40 Unbelievable Movie Sequels You Never Knew Existed

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We live in a world where Lake Placid 4: The Final Chapter exists. The distributor sent us a cake to the office and everything! Some of us, it transpired, were not even aware that there had been a Lake Placid 2, and this turned our easily distracted minds to the world of the Direct-To-Video sequel, where franchises can continue apparently without anybody watching them. Here, then, is a representative sample - though we'd love your suggestions for an expanded follow-up feature. Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown? Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision? The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan 2: England Away? Let us know what should be added in the comment box below...


brightcove.createExperiences(); American Psycho

Director: Mary Harron
Starring: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto
Budget: $7m
Box Office: $34m

Plot: Adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ violent satirical novel. The film gives us Christian Bale in his breakout grown-up role as Patrick Bateman, a faceless Wall Street suit having a serial killing meltdown in the hideous 1980s. Something of a modern American classic, Ellis’ book was considered basically unfilmable, but Harron gave it a decent stab and managed to keep the jet-black humour and a lot of the ambiguity.

American Psycho 2

Director: Morgan J. Freeman
Starring: Mila Kunis, William Shatner

Plot: A slasher film with a new female psycho, and the tagline “Angrier, deadlier, sexier”. It’s possible that somebody didn’t quite understand the point of the original. Mila Kunis is the killer (not a spoiler, that) and William Shatner plays a former fed who’s now a college professor. It was 2002: he hadn’t got Boston Legal yet. This was originally a standalone screenplay called The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die. The hastily written-in connection to American Psycho is that Kunis’ babysitter dated Patrick Bateman. Only once, though…


brightcove.createExperiences(); Marley & Me (2008)

Director: David Frankel
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Alan Arkin
Budget: $60m
Box Office: $242m

Plot: Heartstrings are pulled and tears are jerked in a sort-of rom-com about Wilson, Aniston, their kids and a rambunctious Labrador Retriever.

Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (2011)

Director: Michael Damian
Starring: Travis Turner, Donnelly Rhodes, Grayson Russell

Plot: Kids’ movie where – and we didn’t see this coming – all the dogs can talk (to each other). With Aniston and Wilson “off on vacation”, the human action this time falls to a grandpa and a nephew who enter puppy Marley in a local dog show while his owners make Midnight in Paris and Horrible Bosses.


brightcove.createExperiences(); 8mm (1999)

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, Peter Stormare
Budget: $40m
Box Office: $97m

Plot: With pleasing sequentiality, 8mm was Andrew Kevin Walker’s follow-up screenplay to Se7en. Private eye Nicolas Cage embarks upon a grim downward spiral, investigating a snuff porn ring. He encounters Joaquin Phoenix as a porn-store clerk, and Peter Stormare as a goth overlord.

8mm 2 (2005)

Director: J. S. Cardone
Starring: Johnathon Schaech, Lori Heuring, Bruce Davison

Plot: Completely unrelated to Schumacher’s film, this was called The Velvet Side Of Hell until the marketing men got hold of it. Maybe they’d remembered that Stormare’s character in 8mm was called Dino Velvet and saw a connection – or maybe we’re reaching. It doesn’t even share the bleak snuff angle with its predecessor, but instead involves sexual shenanigans and blackmail in Eastern Europe.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Bambi (1942)

Director: David Hand
Starring: John Sutherland, Paula Winslowe, Sterling Holloway (voices)
Budget: $860k
Box Office: $270m

Plot: Seminal Disney animation from the golden era. Bambi the fawn negotiates woodland friendships and romantic entanglements, while easing into the role of The Great Prince Of The Forest. Successive generations are permanently scarred by the death of Bambi’s mother.

Bambi II (2006)

Director: Brian Pimental
Starring: Alexander Gould, Patrick Stewart, Andrea Bowen (voices)

Plot: A so-called “midquel”, this takes place while Bambi is still young (the original film covered four stages of his life, through to adulthood) and is basically about little Bambi learning to be brave in order to impress his father. And who wouldn’t want to impress Captain Picard? Part of the film happens on Groundhog Day, but doesn’t involve the little fawn reliving his mother’s death over and over. That would just be cruel. Of course, Disney have made a dungeon-full of these DTV sequels, including Jungle Book II, Lady and the Tramp II, 101 Dalmatians II and Cinderella II. Terrence Malick adapted his The New World from Pocahontas II.*

*We’ve possibly got that wrong.


brightcove.createExperiences(); The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Director: Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz
Budget: $13m
Box Office: $100m

Plot: A survivor of childhood abuse suddenly discovers that he can travel back in time with the use of his diary. Exploiting this lucky find to right all the injustices in his past, he learns that small changes to the timeline cause big ripples. He variously ends up as a college student, a prison rape victim and an amputee. People laughed in a kind of awed disbelief, which wasn’t really the intention.

The Butterfly Effect 2 (2006)

Director: John R. Leonetti
Starring: Eric Lively, Erica Durance, Dustin Milligan

Plot: Unrelated to the first one plot-wise, although it deals with the same issues again. It’s not as convoluted or as bogglingly dark though. We have here a protagonist who survives an accident that kills his friends, and goes back in time to try to stop it. The time travelling mechanic this time is photographs instead of diary entries, but it’s more or less the same. There’s a Butterfly Effect 3 too (called, yawn, Revelations), which, again, is the same premise with different characters.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Mean Girls (2004)

Director: Mark Waters
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried
Budget: $17m
Box Office: $129m

Plot: Written by Tina Fey, this immensely quotable teen comedy sees a girl who has been home tutored in Africa thrown back into a US high school and on a collision course with bitchy clique, The Plastics. Joining the group in order to destroy them from within, she slowly starts to act more like them and unleashes her inner bitch. Basically, it’s Heathers for the noughties, but with fewer explosions.

Mean Girls 2 (2011)

Director: Malanie Mayron
Starring: Meaghan Jette Martin, Jennifer Stone, Diego Boneta

Plot: The same high school seven years later, and The Plastics still exist although the members are, as you may have guessed, different. Another newcomer resolves to take them down, this time by forming a rival clique known as The Anti-Plastics and waging a war of pranks. Tim Meadows reprises his role as the exasperated Principal Ron Duvall. Tina Fey reprises nothing.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Donnie Darko (2001)

Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Patrick Swayze
Budget: $4.5m
Box Office: $8m

Plot: Kelly’s brilliantly opaque cult classic takes in time travel, tangent universes and sinister rabbits by way of a high school drama. In a weird way turning It’s A Wonderful Life on its head, it details the bad juju that comes of Donnie surviving a jet engine mysteriously landing on his house, with Jake Gyllenhaal winning a career in the process. The film did nothing on its initial release but picked up a phenomenal following later on DVD. We think it’s kinda funny; we think it’s kinda sad.

S. Darko (2009)

Director: Chris Fisher
Starring: Daveigh Chase, Briana Evigan, Elizabeth Berkley

Plot: Self-consciously trying to mimic the complexity of the first film, this just comes across as deliberately and annoyingly obfuscatory. Unusually for one of these things though, it does have a proper connection to Donnie: it centres on Donnie’s sister Samantha, played as before by Daveigh Chase. The plot involves a meteorite strike and a missing child, and the rabbit motif shows up again for some pretty tortuous reasons. Richard Kelly made it very publicly clear that S. Darko was nothing the hell to do with him. Sadly he was unable to make the same claim about Southland Tales.


brightcove.createExperiences(); The Scorpion King (2002)

Director: Chuck Russell
Starring: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kelly Hu, Michael Clark Duncan
Budget: $60m
Box Office: $85m

Plot: A spin-off prequel to the sequel to The Mummy, his Rockness plays Akkadian mercenary Mathayus, hired by a king to kill an evil sorcerer. Cue adventure and excitement in the desert, with sword fights, archery, and Kelly Hu in the bath. Hoorah!

The Scorpion King 2: Rise Of A Warrior (2008)

Director: Russell Mulcahy
Starring: Michael Copon, Karen David, Randy Couture

Plot: Yes, that is the Russell Mulcahy that made Highlander. A prequel to the prequel, this casts Copon as the young Mathayus, on a quest to the underworld with his friend Aristophanes to retrieve the Sword Of Damocles. Couture is evil king Sargon of Akkad. All these elements have a historical or mythological basis, but there’s a narrative discrepancy of about two millennia in there somewhere. There’s also Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption, which is (deep breath) the sequel to a prequel to a prequel that was a spin-off of the sequel to a remake.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Posse (1993)

Director: Mario Van Peebles
Starring: Mario Van Peebles, Billy Zane, Tiny Lister
Budget: $8.5m
Box Office: $18m

Plot: A fun shoot-em-up western with a serious agenda: writer / director / star Van Peebles wanted his follow-up to New Jack City to address Hollywood’s whitewashing of the history of the American West, reminding everyone that African-Americans were there too. Van Peebles plays Jessie Lee, on a mission to avenge himself against the men who lynched his inspirational father. Blaxploitation legends like Pam Grier, Isaac Hayes and Mario’s father Melvin Van Peebles crop up in the cast, as does veteran western legend Woody Strode.

Posse 2 (1997)

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Starring: Mario Van Peebles, Rene Auberjonois, Danny Trejo

Plot: A completely separate, entirely standalone film (in a more spaghetti style than its predecessor), this should properly be called Los Locos. Marketing people, however, saw fit to saddle it with the Posse 2 moniker because it’s a western with Mario Van Peebles in it. The story this time has quiet echoes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (and louder ones of The Dream Team), and sees Van Peebles’ drifter character hired to escort a group of crazies across the desert. The US variation of the title was Los Locos: Posse Rides Again, despite this particular posse never having ridden anywhere before.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Screamers (1995)

Director: Christian Duguay
Starring: Peter Weller, Jennifer Rubin, Roy Dupuis
Budget: $20m
Box Office: $6m

Plot: Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story Second Variety, with a screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Total Recall), Screamers is a solid little dystopian sci-fi, dealing with several of Dick’s recurring themes: paranoia, illusion versus reality, sinister machines, etc. The Screamers of the title are self-replicating A.I. weapons, so called because, um, they make a screaming noise. Peter Weller is the leader of a resistance group against corporate bastards the New Economic Block.

Screamers: The Hunting (2009)

Director: Sheldon Wilson
Starring: Lance Henricksen, Gina Holden, Jana Pallaske

Plot: The original bombed at the box office, but picked up enough of a cult following to make a sequel seem viable to someone, somewhere, a good 14 years later. The first film’s cliffhanger ending drives the story, in which Weller’s daughter sets out to discover what happened to him. Franchise logic dictates that we get some funky new Screamer designs, but Dick’s agendas and sensibilities have been jettisoned out the airlock.


brightcove.createExperiences(); The Hitcher (1986)

Director: Robert Harmon
Starring: Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jeffrey DeMunn, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Budget: $6m
Box Office: $8m

Plot: Cult classic in which C. Thomas Howell does what his mother told him never to do, and regrets it. Picking up hitchhiker Rutger Hauer, he finds himself in a genuinely chilling game of cat-and-mouse with a prolific serial killer, apparently capable of taking out entire police stations in complete silence, and fond of leaving severed fingers in your chips. Hauer’s John Ryder is fascinating, in that he seems to want to be stopped, and to have chosen Howell for the job. People tend not to forget what happens to Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting (2003)

Director: Louis Morneau
Starring: C. Thomas Howell, Kari Wuhrer, Jake Busey

Plot: Incredibly, Howell signed up for this very belated knock-off sequel. 17 years on he’s now a cop with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, forced to confront another psychotic hitchhiker. Fate can be so cruel. This instalment’s Hitcher is Jake Busey. Psychological nuance is not the order of the day.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Dream A Little Dream (1989)

Director: Marc Rocco
Starring: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jason Robards

Plot: The third film to pair Coreys Feldman and Haim (after The Lost Boys and Licence To Drive), Dream A Little Dream is a body-swap comedy. Transcendental meditation, of course, is the culprit responsible for Feldman waking up with the mind of Jason Robards, while his real self is stuck in a dream state. Hate when that happens.

Dream A Little Dream 2 (1995)

Director: James Lemmo
Starring: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman

Plot: The Two Coreys ditch the intellectual rigour of the first film for a caper in which they become the owners of secret experimental sunglasses. Said shades enable the wearer to manipulate the minds of others. Hilarious consequences, obvs.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Havoc (2005)

Director: Barbara Kopple
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Bijou Phillips, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Budget: $9m
Box Office: Never theatrically released

Plot: Wealthy American teens dabble with sex, drugs and hip-hop, and try to be gangsta, until exposure to real crime rears its ugly head. Comes off as kind of low-calorie Bret Easton Ellis, despite script work by Traffic and Syriana writer Stephen Gaghan.

Havoc 2 (2007)

Director: Beth Schacter
Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Ashton Holmes, Raviv Ullman

Plot: Those nefarious marketing types at work again: Havoc 2 has no connection whatsoever to Havoc, and all involved on the artistic side would prefer we refer to it as Normal Adolescent Behaviour. It’s about a group of friends who opt for a six-way free-love arrangement, rather than go through the hassle of traditional dating. Director Schacter deleted the film’s online presence as a result of the name change.



brightcove.createExperiences(); Road House (1989)

Director: Rowdy Herrington
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott
Budget: $15m
Box Office: 30m

Plot: Glorious tosh in which Patrick Swizzle is a sort of Zen Buddhist bouncer at the titular Double Deuce redneck bar. A shit-hot fighter, he can tear your throat out, but he doesn’t want to. Nobody ever wins a fight. Nevertheless, he reluctantly takes on the local criminal fraternity. He also gets to do some dirty dancing with Kelly Lynch, the lucky swine. The Murray brothers are amused. Joel Murray told us last autumn that this isn’t actually true, but we prefer to print the legend.

Road House 2: Last Call (2006)

Director: Scott Ziehl
Starring: Jonathan Schaech, Will Patton, Jake Busey

Plot: Not long after 8mm 2, Jonathan Schaech was back for more spurious sequel action. Here he’s son of Swizzle: a DEA agent who proves to be a chip off the old block when he gets mixed up in shenanigans involving his uncle’s bar, The Black Pelican. Jake Busey, himself fresh from The Hitcher II, is imaginatively named bad guy Wild Bill.


brightcove.createExperiences(); The Mangler (1995)

Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Robert Englund, Ted Levine
Budget: Unknown
Box Office: $2m

Plot: A short story by Stephen King, adapted by the director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, starring Freddy Krueger and Buffalo Bill. That might sound enticing on paper, but The Mangler is, when all’s said and done, a film about an evil laundry press. Hard to imagine a creative team that wouldn’t struggle with that one.

The Mangler 2 (2001)

Director: Michael Hamilton-Wright
Starring: Lance Henriksen, Chelse Swain

Plot: We’ve basically avoided the obvious horror franchises on this list, since it seems a given that even unlikely-seeming horror series (Children Of The Corn, Leprechaun, The Howling etc.) do just continue to chug on. We thought The Mangler deserved a mention though. Let’s be clear: a film about an evil laundry press spawned a sequel. Rebooting the premise, this is now a teen horror yarn set in a school, and The Mangler is now a computer virus rather than an enormous immovable piece of industrial machinery. What? How? Don’t ask us, and don’t ask the filmmakers either, since they don’t address the question in the slightest. Staggeringly, there was also a third instalment, The Mangler Reborn, in 2005.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Open Water (2003)

Director: Chris Kentis
Starring: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis
Budget: 130k
Box Office: $55m

Plot: Riveting, exhausting, unique (ya’d think) psychological horror, with two scuba divers separated from their boat and stranded alone in the middle of the ocean. Sharks, storms and jellyfish are the least of their worries.

Open Water 2: Adrift (2006)

Director: Hans Horn
Starring: Eric Dane, Susan May Pratt

Plot: Already a screenplay before Open Water came along, this was hastily pulled out of someone’s drawer and dusted off after the success of Kentis’ film. It’s not marvellous, but it does manage to tweak the formula: we’ve got four people in the water this time instead of just a couple, with the added frustration that their boat is still right there – with an unattended baby on board – but they can’t get back on it because they forgot to lower the ladder. Like the first one, it’s supposed to be based on a true story.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Hollow Man (2000)

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Josh Brolin
Budget: $95m
Box Office: $190m

Plot: Super-nasty Paul Verhoeven carnage, with slasher leanings and an unpleasantly misogynist aftertaste. Hollow Man racked up huge box office and Oscar-nominations for its FX, but there’s not much H.G. Wells to be seen in this invisible man.

Hollow Man 2 (2006)

Director: Claudio Fah
Starring: Peter Facinelli, Laura Regan, Christian Slater

Plot: Two new invisible men for your much-reduced money here: Christian Slater’s ex-special forces war criminal (named Griffin, in a nod to Wells’ novel), and Peter Facinelli’s Washington PD detective. There were no Oscar nominations this time. “There’s more to terror than meets the eye,” claimed the tagline. No, there’s less. (#jokesstolenfromseinfeld)


brightcove.createExperiences(); Tooth Fairy (2010)

Director: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Stephen Merchant, Julie Andrews, Billy Crystal
Budget: $95m
Box Office: $190m

Plot: Minor league hockey goon Johnson is forced into a newly bewinged life as a tooth fairy as punishment for his meanness. Say what you want, but it’s hard to dislike a film that teams The Rock with Mary Poppins, and there’s amusing support from Billy Crystal too.

Tooth Fairy 2 (2012)

Director: Alex Zamm
Starring: Daniel ‘Larry the Cable Guy’ Whitney, Erin Beute, David Mackey

Plot: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Fast Five and G.I. Joe: Retaliation all show that dropping The Rock into a franchise sequel equals solid gold. Dropping Larry the Cable Guy into a Rock sequel on the other hand… not so much.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Lost Boys (1987)

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Keifer Sutherland
Budget: $8.5m
Box Office: $32m

Plot: In which we learn that Santa Carla, California would be a perfect seaside resort were it not for all the damn vampires. Classic ‘80s teen horror comedy that manages the delicate balancing act of gore scares and laughs with considerable aplomb.

Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008)

Director: P. J. Pesce
Starring: Corey Feldman, Tad Hilgenbrink, Angus Sutherland

Plot: 21 years on, faced with a spec script deemed to be extremely similar to a certain popular Joel Schumacher film, Warner execs have the brainwave to simply retool it as Lost Boys 2. Et voila, The Tribe, a virtual retread of the first film, with some new blood learning all the stuff we already know. Corey Feldman is entertaining though, and there’s even a surprise cameo for Corey Haim, who’s become a vampire at some point in the previous two decades. The Tribe was shortly followed by The Thirst, which sadly didn’t follow through on the Corey vs. Corey rumble that the end of The Tribe seemed to promise. We did get both Frog brothers however: Jamison Newlander showed up to get down.


brightcove.createExperiences(); The Haunting In Connecticut (2009)

Director: Peter Cornwell
Starring: Virginia Madsen, Martin Donovan, Elias Koteas
Budget: $10m
Box Office: $56m

Plot: Supposedly based on a true story (they often are), this haunted house chiller sees a family moving into a rental property in order to be nearer the hospital where their son Matthew (Kyle Gallner) is undergoing treatment for cancer. There’s some suggestion that his illness is causing him to hallucinate, until others start sharing his paranormal experiences and he starts spewing ectoplasm in plain sight. It’s unremarkable, but spooky enough, and has some caustically critical things to say about the American health system, all sly-like.

The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia (2013)

Director: Tom Elkins
Starring: Abigail Spencer, Katee Sackhoff, Chad Michael Murray

Plot: The marketing mentalists strike again. Faced with a hit that they’d like to franchise, studio Gold Circle Films hit on the not-too-shabby idea of an anthology series dealing with unconnected hauntings in different states, and announced The Haunting In Georgia and The Haunting In New York. So far so good, until the apparent realisations that a) perhaps nobody would realise it was a series, and b) anybody could make a ‘Haunting In…’ movie and it’d be unclear which were the official ones. Hence the adding of the Connecticut brand name to the Georgia film, despite their being several states apart. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.


brightcove.createExperiences(); The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Director: Stephen Herek
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Joss Ackland, Joshua Jackson
Budget: $10m
Box Office: $51m

Plot: Feel-good underdog antics as Emilio Estevez suffers through community service coaching a hapless Minnesota kids’ hockey team to some sort of glory. He’s a grump who has his heart melted; they’re hopeless but he teaches them to believe in themselves. You know how these things work. It’s a big box of Disney corn, but the little ‘uns loved it.

Mighty Ducks The Movie: The First Face-Off (2013)

Director: Alan Smithee
Starring: James Belushi, Clancy Brown, Tim Curry (voices)

Plot: The first movie ends with Emilio Estevez promising to come back next season and help the kids defend their title. So he did that, in D2: The Mighty Ducks. And then he did it again in, you guessed it, D3: The Mighty Ducks. These films were so successful that they actually led to the creation of a real NHL team (known these days as the Anaheim Ducks), and there was also an animated TV series, which spawned this fourth film, cobbled together from three episodes. It’s set in space, on an ice planet called Puckworld, inhabited by duck-like aliens, for whom hockey is religion and law. Characters included Mallory McMallard, Duke L’Orange and Captain Klegghorn. Star Trek experts Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens were on the writing team. It must have made a change from ghostwriting William Shatner’s Trek novels.


brightcove.createExperiences(); I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Director: Jim Gillespie
Starring: Sarah Michelle Geller, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe
Budget: $17m
Box Office: $126m

Plot: Riding high on the coattails of Scream, this teen slasher was based on a popular kids’ novel by Lois Duncan, and given a knowing sheen by Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson (he brought similar nous to Halloween H20 around the same time). It’s about a Scooby-gang who accidentally kill a guy in a road accident and decide not to tell. They think they’ve gotten away with it, until they start getting stalked and killed by a sinister “Fisherman”.

I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006)

Director: Sylvain White
Starring: Brooke Nevin, David Paetkau, Ben Easter

Plot: The first sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, came barely a year after the original, and got a theatrical release. The plot had survivors of the last film winning a holiday in an off-season resort during a hurricane, and finding that Captain Birdseye had apparently followed them. It is, obviously, a very fast cash in, with a tortuous and laughable title; Danny Cannon directed it, doing penance for Judge Dredd. It managed some returning cast though (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr.), and any film that has Jack Black (as a white Rasta) and Jeffrey Combs isn’t a total loss. Skip forward eight years however, and the much belated I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer can no longer boast any connection to the rest of the series, barring the idea that The Fisherman is now some sort of urban legend that the kids can blame their accidents on. Useful stepping-stone for Sylvain White though, who went on to direct Stomp The Yard and The Losers.


brightcove.createExperiences(); WarGames (1983)

Director: Jim Gillespie
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, John Woo
Budget: $12m
Box Office: $80m

Plot: Very dated but still fun cold war hacker thriller. This sees a Seattle slacker (a proto-Ferris Bueller for Broderick) who almost starts WWIII by blundering into NORAD and starting what he thinks is a game called “Thermonuclear War”, waking up an insane AI (WOPR, AKA “Joshua”) in the process. Doofus. Barry Corbin threatens to piss on a spark plug. Armageddon is averted with a game of noughts and crosses.

WarGames: The Dead Code (2008)

Director: Stuart Gillard
Starring: Matt Lanter, Amanda Walsh, Colm Feore

Plot: “The game isn’t over!” warned the blurb, but it took 25 years for anyone to notice. This one, reasonably enough, tries to update the original with current hot-button technological and geopolitical material. It’s about a kid who gambles online, playing a terrorism-based game that’s actually government spyware to trap potential insurgents. The crazy AI this time is called RIPLEY (geddit?), and the connection to the first film is Professor Falken (John Wood last time, Gary Reineke here) who really should be locked up for the planet’s safety. There’s also a Russian Roulette WOPR vs. RIPLEY showdown for good measure.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Van Wilder (2002)

Director: Walt Becker
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Kal Penn
Budget: $5m
Box Office: $38m

Plot: Ryan Reynolds stars as the titular party liaison in this post-Farrellys gross-out comedy. Plot-wise, it’s about the most popular man on Coolidge campus in a pranking rivalry with uptight medic Daniel Cosgrove. There’s also Van’s PA, an Indian student named Taj Mahal Badalandabad, whose mission in life is to shag a white chick before he goes home. Hilarity ensues, dogs are… well, it’s not really decent to say.

Van Wilder: Freshman Year (2009)

Director: Harvey Glazer
Starring: Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Kurt Fuller

Plot: Clearly, Ryan Reynolds would have been insane to return, so the first sequel, Van Wilder: The Rise Of Taj, concentrated on his sidekick’s racially side-splitting adventures at Cambridge. It was a Van Wilder film with no Van Wilder, leaving it to this eventual prequel to recast the central role. It went to Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls, Veronica Mars), his second DTV prequel of the year after The Dukes Of Hazzard: The Beginning (let’s just deal with that film here: it’s so cheap they don’t even jump a single car!). It’s a living, we guess. The film’s about how Van first turned the boring Coolidge into party central, using techniques he learned on a trip to Amsterdam just after he finished school. Clearly missing a Taj to kick around, there’s an Asian character in this called Yu Dum Fok.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Wild Things (1998)

Director: John McNaughton
Starring: Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon
Budget: $30m
Box Office: $56m

Plot: Remember Wild Things? You know, it’s the supposedly “erotic” crime thriller, with the softcore lesbian stuff with Denise Richards and Neve Campbell. You saw Kevin Bacon’s unmentionables and a generation is still recovering from the psychological scars.

Wild Things: Foursome (2010)

Director: Andy Hurst
Starring: Jillian Murray, Marnette Patterson, Ashley Parker Angel

Plot: Chicks in bikinis (and out of them) sell DVDs, so the Wild Things brand name was still rubbing them out twelve years later. Wild Things 2 (2004), Wild Things: Diamonds In The Rough (2005), and this one all have similar crime/shagging/double-crossing plots to the first film (each with a new cast), and take place around the same small Floridian town and high school of Blue Bay, which is clearly like the Sweet Valley from hell. Or maybe it sounds good to you: we don’t know your life. There was talk of Foursome being a reboot… but then it wasn’t.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Road Trip (2000)

Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott, Tom Green
Budget: $16m
Box Office: $120m

Plot: Early success for Todd “The Hangover” Phillips, on the American Pie bandwagon to the extent that Stifler’s in the cast. Narrated in flashback by Tom Green (“Wait, girls don’t just stand around naked, having conversations!” / “Yes they do, and it’s my story.”) it’s at heart a rather sweet story about a college loser travelling across country – buddies in tow – to salvage his long-distance relationship. Frat houses, car wrecks, sperm banks… You know the drill.

Road Trip: Beer Pong (2009)

Director: Steve Rash
Starring: DJ Qualls, Mary Elizabeth Cobb, Rhoda Griffis

Plot: Another road trip for more or less the same reasons, this one featuring encounters with biker gangs and the CIA, and a beer pong tournament. In a way it’s actually surprising that there haven’t been more of these, given how simple and repeatable the formula is. On the other hand, this is really a stand-alone film that only exists as a Road Trip because Paramount found that they owned the rights to the franchise after their purchase of DreamWorks SKG. There are a couple of returning cast members though: forced back into servitude were DJ Qualls as Kyle, and Rhoda Griffis as “Tour Group Mom” (not as promiscuous as Stifler’s mom). Also, Community fans will be interested to see a young Abed (Dunny Pudi) doing a gig he’s probably pretty embarrassed about. Not cool cool cool.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Nim's Island (2008)

Director: Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
Starring: Jodie Foster, Gerard Butler, Abigail Breslin
Budget: $37m
Box Office: $101m

Plot: Wholesome environmentalist shenanigans, as Abigail Breslin and her animal friends deal with volcanoes, tourists and San Franciscan agoraphobics on a Pacific island. Gerard Butler plays both Breslin’s marine biologist father and the fictional hero Alex Rover. Jodie foster is the neurotic adventure writer Alexandra, who gets roped into the proceedings. Foster signed up because she was very much a fan of the Wendy Orr novel on which the film is based.

Return To Nim's Island (2013)

Director: Brendan Maher
Starring: Bindi Irwin, Matthew Lillard

Plot: Initially exclusive to the Hallmark Channel and Walmart, Nim’s sequel replaces Gerard Butler with Matthew Lillard, and Abigail Breslin with Bindi Irwin (daughter of late animal-wrestling environmentalist Steve). Nim’s still on her island, this time fighting poachers and developers. This also has John Waters in it… but sadly not that John Waters. That would’ve been something.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Art Of War (2000)

Director: Christian Duguay
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Michael Biehn, Donald Sutherland
Budget: $40m
Box Office: $30m

Plot: Not some sort of adaptation of Sun Tsu’s military strategy handbook, this is a post-Blade, pre-straight-to-video-tax-ignominy vehicle for Wesley Snipes. A martial-arts action spy thriller, it sees Snipes as Neil Shaw, running dodgy ops for shady factions of the US government, and getting framed for murder in the middle of some US/China trade negotiations. The FBI and the Triads are in the mix, and there’s a lot of blue neon and slo-mo breaking glass.

Art Of War III: Retribution (2013)

Director: Gerry Lively
Starring: Treach, Warren Derosa, Sung Hi Lee

Plot: With its obviously Bondian elements, The Art of War had its eye on a franchise, but then died on its arse, so went nowhere. Then suddenly, eight years later, there was low-budget The Art of War II: Betrayal, firmly in Snipes’ post-Blade Trinity, post-tax misery DTV era. Shortly afterwards, there’s this third instalment, which doesn’t even have Snipes, replacing him with Naughty By Nature rapper Anthony “Treach” Criss, who’d been building his own video career in the likes of Connor’s War and the Seagal clunker Today You Die. Treach, it’s safe to say, is no Snipes. He’s not even down-on-his-luck Snipes.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Waiting... (2005)

Director: Rob McKittrick
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long
Budget: $3m
Box Office: $22m

Plot: Post-Clerks indie comedy about the wise-talking staff at the Shenaniganz restaurant. Reynolds and Long are depressed about their lack of life direction, there are stoners, there is an annoying boss, there is a mad chef. And there’s a lot of business about a penis puppetry game. If you can achieve The Goat, you’re a Zen master. True story.

Still Waiting... (2009)

Director: Jeff Balis
Starring: Adam Carolla, John Michael Higgins, Robert Patrick Benedict

Plot: More of a Porky’s vibe to this follow-up, in which staff at a different branch of the Shenaniganz chain get into a rivalry with strip club / chicken wing shack next door. John Michael Higgins – in happier times part of the Christopher Guest mockumentary rep company – is in this one, and the connection to the past is Robert Patrick Benedict’s Calvin, transformed from a dork into the pimp that runs the sub-Hooters franchise. Justin Long has a cameo, but later told Rolling Stone he was embarrassed to be involved.


brightcove.createExperiences(); National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

Director: Jeremiah Chechik
Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid
Budget: $25m
Box Office: $71m

Plot: Obviously a sequel in itself, this was the third in the Vacation series, with Chevy Chase and his Griswold clan staying at home this time to play host to the rellies for the holidays. Chase drains the national grid with his Christmas lights, annoys his neighbours, suffers his in-laws and worries about his bonus. There’s a bit of a kidnap plot, late on. Many now fondly view this film as a Christmas perennial.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure (2003)

Director: Nick Marck
Starring: Randy Quaid, Miriam Flynn, Eric Idle

Plot: So this is the sequel to Vacation 3, but in series terms it’s number 5, coming as it does after Vegas Vacation. A TV special for NBC, it’s the first Vacation to be Griswold-free (and, arguably, mostly laugh-free). There’s no Chase or D’Angelo here, and we’ve instead got Randy Quaid and Miriam Flynn, reprising their roles as classless Griswolds-in-law the Johnsons. They get shipwrecked on an island at Christmas. That’s about it. Eric Idle also makes an appearance as the guy he played in European Vacation.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Anaconda (1997)

Director: Luis Llosa
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight
Budget: $45m
Box Office: $137m

Plot: Gleeful monster nonsense, with Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson, Jonathan Hyde and Kari Wuhrer stuck on a boat, up a river, in the jungle, beset by a giant snake and Jon Voight. Cube does his grumpy teddy-bear thing, Voight is hilarious as a dastardly Paraguayan snake hunter, and there’s a fun cameo by Danny Trejo too. Barry Norman was so amused by a scene of Voight leering at a showering Lopez that he played it on Film 97 three times. “Let’s see it again!” he beamed. Yes, let’s.

Anacondas: Trail Of Blood (2009)

Director: Don E. Fauntleroy
Starring: Crystal Allen, Linden Ashby, John Rhys Davis

Plot: It took a while, but a sequel arrived in 2004, doing the Alien thing of following Anaconda with Anacondas. That was where the fun ended. Subtitled The Hunt For The Blood Orchid (scientists encounter giant snakes while looking for flowers), part 2 was followed by Anaconda 3: Offspring (2008) and this one, Trail Of Blood, a year later. Both of the final two were made for the Sci-Fi Channel. David Hasselhoff is in 3 (awesome hunter called in to re-capture giant snakes escaped from lab), while the fourth could boast John Rhys Davis as a dodgy billionaire searching for a snake-serum cure for cancer. Like Predators, the pluralised titles don’t really deliver the implied onslaught in the way that Aliens did. Maybe we’ll get to the Anacondas’ planet eventually. Oh no, wait, we live there.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Legally Blonde (2001)

Director: Robert Luketic
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair
Budget: $18m
Box Office: $142m

Plot: Smarter-than-alla-ya wish-fulfilment. Reese Witherspoon dims down to play the airhead sorority chick who solves crimes and crushes a Harvard law degree with nothing but good ol’ down home common sense. William Hague’s 2001 election campaign was entirely inspired by this film.*

*Potentially, in another dimension.

Legally Blondes (2009)

Director: Savage Steve Holland
Starring: Camilla Rosso, Rebecca Rosso, Curtis Armstrong

Plot: So in 2003 there was Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, in which Witherspoon’s Elle Woods has further underestimated brainiac adventures working for congress. And then, six years on, there’s this, skewing the series much younger and playing on the Disney Channel. It’s about Elle’s British twin cousins being shipped off to private school in California and dealing with the complex politics therein. The twins were played by Camilla and Rebecca Rosso, from The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody. Director “Savage” Steve Holland was making John Cusack comedies in the ‘80s. Them were the days.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Charlotte's Web (1973)

Director: Charles A. Nichols & Iwao Takamoto
Starring: Rex Allen, Debbie Reynolds, Henry Gibson (voices)

Plot: A Hanna-Barbera cartoon version of E.B. White’s classic children’s novel. White had turned down Disney, but ended up with songs by the Mary Poppins / Jungle Book team The Sherman Brothers anyway. He was not pleased, the grump. “I don’t care much for jolly songs,” he said. Despite his misgivings, it’s still the age-old story of girl rescues pig / pig befriends spider, and there’s still not a dry eye in the barn come the end.

Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure (2003)

Director: Mario Piluso
Starring: Julia Duffy, David Beron, Harrison Chad (voices)

Plot: If E.B. White didn’t even like the original, he’d have been fucking apoplectic about the sequel, which showed up an incredible 30 years later, courtesy of Nickelodeon, Paramount and Universal. It’s all apparently down to the 1973 film being a surprisingly massive hit when released on VHS in the mid-90s. That sort of comeback doesn’t go unnoticed by money men, hence this, involving Wilbur the pig undertaking a journey, and getting framed for stealing hens by a fox. INJUSTICE! It does not have songs by the guys that did Mary Poppins. It does have a lamb called Cardigan.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Undisputed (2002)

Director: Walter Hill
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames

Plot: For a long time this looked like Walter Hill’s last film, until Stallone and Bullet To The Head came along to persuade him out of his apparent retirement. It wouldn’t have been a bad note to bow out on though. Rhames plays George “Iceman” Chambers in a prison boxing drama: a disguised version of the urban legend that Mike Tyson had some organised fights, and was actually beaten, during his jail time.

Undisputed III: Redemption(2010)

Director: Isaac Florentine
Starring: Scott Adkins, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Mark Ivanir

Plot: Really nothing to do with the original, the Undisputed sequels are basically a franchise of their own: different boxers in different prisons. Undisputed II: Last Man Standing (two Walter Hill titles for the price of one there) starred Michael Jai White, forced to fight crazy Russian Scott Adkins in a crazy Russian hellhole. And Redemption, kinda interestingly, carries on the story of Adkins’ villain, but makes him the underdog we root for. Hokey plots but some bone-crunchingly good MMA action.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Free Willy (1993)

Director: Simon Wincer
Starring: Lori Petty, Michael Madsen, Keiko the Orca
Budget: $20m
Box Office: $154m

Plot: Feel-good family fare about an orca whale in amusement park captivity, forming an emotional bond with troubled yoot Jason James Richter. When it transpires that nefarious types want to kill the whale for the insurance money, a plan is hatched to, you guessed it, Free Willy.

Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove (2010)

Director: Will Geiger
Starring: Bindi Irwin, Beau Bridges

Plot: Willy got returned to the wild. Acting whale Keiko wasn’t so lucky and had to make sequels (although apparently his animatronic double did the heavy lifting subsequent to the first film). There were two more films in the 1990s, in which Willy needed rescuing from oil spills and theme park bastards (Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home) and whalers (Free Willy 3: The Rescue). Then, another decade later, there was this belated fourquel. Look! It’s enviro-chick Bindi “Daughter of Steve” Irwin again (see Nim’s Island)! It’s not the same Willy and there aren’t any real pirates. Sorry to ruin your day.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Director: Tom Shadyac
Starring: Jim Carrey, Courtney Cox, Sean Young
Budget: $12m
Box Office: $107m

Plot: The film that gave the world Jim Carrey (unless you count The Dead Pool or Pink Cadillac, which you really shouldn’t). Goofy cartoony rubber-faced antics abound as Detective Ace goes on the trail of a stolen dolphin. He’ll find it if he has to tear the universe another black hole.

Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective (2009)

Director: Jack Bernstein
Starring: Josh Flitter, Ann Cusack, Ralph Waite

Plot: Carrey came back for one more, When Nature Calls, in 1995, and there’s then a 14-year gap until this instalment, handing over to Josh Flitter as Carrey is explained away as being lost in the Bermuda Triangle. A live-action film from the Cartoon Network, it’s about Ace’s son following in his father’s footsteps, solving a disappearing animals mystery. The originals were amusing for having an adult acting like a kid. This is a kid acting like a kid, which is just annoying. Ralph Waite (Pa Walton) plays Grandpa Ventura.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Bring It On (2000)

Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku
Budget: $10m
Box Office: $68m

Plot: Sassy fun with Kirsten Dunst stepping up to leadership of high school cheerleading team The Toros, and realising that all their best moves have been nicked from their rivals. Instant underdogs, the pressure’s on to find a new routine super-quick for the national championships. You feel that there was a bawdier R-rate comedy in here somewhere, but it’s been called to heel for the kids.

Bring It On: Fight To The Finish (2009)

Director: Billie Woodruff
Starring: Christina Milian, Vanessa Born, Cody Longo

Plot: There are five of these fuckers now. None of the sequels have any of the cast or crew of their progenitor, but apart from that they’re all basically the same. Bring It On Again (2004) is about an underdog cheer team making their way to the national championships. Again. Bring It On: All Or Nothing (2006) is about a cheer team wracked with internal strife competing to appear in a Rihanna video (and yes, Rihanna’s in it). Bring It On: In It To Win It (2007, with Ashley Benson and Scorpion King 2’s Michael Copon) is about an East Coast/West Coast rivalry at Cheer Camp. And this one, Bring It On: Fight To The Finish (2009) is about rivals joining forces to win some other thing. Still – cheerleaders! Yay! That’s something everyone can enjoy.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)

Director: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Piper Perabo, Drew Barrymore (voice), George Lopez (voice)
Budget: $20m
Box Office: $144m

Plot: In between his live-action Scooby Doo and Smurfs movies, director Raja Gosnell gave us this. Thanks, Raja Gosnell. In a bizarrely horrible set-up for a cute movie, pampered pooch Chloe gets dognapped to participate in Mexico City dog fights, but leads her fellow captives into a daring escape and defeat of the villains. Edward James Olmos voices a Doberman, and Cheech Marin gets to be a rat.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta! (2012)

Director: Lev L. Spiro
Starring: George Lopez, Odette Annabelle, Ernie Hudson

Plot: Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 (2011) saw the now “married” dogs Chloe and Papi having puppies and getting in adventures. In Viva La Fiesta they all move into a hotel and there are romantic entanglements. IT’S A ROM-COM WITH DOGS! WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THE WORLD? George Lopez voices Papi in all three films. Ernie Hudson voices Pedro in the later two. We tried to get hold of Ernie for an interview about something a while ago, and his agent told us he was too busy. DOING THIS?


brightcove.createExperiences(); Half Past Dead (2002)

Director: Don Michael Paul
Starring: Steven Seagal, Ja Rule, Kurupt
Budget: $13m
Box Office: $19m

Plot: Part of Steven Seagal’s urban cycle, when he was co-starring with rappers (see also Exit Wounds with DMX), this was the last Seagal epic to see the inside of a cinema (until Machete, but that’s not “his” film). A prison movie set in a newly-reopened Alcatraz, Seagal plays a Russian, and the story involves heavily beweaponed terrorists parachuting onto the island to learn the location of stolen gold. There’s a lot of shooting and Seagal wears a headscarf. The title at no point makes any sense.

Half Past Dead 2 (2007)

Director: Art Camacho
Starring: Kurupt, Bill Goldberg, Robert Madrid

Plot: No Seagal, no Ja Rule, so it’s up to Kurupt to carry this alone. He negotiates a transfer to another prison, but immediately gets on the wrong side of a Hispanic gang leader. Oops! Luckily he makes friends with Bill Goldberg from the WWE. Phew! If we were making this film, we’d have called it Quarter To Dead. Just saying.


brightcove.createExperiences(); Cruel Intentions (1999)

Director: Roger Kumble
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon
Budget: $10.5m
Box Office: $76m

Plot: A wry and clever updating of Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses, this transposes the amorality tale of decadent French Revolution aristocrats laying bets on seductions, to an American public school in the 1990s. It works astonishingly well.

Cruel Intentions 2 (2000)

Director: Roger Kumble
Starring: Robin Dunne, Sarah Thompson, Amy Adams

Plot: Adams replaces Gellar and Dunne stands in for Phillippe in a prequel that more-or-less re-hashes the original. Even some of the dialogue gets a second airing. This one ups the erotic content though, including a threesome with twins and some dodgy stuff with horses. Cruel Intentions 3 (2004) meanwhile, revolves around Kerr Smith. She’s supposed to be Gellar/Adams’s cousin, but that tenuous connection is all you get.