Sometimes movie studio executives will try and milk what they think is a cash cow for every last drop. More times than not, they don’t realize that they were lucky there was even milk to begin with. Too often, we find ourselves reading a headline that a sequel is coming out for a movie that had no setup for a sequel, doesn’t need a sequel, and can only possibly hurt the original film the sequel is based on. Here are ten great movies with absolutely horrible sequels that no one wanted.
Considered to be one of Steven Spielberg’s best works, Jaws was the highest-grossing film of all time when it was released, and for good reason. The same can’t be said for its abysmal sequels, none of which had Spielberg’s involvement, which isn’t surprising given that he said, “making a sequel to anything is just a cheap carny trick.”
The sequels for Jaws just get progressively worse as you go down the line. Jaws 2 isn’t considered to be that bad, but it’s definitely a marked drop in quality from the first installment. The 3rd tried to capitalize on 3-D technology but was met with negative reviews. The fourth and final installment, Jaws: The Revenge, is considered one of the worst movies ever made and shows just how hard Hollywood will try to milk a dead cow.
When this movie came out, people thought the world was ending. This New York Times article detailing the movie’s effects on the populace is an excellent example. People believed that they or their friends were possessed by demons, a man running half-naked into a nearby church after watching the film, and more. It’s safe to say that The Exorcist did precisely what it was intended to do, and that’s why it’s considered one of the best horror movies ever.
Its sequel, The Exorcist II: The Heretic, was met with horrible reviews, with critic Mark Kermode going as far as to call it “the worst film ever made.” This would result in the series being retired until The Exorcist III, which did slightly better but was still not as highly praised as the original.
The premise of the Speed is pretty simple—there’s a bomb on a bus, and if the bus goes below 50 miles per hour, it explodes. This puts Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in a tight situation where they have to think about how much gas they have, how to safely get people off the bus while moving at 50+ miles an hour, and how to avoid slowing down due to LA traffic.
The sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, has basically no ties to the first film besides Sandra Bullock reprising her role as Annie. They’re on a cruise ship this time, but there’s no bomb set to blow if the ship goes too slow, Keanu Reeves doesn’t come back, and the big bad guy is Willem Dafoe. The dialogue is lacking, the plot isn’t there, and it isn’t as exciting as the original Speed.
Patrick Bateman is one of the most iconic psychopaths in cinema history, and the ending of American Psycho is near perfection. So why, oh why, would Hollywood turn a film that wasn’t even supposed to be a sequel to American Psycho into one? American Psycho II: All American Girl stars Mila Kunis as a budding criminology student who wants to advance her career by… murdering her classmates?
Also, right in the beginning, they kill Patrick Bateman, who isn’t even portrayed by Christian Bale. There’s just so much wrong with this movie on its own that to try and shoehorn in a connection to American Psycho for a quick cash grab makes it even worse.
The Mask is peak Jim Carrey. He’s witty, funny, and extremely expressive—it’s just a great flick that everyone should see. Son of the Mask, however, should not be watched by anyone. The fact that Son of the Mask doesn’t feature Jim Carrey should tell you everything you need to know about the direction this movie is about to take. It was nominated for multiple Golden Raspberry Awards and even won Worst Prequel or Sequel.
Another movie that Jim Carrey was smart not to star in the sequel, Evan Almighty, was a box office bomb and a huge disappointment compared to the original Bruce Almighty. Evan Almighty starred Steve Carell of The Office fame but underutilized him and fell flat across the board when it came to humor. Likewise, Morgan Freeman did reprise his role as God but lacked the charm he brought to the original title. All-in-all, this title should be avoided, even if you were a fan of the first one.
Donnie Darko is considered a cult classic, and while he wasn’t well-known for it at the time, it’s arguably the beginning of Jake Gylennhal’s rise to fame. After garnering cult fame over the years, a sequel was announced and released in 2009, titled S. Darko. This film follows Donnie’s sister, played by Daveigh Chase, as she begins having the same problems Donnie did in the first film.
The only problem is that this film was not sanctioned by the original director, Richard Kelly. Kelly had absolutely 0 involvement in the film and has even stated that a sequel to his original film is in the works back in 2021. Hopefully, he can do his original work justice and put this shameful sequel rife with lousy dialogue and minimal elements from Donnie Darko to rest.
The original Taken is a decent action flick and actually pretty enjoyable. The ones that follow it make absolutely 0 sense and are clearly capitalizing on Liam Neeson’s fame from the first one. The first one ends wonderfully, with Neeson’s character getting his daughter back (they never mention her dead friend, by the way, after he finds her chained to a bed). So why do they need not just one sequel but two?
The decision to kill the mom and have the stepdad be a bad guy in the 3rd movie is completely out-of-the-blue. Both sequels are marred by lackluster plots and a general decline in overall quality from the first film. Let’s just pray there’s not a Taken 4 in the works somewhere.
The first Rambo is an excellent film showcasing the reality many veterans face upon returning from combat. They’re given the boot and forced to deal with the mental health issues they gathered abroad on their own. The final scene, where Rambo breaks down and begins crying about his friend who was blown up in front of him, is a gripping scene, especially if you’ve only ever seen Sylvester Stallone in his action-hero roles.
The fact that they took this anti-war masterpiece and turned it into “Rambo, we need you to go kill people and make big explosions” is sad. The director originally wanted Rambo to kill himself in the police station but decided against it after audiences felt it was too dark. If they had gone with that ending, we might have been saved from all those bad B-action flicks.
The first Starship Troopers is a cult classic, and it even spawned a few video games. The entire film is essentially a satire of fascism, and it does it so well. From the Gestapo-esque uniforms of Neil Patrick Harris’s character to the advertisements depicting soldiers passing out bullets to children and reminding you to tune in to the live execution of a prisoner, it’s a great sci-fi commentary on fascism. Hell, you can only become a citizen and vote or have children by serving in the military!
Moving on, the sequels to Starship Troopers are direct-to-video action flicks that completely miss the overall message of the first movie. They also didn’t have as big of a budget, so the special effects that made the first movie so good aren’t there either. Most fans of Starship Troopers haven’t seen the numerous sequels that followed it—and they’re perfectly happy that way.