It’s hard to re-invent the wheel, so one can understand Hollywood’s penchant for sequels. Once you’ve stumbled upon a winning concept, you don’t want to stray too far from what works. But you can’t win them all. Sooner or later, the well runs dry and a well-loved horror franchise drops a dud. Sometimes familiarity breeds contempt. And other times the franchise forgets what audiences loved about it in the first place. Below are the worst sequels – The Bad Bunch – in otherwise successful horror series. The key word here is ‘successful’ franchise. No franchises with straight-to-video sequels. This means o Children of the Corn oo Hellraiser. And there must be a minimum of five entries in the franchise.
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2012)
Congratulations fans of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. It’s not the worst movie in the series. No, that honour goes to this lazy reboot or ‘re-quel’, the 2012 Texas Chainsaw 3D. In fact, the filmmakers were so lazy, they didn’t even include ‘Massacre’ in the title. Like Halloween 2018, Texas Chainsaw 3D positions itself as a direct sequel to the original. Not a bad idea in principal. Too bad a lack of scares and bizarre gaps in logic plague Texas Chainsaw 3D. Arguably, the worst of these gaps is the confused timeline. In addition, the sequel features one of the worst lines of dialogue in recent memory: ‘Do your thing, cuz.’ Yes, it’s as painful as it sounds.
Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers (1996)
As much as I dislike Halloween: Resurrection, I have since changed my mind – Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers is the worst Halloween sequel. Theatrical cut or Producer’s Cut? To be brutally honest, it doesn’t matter which version you watch. The sequel’s nonsensical Druid curse storyline couldn’t be saved by any amount of editing. Like many of the bad sequels on this list, The Curse of Michael Myers ruins a simple concept with pointless retconning. When The Shape is regulated to the background in his own movie, there’s a problem. There’s no Danielle Harris. And there are no scares. If there is any redeeming feature, an ageless Paul Rudd is here confirming that he must have some pact with the Devil.
Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
Okay, four films into a series and expectations should be low. Eventually you’re bound to see a drop-off in quality. And Paranormal Activity 4 crashed what was a strong franchise. Consider first its steep box office decline. Were you hoping for a sequel that might explore unanswered questions from the prior entries? Forget about it. Instead, Paranormal Activity 4 is a 90-minute commercial for the next installments. Little happens for the first hour and 20 minutes. Aside from a clever scene with a kitchen knife and a cheap gimmick involving Xbox Kinect, Paranormal Activity 4 leaves all your questions in a holding pattern. While it’s final 10 minutes scare up some fun tension, the conclusion is like an ‘80’s television cliffhanger. Frankly, this sequel isn’t just bad, it’s insulting.
The Conjuring, James Wan’s demonic chiller, is among the best horror movies in recent memory. Though it doesn’t quite reach the same heights, The Conjuring 2 was an excellent follow-up that encouraged audiences to invest in the Warrens. Unfortunately, The Conjuring Universe loses points for the uneven quality of its spin-off’s. The Curse of La Lorona is dull and uninspiring; first spin-off movie, Annabelle, is just bad. It would be easy to argue that a movie based on a brief prologue just was never going to be able to sustain its own movie. But Annabelle: Creation was a nail-biting prequel. And Annabelle Comes Home was fun if not a bit of a rehash of series’ highlights. In contrast, Annabelle is derivative and lifeless as the doll itself.
The Final Destination (2009)
With such a simple premise, it’s surprising it took four movies for the Final Destination franchise to bottom out. Despite the producers’ best effort to hide the fact that this is a Part 4 by calling the sequel, The Final Destination, this is definitely a Part 4. And it’s not so much a case of diminishing returns as it is a steep dive off a cliff. Seriously, The Final Destination is a shockingly lazy movie. Do you remember the amazing first scene from Final Destination 2? You know, the elaborate multiple car crash premonition? Sadly, The Final Destination never comes close to repeating this magic. In contrast, this sequel is a cheap-looking bore with terrible CGI-effects that would make Sharknado blush. Who stars in The Final Destination? No one you’ve likely heard of or recognize. Fortunately, Final Destination 5 breathed new life into this series about death.
Saw 3D (2010)
Saw 3D is the worst movie in the Jigsaw franchise. Period. It has a made-for-television production quality about it. Countless retconning and an endless cast of assistants over the sequels render this entry’s story incomprehensible. At this point, Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw had technically been out of the franchise longer than he was ever in it. That’s a problem. It only took the Friday the 13th series one sequel to realize fans wouldn’t accept a killer that wasn’t Jason. And Costas Mandylor’s bland Detective Hoffman is no Jigsaw. Not even Cary Elwes’ much-anticipated return helps. However, the Saw 3D makers seemed to know the series had reached a point of over-saturation. Their solution – A LOT of traps. Though the 3D didn’t amount to much more than a gimmick, the ‘Garage Trap’ was a gruesome highlight
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare occupies a strange place in the franchise. On one hand, it’s never as generic or dull as The Dream Child. Talalay is a talented filmmaker and, for at least part of the movie, Freddy’s Dead borders on inspired parody. Nevertheless, Freddy’s Dead is easily the worst Elm Street film, a tone-deaf mess that’s neither funny nor scary. Some might argue that this sequel aims for campiness, but that doesn’t mean it hits the mark. It also doesn’t mean that’s what fans wanted. Aside from completing Freddy’s transformation into a cartoonish shadow of his former self, Freddy’s Dead further retcons the character, unnecessarily adding a daughter to the mix. Nothing in the final act works. And the 3D is laughable. This should have marked the end of the series. Fortunately, Wes Craven stepped in and redeemed Freddy with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Here we go again. There’s something about the fourth film in horror franchises. Saw IV, The Final Destination, Parnormal Activity IV – they all signaled diminishing returns for their respective series. Despite Paul WS Anderson’s returning behind the camera, Afterlife can’t escape the fourth film jinx. Undoubtedly, the sequel is a downgrade across the board. Poor CGI effects, noticeable green screen, incoherent plotting, and unmemorable new characters – Afterlife is a tough slog. So much about this movie is incomprehensible. The Axeman looks cool, but makes no sense for a movie about zombies. And yes, I know the movies are based on videogames, but that doesn’t mean they have to be literal adaptations. Mila Jovovich’s Alice loses her powers, but she’s still pretty superhuman. Shawn Roberts’ Wesker is easily the dullest villain in the series. Movies based on video games can be stupid, but they can’t be boring.
Scream 3 (2000)
Of all the bad sequels on this list, Scream 3 is the best of the bunch. Though critics and fans alike hated on it, Scream 3 is nowhere near as bad as its reputation implies. In fact, it’s a masterpiece as compared to some of the movies on this list. Among its problems, Wes Craven overstuffed the story. This is a sequel that buckles under the weight of its own twists. Of course, there’s also the needless retconning to justify its own existence. But Scream 3’s biggest problem is that it still feels unnecessary. Even if it’s not perfect. Scream 4 felt like it had a reason to exist after a 10-year hiatus and plenty of changes in horror and the world around it. Instead, Scream 3’s insistence that it’s playing by the rules of a trilogy doesn’t work.
Jason Goes to Hell: the Final Friday (1993)
No, Jason X is not the worst Friday the 13th sequel. Not even close. That dishonor belongs to Jason Goes to Hell. The good – Kane Hodder is back as as Jason Voorhees. And that’s it. Bottom line, Jason Goes to Hell has absolutely no other redeeming qualities. Not a single one. Like too many later sequels in aging franchises, Jason Goes to Hell unnecessarily retcons Jason’s origins. But this sequel’s biggest sin – it doesn’t actually feature much Jason. Instead, Jason is ‘blown up real good’ at the start and his spirit possesses other bodies. The supernatural twist to the film represents a series low-point. If there’s anything to appreciate about Jason Goes to Hell, it does have one scene where a coroner eats Jason’s heart. Don’t ask.