By and large, most sequels are superfluous. For every great story arc-expanding sequel like The Godfather 2 or The Dark Knight that comes along, we usually get about 20 movies like Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Son of the Mask, Speed 2: Cruise Control and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps that were made solely to capitalize on the financial success of its forerunner.
As bad as sequels like The Matrix: Reloaded, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo may be, at least they stay somewhat true to the films before them. If they didn’t give you the same cast, they at least gave you a plot or atmosphere that felt similar to the earlier flick. They may not have succeeded, but at least they tried to continue the narrative.
Then, there are sequels like the following ten films, which don’t even attempt to justify their existence outside of crass commercial opportunism. No returning cast members. Totally abandoned storylines. Entirely different characters, in entirely different locations, with only the most tenuous of connections to events that transpired in the previous movie. Heck, some of them don’t even have any formal connections to the films that inspired them, sharing the same title as their predecessor and virtually nothing else.
Sick and tired of redundant Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean follow-ups gumming up the multiplex? Well, as ho-hum and lackluster as those never-ending sequels may be, these movies demonstrate the cinematic causatum could ALWAYS be even more calamitous…
10. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
This one pretty much defines what it means to be a “sequel in name only.” Despite the familiar plot, Havana Nights has absolutely zero canonical ties to the 1987 Patrick Swayze movie. Indeed, the film started life as a politically-conscious drama called Cuba Mine, which sat unproduced for more than a decade before Artisan Entertainment got a hold of it and completely rewrote it as a shameless Dirty Dancing ripoff set during the Cuban Revolution.
An utterly predictable film loaded with bizarre anachronisms (why people in what’s supposed to be 1958 are getting down to the Black Eyed Peas and Christina Aguilera is never explained), Havana Nights barely recouped its $25 million budget at the box office and remains largely forgotten to this day … not unlike the short-lived Dirty Dancing TV series from 1988 or, heaven help us, 2010’s Dirty Dancing 3: Capoeira Nights.
9. Grease 2 (1982)
With no John Travolta or Olivia Newton-John, the follow-up to Grease is really more of an unofficial remake than a sequel. Alas, canonically the movie takes place two years after the original, but despite a few bit players from part one reprising their roles, it’s a flick that feels more like a pale imitation than a sincere follow-up.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield do what they can as substitutions for Sandy and Danny, but neither the romantic-comedic elements nor the music comes close to matching the original. Still, considering how poorly the following Travolta sequel fared, maybe retaining the stars of the original film wouldn’t have been a safeguard from the sequel sucking out loud…
8. Rock N’ Roll High School Forever (1991)
Released 13 years after Rock N’ Roll High School, this early ‘90s snoozer is practically the opposite of its cult classic progenitor. Whereas the first movie was a semi-self-aware screwball comedy starring PJ Soles as a free-spirited teen rebel fighting against her principal’s draconian rules, this one is a far more predictable, by-the-numbers high school romp featuring Corey Feldman as the frontman of a crappy heavy metal band.
Totally eschewing the tongue-in-cheek wackiness of the original, Rock N’ Roll High School Forever not only fails to proudly carry on the series, it honestly doesn’t even attempt to live up to its source inspiration. Just how lame is this sequel-in-name-only? Instead of featuring The Ramones, its soundtrack is supplied by such pre-Nirvana C-leaguers as Jesus Jones, Mojo Nixon and – for shame, for shame – The Pursuit of freakin’ Happiness.
7. Staying Alive (1983)
If there’s ever been a movie cemented around a specific point in time, it’s Saturday Night Fever. The film came out at the very height of disco, so it was destined to feel dated as soon as the fad went out of vogue.
Still, it did such a great job of encapsulating the times that it remains one of the 1970s’ definitive pop cultural works. Unfortunately, its sequel Staying Alive fails to do the same thing for the 1980s, instead giving us a very inconsistent relationship melodrama about the highs and lows of off-Broadway interpretive dance.
Travolta’s Tony Manero character is nowhere near as endearing as he was in Saturday Night Fever and the working-man-fighting-against-the-odds plot (written by, of all people, Sylvester Stallone) feels clumsy and painfully forced. Simply put, this is an addendum Saturday Night didn’t need, and judging from its lukewarm critical reception, methinks Johnny and pals wished they would’ve kept the series in 1977 where it belonged.
6. American Psycho 2 (2002)
The only connection this film has with American Psycho is the opening scene, in which a young girl survives an attack from the original film’s murderous lead (although the part has been recast – a shocker, I know, but Christian Bale apparently thought he was above doing cameos in direct-to-DVD cash-ins.)
Beyond that, American Psycho 2 is a totally different film unconnected to either the literary world created by Bret Easton Ellis or the 2000 film adaptation helmed by Mary Harron. Instead, we have Mila Kunis playing a psychotic college student who decides to kill off her more competitive classmates to impress her object of unrequited admiration – William Shatner.
It’s obvious this was a totally different, wholly unrelated movie that simply had the American Psycho label slapped on it to trick gullible consumers at Blockbuster; tis a pity, too, since we all expected a director named “Morgan J. Freeman” to churn out something substantially better than this slapdash and slipshod sequel-in-name-only.