I like these bizarre franchises. The better known the original was, the better. The lesser known the sequel, or better yet sequels, the better. A long gap between the original and the sequels is ideal. If you mention them to someone their reaction would ideally be “That had a sequel?”.
For example, eight years after Donnie Darko, S. Darko came out. Donnie Darko didn’t really do that well at the box office, but it’s now remembered as a critically acclaimed cult hit. S. Darko was just terrible nonsense. Did he even have a sister in the original?
American Psycho 2: All-American Girl** came out only two years after American Psycho. Mila Kunis, before she was very well known, stars as the All American Girl, and at that age she had an incredibly grating and annoying valley girl voice, and they have her do narration. Compared to the original it’s less psychological thriller and more slapstick comedy, with Kunis spending part of the film driving around with William Shatner’s corpse in the passenger seat of the car. Honestly, I think this might be an undiscovered gem of so bad it’s good cinema. Worth a watch, even if you’re not fascinated with these meandering franchises.
**Undisputed **isn’t that well known, but it was a theatrical release from 2002 starring Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes, which is good enough to include its three straight-to-DVD sequels. The first sequel, Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing, basically retells the story of the first film, with the Ving Rhames character recast to be played by Michael Jai White, and the whole thing moved to Russia to allow more far fetched antics to be plausible. Scott Adkins comes in for the second film as the villain, the gets promoted to hero for the third film, Undisputed 3: Redemption, before finally being promoted to title character for the fourth installment, Boyka: Undisputed. The Undisputed sequels are some of the best straight to DVD films around, although very simple in plot they are excellent action movies.
I could fill this entire post with Scott Adkins movies. He was in Green Street 3: No Surrender, sequel to Green Street Hooligans. He was in Jarhead 3: The Siege.
23 years after Hard Target, the JCvD film from the height of his fame in the early 90s, Scott Adkins starred in Hard Target 2. The original explained JCvD’s Belgian accent by having him be from the bayou. Maybe that’s where Tommy Wiseau got the idea. There he fights a group of rich people who hunt the poor for sport, but the it’s also about him investigating what’s going on, the fight with the hunters is just the third act. The sequel is all just an MMA fighter being hunted through the jungle of South East Asia. It’s a fine straight to DVD action film.
And, again over two decades later, Scott Adkins starred in the straight to DVD movie Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, sequel to JCvD’s Universal Soldier. This is the fourth film produced in the Universal Soldier series, and the third film in the current continuity, as the original cinematic sequel has been retconned away. JCvD and Dolph Lundgren both return for the third act of a truly strange psychedelic psychological thriller. There’s also a cool baseball bat fight in a sporting good store. Two thumbs up.
I’ve never seen it, but there’s a sequel to Basic Instinct. The era of erotic thrillers ended long ago, and at least a decade before the sequel came out. It’s still got Sharon Stone, though. She probably needs the work these days. Or those days, as this is still over a decade ago.
There’s also a Wild Things 2. **Wild Things **is a 90s classic, and could only have been made in the late 90s. It catches the end of the erotic thriller era and is still good today for the bizarre plot twists. One thing I like about these franchises is seeing what different things can be done with the same basic idea. With Undisputed, the sequels chose to focus purely on the action and to do that as well as they possibly could, producing a series of excellent movies. Universal Soldier amped up the weird shit. American Psycho changed the tone of the movie drastically. Wild Things 2, on the other hand, tried to make almost exactly the same movie but without the same level of writing talent or acting talent or star power or originality, and with more borderline porn scenes. This was a bad choice.
Then we get the long running franchises.
Tremors. They made six of these movies. So far. The first few were good. The gun-nut comic relief from the first film is the main character by the third movie, then with the fifth movie Jamie Kennedy turns up and becomes the main star. Big mistake. They all stick to more or less the same formula, but get gradually worse with each movie, with a dramatic drop between four and five. Most people probably know the first two, but not the later ones.
Wrong Turn. A simple tale of accidentally wandering into cannibal hillbilly country. An entertaining enough horror premise, with no obvious sequel potential. There are six of these, too. People take wrong turns. People try to make reality TV in cannibal hillbilly country. Cannibal hillbillies come down into town to kill people. Less deformed cannibal hillbillies go in to civilisation to lure sexy college kids into cannibal hillbilly country to be eaten. I think they’ve really taken every available angle on this premise, which I approve of.
Final Destination. Like Wrong Turn, a simple horror premise which has really been played to the hilt, with five eventually being made. The fifth one, which is revealed at the end to be a prequel, is probably the best of the bunch, and also the most obscure. The first three were quite high profile, the last two are the reallt obscure ones.
Kickboxer. Kickboxer stars JCvD again, this time as a kickboxer who kickboxes a kickboxer who kickboxed his brother. The sequel starts with the shadow of JCvD being kickboxed to death, leading to previously unmentioned third brother becoming the main character for the next three movies. The fifth movie features an entirely unrelated main character. All five films came out over the years from 1989 to 1995, the era of the kickboxer. Cut to twenty years later, the era of the remake. Kickboxer: Vengeance sees the return of JCvD as a trainer to the new hero. The next year, Kickboxer: Retaliation. It’s got 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Next year, 2019, comes Kickboxer: Armageddon. That will be the eighth. I’m looking forward to Kickboxer: Armageddon.
Bring It On. The original, starring Eliza Dushku and Kirsten Dunst, was basically the same movie as Pitch Perfect, down to the horribly inappropriate announcer. The sequels are mostly unremarkable. The third, of five, Bring It On: All Or Nothing features Hayden Panettiere, somewhat typecast as a cheerleader, being made to move to the ghetto where she puts her hair in cornrows and starts calling her old friends “white girl”.
Home Alone is very well known, as is Home Alone 2: The One With Donald Trump In It. They made another three after that. One had Scarlett Johansson in. Honestly, they’re all too annoying to watch.
There are many others, all equally fascinating in their way.
**The Rage: Carrie 2.
Kindergarten Cop 2.
I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer.