I’ll never forget the tagline for the (supposedly) final Nightmare On Elm Street movie, Freddy’s Dead, which was “They saved the best for last”. Anyone who has seen that movie, knows it couldn’t be further away from the truth. The average thing coming from Donald Trump’s mouth is probably closer to the truth than that tagline is to that movie. I can’t quite recall other sequels using a similar tagline, but often the people behind a movie claim that the latest installment is even better than the previous one. Not really a surprise there, since seats have to be filled at the cinemas. No matter what claims are made at the time of the release, to quote X-men: Apocalypse: “at least we can all agree the third one’s always the worst”. A movie which ironically was the weakest film itself in the X-Men reboot trilogy. The same goes for another Marvel property in its third outing: Blade: Trinity.
Blade: the Marvel Comic book hero who takes Corey Hart’s synth-pop hit “Sunglasses At Night” a bit too serious. The daywalker returns in this sequel, simply titled “Blade 2”, to take on an advanced species of vampire named Reapers. To do this he forms an uneasy alliance with the vampire council and teams up with a group of vampires named the Bloodpack. They were originally trained to take on Blade himself, but since Reapers feed on vampires, it’s in their best interest to work with Blade instead of killing him. It should come to you as no surprise that there will be a lot of tension during their time together and as Blade himself at one point mentions: They’re gonna fuck us the first chance they get.
Vampire movies: the genre of which the majority of movies released suck as hard as the average vampire does. Apparently it’s very hard to make a decent vampire flick. For every “Interview With The Vampire” there is a Twilight. To keep Vampires fresh, their characteristics vary with each movie. Sometimes they can turn into bats and can’t stand the sunlight, in other cases they’re merely immortal and sparkle when exposed to sunlight. Therefor one thing almost all vampire movies have in common is that one scene where their abilities are being explained. In Blade, the vampires have rather traditional features and limitations: Blood-thirst, fangs, immortal, allergic to sunlight, garlic and silver. The things they lack: they can’t turn into bats, do have a reflection and are perfectly capable of handling crosses. That last thing is pone of the attributes that are always so stupid: There is an undead creature coming after me, but if I just hold these two stakes like this it will destroy them.
Over the years Blade has become somewhat of a cult classic and a movie with a relatively large legacy and I’m not talking about just sequels.
Few people will call the original Kickboxer a good movie. It was a low budget action movie capitalizing on the surprise success of Bloodsport and could best be described as an adult version of the Karate Kid: a young Caucasian man is trained by an elder Asian man using unorthodox training methods in order to take on the movie’s nemesis during a fight in the ring. Throw in some female nudity here and there, a couple of bloody fights and a rape and you have got yourself a typical 80’s tournament movie. And yet, Kickboxer became somewhat of a classic in its genre. This can be attributed mostly to its lead, Jean-Claude van Damme, as this was one of his earliest movies and one that helped to build his career. At the time it was released kickboxing was a relatively unknown sport, but it turned out to be a great subject for a movie, especially since it allowed Van Damme to display his abilities. Sadly, they hardly make movies like that any more, but after 17 years someone decided it was time for a remake: Kickboxer: Vengeance.
Making a direct sequel to a movie that was made multiple decades ago is nothing new. 23 years after the original Psycho was released it was followed up by Psycho 2 which, surprisingly, brought back Anthony Hopkins as Norman Bates. Over the past few years making long overdue sequels seems be a way for studios to make a quick buck, by capitalizing on an existing property. Not taking reboots into account. Earlier this year we got a sequel to the 26 year old Kindergarten Cop. Then starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and this time Dolph Lundgren. Now it’s up to Scott Adkins to fill in for Jean-Claude van Damme in the sequel to one of his better movies: Hard Target. A movie that was released 23 years ago. The same time span between Psycho 1 and 2, but unlike Psycho 2, Hard Target 2 has no ties to the Van Damme movie, other than a plot about rich men hunting people for sport.
“TV movie”: the label that guarantees you your next two hours will be wasted time. There are hardly any good TV movies out there, especially since that genre is almost synonymous for Lifetime movies. There are exceptions to this rule of course: Stephen King’s IT has become somewhat of a classic and so have both Duel (by Steven Spielberg) and The Day After. A movie is definitely not an exception to this rule is the third installment in the Stepfather-franchise. A franchise that actually should have never been a franchise as it contains only one good movie. Since the third one was made for TV that automatically means no nudity and a longer running time as a two hour time slot has to be filled. The result: a movie in which the mentally ill stepfather now woos not just one, but two single women with a kid.
The insane asylum: the classic plot-device in sequels to justify the return of somebody supposedly killed off at the end of the previous movie. Remember when Michael Meyers was killed in Halloween 2? He was shot multiple times in the head. In the eyes even! That guy was dead, there is no way he could have survived that. Cut to Halloween 4 where he’s alive and well in an insane asylum, because he apparently magically survived all of that. Guess who’s also back in Stepfather 2; Jerry Blake, the maniacal stepfather hellbent on killing his family once they seemed to be unable to live up to his expectations of a perfect family. This guy apparently survived a stab wound directly into heart as well as several gunshot wounds and is now stuck in an insane asylum at the beginning of Stepfather 2. Which really begs the question: shouldn’t he be sitting in death row, or at least some high security prison? This is a guy who killed multiple women and children with premeditation. Not the kind of guy you should put in some insane asylum with the hope of him one day getting well.
Stepfathers: a subject usually only seen in porn. Taking a cue from all the wicked stepmothers that have tormented many of our childhood fairy-tale heroines, a psychotic stepfather is the subject of a tense 80’s thriller which eventually went on to become somewhat of a slasher-franchise with two sequels. It even got a remake treatment back in 2009 which, like most remakes, was inferior compared to the original. This movie is largely a character study of the a disturbed man looking for the perfect family. His tactic to gain this perfect family is to marry an attractive single woman, often a widow, with one or more kids and be the perfect family you always see on TV. Sadly reality isn’t perfect and neither are families. Therefor the stepfather slowly grows more and more infuriated and frustrated with his family until he reaches a boiling point and simply murders them all. As soon as he starts to realize his current family is imperfect he starts to prepare a new alias in a different town, so that when he does snap he can quickly slip into a new life in a new town and start dating a new single woman with a kid.
With the release of the first two Ninja Turtles movies a year apart, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III seemed to have taken ages to release. If my memory serves me correctly it wasn’t even released theatrically in my country. It’s just one of those sequels that suddenly pops up at you local video store. This is often a sign that the movie bombed in the U.S. upon its release and no one wants to take the risk of releasing as a theatrical feature overseas. So they release it directly on video to make a quick buck on rentals. In a lot of cases there is a justified reason such a sequel bombs a the box-office: it sucks. Just look at RoboCop 3 for instance. Released three years after part 2 with the lead role being played by a different actor. Is there actually any one who thought this was a good movie? If you have trouble remembering it: it was the one where a RoboCop movie suddenly was suitable for kids and RoboCop himself took on Ninjas. Ninjas in Detroit: just let that sink in for a moment. There are similarities between RoboCop 3 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: both are the weakest entries in the series, have a largely different production team compared to the previous two movies and are also very different in tone and style to their predecessors. While being the weakest Turtle movie, Turtles 3 is still way better than the turd called RoboCop 3. But I could film my dog shitting in the backyard and I would have a better movie than RoboCop 3, so that’s not saying much.
The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was at the time the highest grossing independent movie of all time. No wonder a sequel was green-lit and released only a year later. Most sequels take up at least two to three years to to be released, but leave it up to a movie starring one of the slowest species on earth to produce a sequel at top speed. In “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze” our four amphibious friends and their rodent mentor battle the Shredder again as he seemingly survived falling ten stories down into a garbage track. It must be those padded shoulders. Now, knowing that his Foot Clan is no match for the Turtles, he tries to get his hands on a canister of the same ooze that once mutated the Turtles. His plan is to mutate a snapping turtle and a wolf to create two adversaries that can handle the Turtles. In the mean time, the Turtles are living in April’s apartment while looking for a new place since their old lair was discovered by the Foot Clan in the previous movie.