It’s a sickness, an insidious, creeping illness that after a slow start has now reached pandemic proportions, threatening to engulf and destroy the entire motion picture industry. It is—-
Sequels are nothing new in Hollywood, of course. Right from the beginning, successful stories were revived and re-worked, usually in terms of The Son Of— or The Daughter Of— or The Bride Of— Genre films were particularly susceptible to this form of exploitation, given how so many of them dealt with the undead anyway. These days the sequel is so taken for granted, in most cases they’re planned for before the initial film is even completed; and while this leads to the occasional embarrassment – hey, remember all those sequels to Van Helsing they were going to make? – in most cases it avoids the necessity for bewildered and panicky screenwriters to come up with a way of unwinding those plot threads they took so much care to tidy up in the first place.
But what happens when that unwinding is necessary? – when someone insists upon making a sequel to a film that never should have had one? – when details like a character’s guilt – or his death – or heck, even the end of the world – become just plain inconvenient?
In this Roundtable, we take a look at Hollywood’s compulsive inability to leave well enough alone; at all those poor sleeping dogs that were prodded with a pointy stick until they got up and crawled away; at the cracked pitchers of the motion picture world.
|1000 Misspent Hours – And Counting||Rasen||Unlike the vast majority of crummy sequels to superlative films, Rasen has an odd but undeniably defensible excuse for its inferiority— because he had no chance to see Ring before he got to work, Joji Iida had no way of knowing that the movie he was charged with following up didn’t suck just as badly as his.|
|1000 Misspent Hours – And Counting||Ring 2 (1999)||Fortunately for us, Nakata wasn’t content simply to apologize, either. Together with screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi and the producers at Asmik Ace (the latter of whom were almost certainly the most culpable culprits in 1998’s Case of the Sucking Sequel, Nakata hoped to make restitution to his numerous and increasingly vocal fans by crafting a new Ring sequel— one that would begin by treating the ill-conceived Rasen (both the film and the novel) as though it had never existed.|
|1000 Misspent Hours – And Counting||Ring 0 (2000)||The same observations basically apply to Ring 0 as well. It was probably the best Ring prequel we could plausibly have hoped for, but it still succumbs wholeheartedly to the disease endemic to its kind, devoting its energies to answering questions no one was asking and offering less than satisfying explanations for things that were best left to innuendo and conjecture.|
|1000 Misspent Hours – And Counting||The Ring Two (2005)||To anyone who thought Gore Verbinski’s The Ring was a shameful bastardization of Nakata’s masterwork, I refer you to the sequel for a remedial education in what shameful bastardization really looks like. Imagine Ring reinterpreted as an Italian Exorcist rip-off, as A Nightmare on Elm Street 9: The Dream Outsourcing, as Poltergeist 4: Even Tom Skerritt Said No to This One. That is the true measure of the travesty that is The Ring Two.|
|And You Call Yourself a Scientist!||Devil Bat’s Daughter (1946)||Devil Bat’s Daughter is guilty of the kind of revisionism and character-whitewashing that tends to get certain historians banned from entering certain countries.|
|Braineater||Terminator II: Shocking Dark (1990)||This band of idiots is the “elite” team known as the Megaforce… and only in a Bruno Mattei film would the term “Megaforce” seem like a step up.|
|Cold Fusion Video Reviews||The Hitcher 2 (2003)||Now understand, Jake Busey does psycho just about as well as anybody. He’s inherited a goodly quotient of his father’s ‘deranged enough to snort cocaine off a dog’ demeanor, and he’s got those long teeth that were meant to bite the heads off chickens. But he’s filling a role (or the analog thereof) first played by Rutger Hauer in the mid-80’s, when Hauer was the toughest, scariest Aryan hardcase alive. Hauer could have swallowed Busey whole and not realized that he wasn’t a breakfast Danish.|
|Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension||Rocky IV (1985)||It’s the first film in the series to forgo opening with the title marching boldly across the screen to the notes of the Rocky trumpet fanfare. With these changes, the stripped-down, 91 minute, gooftackular Rocky IV once and for all severs all ties with the quintessentially ‘70s heart of the original Rocky. Instead, two shining silver boxing gloves rise into view against a stark black background. Each then turns, and we see that the rear of one is emblazoned with an American flag design; the other with that of the Soviet Union. These are presented for our loving gaze as they rotate, almost like fetish items, before rushing towards each other. On impact, they literally explode. From this, I think we can safely assume that subtlety will not be Rocky IV’s hallmark.|
|Teleport City||Howling 2 (1985)||Actually, pretty much everyone agrees that if there is a high point in this movie, it’s “werewolf orgy”, but we haven’t gotten to that part yet, and honestly, it’s not as good as “venerated horror film icon Christopher Lee dons amusing new wave sunglasses.”
When “werewolf orgy” isn’t as good as “venerated horror film icon Christopher Lee dons amusing new wave sunglasses,” you’re in even deeper trouble than you were when it was just “venerated horror film icon Christopher Lee dons amusing new wave sunglasses.