Sequels and franchises rule the box office. Chances are that if the box office isn’t currently being dominated by a blockbuster sequel, it soon will be. Studios go out of their way to advertise these titles and make sure that every living person and their dog knows that Sequel To That Thing You Liked is coming soon.
Not all sequels are as well publicized. Thanks to the surprisingly buoyant DVD/VOD market, unless you actively seek them out, you probably wouldn’t be aware that some well-known movies have already had follow-up films made. Allow us to save the you the trouble of digging through bargain bins as we present the 15 Direct-to-DVD Sequels That You’ve Never Heard Of.
15. Jingle All The Way 2 (2014)
Jingle All The Way has gained notoriety since its release in 1996, and has moved into guilty pleasure territory for a lot of people. Whilst it was met with critical hostility, there’s something to be said for Arnold Schwarzenegger running around after a Turbo Man doll, butting heads with Sinbad and generally overacting his Austrian pecs off.
Jingle All The Way 2 doesn’t even have the Schwarzenegger charm going for it. Produced by WWE Studios, this bizarre sequel stars Larry the Cable Guy and ex-WWE comedy wrestler Santino Marella. The plot revolves around Larry’s daughter, Noel, who wants a “Harrison Bear” for Christmas. Larry and Noel’s new stepfather, Victor, vie for Noel’s attention and compete to see who can give her the best Christmas. A silly premise combined with a wholly unlikable cast makes this film as guaranteed to spoil your holidays as your drunk uncle.
14. Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (2011)
Based on writer John Grogan’s autobiographical tale of life with his badly behaved dog, Marley & Me came out in 2008 and starred Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. It set a (since surpassed) Christmas box office record, grossing $14.75 million on its first day of release alone, eventually notching an impressive $242 million worldwide haul.
It should be no surprise that a follow-up film exists to cash-in on such success. The Puppy Years is a prequel that…get ready for it…features a talking Marley. Instead of a reflection on human life via the years spent with a dog like the first, it’s basically every kids’ movie ever. It’s got wacky shenanigans and quirk coming out of its fuzzy little ears. As with most low-effort films, the plot revolves around a contest. Will the young Bodi Grogan be able to get Marley to behave to win the dog championship? Why is the dog suddenly talking? Will you care? Almost certainly not.
13. Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective (2009)
The original Ace Ventura: Pet Detective helped catapult Jim Carrey to superstardom as part of his hugely successful run of films in 1994 which made up the three-pronged attack with Dumb and Dumber and The Mask. It was a great showcase for his rubber-faced antics and proved to be a box-office hit, and a sequel, When Nature Calls, also proved to be a massive financial success when it was released the following year.
Striking while the iron had long since cooled and gathered dust in the corner, the decision was made to make a third official Ace Ventura film fourteen years later, this time with more of a kid focus. Josh Flitter plays Ace’s son, Ace Jr., and gets involved in a plot to save his mother from going to jail for a crime she didn’t commit. Ace Jr. must also track down the missing pets of his classmates for…reasons. It features a child actor doing a terrible Jim Carrey impression for 90 minutes. It’s exactly as bad as you might imagine, plus several degrees worse.
12. American Psycho 2 (2002)
American Psycho is considered by many to be a modern horror/black comedy classic. An adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel, the film is best known for Christian Bale’s charismatic turn as investment banker Patrick Bateman. Bateman is a typical materialistic ’80s man who enjoys discussing pop music, comparing business cards, group sex, torture and murder.
Two years after the original made a splash, American Psycho 2: All American Girl squelched out onto VHS and DVD, starring Mila Kunis and William Shatner. Starting life as a completely different script, the film was cynically repackaged and changed so that the story has fleeting mentions of Bateman. The movie mostly focuses on Kunis’ Rachael Newman, a college criminology student obsessed with becoming the teaching assistant to Shatner’s Professor Starkman, believing it will get her closer to her dream job working for the FBI. Facing stiff competition for the role, Rachael turns her competition to stiffs, murdering her way to the top. Critics panned the movie unanimously. Since then, Mila Kunis has admitted to being embarrassed by it and original author Ellis distanced himself from it, stating that if the studio wasn’t careful, they’d “end up with something like the Pink Panther movies.”
11. The Dr. Dolittle series (2006, 2008, 2009)
Eddie Murphy starred in the 1998 loose remake of the classic 1967 Rex Harrison musical about a doctor who can talk to and understand animals. “Loose” being the key term there, as the film had no singing numbers like the original, but it did have Chris Rock as a guinea pig, so there’s that. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a decently-sized hit and the sequel, Dr. Dolittle 2, also did good business at the box office.
Murphy stepped away from the series, but that didn’t stop the enterprising people in the “non-theatrical” business. Kyla Pratt, the young actress who played Dolittle’s daughter Maya in the first two films, stepped up to head 2006’s Dr. Dolittle 3, where she also starts hearing animal voices. 2008’s Dr Dolittle: Tail to the Chief has Maya help the President’s dog and also somehow save a rainforest, whereas 2009’s Million Dollar Mutts has Maya tempted by the glamour of Hollywood life when she is offered her own TV show. None of these sequels were reviewed particularly well, but surely you could have guessed that yourself. Mercifully, we’re going on seven years without another sequel, so it looks like the series has finally gone the way of Old Yeller.
10. Tooth Fairy 2 (2012)
In case you blanked the movie out, Tooth Fairy was a 2010 “comedy” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It happened in a brief, but scary period of The Rock’s career where he’d left wrestling behind and seemed to be stuck doing kids’ films. The basic joke was “Here’s a muscular alpha male, let’s give him wings and dress him up like a fairy.” Despite the justified negative reviews, the film made bank, which could only mean…
Tooth Fairy 2 was released two years later, this time starring Larry the Cable Guy. Much like Jingle All The Way 2, the main character happens to be named Larry and he lives in a trailer. Both movies were also directed by Alex Zamm. The plot is basically the same: our lead is found guilty of telling a child the tooth fairy isn’t real and is summoned by actual tooth fairies and forced to spend time as one. As unfunny as the first film ended up being, Tooth Fairy 2 is the joke equivalent of a Dementor from Harry Potter. You won’t only not laugh, but you’ll feel that you’ll never be able to laugh again.
9. S. Darko (2009)
Donnie Darko flopped when it was first released in 2001, only being granted limited screenings in its first U.S. run, where the film barely scraped past $500,000 at the box office. However, the people who did manage to see it loved it with a true fever, and the film soon attracted a fanbase. Midnight screenings at the Pioneer Theater in Manhattan’s East Village went on for 28 consecutive months, only stopping for the release of the director’s cut. By the time the film came out in the United Kingdom, critical praise and strong word of mouth ensured that it made a healthy amount at the box-office. Strong home video sales meant that Donnie Darko eventually found its audience and became a bona fide cult hit.
S. Darko was released straight-to-DVD eight years later. Despite Donnie Darko telling a complete story with a memorable ending, S. Darko felt it needed to tell the story of Donnie’s sister Samantha, set ten years after the first film. The only real link between the two is the fact that Daveigh Chase reprises her role from the original. S. Darko ended up being a pale copy of the events of Donnie Darko, with none of the themes or meaning that made the first one such a hit with audiences. You’ll be praying for multiple jet engines to fall from the sky after the first five minutes.
8. 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010)
The original 30 Days of Night, based on the comic series of the same name, had a great hook. The small and isolated town of Barrow, Alaska is beset by vampires as the area’s month-long polar night means that they can hunt and feed during that time without having to avoid the lethal sunlight. Whilst it received mixed reviews, the film gained its own following amongst the horror community, who responded to the unique setting and atmosphere.
Dark Days is based on the comic’s sequel and was co-written by the writer Steve Niles. It performed poorly with reviewers, who criticised the generic story and predictable plot elements. Instead of telling a contained story in an unconventional setting, Dark Days takes Stella Oleson (Kiele Sanchez, replacing Melissa George) to Los Angeles and makes her a vampire hunter. Like most direct-to-DVD sequels, it manages to be both run-of-the-mill and boring. It’s a mixture of Buffy and Blade, but without any discernable purpose for existing.
7. The Jarhead series (2014, 2016)
Sam Mendes’ Jarhead came out in 2005 with an aim to realistically portray the life of a Marine during the first Gulf War. The film is based on U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford’s memoir recounting his experiences. It’s probably best described as an “inaction movie” as the film concentrates on the punishing sense of boredom and isolation that Marines felt during the conflict, hence its memorable tagline, “Welcome to the suck.”
Jarhead 2: Field of Fire is a sequel in name only. It isn’t even about the same war, with focus being shifted from the ’90s Persian Gulf War to the more modern Afghanistan conflict. None of the characters carry over either. Whereas the original Jarhead is more of an examination of war and the people that fight in it, Jarhead 2 is more of a branded action movie with plenty of gunfights and explosions, which seems to be a big divergence from the point of the original. Jarhead 2 follows a group of Marines that run into Navy SEALs who are escorting “a high-value package.” The Marines must then join with the SEALs to protect the package at all costs. Reviews were pretty harsh, but it must have found a market somewhere, because Jarhead 3: The Siege is slated for home media release later in 2016.
6. Save The Last Dance 2 (2006)
Save the Last Dance was a pretty big deal back in 2001. It starred then-hottest thing Julia Stiles and told the story of Sara, a wannabe ballerina who has her life flipped upside down when her supportive mother dies on her way to see her dance. Sara moves in with her father in the Chicago ghetto and has to go to school where she’s one of very few white pupils. She gains friends and learns a more urban style of dance. It’s basically like The Last Samurai meets Step Up.
Ignoring the common sense that dictates that no film that has the word “last” in the title should ever need a number on the end, Save the Last Dance 2 hit DVD shelves in 2006. The sequel again follows the character of Sara Johnson, this time played by Izabella Miko, who got into Juilliard and faces an arduous year of ballet classes. The reviews weren’t great, but that wasn’t what irked fans the most. The first film depicted the struggles that Sara and Sean Patrick Thomas’ Derek go through thanks to their relationship. In the sequel, Derek’s absence is explained away as it not working out. The sequel undoes the happy ending of the original, which is never a good idea.
5. Mean Girls 2 (2011)
It’s tough to follow up something as sharply written as Mean Girls. The Tina Fey-scripted film was released in 2004 to rave reviews. It was both funny and insightful, thanks in part to being based on a non-fiction self-help book by Rosalind Wiseman called Queen Bees & Wannabes.
Mean Girls 2 has no interest in any of that. It goes for a younger audience than the first and picks up on the superficial elements of the first — like the inclusion of “The Plastics,” the group of popular girls — but doesn’t do anything new. At all. The plot is a basic retread of the first, making it more of a low quality remake than anything else. Mean Girls took the high school setting and played with the genre. Mean Girls 2 on the other hand, is just a standard high school movie complete with cliches. It’s so not fetch.
4. Road House 2: Last Call (2006)
Like many of the original films on this list, 1989’s Road House is considered by many to be a cult classic. Patrick Swayze starred as Dalton, a bouncer who is hired to take over security at The Double Deuce, a roadside bar in Missouri. However, Dalton ends up protecting the small town of Jasper from a corrupt businessman, Brad Wesley, who has owns most of it. Cue plenty of bar fighting and pool cue breaking.
Road House 2 follows Dalton’s adult son Shane as he temporarily steps into his father’s shoes and takes over a Louisiana bar called The Black Pelican. It’s a poor rehash of the first one, although it does have an interesting subplot in which Shane is looking for his father’s murderer. Sorry, Road House fans, but it turns out that after Dalton decided he liked his new life, stayed in Missouri and the credits rolled, he was shot dead in between films.
3. The Scorpion King series (2008, 2012, 2015)
The lineage of the Scorpion King films is amazing. They are sequels to a spin-off prequel (The Scorpion King) to a sequel (The Mummy Returns) of a remake (The Mummy). Who said Hollywood is running out of ideas? The small role of The Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns was the start of a long and ongoing acting career of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He got his own action spin-off in 2002 that proved to be a moderately-sized hit.
The Scorpion King films have quietly continued on DVD, unbeknownst to most film fans. The first, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, is a prequel to the original film and stars Michael Copon as Mathayus and retired UFC fighter Randy Couture as the bad guy. It wasn’t well reviewed. The Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption is a sequel to the original film and focuses on Mathayus after he has become the Scorpion King. It surprisingly has some recognisable stars like Ron Perlman, Billy Zane, Dave Bautista, Temuera Morrison and Kelly Hu. However, the quality was worse still, and Zane wore the worst wig of his career (while Perlman wore his best). Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power was released in 2015 to similarly confused shrugs.
2. The Lost Boys Series (2008, 2010)
You can’t get much more quintessentially ’80s than 1987’s The Lost Boys. It’s a fun horror comedy that stars Jason Patric, both Coreys (Feldman and Haim) and Kiefer Sutherland. It has, somewhat fittingly, aged well and gained, you guessed it, a cult following.
Released a massive 21 years later, Lost Boys: The Tribe finally landed on DVD. By all accounts, it’s some slapped-together vampire nonsense. Despite hugely negative reviews (and a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), The Tribe broke direct-to-DVD records, making its budget back in three weeks and selling millions of copies. In a move that will shock no one, Lost Boys: The Thirst was released in 2010. It also rocked a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, but didn’t do nearly as well.
1. The Starship Troopers series (2004, 2008, 2012)
Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 schlocky war flick Starship Troopers deals with humanity fighting giant alien bugs in the future. It’s needlessly gory, contains pointless nudity, and contains other fun stuff too. It’s a lot smarter than people give it credit for, as it reteamed Verhoeven with his Robocop scribe Edward Neumeier. The script has the same level of satire and self-awareness that Robocop had baked into it, and is only now starting to be re-evaluated.
Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation was the first of several ill-advised sequel. It tried to tell a smaller story with more horror elements about a new group of troopers making a stand on a desolate patch of land, fighting overwhelming numbers of bugs with no hope of backup or extraction. Despite being written by Neumeier, the script has none of the satire or intelligence the first one had and was poorly reviewed. For Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, they brought back Casper Van Dien to reprise his role as Johnny Rico, making it one of the very few direct-to-DVD movies to bring back the original lead. Now a colonel, Rico leads a group of elite troopers known as The Marauders on a rescue mission. Ed Neumeier pulled double duty and both wrote and directed Marauder, which while still not near the quality of the first, it has its fans. The fourth adventure, Starship Troopers: Invasion, is a fully computer animated film. Looking like a feature-length cutscene from a bad video game without the option to skip, Invasion didn’t do itself any favors with stiff animation and a leaden script.
Did we miss any of your favorite bargain bin treasures? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.