Those ubiquitous billboards and trailers plugging Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
have pushed Hogwarts aficionados to the point of hysteria. Still, one
gander at Daniel Radcliffe’s five o’clock shadow could threaten to break the
spell of preteen hocus-pocus that sparked the series, and there’s
always the chance that its special effects could seem more ho-hum than
hot-damn. There’s no ignoring the box office though: The Potter sequels
continue to thrill — unlike the horrible sequels on this list. Know of
any other gratuitous or otherwise awful sequels that didn’t make the
10. Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
Proving that charm, beauty, camaraderie, and exotic locales are useless in the absence of a solid story, Steven Soderbergh’s second Ocean’s entry founders badly even as its cast members appear to be having the time of their lives; the appeal of being winked at by movie stars drawing million-dollar salaries has its limits, apparently. Yes, a meta thread involving Julia Roberts as Julia Roberts is funny up to a point, but like everything else it’s milked to the point of irritating tedium.
9. Alien Resurrection (1997)
David Fincher’s underrated Alien ³ usually gets the rap as worst sequel to Ridley Scott’s game-changing sci-fi shocker, but it’s this lifeless hodge-podge that really shows the franchise on life support (2004’s egregiously tangential AVP notwithstanding). Flippantly directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Resurrection lifts its look from David Lynch’s films, its plot points from all the other Alien movies, and its central performance — Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, again — from Mildred Pierce.
8. 2010 (1984)
This misguided postscript — which came sixteen years after Stanley Kubrick’s masterful 2001: A Space Odyssey
— makes the bad-sequel cut not just because it was totally unnecessary, but
because its plot (Yanks and Soviets make nice in space) is straight out
of a ’50s scifi sudser. Roy Scheider tries to breathe life into the glasnost-y
platitudes of director Peter Hyams’ screenplay, but 2010 had a shelf life of about twelve days.
7. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Singling out one the four follow-ups to Franklin Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes is unfair, since they all have their flaws. But Battle is just plain extraneous: Its immediate predecessor, Conquest, closes the series’ time-warp loop with fittingly apocalyptic verve, and transcends the post-production studio efforts at backpedaling that are Battle‘s raison d’etre. Repetitious, cloying, and dull, this final entry stoops to the last refuge of a crap sequel — a kid-in-peril subplot.
6. The Return of the Fly (1959) / The Fly 2 (1989)
Take your pick: The first is a black-and-white kiddie-show appendage to a decidedly adult, vibrantly hued horror drama, while the second is… pretty much the same thing, only in drab color and pitched to Gen Xers. Either way, it’s a textbook example of a studio (Twentieth Century-Fox in both cases) cashing in on title value alone. They crib-strangled a franchise in the process with Fly 2, but Return spawned another go-round, incredibly enough — Don Sharp’s sublimely weird The Curse of the Fly.
5. The Godfather Part III (1990)
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” We know the feeling. More an afterthought than a sequel, this unhappy disaster is here for all but upending the harsh yet graceful truths about American power Francis Ford Coppola nailed in parts one and two. Andy Garcia and Sofia Coppola are lackluster as the Baby Corleone contingent, while Al Pacino channels Dr. Strangelove as the newly moral Michael. Coppola must have had a couple of mortgage balloon payments due when he concocted this one.
4. Son of the Mask (2005)
This unwanted stepchild of the popular Jim Carrey vehicle gets just about everything wrong, from the casting of comic-timing-challenged dough-face Jamie Kennedy as a suburban family man to its deep-seated ambivalence about children and child rearing to, well, the fact that Jim Carrey is nowhere in sight. It’s ostensibly a movie for kids, but they’ll be as bored as the adults who suffer through this movie at their sides.
3. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Whereas The Matrix‘s nightmarish pop dystopia invokes a Philip K. Dick-ian degree of paranoia, Reloaded is like having a mild panic attack at Burning Man. While there was little question the original would spawn a sequel or two, no one could’ve guessed it would be so laughably bombastic. Some things are just better left unsaid… or unfilmed, anyway.
2. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
This stinker adheres to the tenets of bad sequelry — Bigger! Faster! Dumber! — with a vengeance. An annoyed-looking Sandra Bullock returns as terrorist-magnet Annie, while Hollywood’s go-to guy for pretty-boy sociopaths Jason Patric gets a turn at romantic lead. Alas, it’s to no avail: Speed 2 is as lazy and cynical as its subtitle implies. Rumors are flying about another follow-up; what’s next, Speed in Space? Come on now.
1. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)
The success of the fresh, smart, acidly funny first movie came out of nowhere, so expectations for its sequel were high. Alas, a ridiculous sequence in which Kumar (Kal Penn) seduces a bag of weed, and the unrelenting succession of bodily-secretion jokes and misogynistic/homophobic sight gags that pack the follow-up flick are enough to put Guantanamo at the top (or, the bottom, depending how you look at it) of this list.