Since the early days of Hollywood and the general industry that was filmmaking, sequels haven’t been too uncommon. They’ve existed in literature, so, of course, they could exist in the then-new medium of motion pictures. Some of the most famous films of the 1930s had sequels galore, whether they were monster movies, comedies, or thrillers. And the goal then was essentially the goal now: make money off something people know already.
When well-known movies get sequels, it’s almost always noteworthy for one reason or the other. If those sequels are lucky, people will remember them just as fondly as the first film. However, there also exists a stranger realm where sequels to films you know and love exist, but are never talked about. In fact, most, if not all, of the films on this will probably surprise you.
We made sure that the entries were so off radar that they’re never uttered even within the same paragraph as the originals. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all of the movies on this list are bad, but as you’ll also see, some of them stay forgotten for a reason.
Here are 16 Movies You Had No Idea Had Sequels.
16 American Psycho 2
Based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel, American Psycho has mostly remained popular as a pitch-black horroresque satire on late ‘80’s Yuppie culture.
Starring Christian Bale, the film has managed to worm its way into the hearts of many film fans, whether it’s the quotable dialogue, the slasher film elements, or the aforementioned satire (the latter of which has also garnered it critical appraisal).
It was a short two years later that American Psycho 2 was birthed, a direct-to-video film that began life as the unrelated The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die. Starring Mila Kunis and featuring William Shatner, the film was understandably panned by critics; Kunis herself was embarrassed by the end result, stating that when she signed up for the film, it was something else entirely, bearing no relation to American Psycho.
For these reasons, it’s unsurprising so few are even aware of the movie’s existence.
15 Jarhead - 2 & 3
Based on the memoir of the same name, Jarhead is a war film that doesn’t really focus on warfare too much. Instead, it focuses on the day-to-day mundane that many soldiers face. The film was mostly well received, but didn’t seem to be a hit with audiences, due to trailers and marketing not letting audiences in on the film’s true nature.
It then may come as a surprise to learn that two sequels came out, albeit direct-to-video. Released nine years after the first, Jarhead 2: Field of Fire had nothing to do with the original film; same with the film that came two years later, Jarhead 3: The Siege.
Instead of introspective, these films are the polar opposite of the first film. With the absence of visionary director Sam Mendes, these flicks became generic war films about soldiers doing things soldiers in movies often do: extracting people from the “bad guys.”
14 Donnie Darko - S. Darko
Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko came out in 2001, and became a cult classic almost instantly, with its bizarre time travel-laden plot, coming-of-age story line, and nightmarish man in a rabbit costume. While Richard Kelly has only managed to make two other films since then (both financial and critical failure), Donnie Darko has endured and remains popular within its circle of fans.
So where did S. Darko come from, and why are you just hearing about it? For starters, Kelly had nothing to do with it, but he had relinquished rights to the property by this point. This sequel was directed by Chris Fisher (an admirer of the first film) and written by Nathan Atkins.
The film’s script followed Donnie’s sister Samantha (still played by Daveigh Chase) who starts to experience things of the supernatural variety, not unlike her older brother before her. Released direct-to-video, the film was, for the most, panned by just about everyone and Kelly himself refuses to see it.
13 Psycho - II, III, & IV
Few know that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was based on a novel by Robert Bloch. Just as few know that there were not one, not two, but three sequels to Psycho. And all four films star Anthony Perkins as the disturbed Norman Bates.
About twenty-two years after the first film came Psycho II, which was unrelated to the recently released novel of the same name by the first book’s original author. It has Norman Bates return back to society, only to succumb to his previous psychological problems. To the surprise of many, the film received some positive reviews for being a better-than-expected slasher.
Psycho III came out three years later, and was even directed by Perkins; it was, however, a financial failure. Finally there’s Psycho IV: The Beginning, a made-for-television film that premiered on Showtime in 1990. This film was actually written by the first film’s screenwriter, Joseph Stefano, who ignored II and III in his script.
12 Carrie - The Rage: Carrie 2
Horror movies have a funny habit of starting as one thing and ending up as another. Originally under different titles and inspired by a 1990s sex scandal, The Rage: Carrie 2 tells the story of Carrie’s half-sister using her supernatural powers to take down those that have wronged her.
While it may sound very much like the Brian De Palma original on the surface, one was more a high school drama with supernatural elements, whereas this film essentially took a horror premise and slapped a popular name on it.
Unlike nearly every other horror film on this list, Carrie 2 actually received a theatrical release from a major studio in 1999. As might be expected, the film was not a success in any way, receiving negative reviews and box office returns all around.
What’s even more humorous is the film finally received a Blu-ray release in 2015, courtesy of Scream Factory… but only as a double feature with the 2002 TV version of Carrie.
11 Lost Boys: The Tribe and Lost Boys: The Thirst
A horror comedy from the late 1980s, Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys tells the story of brothers who move to California and encounter the titular "lost boys,” who, as it turns out, are vampires. While the film wasn’t exactly a critical darling, it garnered a following in the years since, whether it’s for the vampire angle (which presented more youthful undead) or the fact that both Coreys (Haim and Feldman) are in it.
About twenty years later, two direct-to-video sequels were released: The Tribe in 2008 and The Thirst in 2010. While both films had Corey Feldman return, original director Schumacher had nothing to do with them.
Both sequels were critically panned, but The Tribe did make back its production cost in its first three weeks of release, setting a record for a direct-to-DVD release.
10 1o. 2001: A Space Odyssey - 2010: The Year We Make Contact
An odd example on this list, 2010 is indeed a sequel to the acclaimed 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it’s also based on the novel 2010: Odyssey Two. The first film was co-written by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, with the latter making the novel that was published shortly after the film’s release. Clarke later made a sequel novel (the titular 2010), and as can be expected, it was offered to be made into a movie. Kubrick declined, so it was written, produced, and directed by Peter Hyams.
Not many know 2001 even had a book accompaniment, so even fewer know this sequel (or its source material) exists. Starring Roy Scheider, the movie (obviously) takes place nine years after the first and explores what happened to the crew as seen in 2001. The film didn’t have nearly the same impact as the first, and has mostly disappeared into minor obscurity. Even so, the film has its fans, and Roger Ebert himself said that, while it’s not 2001, it’s still a solid science-fiction film.
9 More American Graffiti
One of George Lucas’s earliest films, American Graffiti is a coming-of-age film from 1973 set in 1962, which examines the rock and roll and car culture of the era. With Lucas using his past experiences as fodder for narrative, the film has no central plot but instead follows a group of recent high school grads as they spend one final night together before going their separate ways.
Released in 1979, More American Graffiti sought to outline in detail what happened to these characters a few years later. Taking place over four years, the film starred most of the same cast, but was written and directed by Bill L. Norton, who was handpicked by Lucas himself. Lucas also edited the screenplay, served as executive producer, and even played camera man for the film’s Vietnam sequences. However, the film was not a financial or critical success.
8 Chinatown - The Two Jakes
Written by Robert Towne and directed by Roman Polanksi, Chinatown has gone down as one of the most acclaimed neo-noir films of all-time, not to mention its critically acclaimed screenplay. Starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, the film was set in the early 20th century and dealt with mystery and conspiracy in the “small town” of Los Angeles.
Over fifteen years later, a sequel, written by Towne, was finally released. Titled The Two Jakes, the film starred and was directed by Jack Nicholson and featured a mostly new cast.
The film was supposed to come out a little bit sooner, but had a troubled production, which is one reason why Nicholson took on the reigns as director. The Two Jakes not receive a positive reception and was not a financial success, so a planned third film was cancelled.
7 The French Connection II
An important film of the New Hollywood era, The French Connection was directed by William Friedkin, based on a non-fiction book about a real drug trafficking scheme and the NYPD cops who tried to put an end to it.
The film itself was fictionalized and starred Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider as the cops in question. Featuring a landmark car chase and being the first R-rated film to win the Academy Award’s Best Picture award, the film has remained a standout of 1970s cinema.
Four years later, a sequel was released, forthrightly titled The French Connection II. Unlike the first film, this was entirely fiction, with the only returning actors being Hackman and Fernando Rey. Because the last film ends rather abruptly, the sequel has Hackman’s character going to France to track down the villain of the first film who has escaped.
The sequel was directed by John Frenkenheimer (another notable filmmaker of the era) and received a mostly positive reception.
6 Scanners - II & III
Released in 1981, Scanners is David Cronenberg’s science-fiction horror-spy film about a race of people who can, quite miraculously, make people’s heads explode, along with read their thoughts. While a somewhat early film in his catalog, it’s maintained a following and is popular among fans of the director and genre.
Ten years later (and without the involvement of anyone who made the first film) came Scanners II: The New Order. This film dealt with a police commissioner taking control of the titular Scanners for the sake of taking over a city.
One year later, a new sequel with a new plot and new characters (but the same director and writer) was released, entitled Scanners III: The Takeover. It probably goes without saying that neither of these two films holds a candle to the still well-regarded original.
5 Airplane - II: The Sequel
Airplane! is a fairly well-known and popular comedy film, made by both Zucker brothers (David and Jerry) and Jim Abrahams. Its jokes, gags, dialogue, and overall sense of parody have remained in the pop culture, standing as classic examples in their genre. In short, there’s not much more than that can be said about one of the most critically acclaimed films of the 1980s.
About two years later came the humorously titled Airplane II: The Sequel. Since both films star Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty, one might think they’re equally good and memorable… but if that were true, you’d probably had heard of this sequel in the first place.
While the first film spoofed disaster films, this one had a sci-fi spin and was written and directed by Ken Finkleman, with zero involvement from either the Zuckers or Abrahams. Also, in case you were curious, many critics and fans agree that the sequel isn’t anywhere near as funny as the first film.
4 The Odd Couple II
Based on the play of the same name (and written by the same playwright, Neil Simon), The Odd Couple was released in 1968 and stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as two divorced men who decide to room together, even though they have completely opposite personalities. It was fairly big hit and spawned the very popular 1970s television show.
However, it may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that there was a sequel… thirty years later. Still written by Simon, The Odd Couple II holds the distinction of having the same leads (Lemmon and Matthau) for a sequel with a thirty year gap.
In this film, the two reunite for the wedding of their respective son and daughter, and as can be expected, still clash. While it being written and produced by Simon should have helped, the film was not a critical or financial success, and it was one of the very last films either Lemmon or Matthau ever worked on.
3 Cocoon - The Return
Released in 1985 and directed by Ron Howard (after original director Robert Zemeckis was fired), Cocoon tells the simple and relatable story of elderly retired people in Florida discovering a way to be rejuvenated as young folk again. It was a success all around that year (which also saw the release of the aforementioned Zemeckis’ hit Back to the Future), and has endured as a well-liked film of its era.
Then came Cocoon: The Return, a short three years later. While Howard didn’t come back to direct it and the screenwriter was different, the entire starring cast reprised their roles from the last film.
However, as might not be too much of a surprise, this sequel was not a critical or financial success. While many would say it was fine, it was essentially the first film all over again, right down to the soundtrack.
2 Caddyshack II
Not unlike Airplane!, and released in the same year (1980), Caddyshack is one of the most popular comedies of the 1980s and still garners acclaim to this day, whether it’s from the American Film Institute or ESPN. The story of a golf club and the weird & wacky shenanigans that go down there has remained a staple of comedy in the years since its release— oh, and it was a (financial) hit at the time, too.
After the success of the first film, the film’s director and co-writer, Harold Ramis, got calls from execs asking for a sequel, but he didn’t want to. Pressure then had him work on a script; casting and directorial drop outs caused him to finally drop out himself, except he couldn’t take his name off the script.
While Chevy Chase was the only actor to reprise his role for the sequel, the film had some new actors that basically played the same type of characters from the first film. At the end of the day, the film was a commercial and critical flop.
1 The Gods Must Be Crazy - II, III, IV, & V
Produced, written, and directed by Jamie Uys, The Gods Must Be Crazy holds the distinction of being the most successful film in South Africa’s film industry. The film starred N!xau, an actual Namibian San farmer, as a man tasked with removing an unknown and otherworldly artifact from his village: an empty Coke bottle. The film was a massive success, not only in South Africa, but the also the US and Japan.
About nine years later came The Gods Must Be Crazy II, also written and directed by Jamie Uys, which is the only official sequel to the original film. We say “official” because, even more obscure than II, there’s also III, IV, and V.
Each of these three sequels (Crazy Safari, Crazy Hong Kong, and The Gods Must Be Funny in China) was produced in Hong Kong, filmed in Cantonese, and starred N!xau.
Have you seen any of these forgotten sequels? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!