We see them everywhere, but they rarely warrant more than a cocked head and a bemused glance. They’ve been around since (at least) the mid-1990s, most of them are terrible, and (in large part) we can thank/blame Disney for their very existence.
They are the “direct-to-video” sequels.
We probably didn’t think all that much of it when Disney released The Return of Jafar for the VHS market back in 1994; at the time it probably seemed like a perfectly logical way to keep a popular franchise rolling along without devoting an inordinate amount of time or money to the final product. The logic seems to be that if a film is produced specifically for the home video market, then everyone involved (from the studio all the way down to the viewer) assumes there will be a tangible—albeit hopefully not unacceptable—dip in overall quality.
Disney opted to bail on the DTV sequel market back in 2007, but the damage was done. All the other home video departments in Hollywood jumped in to fill the void. And you can pretty much guess what happened: virtually any genre film that made a half-decent showing at the box office was suddenly eligible for a series of DTV sequels. And while not all of these movies are awful (Wrong Turn 2, for example, is better than a lot of theatrically-released slasher-style sequels), the vast majority are pretty slipshod affairs. (Though even when a DTV sequel is good, as in the case of some Undisputed and Universal Soldier entries, there’s still an unpleasant stigma attached to the films.) So instead of shining a spotlight on the worst DTV sequels, we thought it’d be more amusing to focus on the strangest ones. The ones that make you do a double-take while walking through Target and think “WTF?”
1. Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice (2002)
This is about when we knew that no classic was safe, that any film could warrant a DTV sequel, and that curiosity can often lead to truly painful experiences. The original Slap Shot (1977) is an absolute classic about hockey, violence, loyalty, and profanity. So when Universal decided to exploit the title, hire Stephen Baldwin, and bring back the infamous Hanson brothers for a late-arriving non-sequel, we had to check it out. Suffice to say that the trailer is better than the actual movie, if only because it’s much shorter. The producers tried to squeeze one more drop of blood out of this stone in 2008 with the “kid-friendly” Slap Shot 3: The Junior League, which makes one wonder if those producers have ever actually seen the original Slap Shot.
2. Lost Boys: The Thirst (2010)
Whether you’re old enough to have seen it in theaters or young enough to appreciate an all-star vampire ensemble, there’s no denying that The Lost Boys (1987) is still a pretty cool horror flick. But instead of mounting a full-bore sequel or another remake, WB decided to go the DTV route with this property, and the result was ... not great. Lost Boys: The Tribe, released in 2008, was a clear indication that there’d be little to no connection to the original film (aside from the presence of Corey Feldman, of course), and this second DTV sequel was dire enough to kill the whole series. Odds are that the next rendition will be a remake, and it will almost certainly be better than these low-rent semi-sequels.
3. Hellraiser 9: Revelations (2011)
This movie (and that’s being nice) is actually known as Hellraiser: Revelations, but we added the numeral in there just to underline the fact that, yes, there have been eight Hellraiser sequels. The original 1987 film played in theaters, of course, as did parts two, three, and (to a lesser degree) four, but since that time we’ve been treated to DTV Hellraiser sequels with titles like Inferno, Hellseeker, Deader, Hellworld, and Revelations. Simply put: you'd be hard pressed to find worse horror sequels than the last few Hellraiser movies, but there is a method to this madness: the producers keep churning out those sequels so that they can retain the rights to the franchise, which in turn allows them to produce the remake they’ve been talking about for five years. That remake better be pretty damn amazing if it’s going to make up for Revelations, which is not merely atrocious, but is the first in the series to not cast Doug Bradley as Pinhead. (Which is super lame.)
4. Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (2011)
How do you make a sequel to a family tearjerker in which the title character (huge spoiler alert!) dies at the end? Well, if you’re the producers of the tragically popular Marley & Me (2008), you not only go the DTV route, you also go full prequel and give the puppy an audible monologue, not unlike what we saw in the classic 1993 comedy Look Who’s Talking Now. Just try to make it all the way through this trailer without thinking of how the first film ended. We dare you.
5. A Christmas Story 2 (2012)
This one really makes us angry. It’s as if someone at WB Home Video finally realized that, “Wow, 1983’s A Christmas Story is still a very profitable movie all these years later. And so obviously what the marketplace demands is a shoddy stinkhole of a non-sequel that uses the title (and the font!) of the original film, but nothing in the way of its wit, warmth, or quality.” It’s not just that the original movie is so damn good; it’s also that the “sequel” is little more than a desperately unfunny collection of references to the 1983 Bob Clark classic. If you want a “sorta sequel” to A Christmas Story, ignore this piece of junk and go dig up 1994’s My Summer Story (a.k.a. It Runs in the Family), which is actually quite charming.
6. Tooth Fairy 2 (2012)
The first Tooth Fairy (2010) isn’t exactly a family classic, but the idea of Dwayne Johnson as the title character contributed (at least) a small dash of novelty to the proceedings. The sorta-sequel replaces The Rock with—wait for it—Larry the Cable Guy. Yeah. Because we all know how much little kids adore spending 90 minutes with ... Larry the Cable Guy. Given the choice, kids would probably opt to go to bed early instead of staying up late to watch this clunky, mirthless mess. But apparently someone at Fox Home Entertainment thought Lawrence of Cable Repair did a great job because, well, check out the next sequel on this list …
7. Jingle All The Way 2 (2014)
First Larry the Cable Guy replaced The Rock in Tooth Fairy 2, and here he’s replacing Arnold Schwarzenegger in a powerfully terrible “sequel” to 1996’s (also powerfully terrible) Jingle All the Way. Both Jingle All the Way movies display mean-spirited humor, atrocious writing, and a grossly wrong-headed message about holiday consumerism ... but only one has Larry the Cable Guy in it.
8. The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)
Yep. Part 4. Which means that this is the third sequel to a spinoff of a sequel to a remake. Who knew that 1999’s The Mummy would turn out to be the “original” source of so much schlock? Of course The Rock (the first Scorpion King) is long gone by now, but in his place we’ve gotten Randy Couture (Part 2), Dave Bautista (Part 3), and Victor Webster (Part 4). Each of the sequels is broad, goofy, and sloppily made, but they sometimes actually work as Saturday afternoon matinee adventure flicks. And it’s not like the first Scorpion King was some sort of classic.
9. Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse (2015)
Although not a huge hit at the box office in 1996, the original Dragonheart has gone on to become a bona fide cult favorite, thanks to cable and home video—so of course it had to spawn at least two late-arriving video sequels. Dragonheart: A New Beginning (2000) didn’t exactly produce any sort of new beginning for the series, which laid dormant for another 15 years before someone at Universal decided to try again. The Sorcerer’s Curse is goofy, low-budget adventure fare all the way, but to be fair it’s a slight improvement over its predecessor. All things being relative, that is.
10. Lake Placid vs. Anaconda (2015)
We all remember Anaconda (1997), but do you recall the sequels? Part 2 (Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid) played in theaters, while Part 3 (The Offspring) and Part 4 (Trail of Blood) did not. How about Lake Placid (1999), the low-key and dryly amusing killer croc flick? Well that one spawned no less than three DTV sequels of its own. So obviously the producers decided that the franchises should combine forces for a Part 5—and therefore we’ve been graced with a film called, you guessed it, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda, which makes no sense grammatically (a lake fighting a snake?) but does feature all sorts of wacky animal brawls. And let’s face it: if you’ve already seen four Lake Placid movies and four Anaconda movies, you’re probably more than happy to sit down with a Part 5 combination platter.
And that’s pretty much why DTV sequels exist in the first place: because movie geeks are nothing if not loyal to their favorite movies—even when they probably shouldn’t be.