie Lee’s) brother.”
While the film was a success, it made it difficult for Halloween III to successfully shift gears from slasher franchise to anthology series, so that idea was scrapped a few years later when Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers would descend upon movie audiences. From here, we get a trilogy of films that tell the story of Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), the orphaned daughter of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who presumably died along with Jamie’s dad in a car accident a few years before.
Michael feels drawn to his bloodline, so he decides that Jamie has to die, setting up the through-line for the next two films. Then, all of that is scrapped with Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later in which Curtis returns to her iconic role. We find out that she faked her death, leading some to think that 4 through 6 still exist in the timeline, but if that’s the case, then Strode becomes one of the worst mothers in the history of film considering what her decision does to her daughter.
Now Carpenter is signed up to executive produce a sequel, which we have to assume is a continuation from Halloween II. In that case, H20 and Halloween: Resurrection (the one that followed it) will soon be added to this growing pile of disowned sequels. (Probably a good thing.)
14. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
One might include Superman III in this entry, but we’re giving it the benefit of the doubt. That’s because you never disown anything that has Richard Pryor in it, even if it’s not particularly good. And while III is certainly guilty of that, it does have a few crowd-pleasing moments like the Superman vs. Superman fight during the climax — lame by today’s standards, but thrilling to a kid watching it during its initial release. That’s more than can be said for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, an ambitious tale poorly executed by director Sidney J. Furie, who gave us such classics as Iron Eagle, Iron Eagle II, and the Rodney Dangerfield comedies Ladybugs and My 5 Wives. To be fair, he also did The Entity, so maybe he shouldn’t get all of the blame.
There is also plenty to go around for Christopher Reeve’s story and the Lawrence Konner-Mark Rosenthal script that ineptly brings a fuzzy tale of nuclear disarmament to life. Unfortunately for everyone involved, notoriously bad producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus had the rights to make the film, and they chose to do it on a shoestring budget like their borderline direct-to-video fare of the time rather than a movie with A-list actors. The result is one of the most humiliating sequels in the history of sequels — so bad that Superman Returns attempted to erase it from our memories (while being pretty lousy in its own way) almost 20 years later as a direct sequel to Superman II.
13. The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III
The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III are not incompetently made films. There is something in each to admire, but not enough to justify their lineage to the 1993 classic. For starters, if you read the books by Michael Crichton, you can tell that he was forced to continue the series based off the unexpected phenomenon that was the first film. The Lost World novel reads like a screenplay and even brings back a key character, who bought it in the first just so he could be a part of the movie. That said, it’s not the worst hunk of junk we’ve ever seen, but it certainly loses something along the way. Jurassic Park III followed four years after that and effectively closed the book on the franchise until 2015.
That’s when technology upgrades and a charming young cast made it possible to restore some of the original’s allure. The way to make a sequel to a long dormant franchise is to tie it to the original as much as possible, ignoring other materials that may have come after it. You want to lower the barrier to entry to an audience as much as possible, and that’s what Jurassic World did successfully. Unfortunately for fans of parts two and three, they had to go.
12. Jaws 3-D
Jaws 3-D would be, quite possibly, the worst film ever made if not for Jaws: The Revenge. The humorous irony in that fact is that Jaws: The Revenge tried revitalizing the drooping killer shark franchise by pretending that part three didn’t exist. In retrospect, Jaws: The Revenge would have probably been the one sequel that a hypothetical Jaws 5 killed off had it ever gotten the chance and only had the luxury of picking one.
Jaws 3-D is plagued with horrible FX and cheesy acting in spite of a cast that includes a young Dennis Quaid and the hugely in-demand (at the time) Louis Gossett, Jr. What is so hard to accept about how badly the film turned out is the highly talented writing team behind it: Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) and Carl Gottlieb (screenwriter of the original Jaws). Furthermore, director Joe Alves wasn’t exactly unfamiliar with a movie set, having headed up art direction on the original Jaws as well as critically acclaimed films such as The Sugarland Express. He’d spent enough time around Steven Spielberg to learn something — you might think — but alas, Jaws 3-D remains his only directorial effort for a reason.
11. Exorcist II: The Heretic
Oscar-nominated director John Boorman is no idiot. He has made a number of good-to-great films, including Excalibur, Deliverance, Hope and Glory, Where the Heart Is, and Beyond Rangoon. That’s what makes Exorcist II: The Heretic defy all explanation. From beginning to end, the film is a slick-looking exercise in incompetence. It’s as if he never knew the original existed, hated horror movies, and decided to do the film anyway.
The cast for this thing is truly phenomenal: Max von Sydow, James Earl Jones, Louise Fletcher, Richard Burton, and an older, matured Linda Blair (projectile vomiting Regan McNeil from the first film). It had everything going for it except good FX, a coherent story, and a director who seemed like he wanted to be there. The film is so bad that, depending on the theater it was exhibited in, audiences either writhed in laughter or threw things at the screen. Other hilarious stories associated with how piss-poor it turned out can be read here. (And you really should check it out. It’s glorious.)
While The Exorcist III would come out 13 years later and do much to revitalize the franchise, trouble over dueling prequels Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist and Exorcist: The Beginning would kibosh future attempts at gaining traction. But through it all, II is the only film that everyone likes to pretend doesn’t exist.
10. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
You’ve got to give A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge a little bit of credit for daring to be different. The film turned the “final girl” scenario on its head by making the main protagonist a teenage boy living in Nancy’s house from the original and running afoul of everyone’s favorite scarred maniac (Robert Englund). Other than that, the film plays to homosexual stereotypes, building an oddly dramatized relationship between Freddy and Jesse (Mark Patton) even while keeping both characters seemingly straight.
There are times when you’re not sure if you’re watching a politically progressive horror film or one that is grossly offensive.
We don’t really blame Wes Craven for not wanting anything to do with this and for stepping back in to right the ship with the superior trilogy of films that immediately followed. Craven, who was involved in the putting together of the third, fourth, and fifth entries, actually stepped back into the director’s chair for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which is the last proper film to be made about Freddy Krueger. Through all the incarnations, Freddy’s Revenge is the black sheep sequel the others dare not speak of.
9. Rocky V
If ever there was a Rocky film to disavow, it’s Rocky IV. Unfortunately, the one that more often gets disavowed is Rocky V. While the fourth film in the series is nothing more than a cheesy 90-minute long ’80s music video, it was nevertheless integral in setting up the critical darling Creed last year. Creed attempts to set itself apart as a new franchise and does so somewhat successfully. Even so, there are nods to each of the Rocky films throughout, save for the conspicuously absent fifth entry.
Look, we get it. Sly doesn’t fight in a ring at the end of V and he loses all the commercial success from III and IV, so as Rocky fans we must collectively revolt. But if you grow up a little bit and watch the movie for story — while ignoring Tommy Morrison’s atrocious acting — you’ll find a little gem of a movie that deserves more respect than it gets. Yes, we’re fans. That said, it’s safe to say in the “canon” of Rocky lore, this one, if not disowned entirely, is the crazy relative in the basement that no one wants to talk about.
8. American Pie Direct-To-Video Sequels
Of all the blatant cash-in attempts in the annals of bad sequels, no series does it better (or worse?) than American Pie. While the first three films — American Pie, American Pie 2 and American Wedding — were damn funny, the direct-to-video series completely crapped the bed with a string of yearly efforts that included the American Pie branding along with subtitles Band Camp, The Naked Mile, Beta House and The Book of Love.
Unlike the young cast from the first three films, the “stars” of these American Pie efforts did not see much of a career bounce as a result of their efforts. One thing the movies did manage to accomplish was to (somehow) get character actor standout Eugene Levy back as Jim’s dad in all four films, despite their deteriorating quality. (We’re thinking either truckloads of money or Rohypnol had something to do with it.) Thankfully, the old gang got back together in 2012 with American Reunion, thus effectively closing the books on the DTV series forever.
American Pie 5 is reportedly still in development, and is rumored to once again reunite the original cast for a Vegas vacation.
7. Alien vs. Predator, AVP: Requiem
Pairing the Aliens up against the Predators was a good idea in theory, but then some genius decided to condemn it with a PG-13 rating, effectively de-fanging creatures that, to that point, were brutally welcome additions to horror’s who’s who. Ridley Scott and Robert Rodriguez tried pulling both series out of their funks with Prometheus and Predators, respectively. While Prometheus was interesting enough, Predators was actual fun. In both cases, we were just happy to remove the cancerous tumors of those two “versus” films.
Before saying the last of what needs to be said about the short-lived Alien vs. Predator series, we do feel that some kudos are in order to AVP: Requiem for attempting to restore the harder-edged violence of both franchises. If only it had likable characters and a story that went somewhere interesting, we might have been able to get behind this franchise for another film.
6. Highlander II: The Quickening
Following the surprise success of Highlander, director Russell Mulcahy revisited the series five years later with what many consider to be one of the worst films ever made, Highlander II: The Quickening. The Rotten Tomatoes score of 0% (critics) and 22% (audience) tells you about all you need to know regarding why this film flopped as hard as it did. A later “renegade version” received some appreciation, but it was hardly embraced. By the time Highlander III: The Sorcerer came along, most were all too happy to pretend this thing was a bad dream, and the third film did little to improve upon things.
It wasn’t until the television series came around that people started developing an appreciation for the franchise again, and with Highlander: Endgame, the fourth film in the series, efforts were actually made to bring together the movie hero (Christopher Lambert) and the small-screen dude (Adrian Paul) for an epic one-on-one duel. Unfortunately, all that it proved is that Highlander works better on the small screen.
5. X-Men 3: The Last Stand
Ah time-travel, what would we do without ya? With Star Trek, you gave us Kirk and Spock back while keeping their old series memories intact; and with X-Men, you helped negate the worst part of the film franchise.
You could call us cheats for including X-Men 3: The Last Stand in the sense that its presence is still very much felt in other X-Men movies. That’s fair. But when X-Men: Days of Future Past did the necessary heavy lifting for removing the impact of that dud of a film, we heard the message loud and clear. Fox was apologizing to the fans and finally making the decision they should have before ever releasing the film in the first place — scrapping every single thing that happened and opening up new story possibilities.
Sure, it was the very definition of a copout, but sometimes you have to cheat in order to win, and we were just glad to be rid of it. Perhaps now we’ll get the Dark Phoenix storyline we deserve?
4. Jason X
The Friday the 13th films possess an interesting lineage. Everything is rollicking along fine until part nine, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Then things get weird. Never one to appreciate the art of symbolism, New Line doesn’t settle on sending ol’ Hockey Mask to a metaphorical hell. They send him there literally, teasing us with a final image of Freddy’s glove retrieving Jason’s mask before the two are whisked away underground (off-screen) to the fiery depths.
The company would eventually pay off this tease with Freddy vs. Jason, matching the two movie bad guys against one another in an oddly entertaining bloodbath that brought the teens of Elm Street and Camp Crystal Lake together for one knock-down, drag-out film that served as a simultaneous sequel to both franchises. Sandwiched in between FvJ, however, was Jason X, where we fast forward several years into the future and a research vessel discovers Jason preserved in ice. Once he thaws out, we’re basically looking at the world’s dumbest Alien movie with about a fraction of the budget. No wonder this isn’t considered canon. Jason went from a 1980s/’90s summer camp to Blade Runner in a single film!
3. T3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation
If you’re going to disown a sequel or two, T3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator: Salvation might make great options provided that you’re not going to do it with Terminator: Genisys as your new standard-bearer for canon-related activities. We’re pretty certain that Genisys will go the way of the dinosaur in another few years, as its disappointing critical and box office reception make the Terminator series ripe for yet another reboot. In the meantime, we have to live with the knowledge that this is the new gold standard.
Terminator: Genisys highlights the problem with any film or TV series that relies too heavily on time-travel for storytelling. If you can just continually manipulate time to avoid unwanted repercussions, then what is the damn point of telling the story in the first place? In predictable fashion, Genisys manages to justify itself by sending Sgt. Kyle Reese back to 1984 yet again, this time in order to protect Sarah Connor (wait, haven’t we already seen this before? Oh yes, it was called simply Terminator).
2. Universal Soldier: The Return
We live in a world where there are six Universal Soldier films. Your guess is as good as ours as to how that’s even possible. Nevertheless, they do exist, though they’re not all in agreement over what is canon and what isn’t. For starters, there were two direct-to-video sequels made in conjunction with Showtime and The Movie Channel entitled Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. You might think since they get the roman numeral treatment that they are set in stone, but that’s not the case. Why? Because producers were able to get the original cast back for Universal Soldier: The Return.
However, in unprecedented botchamania, the anticipated reboot removed key characters in Luc’s (Van Damme’s) past, gave him a daughter, and stripped him of his “universal soldier” standing. It was subsequently disowned by Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. So to sum up, The Return is the only film to clearly be negated by subsequent films in the series, but there is reasonable cause to think II and III are black sheep as well. One thing all share in common: they’re awful.
1. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
Yes, we know that Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd is by the strictest definition a prequel, but in spirit, it’s meant to continue the series, so we’ll include it here. It does what it does in the worst possible way — by removing pretty much everything that made the first movie work, including the lead actors. The plot follows Harry and Lloyd during their years in high school and wages much of its success chances on two young and unproven actors in Derek Richardson and Eric Christian Olsen. It’s a lot to ask, and they don’t exactly rise to the occasion.
Padding his numbers as the actor in the most bad comedies, Eugene Levy makes an appearance here to go along with his horrific turns in the American Pie DTV franchise (refer back to No. 8). For all its faults, Dumb and Dumberer isn’t quite the disaster of those films, but it is as bad as the critics said. Dumb and Dumber To closed the books on this travesty (with yet another travesty, unfortunately).
Whew. That’s a lot of disowned sequels, readers. What did we forget, and are there any assessments above that you vehemently disagree with us on? We want to hear it. Sound off in the comments section.
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