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The worst movie sequels of all time

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By Christine Persaud


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When a movie is both a box-office and critical success, it usually means we’ll get a sequel. Sometimes, the sequels measure up to the original films, and in rare cases, they’re even better than the movies that preceded them. Far too often, though, a sequel falls flat, and serves as a reminder that some things are better left without a second (or third, fourth, or fifth) chapter.

Here are some of the worst movie sequels to have found their way to the big screen.

‘The Next Karate Kid’ (1994)

The Next Karate Kid

This infamously failed reboot brought back Pat Morita in the role of Mr. Miyagi, but a new star replaced franchise veteran Ralph Macchio: Future two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. Her character became Miyagi’s latest martial arts student, whom he attempted to help through anger issues following the death of her parents. The film was widely panned by critics, though one good thing did come out of it: Swank got on Hollywood’s radar and went on to become a huge star.

‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’ (1997)

Speed 2: Cruise Control

The original Speed was a big hit, helping to propel the careers of both Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, but Reeves turned down the sequel. The studio turned to Jason Patric to co-star with Bullock, moving from the infamous speeding bus that can’t stop to a slow-moving cruise ship on a collision course with an oil tanker. The thrill of the fast-moving chase was gone, and Bullock was widely criticized for her seemingly lackluster performance. The film was so bad, it received a Golden Raspberry Award (aka Razzie) in the “Worst Remake or Sequel” category that year.

‘Staying Alive’ (1983)

Staying Alive

Disco drama Saturday Night Fever cemented John Travolta’s reputation as both dancer and when it premiered in 1977, but when Sylvester Stallone attempted to co-write and direct this sequel, it just didn’t make viewers want to throw on their dancing shoes. While the film did earn a decent $65 million at the box office, it didn’t do well with critics. While it’s hard to judge films on Rotten Tomatoes so long after the fact, the film has earned a 0 percent score on the site, with the critical consensus calling it “shockingly embarrassing and unnecessary, trading the original’s dramatic depth for a series of uninspired dance sequences.”

‘The Fly II’ (1989)

The Fly II

Director David Cronenberg’s masterful 1986 science-fiction/horror remake was tainted by its lackluster 1989 follow-up, which starred Eric Stoltz as Martin Brundle, the son of Jeff Goldblum’s character from the original, who also became genetically merged with a fly. The sequel — directed by special effects wizard Chris Walas — didn’t come close to living up to the original, with The New York Times saying that it “degenerates into a series of slime-riddled, glop-oozing, special effects in its final half hour.”

‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ (2010)

worst movie sequels wall street money never sleeps

Even if you haven’t seen 1987’s Wall Street, there’s a good chance you’re at least familiar with the film and Michael Douglas’ iconic greed monologue in it. The good news about this sequel is that Douglas reprises his role as ruthless corporate raider Gordon Gekko. Unfortunately, the decision to transition Gekko from greedy, money-hungry villain to reformed bad guy — a decision made in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis — plus the addition Shia LaBeouf as Gekko’s soon-to-be son-in-law just wasn’t what audiences wanted. It wasn’t a box-office bomb and it got mixed reviews from critics, but it simply didn’t have the same delicious fervor of the original.

‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’ (1977)

Exorcist II: The Heretic

Many consider this 1977 film to be one of the worst movies ever made, not just one of the worst sequels. After watching possessed girl Regan (Linda Blair) rotate her head 360 degrees and contort her body to crawl down a set of stairs, audiences were fast-forwarded into the life of a now 16-year-old Regan. While seemingly in recovery from demonic possession, Regan is put under scientific testing and hypnotized in an effort to find out more about what happened to both her and Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) that fateful night. Neither William Friedkin, director of the original, nor William Peter Blatty, who wrote and produced the first film (and the book on which it was based), had anything to do with this sequel, and it showed.

‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ (2004)

The Chronicles of Riddick

A bona fide box-office bomb, this sci-fi adventure film was a follow-up to 2000’s indie hit Pitch Black, and starred Vin Diesel as the title character, a dangerous criminal on the run from bounty hunters and mercenaries. The film had a massive production budget — reportedly somewhere in the nine-figure range — yet only grossed $57 million domestically. Interestingly, the film did develop somewhat of a cult following after its DVD release, but it was still a disappointing follow up to the original, which developed a passionate fan base on the home entertainment market.

‘Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd’ (2003)

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

Sure, 1994’s Dumb and Dumber was a cheesy comedy in and of itself, but Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ portrayal of naive friends Lloyd and Harry, respectively, made it a comedy classic. The movie (and characters) developed a cult following and launched the careers of its directors, the Farrelly brothers. The film was so popular that in 2014, 20 years later, a sequel launched with the two stars reprising their roles. However, years before that sequel, there was a famously bad attempt to capitalize on the success of the characters with a prequel that starred Derek Richardson and Eric Christian Olsen in the roles of Harry and Lloyd. It performed moderately well at the box office, but we’re not really sure why.

‘Grease 2’ (1982)

Grease 2

Grease (1978) is one of those iconic films, forever ingrained in our memories. We’d rather forget about its sequel, though, which was based on the original musical romantic comedy but didn’t feature either Olivia Newton-John or John Travolta. Taking place two years after the first film and set in 1961, Grease 2 couldn’t even benefit from a memorable performance by Michelle Pfeiffer. True, the movie helped put Pfeiffer on the map, but it simply didn’t have the same on-screen magic of its predecessor. It was so badly received that plans for an additional two films were scrapped. Fun fact: The script for what was to be the third movie ended up being used to create High School Musical in 2006.

‘Caddyshack II’ (1988)

Caddyshack II

Sometimes it’s best to leave a successful film alone — especially a beloved classic. This is what should have happened with Caddyshack, a star-studded 1980 film directed by the late Harold Ramis that featured Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray in the prime of their comedy careers, as well as a host of other, high-profile cast members. Instead, a PG-rated sequel was released as a follow-up to the R-rated original, which chronicled the crazy hijinks of a group of people working, playing, and (in at least one case) living at a posh country club. Only Chase reprised his role, joined by a new cast of comedic talents including Dan Aykroyd, Randy Quaid, and Jessica Lundy. “Handicapped by a family-friendly PG rating,” reads the Rotten Tomatoes critic consensus, “even the talents of Caddyshack II’s all-star comic cast can’t save it from its lazy, laughless script and uninspired direction.”

‘Blues Brothers 2000’ (1998)

Blues Brothers 2000

The 1980 original musical comedy, developed from characters in a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch and featuring a host of legends from the R&B music world, should have been left alone to bask in its successful glory. Unfortunately, a sequel was launched almost 20 years later starring Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman. Ostensibly, it was created to honor some of the deceased cast members from the first film — particularly, John Belushi, John Candy, and Cab Calloway. The film received mixed reviews and was widely regarded as an overcrowded, cameo-heavy mess. It was nowhere near as successful and well-received as the original, which remains the second highest-grossing film borne from an SNL sketch, behind the original Wayne’s World movie.

‘Jaws 3-D’ (1983)

Jaws 3-D

This film was so notoriously bad that it remains the stuff of bad-movie legend more than three decades later. It was the second sequel to the iconic horror-thriller Jaws, and the third installment of the franchise. They should have stopped at two. Now working in a Florida marine park, the Brody children face terror from a great white shark (or two) that infiltrates the park from the sea, attacking employees. Made in 3D (yes, in the ’80s, so you can imagine how life-like it ended up being), that cool factor gave the film a boost in theaters. It came nowhere close to the original, though, with words like “campy,” “cheesy,” and “awful” occurring in abundance in reviews, along with plenty of criticism of 3D effects that were more gimmicky than compelling.


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