Sequels represent the best and worst of Hollywood. The good ones revitalize tired franchises and add new chapters to stories we already love and the bad ones serve no other purpose than to milk a few more cents out of an already dead cow. Good or bad, they’re an inevitability. Hollywood has always been and will always be a business, with sequels being their bread and butter. This list examines both the bread and the butter, or in other words, the follow-ups that put the emphasis on both the former and the latter of the word.
This list is a collaboration between Sailor Monsoon and Kane, with Sailor tackling the good and Kane taking on the ugly. Both of which had to abide by two rules:
1) Only one film per franchise, unless the franchise reboots with a new cast (James Bond, Star Trek, X-Men, Etc.)
2) It has to be an official sequel, so previous adaptations don’t count (this excludes the Silence of the Lambs) nor do “unofficial” sequels (this excludes the Three Colors trilogy, the Cornetto trilogy and the Vengeance trilogy)
This is the 100 Greatest and Worst Sequels of All Time.
30. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994) | WORST
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is arguably the greatest horror movie of all-time. It brought horror, terror and violence to a whole new level on a low budget, but an impact in the genre that is still felt today. The drastically and wackily different sequel would not be held in the same light, but would garner a strong cult following after its initial release. Part 3 just sucked, but The Next Generation was a whole new level of suckage. This movie felt like one of those productions where the entire crew had to provide their own, lodging, food and alcohol in order to get through the making of this atrocity. The first big problem is turning main character of Leatherface into Mrs. Doubtfire that did more screaming than wielding the chainsaw. The only thing missing while he applied lipstick and making sure his little black dress fits just right is Goodbye Horses playing in the background.
Acting is never a cornerstone in horror franchises that are on its fourth entry, but what’s interesting is that this film had two pretty big 90’s breakouts as lead characters in Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey. What’s interesting is that this was filmed in 1994, but was shelved after its original screening, then re-cut and released in 1997 after both actors had their breakout leading roles of Jerry Maguire and A Time to Kill.
29. Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) | BEST
While some have taken umbrage with the direction the series went after the first (least of all Kirk Douglas who refused to do First Blood because he disagreed with Stallone’s decision to keep Rambo alive), there’s no denying the raw badassitude displayed in First Blood Part II. After this film came out, boys no longer wanted to be astronauts when they grew up and they stopped playing Cowboys ‘n Indians and started wearing bandannas and playing war. This fundamentally changed an entire generation of kids who went to the church of Stallone and were baptized in the waters of ass kicking action and came out the other side believers. Their new religion was one of testosterone and blood and their new god was Rambo. This isn’t the melodrama of the first and it isn’t trying to be. It’s an over the top action film aimed at young boys (the 80’s was a different time) and every single one of them loved it.
28. Blair Witch (2016) | WORST
1999’s The Blair Witch Project became a mainstream hit before the movie was even released due to its fantastic marketing and shedding an incredible light on the found footage horror sub genre that is still going strong 20 years later. Love it or hate it, you must give credit where credit is due and respect what the film was able to accomplish.
A rushed sequel came out a year later and although it has its issues, it tried to go a different avenue instead of being a retread of the original. Which brings us almost 20 years later to a follow up that tried so hard to be the original it was irritating. The filmmakers practically went the indirect remake route that Blair Witch was never able to stand on its own two feet and just felt soulless.
27. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) | BEST
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is like an amazing sandwich: The Fellowship of the Ring is the perfect set up and The Return of the King nails the landing but the best shit is in the middle. While not the best analogy in the world (comparing the 1st and 3rd to pieces of bread, really undercuts the quality of those films), there is a kernel of truth to it. The Two Towers is unquestionably the beating heart of the franchise, for one reason and one reason alone: Gollum.
He isn’t the protagonist nor is he the only one with a character arc but the tragedy of Gollum is the most powerfully emotional through line in the series. Wrought with pathos and morally complex, Andy Serkis does Oscar worthy work in making you despise and sympathize with Gollum in equal measure and while the CGI has shown its age over the years, at the time, you fully bought into the reality of this digital creation. You didn’t see an animated monster running around, you saw a fully fleshed out character. Which is a testament to the outstanding work done by Serkis. His performance alone puts this above the first movie and the magnificent battle of Helm’s Deep trumps anything in Return.
26. The Fly II (1989) | WORST
A sequel that is simply dull and lifeless much like Eric Stoltz’s acting. The sequel to David Cronenberg’s critically acclaimed 1986 original body horror and romantic love story failed to meet any standard set by its predecessor. Weak acting, lame script and clumsy practical effects doomed this sequel to the point of being unnecessary. The Fly had an added advantage of some great chemistry between the love interest played by Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis along with tremendous special effects. Instead we got a lame story that delved into goopy special effects mess in the last act. Plus, no one would believe Eric Stoltz to be Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis’ love baby.
25. Dawn of the Dead (1978) | BEST
George Romero might’ve created the modern zombie with his highly influential debut Night of the Living Dead but it would be it’s sequel Dawn, that would kickstart the zombie craze. No other movie in history has spawned as many knock offs, copycats or imitators and for good reason. The film is an expertly crafted character drama masquerading as a zombie film dealing with consumerism, which is the exact opposite of the remake. It has a lot on it’s mind but the theme never gets in the way of the human element; which is the heart of the film.
More than it’s amazing special effects and ingenious setting, it’s the characters that’ll stick with you. Stephen “Flyboy” Andrews, Peter Washington, Roger “Trooper” DeMarco and Francine Parker (Played by David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross respectively) are more than just zombie fodder, they’re three dimensional characters you not only love but root for. You want to see them live and when they start dying, it’s heartbreaking. Few filmmakers create a film that changes cinema forever. Lucas did it, Welles did it, Tarantino did it but Romero did it twice.
24. Basic Instinct 2 (2006) | WORST
1992’s Basic Instinct set the world on fire as one of the most paused moments in the history of film with a simple uncrossing of the legs. The followup in 2006, set something on fire, but more in the way of a itching STD. I know in the “woke” era it shouldn’t be brought up, but no one was begging for an erotic thriller staring past her prime Sharon Stone. It showed at the box office as this travesty of bad taste failed to barely make half of its $70 million budget. Hold up. Why in the blue hell did this cost $70 million to make? Did they have to pay for each cliché they threw into the film? Or was it for Sharon Stone’s face animatronics? It was in development hell for a decade because no one wanted to work on this film. It should have stayed there.
23. Spider-Man 2 (2004) | BEST
The best superhero films are the ones in which the director’s style is on full display. Burton brought his kooky gothic sensibilities to Batman, Nolan tackled the same character but added his own unique take and Gunn took a band of space misfits no one had heard of before and with his candy colored cartoon aesthetic and quotable dialogue, made them into beloved characters but as successful as those films were, no director has claimed a character quite like Raimi did with Spider-Man.
Keeping all the things fans love about ol’ web head (the nerdy teen, the quipy jokes, the relatable money issues) but injecting it with his distinct gonzo directing style, Raimi made Spider-Man one of the most successful superhero films of the time, and when he was brought on to do the sequel, he doubled down on everything that made the last one great. More pathos, more character drama, bigger set pieces, better action, and a villain that some how out does Dafoe’s Green Goblin — Spider-Man 2 is no longer the king of the mountain but it held onto that crown for a long time.
22. Rocky V (1990) | WORST
I am such a massive fan of this franchise to the point that I had the Drago fight practically memorized as a kid. To be honest, I really love the concept of this film. It made sense. You could not take the beating Rocky had suffered because of his fight style and not have some health effects afterward. I give credit for them taking a chance by taking Rocky out of the ring and officially retiring him. At least till he was 60 years old, however.
They tried sending Rocky back to the cold hard streets of Philadelphia and it just didn’t land like it did in the first Rocky. You have this spoiled brat of a child with Adrian becoming even more of a negative Nancy than she was in part 4. Lastly, add in the mistake of going the real boxer route in Tommy Morrison instead of casting an actual actor. This sequel was simply devoid of all the previous films heart and soul. Every beat was predictable up until the final shot. This is the only unwatchable Rocky film of the series for me.
21. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) | BEST
Even though it’s part of the “Man with No Name” trilogy, calling The Good, the Bad and the Ugly a sequel is dubious at best. For one thing, he definitely has a name (in a Fistful of Dollars he’s Joe, in For Few Dollars More he’s Monco and in this he’s Blondie) and if it is supposed to be the same character, the poncho – the only connective tissue tying the films together – is found in this film. Which would make this a prequel; technically breaking the rules of this list but since it’s a near masterpiece I’m going to let it slide.
A sprawling epic that follows three unsavory gunfighters trying to survive the Civil War long enough to find a cache of $200,000 in stolen gold, the film is sort of a precursor to the buddy cop genre, in that the Good and the Ugly must set aside their differences to attain their goals. It’s an uneasy alliance but necessary (one knows the name of the cemetery where the gold is buried, the other knows the name on the tombstone) and that’s where the drama, as well as the entertainment comes from. They both hate each other and want to see the other one dead but they can’t get the gold if the other one dies, so they’re forced to team up. It’s a brilliant premise for a movie and the duo forced to work together (Eastwood and Wallach) have never been better. Throw in some truly awe inspiring set pieces and the best score ever written for a western and you got yourself a masterpiece that has yet to be topped.
How do you feel about the selection so far? Comment down below and let us know how right/wrong we are.