|Posted on July 17, 2013 at 2:40 PM|
Psychos and Other Forgotten Sequels
Bates Motel is, as of now, getting a bit of buzz amongst genre fans. It's a creepy little show on A&E and maybe one day, I'll sit and watch it. I think I'll hold off, only because the last time invested myself in a show after a buzz-worthy first season it ended up getting cancelled. But in the history of cinema, I've found it interesting that people seem to forget that Psycho, Alfred Hitchock's classic thriller, had its share of sequels as well. Bates Motel is far from the first to try to expand on the "Pyscho universe." The "Psychoverse" I guess you can call it. Or that could be the name of a metal band. If not, then it should be.
What's more interesting is that, unlike the Halloween films or other similar slasher flicks from the 80s, the Psycho sequels were pretty damn good movies relatively speaking. Maybe it's because Psycho was such a huge film and a masterpiece that people think having sequels to it is blasphemous, but ask any horror fan who knows their stuff, and they'll tell you that they are, arguably, some of the most unheralded horror sequels out there. They're mystery and thrillers all the way, even if the body-count is small compared to the other slasher movies in theaters at the time.
In other words, Psycho II and Psycho III are damn good. It's not a watered down cash-in sequels spread across a few movies, but enjoyable twists on the slasher movie formula. Both are still a "whodunit" and even though you know Norman Bates is the Psycho, all is never as it seems. I personally prefer Psycho II, only because the nun character in the third one bothered me for some reason, but both are pretty solid flicks.
Two pretty awesome flicks, to be honest.
Watching these two flicks, which I've been putting off for years despite horror blogs and fans saying to see them, I started to think of other sequels to movies that people might have not known had sequels or, at the very least, nobody really talks about. There's a lot of good sequels, a lot of bad sequels, but there's that category of people not even aware some sequels exist.
Forgotten might not be the most fitting term here. Maybe "overlooked" is better.
Many cheap sequels go direct to VHS/DVD and so forth, and many probably churned out by Disney, but they're usually pretty awful and just cash-grabs based on a popular name. As I watched the Psycho sequels (sans Part IV which I hear is awful) I was thinking of good movies that maybe are just way, way overshadowed by their predecessors that people assume aren't good for some reason.
So let me rattle off a few that you might enjoy, especially if you liked the original. And if not, you can stick a knife in my nose and slice a part off. Right JJ?
Anything with Jack is worth seeing in my book. Even Mars Attacks.
Did you know there's two sequels to two classic films by Roman Polanski? Both Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown had sequels…and guess what? They're actually pretty good.
The Two Jakes is the sequel to Chinatown, and the biggest problem with it is that it's a sequel to Chinatown. On its own, it's a pretty decent little noir thriller, directed by Jack Nicholson who reprises his role as Jake Gittes. This is Nicholson's last directing gig (and he only has three), and supposedly he had such a bad experience that he hasn't done it since. I think that sense of having a bad experience comes through, because despite some of the good things The Two Jakes works with, it's a bit of a sloppy and convoluted film. Still, Jack is great in it.
Rosemary's Baby received a sequel Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby…and it's overall pretty awful which is why it's been forgotten, I bet. So I won't say much about it, but just know that it was made for TV, doesn't have any of the original cast or crew and despite an ambitious concept (tracing the life of Rosemary's Baby) it just needed more talent and creativity involved. It's worth seeing to kind of see what they were working with, like I said they try to do something really interesting, but don't expect a very good movie out of it. There is a better version of that story out there somewhere.
Why'd I even bring that one up? It's horrible. Probably the Two Jakes got me thinking.
Now you know about horror franchises, I'm sure. Friday the 13th, Halloween (speaking of Part 3: Season of the Witch is underrated, but this is about forgotten not underrated), Nightmare on Elm Street and Jaws had pretty well-known sequels so no need to list them here, but they also tried to franchise the hell out of Poltergeist.
Growing up, Poltergeist III seemed to be on cable a lot, and it's pretty awful, but recently I popped in Poltergeist II, and you know…it could have been worse. Yes, that's a good thing even though it sounds back-handed. Sure, it's a retread, but it's a decent retread and Julien Beck is just fantastic as Kane. Like the Psycho movies, the first one was so big that I can see how its sequels could be just forgotten about.
Even though it might ret-con a bit too much from the first film when it's not retreading it, the same actors are there, the effects still pretty solid and Beck as Reverend Kane is still unsettling.
Staying in horror for a moment, if you get past the roller-vampire, I had a lot of fun with Fright Night II. Sure, it's not nearly as memorable as the first, but you have the same cast and same heroes. Nobody really brings it up, I suppose because it's not nearly as polished as its predecessor, but there's some legitimately awesome moments in the thing even though it drags at times.
Know what's surprisingly not all that easy to find? Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Now it's not really "forgotten" - I feel it has a nice online following at least - but it also took forever for a Blu-Ray release and I don't think ever got a nice DVD release (I still have one of those DVDs you have to flip over for widescreen). It's also a movie some people might not realize is just as good as the original film, some might argue better. I mean, it's just balls-out crazy and, by far, some of the best puppetry you will ever see on film. Unlike the first one though, it's a more comedic, meta-horror movie so don't expect a lot of intense, thrilling moments other than being silly and goofy. Admittedly, it hasn't aged well (some of the pop-culture stuff, like Hulk Hogan, stick out) but it's a technical marvel and changing it form comedy/horror to more live-action cartoon/horror seemed a great fit.
Fright Night Part 2 was a lot of fun, even if the vampires weren't scary...they were more...whatever this is...
Let's still stay with horror for a moment.
Snakes...Why'd it have to be snakes?
See it. Seriously, out of all the movies that I'm naming, sequel or not, The Exorcist III is a damn good horror-thriller sequel to start with and probably the best out of the bunch. It's been starting to regain some exposure the past few years, but boy, is it a good movie and holds up incredibly well. It also has one of the best build-up jump scares I've ever seen. I think it's kind of like the Psycho sequels - the original is so legendary that people assume that any sequel is an awful film and cash-in. Again, not the case.
One of my favorite "often not seen" or "passed over" sequels is 2010: The Year We Make Contact. I debated putting on here because out of all movie sequels that are maybe overlooked, this one is still pretty well known. The thing is, it's actually a pretty damn good movie. It's classic Arthur C Clarke style sci-fi, more about philosophical ideas than anything, but the nods and homages to 2001 are nicely done and never feel shoehorned in. In fact, it does a great job just expanding on the themes and ideas and story of Kubrick's classic and never feels like it's doing a disservice to it.
Plus, it's a really good looking sci fi flick and beautifully shot.
That reminds me. Planet of the Apes had a slew of sequels, but if you want the best (by far, in my opinion), Escape From the Planet of the Apes is the way to go. I don't remember which one that was, I think it was the first sequel, and I think you have to watch them in order because they all tie in sort of (some character die, come back etc.. but that was the most entertaining one. Then go with Beneath or Conquest, those two are probably more in tone with the original film too, but they're also the least entertaining I found.
Hey, like Rocky Horror Picture Show? Well you might like Shock Treatment as well, then. Same director and writer and using some of the same characters and certainly that same strange/gonzo style. It has a cult following, I'd argue Rocky Horror is pretty mainstream now so it's like supplanting that in a way, and I've read that some fans prefer Shock Treatment's musical numbers (I don't, the original is too catchy). Problem, though? No Tim Curry this time. Oy Vey.
One final one I wanted to note is the very long lost sequel to A Christmas Story. You know the movie: the play it every year during the holidays. I think TNT even has it on a 24 hour block as though we need to watch Ralfie shoot his eye 12 times in a day. The film is It Runs in the Family, not the 2003 film but the 1994 one that was later retitled My Summer Story.
There's a lot of familiarity, but that's a good thing in this case considering where the film otherwise struggles.
It has the same director, Bob Clark, and the same source material: the semi-autobiographical stories of Jean Shepherd's childhood. Shepherd also wrote the script along with Clark and did the narration, just like the original film.
Though it's not as universally relatable as A Christmas Story, the characters are still very much the characters we remember (though all different actors) and it still has Shepherd spinning stories of his youth to us and there's something incredibly charming about all that. I think this film was maybe lost in that early 90s plethora of "kids" movies, like My Girl or The Sandlot (probably because they're far better films), but I've always enjoyed it as sort of a side story about a family that's not that much different than my own. Far from the best on this little list here, but at least it's not The Birds 2: Land's End or The Last Days of Patton or Dumb and Dumberer or The Son of The Mask.
Or this atrocity written and directed by Sylvester Stallone.
So maybe give some of these movies a shot. There's a lot of solid sequels out there, I should do an "underrated sequel" blog at some point (Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey I'm looking at you) but some really fly under the radar to the point that I just never hear or see anyone talk about them. There's also a lot of cash-in sequels out there, even Road House and American Psycho have sequels, but these are a few that I got some decent entertainment out of that you might check out that I really don't hear people talking about a ton. Not all of these are "amazing" but if you like the originals, you might enjoy the continued stories.