Horror franchises are such an important element when it comes to Halloween, let alone pop culture in general. There was this endless glee one would have roaming the aisles of a video rental store (when those were still a thing) and picking up all nine Friday the 13th movies to marathon that dark October night. Or tuning into some spooky channel on Halloween and seeing that all The Omen films are airing consecutively. Even recently, we’ve seen yearly installments of franchises like Saw and Paranormal Activity until they proved to no longer be financially sound.
These endurance rounds of horror are a tradition every October for fans of the genre. And while vegging out to a dozen movies can be bliss, there’s usually one or two entries in each respective franchise that you find yourself conveniently “forgetting” to watch, or turning into a beyond delirious drinking game. While there are countless worthy horror series out there, here are 13 (ooh, spooky!) of franchises’ worst sequels and titles!
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
A ridiculous mess of a horror film that I would even go so far as giving the bold title of the worst movie I’ve ever seen. The film fails not just because it’s poorly done, but because it will actually make you angry with its laziness. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 tells the story of Ricky, the brother of the killer from the first film, going on a killing rampage and avenging his brother’s death to ultimately kill a nun. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the Silent Night, Deadly Night series, but this film is a disaster in the murders (a death by an umbrella actually happens) and the performances with the actors truly delivering lines in bizarre ways, Ricky especially.
The biggest upset here though is that this film is mostly made up of clips from the first film, and it’s only 88 minutes long. These flashbacks are grotesquely excessive, and just insulting to the audience, containing loads of unnecessary footage and information. Apparently the director was originally told by the studio to just recut the first film into a new movie entirely with editing, which is even more ridiculous. This is barely a movie and it’s such a failure that it’s even listed as a “comedy-horror” on Wikipedia, which was most certainly not the film’s intention.
Anthology horror films are always a lot of fun, and Creepshow and to a lesser extent, Creepshow 2, are some strong examples of masters of the genre like Stephen King and George A. Romero nearly perfecting the idea. “Something to Tide You Over” from the original, with Ted Danson and Leslie Nielsen, is just a near-perfect distillation of film in general.
But with Creepshow 3, there’s no talented pedigree helming the vehicle, none of the five segments are effective in any way, and right from the start, you can tell something is wrong here because the beginning of the film is animated! And not creepy, spooky animated (like the segments in Creepshow 2), but children’s funtime animated. This weird approach is used for all the wraparound segments, and similarly off decisions are made all over the place, like all the stories taking place during the day in bright environments while being totally void of blood. Tone and atmosphere are completely ignored further as more opportunities to make jokes rather than scare the audience are mistakenly pursued. There’s a definite younger demographic trying to be catered to here, and it destroys what could have been a wonderful trilogy.
The Halloween franchise, while starting as one of the best there’s been, has certainly had its ups and downs through the years. This is the film that effectively killed the series before Rob Zombie would reboot it years later. The this poor excuse for a film is steeped in its times, coming across as incredibly dated and hokey.
Halloween: Resurrection revolves around an Internet reality show that essentially has Michael Myers as the villain knocking off contestants. Everything here feels like it’s trying to be desperately hip, and the big set-piece that it’s building to is a huge fistfight between Busta Rhymes and Michael Myers. And Busta beats him (you can almost still hear the teenagers in the audience hooting in approval as he does it).
If all of this wasn’t enough, the film acts as a sequel to the less-shoddy Halloween H20, and has Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode one last time, just to ultimately kill her off by Michael’s hand in the infuriating opening 10 minutes. Michael’s completed what he’s been trying to do all of this time, and so now he’s going to mess up a reality competition. Yay?
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
The plot here, while hardly original, could have been something wonderful with a group of teenagers on prom night getting stuck in the woods, and wandering onto the house of a family of murderers and Leatherface. But the movie just seems to recycle ideas from the previous films and doesn’t have the skill of actually frightening or upsetting you, which the first films were known for. It’s also long, and you’ll find yourself getting bored throughout, which is kind of poison for any horror film.
The only sort of cache this movie has is that it stars Renee Zellweger as the hapless Jenny, and Matthew McConaughey as Vilmer Slaughter, both of them just pre-success. This film is certainly not McConaissance canon, but he’s still doing some crazy, over-the-top stuff here.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Okay, Jason Voorhees is tearing it up in the crowded streets of New York City? Great idea! What could possibly go wrong, right? Maybe the fact that this only happens in the last twenty minutes of the movie! That’s right. This movie should have been called Jason on the High Seas, because 90 percent of it is set on a boat headed to the Big Apple. Now, even having a maniac like Jason trapped in a small space with a bunch of graduating teens has a lot of potential, but you’d barely know it from the low kill count here.
Meanwhile, as we’re being lied to and getting lazy deaths like Jason stabbing someone with the shards of a broken mirror, the film is full of stereotypes like punk rock girls and a stuffy headmaster that has lines like “Are you girls doing drugs?” as he polices order on the boat (which is of course called the Lazarus, just as Jason is brought back to life in this entry), huffing incredulously as the horny teenagers try to have sex with him.
Even when they do get to New York, it’s all pretty silly, with our heroes immediately getting mugged upon entering the city. There’s some flat-out upsetting stuff here like the muggers injecting one of the female leads with heroin because they think it’d make her more susceptible to their rape-y vibes. And then shortly after we get an extended sequence of a NY heavyweight unsuccessfully pummeling Jason with swings as he tries to get a TKO. So yeah.
Exorcist II: The Heretic
Most people consider The Exorcist to be the scariest film of all time. Following up with a sequel would inevitably be a disappointment, but it didn’t mean that it still couldn’t be good (and the underrated gem that is Exorcist III is a testament to that). Here we see Regan, recovering from the events of the first film, and of course not being entirely healed apparently, while the death of the exorcist from the first film is also investigated.
This film falters on nearly every level, having no idea how to tell a story like this effectively, and is even considered to be one of the worst films ever, not just of the horror variety. Scenes drag on and on, and honestly, you’re laughing more than you’re frightened, with the absurd hypnotism scene being the apex of all of this. It’s impossible to not laugh during it, and that should never be the case in an Exorcist film.
Jaws: The Revenge
The plot of this movie is that a shark is consciously attacking and targeting the family of Chief Brody, from the original film, to get revenge for killing Jaws. Take that in for a moment. All of the attacks, and horror here are pre-meditated by these fish, because they’re holding a generational grudge against this family. That’s insane. Add to that unoriginal characters, terrible dialogue, and a plot that at every turn is screaming nonsense at you.
This film has a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Michael Caine, who is in this movie if you can believe that, blatantly admits that he did it to afford the additions to his home. Nobody is putting any effort into this project.
Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave
Zombie films have become so commonplace today that it’s easy to be underwhelmed or tired with them. The Return of the Living Dead franchise does a lot of original, and more importantly scary, things with the monster. This movie is neither of those things though, and hearing the plot is all you really need to hear to know how much this film is flailing its limbs. A drug called “Z” (because of its effects to make the users act like zombies) is created and ends up getting mixed up with a chemical that actually turns people into zombies. Naturally, some bad “Z” gets passed around at a Halloween rave and the rest of this bites itself—I mean, writes itself.
This was the turning point in the seven-film Saw franchise for a lot of people, as this film saw Jigsaw dying in a hospital bed while trying to train a new apprentice and simultaneously teach people lessons. Something to admire in the gory franchise is its ability to respect its mythos and the complicated story it’s telling, but all of that ties itself in knots in this entry. Many, many sections here are dripping in exposition as flashbacks are thrown in constantly and randomly, destroying the tension and suspense that drove the prior films forward while simultaneously demystifying a killer. This is also the mark of the series indulging a little more in its “torture porn” tendencies than its smart storytelling ones, as gore is heaped on relentlessly in a more gratuitous fashion than before.
Leprechaun Back 2 Da Hood
It’s a little surprising that a film series that sees a Leprechaun go into space in search of a space princess for its fourth title, can still have worse entries. To begin with, this is the second entry to see Leprechaun in an urban setting (the first of course being the classic, Leprechaun: In the Hood), and here we see the eponymous guy’s gold being stolen by “urban youths” with him hellbent on getting it back. Not excluding Leprechaun killing someone by stabbing them with a bong. Look, the Leprechaun films have always been campy, and Leprechaun 3, which takes the scamp to Vegas, is definitely more silly than scary. But it still works.
This film’s existence, however, is just confusing, as if a second story in this setting needed to be told, as we see these youths trying to fulfill their wildest dreams with stolen gold, which largely consists of drugs and ladies. Again, this film strangely implements an animated opening (and closing) for some odd reason. There’s also more Leprechaun rapping and ebonics than you’ll know what to do with, so get ready to scream, but not over the horror.
Puppet Master 4
The Puppet Master films may not be as popular as some of the other franchises here, but they’re undeniably well-crafted, freaky pieces of horror. The first few are wonderful, in fact. So Puppet Master 4 bites off more than it can chew by trying to mix things up much for the worse. The film introduces demons, with a rich lore, out of absolutely nowhere and pretends that they’ve always been a deep part of the series. It would be like if Freddy Kreuger was revealed to be a vampire in the fifth film, or that Michael Myers was abducted by aliens too, and that’s why he’s so messed up. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Furthermore, now the killer puppets are rendered to be good, while the demons are the villains, and we just see the puppets murder them. Throw in an extended laser tag-esque training scene between one of the leads and a puppet, a lot of characters just shouting “Ah fuck!” as danger approaches, and more time being spent on cheesy lightning and electricity effects than a logical plot, and you’ve got one terrible film on your hands.
Return to Sleepaway Camp
The original Sleepaway Camp is an all-time favorite of mine and the ending still manages to send shivers down my body and make me run for the light. You’d think that Return to Sleepaway Camp, which ignores the pulpy sequels Sleepaway Camp II-IV, and has Robert Hiltzik from the original back running the show, would offer some sort of promise, but it’s a sad misfire across the board.
Besides the film being stuck on the shelves for five years while CG effects advanced enough to finish the product, we again get another story about campers being offed. Only none of the characters are likable or even engaging; it’s full of bottom of the barrel material like kids lighting their farts on fire, and the deaths are just plain bland. There’s tons of footage from the original film shoehorned in here to little success too. There’s an absolutely insulting twist ending that barely makes any sense at all, and it tries to recreate the magic of the first one so much, it’s just depressing.
Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil
The Prom Night series can be a lot of fun if you just go with it and have a good time, so the worst thing that one of these films could do is to take itself too seriously. That’s the case here, where a religious blanket is placed over everything as we see the maniacal Father Jonas trying to kill teenagers who have let down God. Which, in this film by and large means “having sex.” Bible verses and heavy-handed preaching (a lot of people get crucified) are coursing through this entire film where you just wish that Jonas was the one being offed. Instead we get scenes like him wearing one of the girls’ scalps while killing her boyfriend by crushing his skull with his bare hands.
Ultimately, these are all titles that you’d be better off avoiding, but the amount of fun that can be had in staring gape-mouthed at these beyond-confusing horrible horror films also has its merits. It’s shocking how some truly quality films can be bookended around such shoddy insanity. But who knows, perhaps these unbelievable efforts may be your entry point into some revered classics that you never gave a chance before. Just please don’t let it be Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. That film is nothing but garbage in every regard and should be avoided like the plague…unless you want a beyond-good laugh on Halloween.