The Descent: Part 2 comes out this week on — yes, you guessed it — DVD. Now, some movies cry out for sequels. Most don’t. But every producer loves a franchise, and that’s how some of the most godforsaken horror movies of all time came to be. And we’re not talking the umpteenth Friday the 13th or Saw movie, either. We’re talking some of the worst movies ever to make it from bad idea to “You’re kidding, right?” Read ’em and weep, horror fans.
10. Lost Boys: The Tribe
Is The Lost Boys a horror classic? No. But it’s a glossy snapshot of an era and a showcase for the young Kiefer Sutherland and Coreys Haim and Feldman. The best that director P.J. Pesce — whose credits include From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter, and Sniper 3 — has to offer is Kiefer’s half-brother, Angus Sutherland.
9. Basic Instinct 2
Basic Instinct was the essence of shallow nineties cool: Michael Douglas as a hard-assed cop and Sharon Stone as the stone-cold killer with no panties but more cojones than Douglas. Fifteen years later, that was old news, which is why Basic Instinct 2 came and went without so much as a ripple in the cultural water.
8. A Return to Salem’s Lot
Directed by Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘s Tobe Hooper and based on the novel by Stephen King, Salem’s Lot was a high-water mark in the history of made-for-TV horror. If Larry Cohen’s in-name-only sequel, A Return to Salem’s Lot, is remembered, it’s for being the movie debut of a 12-year-old Tara Reid.
7. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Repeat after me: pop-culture lightning never strikes twice in the same place. The Blair Witch Project was lightning, the white-hot confluence of a clever concept and brilliant Web marketing (back when Web marketing was a new thing). Book of Shadows had a surprisingly smart meta-concept and a terrific director and co-writer in documentarian Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills), but the bloom was off the rose.
6. The Rage: Carrie 2
On its own merits, Katt Shea’s Rage is a pretty decent movie about the misery of being a high-school girl who doesn’t fit the hypersexualized ideal of MTV hotties — which is probably why Sissy Spacek okayed the use of footage from the original movie. But as a sequel to Carrie, Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of the novel by Stephen King, The Rage is, well, totally irrelevant.
5. The Fly II
David Cronenberg’s Fly reinvented a campy fifties fable about hubris as a modern-day tragedy with a brilliant scientist (Jeff Goldblum) whose beautiful mind is doomed to bear helpless witness to the grotesque disintegration of his flesh in the wake of a failed experiment. It’s possible that someone might have been able to expand on Cronenberg’s ideas, but that someone neither wrote nor directed The Fly II, an eminently forgettable exercise in gross-out special effects.
4. The Birds II: Land’s End
Reviewers dredged up countless “most fowl” puns to disparage this three-decades-later sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s chilling original. It unleashed a new plague of feathered fiends for no better reason than that the title had brand value. Journeyman genre director Rick Rosenthal hid behind the pseudonym Allan Smithee, and Birds star Tippi Hedren claimed to have signed on for the express purpose of giving Hitchcock — who treated her badly — the posthumous finger.
3. The Hills Have Eyes Part II
Oh, doggy! And by that we mean Beast, the German shepherd that survived Wes Craven’s ferocious Hills Have Eyes, only to find himself prompting a flashback in this mortifying sequel. Beast is not alone: with the exception of the Carter family’s trailer, everyone has a flashback — the trailer gets a pass because it was completely, totally, and utterly destroyed in the first film. Craven, who both wrote and directed this ghastly sequel, is the first to say he did it for the money.
2. The Howling II: …Your Sister Is a Werewolf
Joe Dante’s Howling hauled werewolves into the late-twentieth century: it was hip, self-referential, and featured what were then state-of-the-art transformation effects. If anyone had cared, The Howling II might have hauled shape-shifters back into the nineteenth century. But no one did, even though the screenplay was by the same Gary Brandner who wrote the 1977 novel on which Dante’s movie was based.
1. Psycho II
Did anyone walk out of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho thinking, “Wow, I wonder what happened next”? The worst thing about Psycho II is that its success opened the door to another sequel (Psycho III), a prequel (Psycho IV), Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot 1998 remake, and the 1987 TV pilot Bates Motel, which starred Bud Cort as the ill-fated inn’s new owner, who just happened to have roomed with nutty Norman in the loony bin.