This feature originally ran in 2014. We resurrect it as we creep towards Halloween.
List ‘Em Carefully is a collection of offbeat, oddball, left-field lists. This time, we’re counting down the 20 worst horror movie sequels of all time. With any luck, you’ll meet a merciful, grisly fate before you get to number one.
It’s Halloween week, and as such, most people are trying to fit together their holiday weekend plans. While a night out at a good, scary movie sounds like a great idea, well, it’s not really in the cards this year. The only major horror offering in theatres right now is Ouija, and at no point will our intrepid film staff endorse the possibility of you, dear reader, spending your hard-earned dollars on Ouija. There are a million and one streaming and rental options available at one’s fingertips, an endless smorgasboard of scares and new phobias just waiting to be discovered — but not all of them are worthy of your time or support.
This is particularly true when it comes to the horror movie sequel, that curious beast which tends to infect the less-trodden back roads of your Netflix Instant menus, a realm in which it’s important to proceed with caution. While it’s not impossible for a horror sequel to add to, or even exceed, the quality of its predecessor (Army of Darkness, anyone?), it’s usually a lot likelier that whatever follows a breakout horror hit will be either more of the same or something far, far more sinister. With that, welcome to our quick look at 20 horror sequels that do not exceed the quality of their predecessors, and stand as some of the worst horror sequels (and movies) that our film staff has ever seen.
20. Pirahna 3DD
Alexandre Aja’s Pirahna remake was a giddily disgusting romp, complete with a climactic pandemonium horror show for which most genre enthusiasts will sing praises. It’s gross, but in the fun, dumb, well-crafted way. Fast-forward to 2012. Aja’s not available, so the Weinsteins get famed director John Gulager (famed for being a big baby during a season of Project Greenlight, anyway). This is like watching a 13-year-old boy make the movie of his dreams. Or rather, this is middle-aged men making no bones about stitching a movie together with graphic violence and silicone-based salaciousness because that’s probably what the kids will like. Pirahna 3DD (cue the distant sounds of Beavis and Butthead giggling until they die) is base urges pretending to be a movie, then charging audiences extra for slow-motion 3D breasts and lines like, “Josh cut off his penis and something came out of my vagina.” You call that a line? Offensive. No fun at all. Misogynistic. Worst of all, Pirahna 3DD forces David Koechner to die and David Hassellhoff to talk. Yuck. –Blake Goble
19. Jaws: The Revenge
When Jaws: The Revenge hit theaters in 1987, it was a colossal failure, leaving a trail of embarrassing box-office results and Razzie nominations in its wake. But is its now-legendary status as a flop deserved? Yep. It’s not just that the special effects are shoddy or that the whole production seems to be an excuse for the cast to take a free trip to the Bahamas. No, its primary fault lies with the story itself. After her youngest son is killed by a shark, Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary), the widow of Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), becomes convinced that a great white is trying to murder her entire family. Ya see, even though her husband died from a heart attack, she’s convinced the actual cause of death was fear. So, Ellen goes to the Bahamas for some “me time.” There, she meets a prop pilot (Michael Caine) and begins a prolonged flirtation. At this point, the movie becomes a sub-Lifetime portrait of a widow’s second chance at love instead of a thrilling tale about sharks ripping people’s limbs off. It might as well have been called Jaws 4: How Ellen Brody Got Her Groove Back. –Adriane Neuenschwander
18. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
Both Eli Roth’s gross-out original and even Ti West’s campy sequel embraced the humor of its disease-ridden premise. Each were stocked with agreeable subversions of atypical horror tropes, enough that it almost felt like they were intermittently breaking the fourth wall. (It should be noted that West failed to remove his name from the project. It’s a shame.) However, director Kaare Andrews opted to shake up the predictable formula by, shocker, demystifying the disease’s source with its own patient zero (Sean Astin). Coupled with an arc featuring a party of forgettable-bachelors-turned-victims, Astin’s teary-eyed character crumples under the film’s embarrassing attempts at drama, resulting in an experience that’s neither scary, nor funny, nor effective on any level. Christ, how does one fuck up something so easy? –Michael Roffman
17. Lost Boys: The Tribe
As it turns out, the godawful dance song “Ascension Millennium” isn’t the low point of Corey Feldman’s career, Lost Boys: The Tribe is. This unnecessary, direct-to-video sequel is incompetent in every way. The action scenes are clumsy, the latex makeup visibly peels off the actors’ faces in closeup, and the cast is a hot mess. Rather than Kiefer Sutherland as the head vampire, The Tribe gives us his half-brother Angus Sutherland, who delivers his lines in a garbled accent that sounds like Ted Levine doing his worst Keanu Reeves impression.
Then there’s the titular tribe, a pack of the most despicably douchey vampires ever imagined. These vamps aren’t content to just suck blood — oh, no. They also ride Kawasaki hogs, call each other bro, wear Ed Hardy T-shirts, and throw house parties as an excuse to show off their killer margarita recipes. They’re the type of dudes who kill a guy (Tom Savini, inexplicably) and yell “Suck my dick!” to his decapitated head before dropkicking it into the ocean. Even if you didn’t know they were bloodthirsty monsters, you’d pray for these a-holes to get stakes through the heart. –Adriane Neuenschwander
16. Psycho 4: The Beginning
Making a sequel to Psycho is more unnecessary than remaking it shot-for-shot. Make a sequel to Taxi Driver or Sweet Smell of Success while you’re at it. Psycho was perfect. It’s a classic, a singular and shocking character study. Could people not deal with Norman Bates just being a crazy boy? It was meant to frustrate and confound viewers. Psycho ended simply by explaining that Norman was insane. Did we need more? Was it unsatisfying to learn of Norman’s Oedipal desires and isolated angst? That’s what made the movie so chilling.
Well, Universal had a property and a boogey man in Norman. Franchise, ho!
Psycho 2 came over 20 years later to modest success in 1983. Psycho 3 was, well, not embarrassing, but totally pointless. Then, in 1990, came Psycho 4: The Beginning, an over-explaining, needy TV sequel with the kid from E.T. playing a young Norman being told to kill by Mama. From the director of Critters 2 … oh why bother finishing that thought? This movie’s thesis was covered 30 years prior, right? Every slasher series is about the thrill of the kill, and the nutjob with the knife, but must we go over Norman’s fixations over and over like this? Seldom do sequels feel this redundant, or frugal, or bloodless, or just plain pointless. Lucky for Alfred Hitchcock, he was dead for all the sequels! –Blake Goble
15. Paranormal Activity 2
Where some of the entries on our list are at least unintentionally bad-good enough to warrant viewing, Paranormal Activity 2 is a cynical cash-in designed to repackage a good thing to diminished returns for maximum profit. It’s also probably the highest-grossing film on this whole list, a sad reflection on just how well the first film played to audiences’ modern fears of the unexplainable and how easy it would then be for Paramount to wring every last drop of money from it. Remember the first Paranormal Activity? It’s that, but in a different suburban California house not too far away from the first one. And with the sister of the woman from the first one, and her family. And a few more cameras. Otherwise, basically the same movie, almost beat for beat.
From the get-go, the film is ridiculous. Where the first film, for better or worse, at least strived to establish a sense of character so that you might care about these poor, demon-embattled people, the sequel skips straight to the good stuff. We know that the family generally gets on well, that they have a Latina housekeeper who’s into candles and prayer and the supernatural and such, that they have a cute dog, and that all these people we’re watching like hamsters in a terrarium are about to be tortured until something vague happens to set up another round. This is where the series jumped the shark from minimalist horror to a series of cinematic haunted houses, things jumping out to yell “Boo!” at strategic, carefully teased-out intervals. And it still hasn’t fully recovered. –Dominick Mayer
14. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
I Know What You Did Last Summer was an easily ignorable slasher, the ideal rental for teens looking for an excuse to neck. The inevitable I Still Know What You Did That Summer is somehow worse than its title would suggest, displacing the action to a stormy tropical island, drowning Jack Black in Marley dreads, and naming one of the bland new leads Benson, as in Ben’s Son, as in the son of the original’s killer, Ben Willis. Despite his stoner shtick, Black is one of the film’s few highlights, as is cult horror icon Jeffrey Combs as an ornery hotel manager. But the real star of this gore-lite shit-show is Jennifer Love-Hewitt’s cleavage, upon which nearly every frame of this film is centered. –Randall Colburn
13. Poltergeist 3
One of the most underrated villains in horror history is Julian Beck’s Kane from Poltergeist II: The Other Side. That movie doesn’t hold a candle to the original overall, but the daylight scene of the preacher trying to convince the family to let him into their house terrifies me nearly 30 years later. The preacher is back in Poltergeist III, but played by a different actor (Beck had passed away) and in a new setting: a Chicago high-rise. TV was the point of entry in the original, telephones the second, and now mirrors. Once again, sounds interesting … but then, tragedy. To be fair, the filmmakers of Poltergeist III had to cope with the tragic death of young Heather O’Rourke, whose Carol Ann is the centerpiece of the franchise. She died before post-production was underway, which threw a wrench into their plans. They were left with no budget, plot holes, little to no scares, and ultimately a cheap-looking movie compared to the previous entries. –Justin Gerber
12. Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Killer Mutant Snowman
What’s more insane? The dorkily direct title of this Blockbuster Video slasher, or the fact that this is a movie featuring a scene with a cop in therapy over his run-ins with a mutant snowman, with Seinfeld’s Mr. Pitt starring as the therapist? Don’t answer that. Either way, Jack Frost 2 garners the wrong kinds of laughs. To be fair, how does one get a wisecracking, bloodthirsty snow-killer right on film? A film most famous for its lenticular VHS cover, Jack Frost managed to get a sequel.
Since it’s a sequel that looks like it was shot on the last available VHS tapes in 1999, the titular slayer is seemingly composed of white packing peanuts this time around. For a deeply maligned genre (the direct-to-video horror movie), it’ll leave even the most irony-loving genre enthusiasts pretty cold. Tropical locale stages, middle aged bikini-babe acting, squirt gun props, funnel helmets, hokey slapstick, and overall production value that even Cinemax would say no to in October make this a must-miss. –Blake Goble
11. Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings
Stan Winston’s Pumpkinhead had its delights. It boasted some gnarly makeup from the famous effects guru director, a perfectly stock horror formula about vengeance against teenagers (just the worst), and, AND Lance Henriksen in full-tilt genre mode, coming right off Near Dark, The Terminator, and Aliens.
Oh, right, we’re not here to talk about Pumpkinhead. We’re here to carve into Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. From the director of such famed crap horror sequels as Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and The Stepfather II comes a delayed follow-up about even more teens, yet again summoning a demon that takes on a ferocious, weathered and pumpkin-like face and form. When will kids learn? There are just the most unintelligent teens on display here, even for this genre. “There ain’t no Pumpkinhead” kinda shouting that, well, you know…
This not only has the pains of video budgeting, but some of the worst line delivery imaginable. Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser) plays an obviously shady sheriff, and sports a small town accent, pandering demeanor, and just the most tedious lines (“WE BREAK THIS CASE MY WAY,” he says in earnest). The fun of the first film’s creature feature feel turns into a make-out murder show in Middle America. This Pumpkin went rotten fast. –Blake Goble
10. The Rage: Carrie 2
Early on in The Rage: Carrie 2, we sit in class with our heroine, Rachel (Emily Bergl), as she listens to her teacher lecture on Romeo and Juliet. It’s a scene that not only foreshadows the character’s soon-to-be-doomed romance, but also foreshadows just how cliched the rest of the film’s going to be. To be fair, this follow-up to the Brian De Palma classic isn’t the absolute worst. In fact, there are some pretty inventive kills, including one where a girl’s eyes explode and she stumbles blindly into her friend, piercing his testicles with a spear gun.
But, in the end, a few splatters of fake blood aren’t enough to save Carrie 2 from all the tired teen-movie tropes, from the cheesy makeover scene to the football team’s contest to bed their female classmates for points. Nor is the gore good enough to make you forgive the film’s truly stupid finale, when Rachel grows weird black thorns all over her body (cuz, ya know, rage) and dives in front of a chunk of burning roof to save her jock boyfriend (Jason London). Then she confesses her love and croaks. It’s exactly the kind of sequel Shakespeare would write if he was still alive and hard up for money. –Adriane Neuenschwander
09. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
So here’s a story: after the incredibly mild success of the hyper-violent Silent Night, Deadly Night in 1984, sequel director Lee Harry was allegedly instructed to simply re-edit the first film and release it as a sequel. Being banned from some multiplexes apparently gave studio heads the deeply misguided impression that they had the next Halloween on their hands, and so Part 2 was almost just a recut movie. It still more or less is, with a smattering of new footage stringing together extensive “flashbacks” that replay lengthy kill sequences from the first installment.
But, onward and upward. Part 2 has become a mainstay in the cult horror canon, just because of Eric Freeman’s inexplicable, eyebrow-heavy performance as the adult version of a young boy from the first film, Ricky, who goes on his own murderous rampage after spending a majority of the film recounting the first movie to a psychiatrist that he eventually strangles with unspooled recording tape. Even if you only know Part 2 for its meme-friendly “Garbage day!” rampage, find this movie at all costs. It’s like two movies in one, only this one includes what’s clearly a dummy being electrocuted to death using a car battery. And again, because it’s so hilariously bad that it deserves a second mention in the same paragraph: eyebrow acting. –Dominick Mayer
08. Boggy Creek II: The Legend Continues
The Legend of Boggy Creek is one of those cult films still waiting for a proper cult. This writer only became aware of it after Adam McKay jokingly told IMDB in an interview that it was one of his all-time favorite movies. At least, I think he was joking. Objectively, it’s just silly man-in-furry-costume stuff. So is the sequel, and in 1985, that ruse was pretty lame. Oh no, a gorilla costume under the dark of night! Must be Bigfoot! Better get a gun. Boggy Creek II (although it follows Return to Boggy Creek, so that just makes no sense) is a notably nitwitted, continuity-challenged, low-budget eco-horror flick about university students facing off against what may be Bigfoot. Now, you could watch Bigfoot get frenetic against Duck Dynasty-looking folks in the swamps, or, you could enjoy Boggy Creek II like many films of this ilk should be taken in: as a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. It’s in season 10, in case you’re wondering. –Blake Goble
07. Friday the 13th Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan
We’ve had a few decades to get over this, but the wound of their lie has never healed. They promised a magical movie that doesn’t exist, where New York Jason Voorhees goes to town doin’ blow, stabbing tourists, Studio 54 clubbers, the Broadway cast of Cats, Dee Dee King, a pastrami sandwich at Carnegie Deli. But instead, we got Jason Takes a Boat and Spends Three Minutes in Manhattan. And it’s that deceitful subtitle that makes it even worse than Jason X – Space Bullshit.
One hour, three minutes, and 20 seconds. That’s how long it takes to get to a shot of Lady Liberty. And then we’re finally in New York, known solely for its steamy alleyways and steamy sewers. We get exactly three minutes of Times Square silliness where Jason goes Crocodile Dundee on us, and then it’s back to alleys, sewers, and a Vancouver rooftop where one of the best (and stupidest) deaths in the franchise occurs. High school boxing champ Julius (the one who’s obligated to say “motherfucker”) thinks he can take the hockey-masked zombie heavyweight, and swings and swings away. But in just one punch, Jason does two things: he knocks the guy’s block off … and he devolves from Jason the Stoic Lug into Jason the Mute Wiseass. Christ, he even Ferris Buellers the camera … twice. –Roy Ivy
06. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Speaking frankly, almost nothing about Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was a good idea in hindsight. It followed The Blair Witch Project by barely a year, bears virtually no resemblance to its predecessor, and eschews the game-changing found footage conceit of the original in favor of a series of rote, increasingly preposterous slasher movie jump scares. Though Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, the original film’s co-directors, both claim writing credits on this thing, it’s really only a sequel in title only. It ends up being a film about a series of hallucinations that actually don’t happen … or do they?
When a team of paranormal researchers and goths inspired by the first movie (ugh) return to the same Maryland woods, bad things happen and a series of visual manipulations ensue so that audiences can be jerked around for 90 minutes of nothing being real until it’s time for the film to decide what was conveniently real and what wasn’t. The film has some neat ideas related to perspective manipulation, but they’re executed with the most leaden hand imaginable, and the film doesn’t do nearly enough right to justify its existence as anything more than a vulgar cash-in on a far superior movie. –Dominick Mayer
05. The Howling 3: The Marsupials
Good god, how did Joe Dante’s The Howling get seven seriously crappy sequels? Four of them went straight to video, and not in the order you’d think! The easy champ for lousiest horror sequel in the series is The Howling II:…Your Sister Is a Werewolf. It gets werewolf piss all over a perfectly clever original by making no sense whatsoever and pervishly parading Sybil Danning. It instantly lowered the ceiling for the continuously inferior, money-grabbing sequels.
But if pushed, I’d go right ahead and say The Howling 3 is just the worst entry. H2 is bad, but H3 makes no damn sense whatsoever. When a line like “because my step-father tried to rape me and he’s a werewolf” is played for comedy, your movie will be laughed at, alright. H3 is the worst because of its cheap-o production value, lack of series-defining transformation makeup, and a coked-up party in the Outback feel. If you have two hours, watch the Monstervision broadcast on YouTube.
An off-brand, PG-13 “Ozploitation” follow-up that managed to wrangle the Howling name, maybe this exists because Paul Hogan and Fosters were both hot in ’87. Like, werewolves, but Down Under? Anyways, this was a cable hit in Latin America and the US in the ‘80s and ‘90s according to Wikipedia, and that’s something! –Blake Goble
04. American Psycho 2: All American Girl
“I have to return some videotapes,” is exactly what any self-respecting cinephile should say five minutes into American Psycho 2: All American Girl. But really, there are only two ways anyone would ever reach that conclusion: 1) They rented both the original and its unnecessary, DTV sequel on the same night, thinking it was a legit franchise or 2) They’re Shatner completists. Otherwise, this anti-laugh riot usually goes untouched — and for good reasons. Within three minutes, Morgan J. Freeman’s abomination pulls a Patrick Bateman on Bret Easton Ellis’ nightmarish novel by nailing the story to wooden stakes, burning out its eyeballs, shoving a PVC pipe into its orifice, loading it with all sorts of cheese, tossing in a hungry rat, and pulling it away squeaky clean. The film’s sultry Mila Kunis poster is just a loaded effort to sell the sequel as some sexy thrill ride, but don’t fall for it. Instead, know there is, in fact, an exit and run for the door at all costs. –Michael Roffman
03. Exorcist II: The Heretic
There really was no way Exorcist II: The Heretic was going to better the original … but that cast and crew! Prestige actors were involved, including Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher (fresh off her Oscar win for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), and Paul Henreid (Casablanca). Returning stars Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, and Kitty Winn were involved. Director John Boorman was responsible for the intense Deliverance. The question “What could possibly go wrong?” was answered once the movie came out.
The demon Pazuzu is still within Regan, though he’s been dormant for a number of years. He’s no longer frightening, so perhaps that’s why Burton felt compelled to overact his ass off (“Help me to find Kokumo!”). There is some psychology involved, along with some hypnotic experimentation to aid investigations into the demon’s past. As we know, it’s much more interesting to ruin the mystery when it comes to works of art (heavy on the sarcasm). Exorcist II played so poorly upon its release that the studio actually removed it soon after its premiere to tinker with it. Still garbage. For a true sequel, I suggest the flawed but worthwhile Exorcist III. –Justin Gerber
02. Amityville 3-D
Amityville 2: The Possession is a great prequel. Mean, nasty, incestuous, and crazily shot, it’s arguably better (but inarguably weirder) than its predecessor. But the third is doomed from the get-go. It’s the PG piglet following two R-rated hogs. It’s in 3-D. And it stars Tony Roberts. The tweed jumps right off the screen. The first of the franchise to not be based on a (cough, cough) true story, Amityville 3-D has no new tale to tell. That house with the stupid eye-windows is still evil and you shouldn’t go in there.
But our droll Tony is a skeptical journalist who moves into the notorious hellhouse because he’s a really skeptical journalist who loves debunking psychic bullstuff. When the house demon starts taunting and offing his friends and family, the rationalizing human turtleneck always misses the moment and chalks everything up to accident and imagination. It’s like the demon is Tony Roberts’ Snuffleupagus. He finally gets it after enlisting a Poltergeist B-team of paranormal investigators who show him that, yes, this is the Amityville Horror house alright, and he should really stop calling it “Max.”
With its old-fashioned PG charm and elderly pace, it’d be a passable daytime horror flick if not for that ridiculous 3-D. And it’s not the kind you can ignore. That Frisbee is totally in your face. You also get a pipe, some flies, and a flying taxidermied swordfish. But, the grand prize goes to … a boom mic. In the midst of all the spooky-dookie, Amityville 3-D stops itself cold to intentionally shove a boom mic at you. There’s good stuff along the way, including a fresh-faced Meg Ryan and Lori Loughlin in a Ouija scene that’s better than the entirety of Ouija, plus a scene between Tony and Tess Harper that almost pulls the movie into Don’t Look Now territory. But, the misguided and misused gimmickry derails it all. –Roy Ivy
01. Ghoulies II
Now, the discerning cineaste might have looked at Ghoulies and thunk, Gee, this is just some sort of Diet Rite version of Gremlins. Good day, sir! Ah but that’s a fool’s opinion! Ghoulies was about rubberized creatures that worked with the occult, Satanism, and a total lack of humor!
Sorry, I have to ask: Which one of you bastards watched and possibly even enjoyed Ghoulies? It was no good the first time, and it wasn’t any better the next three times after that. We’re stuck with these sequels in mass-market box sets, and we’re never watching them! But we’re here, talking about the memorably abominable Ghoulies II. This time the ghoulies hit the road and join the circus and … eh, who cares?
If there’s a silver lining in Ghoulies II, it’s that the score was composed by some guy named Fuzzbee Morse. Fuzzbee. Morse. That name’s hysterical and it’s going right into my lousy regional play/Of Mice and Men rip-off. –Blake Goble