Sequels to successful films often walk a fine line between tiresome retreading or redefining the expansion of a brewing franchise. Whichever side of the spectrum the sequel falls upon, a franchise's third installment is often chastised like an inferior sibling that was kept in the attic and fed fish-heads. If a third sequel follows two successful films, it has tremendous expectations.
If it follows an unsuccessful sequel, it is welded to that sequel's troubled reputation. Third installments to franchises are often established on rocky terrain from their inception. However, there do exist good to even superb third installments that do not get the recognition they deserve. Here are The Terrible Threes: Top 10 Underrated Part 3 Sequels.
10 Army Of Darkness
Sam Raimi's Evil Dead franchise has found enormous amounts of success since the original film's 1981 release. It's a household name now. That is where Army Of Darkness' troubles begin. It is often overlooked due to its title not being Evil Dead III or even Medieval Dead. Also, the recognized pop-culture concepts of the franchise were truly established in Evil Dead II. Audiences seem to overlook Ash Williams' journey to the medieval era. He is entrenched within a civil war between Eric the Red and Lord Arthur, all the while they're terrorized by looming deadites. Army Of Darkness is a classic hero's journey laced with a fish out of water plot.
9 Batman Forever
Batman Forever is not Batman & Robin. The nuclear fallout to the subsequent sequel usually taints the effort showcased within Batman Forever. Joel Schumacher's first addition to the Batman franchise managed to establish and develop the character of Bruce Wayne.
The psychology of Bruce Wayne is finally explored through his encounters as a foster-father to Dick Grayson, the turmoil of his dual identity, and his relationship with the psychologist, Dr. Chase Meridian. This is often overlooked due to Schumacher's questionable aesthetic choices. In all honesty, it's better to observe character development and Academy Award-nominated cinematography over bat-nipples.
Nimród Antal's Predators sadly suffered from a franchise bogged down by exhausting crossover films. Two unsuccessful Alien vs. Predator films truly dragged both franchises through the mud of mediocrity. 2010's Predators attempted a return to the roots of the original Predator franchise. This sequel to Predator 2 turned the franchise upside down with its new and interesting concept.
The Predator race abducts the deadliest Earthlings to utilize as hunting game on their planet. These abducted combatants must adapt to their alien surroundings while fending off Predators and the dangers of the terrain. This third installment to the original Predator franchise is worthy of capping a trilogy.
7 Rocky III
The Rocky franchise has its peaks and valleys, and not everyone agrees on which is which. Rocky III was the catalyst and turning point to that subjective chasm. This film is a cartoon with snippets of character moments. Some audiences may enjoy that while others may not. The emotional hook is the father-son relationship between Rocky Balboa, a boxer, and Mickey Goldmill, his trainer. That warm sentiment is usually overshadowed by Mr. T's grunts, a Hulk Hogan appearance, and an awesomely cheesy workout anthem to the tune of a feline's vision. Rocky III is still a story revolving around a character who has lost his way and must fight to regain his humility.
6 Tales From The Darkside: The Movie AKA Creepshow 3
Anthology films are often safe havens for short stories with an impact. EC Horror comics like Tales From The Crypt were immense influences on the Creepshow franchise. The first two installments had Night Of The Living Dead's George A. Romero in some form of the creative drive behind the films.
Tales From The Darkside: The Movie was originally the third installment to the franchise. This film is worthy of being considered the best of the franchise. A majority of that praise is derived from the impactful four short stories that culminate in a versatile film. This is one of the best anthology films ever made. Watch it.
5 A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors
The slasher genre's golden era was truly in the 1980s. The quality of any slasher franchise's sequels can differ throughout the decade. A Nightmare On Elm Street often had a better track record with its sequels than most slasher franchises. In 1987, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was released and established Freddy Krueger as a pop culture phenomenon. Chuck Russell's direction and Robert Englund's performance solidified the presence of the dream intruding child murderer. This third installment dictated as to what audiences would anticipate from the rest of the franchise. One-liners drenched within the creative aesthetics of nightmare set pieces.
4 Halloween III: Season Of The Witch
The benefit of hindsight is what usually garners a cult following for an underappreciated film. That truly defines the newfound resurgence of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch. This film carried the sacred curse of being greenlit because it was a Halloween sequel and being ridiculed because it was a Halloween sequel. The film's premise of a local doctor's attempt to stop a mask-making tycoon's unholy sacrifice on Halloween night is a far cry from the franchise's slasher genre roots. This film does not revolve around Michael Myers, the knife-wielding maniac now well associated with the Halloween franchise. This third installment's abandonment and noticeable differences from the rest of the franchise has brought it some well-deserved attention.
3 The Exorcist III
The Exorcist III had a troubled history within its franchise. The Exorcist was one of the most successful films ever made. Its sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic, was a bloated film that was pulled from theaters due to its horrendous quality. The Exorcist III truly was a sequel that nobody wanted. However, to its benefit, William Peter Blatty, writer of the original screenplay and novel, returned as a screenwriter and now at the helm as director. This sequel follows Lieutenant Kinderman, played by George C. Scott, during a crisis of faith while he comes across the heinous crimes of the Gemini Killer, played by both Brad Dourif and a returning Jason Miller. This sequel is superb in every aspect and deserves more praise.
2 Day Of The Dead
Following two groundbreaking films is an immense task to live up to. George A. Romero's Day Of The Dead had that river to cross and unfortunately got swept up in it in 1985. His original film Night Of The Living Dead mirrored the issues plaguing the 1960s and it was also a new film of its kind. His sequel Dawn Of The Dead was molded by its colorful aesthetic, soundtrack, and social commentary regarding the consumerism of the 1970s. Day Of The Dead had much more of a nihilistic tone and defeated message in regards to the era it was made in, the 1980s. It was extremely different from its predecessors. Hindsight has given this sequel a newfound resurgence due in part its relatable tone of today's era.
1 Alien 3
David Fincher's feature film debut was one that toiled in controversy. Following the footsteps of filmmakers, Ridley Scott and James Cameron is a feat almost nobody can reach. Alien 3 depressingly carried that stigma along for its inception, production, and release. The film has become the most philosophical installment of the original trilogy. Its themes of existentialism, redemption, and sacrifice build this film up to much more than just a sequel. Alien 3 is truly a film that broadens an audience member's contemplation through one of the best characters to grace the silver screen, Ellen Ripley. Watch the Assembly Cut.