Horror films have an inherent appeal for all us who love being scared. Rather than relying on big name stars or prestigious awards, they rely on tension and premise to lure viewers in. It’s an approach that works especially well when you’ve already seen the premise before.
I’m talking about horror movie sequels, a staple of the genre that mostly just lets studios cash in on unexpected successes without investing much effort or money into their rushed followups. There are more than a few genuinely great horror sequels, but the general trend is certainly toward the disappointing. So we’re looking back at the worst offenders in one of cinema’s most desolate wastelands — the land of the horror sequels. Here are eight of the worst horror movie sequels.
1. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
The simplicity of the first The Blair Witch Project ought to prohibit any cash-in sequels, but of course the confusingly titled Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was rushed to theaters in 2000 to cash-in on the first film’s runaway success (there’s also another sequel simply titled Blair Witch that’s supposedly pretty good). Unlike the plain horror of getting lost in the woods, Blair Witch 2 is bogged down with mythology and too many characters doing too many different things with not very scary outcomes.
2. Troll 2
Troll 2 wasn’t following up a beloved horror film, but it still feels like a spectacular failure in every way, shape, and form. Widely considered one of the most entertainingly bad movies ever, Troll 2 concerns a family who moves to a town filled with vegetarian goblins (not trolls) who want to turn them into plants and eat them in oddly inconsistent ways.
The acting is horrible, the script is horrible, and the tone is a jumble of family-friendly and vulgar darkness that makes this a movie that appeals to no one except those laughing at it.
3. Jaws: The Revenge
If you’re foolish enough to watch any of the Jaws sequels instead of just rewatching the original, make sure you don’t pick Jaws: The Revenge. The title gives some indication of the film’s ridiculous premise, wherein a PTSD-ridden Ellen Brody moves her family to the Bahamas but is followed by the shark she believes responsible for killing her husband. Michael Caine plays her love interest, and their screen time together divides the movie in two — one part laughable B-level horror movie and one part saccharine romance, all terrible.
4. The Exorcist II: Heretic
The Exorcist II got the budget and talent to turn this sequel into a masterpiece of terror, including Deliverance director, John Boorman as well as new and returning actors like Louise Fletcher and Max Von Sydow. The plot lacks the terrifying tension of the first film. It follows various attempts to understand the demon still living within Regan that yields vague clues into the demon’s past rather than any actual scares. There’s a lot of bizarre goings-on, but none of it is particularly compelling.
5. Psycho IV: The Beginning
Psycho never needed a sequel, but it got three belated ones anyway. The first two sequels were merely unnecessary, but Psycho IV is a downright embarrassment. The movie offers the first chapter of a story we already know — Norman Bates had a messed-up relationship with his mother. By taking the prequel route, the movie removes any chance of possible surprises (the twists are an integral part of the original, after all) in favor of harping on the same fixations without any purpose.
6. Silent Night, Deadly Night 2
The worst horror sequels are generally follow-ups to masterpieces or pieces of schlock that weren’t that great in the first place. Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is definitely the latter, though it seems cheap and lazy even when compared with its lackluster predecessor. It’s so cheap in fact, that much of the film is spent explaining what happened in the previous movies or showing you clips from it to help justify wasting 90 minutes of your precious little time here on Earth.
7. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Does that title make you excited to see what kind of horrific hijinks Jason Voorhees will cause when he’s removed from the familiar setting of Camp Crystal Lake and placed in the city? Too bad! Most of this film takes place on a boat bound for the Big Apple, making it just as repetitive in its scares as its seven(!) predecessors. Budget concerns kept the film from achieving the promise of its premise, but there’s really no excuse for such pervasive laziness.
8. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Audiences who paid to see the cash-grab sequel to the cash-grab Scream copy that was I Know What You Did Last Summer, got even less than they expected in this Bahamas-set horror film. It’s so rote it might as well be a Mad Lib — a hooked killer picks off our heroes and hotel staff one at a time, but more important than the story or horror are the copious shots of Jennifer Love-Hewitt’s cleavage and scenes of a young Jack Black doing his now-familiar shtick.
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