Since my childhood I have had a fascination with franchises. When most would give up on a movie series, I would stick it out to the bitter end. There’s a reason I suffered through the movie Jigsaw, and that was because I needed to experience every entry into the Saw series, regardless of how terrible the last 6 movies had been. A compulsion to be the go to guy when someone needed to know “should I see this?” has led me to some truly bizarre corners of cinema, all of which will be in deep display in this book. We’ll traverse oceans to discuss the Japanese Kaiju-ega, explore the “too” epidemic of the late 80s, and early nineties, and we’ll even touch on unofficial sequels that have absolutely nothing concrete connecting them to the previous entries.

A common criticism you see flooding the internet as of late is the accusation that all movies are either reboots or sequels. Which while if you do even the smallest amount of research this can be disproved, the complaint is still valid to a great many people. However just because a film is a sequel, does not denote its quality. Serialized entertainment has been going on for ages, and no one complains when Breaking Bad gets a fifth season. Therefore should not Ghostbusters 2 be examined in the same oeuvre as we treat other pop culture continuations? The mere act of being a sequel is not a denotation of quality, but there are plenty which fall into the trap of being sub-par in comparison to the original films. The blog you have in front of you is meant to help traverse yourself through the land of the movie sequel by breaking it down into its more common subcategories.

The very first movie sequel was made all the way back in 1916. The Fall of a Nation was a direct sequel to the infamous Birth of a Nation. While no current print of the film exists today it is an important landmark. Sequels as a practice are nothing new, and few films are immune to the allure of a studio wanting to make more money. In fact Casablanca widely considered one of the best films of all time was almost given the sequel treatment itself, proving once and for all that it doesn’t matter how great your ending is, if an exec can smell money, they’ll go all in. That’s not to say all sequels are driven by a need for monetary gain. Richard Linklater has done an entire trilogy stemming from naught but artistic drive. The Before trilogy features the ongoing romance of Jesse and Céline, each being made with significant time gaps in order to represent how ones view on love changes as they age. Many a cinephile will denote their current romantic whimsy based upon the monumental franchise.

A sequel is no different than any other form of art. It can be made for money, for love, or a burning desire for creation. Without sequels we wouldn’t have the likes of James Cameron, Leonardo Decaprio, or David Fincher. So much has been left untapped within the world of sequels, and there is much to be gained by giving the phenomenon an intricate dissection. After this introduction, all other posts are considered sequels, enjoy.


Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon

The original: The Parent Trap is a film which I’m certain I’ve seen, just not certain when. The vague memories of a pair of twins helping to manipulate their parents fill my mind. However it did not leave much of an impact.

The Sequel: This is not the first time I’ve experienced Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon, oh no..I watched this a few years back when this project began. At the time I had erroneously thought this film featured no one from the original film, and yet somehow original Parent Trap star Hayley Mills returned for her fourth outing as Susan Wyatt/Sharon Evers. After being disqualified (post viewing) the film became somewhat of an open wound. I felt compelled to write about this film, not due to quality, but to assign some abstract meaning to my experiencing it. So hence this chapter/heading was born, and the film received the coveted second viewing.

The plot of Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon involves the wedding of Barry Bostwick, and Hayley Mills (Susan specifically is marrying him). The two of them have a plan to go to Austrailia for their honeymoon, however all that changes when they get a letter stating that they inherited a hotel in Hawaii from Bostwick’s aunt. Did I mention Bostwick has identical triplet daughters, oh the insanity you can receive when triplets explore America’s most tropical state. At least that is how I am sure the project was pitched. However the actual plot involves a bunch of mundane beach scenes, one run down hotel set, and an evil ex-friend of Bostwick who wants to steal both his wife, and hotel. Oh, and of course the triplets all have love interests who at one point mix the siblings up causing calamity. This is one of those movies where every single problem could be resolved by just being honest with each other, and talking things through.

One of the pinnacles of storytelling is the idea of Chekhov’s Gun, which states that “if in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired”. So naturally given this storytelling concept you’d expect the hula competition brought up in the first act to pay off. However in this way Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon is akin to an abstract David Lynch film. The Hula competition in which we all expect to see Barry Bostwick take charge, and show off his mad skills never happens. Instead the entire plot-line gets sidestepped after the triplets have a massive fight covering themselves in paint, which is a scene that further underlines this was clearly written by a man….and a pervy one at that. This is indicative of the entire movie. They set things up only to not have the budget to follow through. They talk about an evil corporate hotel that has opened up just down the road, however we never see it.

Ontop of the clear budgetary restrictions we feature some very odd writing of our female leads. They don’t come off as realistic at all. Instead appearing to be weird pastiches of what an aging Hollywood screenwriter thinks teenagers are like. Best example of this is the line “I think Woody Allen’s cute.” a line which not only ages horribly, it comes off as completely unrealistic. No teenager in 1989 ever said that line. Then we introduce some of their love interests which are all very odd, one of them is your typical surfer bro, and the other is most definitely an incel. Sure the term incel didn’t exist at the time, but when a man relentlessly complaints about his lack of attention from females the connection is pretty easy to make. The stories for the dual love interests follow identical paths, with both men getting fooled by the other sibling pretending to be each other. NO ONE JUST TALKS TO EACH OTHER IN THIS MOVIE. It is as infuriating as watching CW teen shows. The final sister has no romance, relegated to babysitting a difficult older woman who falls down the stairs then threatens to sue the hotel. In a twist surprising no one the old lady ends up buying the hotel at the end of the movie, as she was so impressed with the daughter looking after her.

For all of my gripes about the film, I can’t knock the performances. For her fourth movie in the franchise Hayley Mills still gives the film her full attention. Pulling double duty, she is incredibly believable. If you hadn’t looked at the credits you would legitimately think that separate actresses brought the film to life. Barry Bostwick has his name spelt incorrectly on the movies poster, but he plays a damn good dad. His frustration with life, and inability to relate to his families troubles are enjoyable. He even has an impressive foil in John Jackson who plays Ray an old childhood rival. The triplets in this film are played by a pair of twins, and a third actress made up to look like the pair. Joy Creel, Leanna Creel, and Monica Lacy give it their all. If you must suffer through a poorly written script, with bad direction it’s a benefit to have a stellar cast.

Verdict: If you love dad jokes, twin jokes, and triplet mix-ups then this movie is for you. If you’d rather not watch a series of bumbles then you’d do well to stay away. I will not be suffering through this film a third time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

The Original: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an iconic series, and the first live action film is a really fun kids film. The animatronics, and puppetry are excellent. Combine this with a really fun albeit extremely nineties story, and you have a recipe for success. All four brothers have good report with each other, and have distinct personalities. The turtles as a brand initially had a much darker tone, more directly parodying old Daredevil comics, but this film takes more from the popular 1980s cartoon series. Despite being filled with nineties fashion, and technology the film still has the capability to captivate young modern audiences.

The Sequel: You know you’re in for a bad movie when the main plot kicks off with a rummage sale. April, the reporter friend of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is preparing for vacation, and she stops by the sewers to deliver the Turtles a few presents before they leave. In the batch of presents is a magical lantern that causes them to switch places with Samurai from Feudal Japan. The Turtles are given an arbitrary time by which they must get back to their timeline or they will be trapped forever. The plot follows in predictable fashion henceforth.

This film is best left forgotten, but if you are forced to view it there are a few things to discuss. Splinter is basically a Zoltar machine in this film, as he is a robotic puppet that only moves from the waist up. Throughout the entire film his movements appear really jittery, and he never moves from his singular location. The drastic step down in effects is noticeable throughout, as whenever the Turtles are out of their feudal garb their mouth movements are extremely jarring. The main villains of the film are not samurai, instead being bumbling pirates who are bringing in guns to Feudal Japan, it’s like a poorly thought out version of Yojimbo. The big issue with the villains is their lack of feeling like threats, they are treated as powerful but more often then not they bumble into uninteresting slapstick. It creates moments in which the scene shifts tone dramatically, as the joke villains actually commit a sinister act. There is a moment in the film where the head pirate played by Stuart Wilson orders his men to straight up murder Raphael, and it feels like it’s from an entirely different film. The Turtles in this film all sound the same, and are constantly spouting one liners even if said one liners are out of character. They have no real story lines, asides from Michelangelo who is for some reason given a love story? Oh and Raphael befriends a kid, but that is the extent of it.

Stuart Gillard the director of the film has mainly done work on television, and in all honesty he did well directing. Unfortunately Gillard also wrote the films script, and it is the worst part of the film by far. The cinematography, and the fight choreography are the stand outs of the film. The opening shot of a rising sun, and a plethora of horse riders coming towards the camera is very effective. The performances on the other hand are all really unmemorable, and the main turtles all feel bland as previously mentioned. Brian Tochi, and Robbie Rist have voiced Leonardo, and Michelangelo for the entire trilogy, with Rist still playing Michelangelo to this day. The other two turtles Donatello played by Corey Feldman, and Tim Kelleher (Raphael) only voiced the turtles for this film. Returning from the second film is the new April O’Neil Paige Turco. Turco is not terrible, but is given terrible material. The two actors with the most to do in the film are Elias Koteas, and the aforementioned Stuart Wilson. Wilson plays an enjoyably over the top villain, and Elias Koteas plays two roles reprising his role as Casey Jones, and Whit. Koteas’s second role Whit is referenced to look exactly like Casey Jones, but you never get a sense of why the two characters are played by one actor. Whit seems to constantly be switching sides, eventually revealing himself to be a spy of some sort. Still despite Whit having a weird characterization, he is still quite good in the film, and Casey Jones delivers some of the films few laughs.

Verdict: This movie is bad children faire, that would be the worst Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, if the remake didn’t exist. As is there is very little to take away from this film, and it mostly leaves you feeling hollow. The jokes are cheap, the characters are thin, and the few things you can compliment it on are few and far between. There are no recognizable villains from the franchise, and the plot has so many holes in it,you’d think it was written in a single hour. This film will make you wish Shredder turned them all into turtle soup.

Back to the Future Part III

Original: Back To The Future is one of my favourite films of all time, and has a script that wonderfully ties everything together. You can notice something new every time you watch the film, however it works extremely well even without noticing the subtle changes. It is an outstanding coming of age film that shows the similarities we all have with our family, whether we like it or not. It is one of the best films to come out of the 1980s, and is well deserving of its status as a pop culture icon.

The Sequel: Back To The Future Part 3 is sort of the red headed step child of the franchise, as people tend to overlook it entirely instead focusing on the future presented in Back To The Future Part 2. That being said Back To The Future Part 3 is right up there with the second film in terms of quality, and really the two sequels are pretty much one continuous movie as they were shot back to back. The way the final shootout in this film goes, is setup in the prior film as we see Marty watching the Clint Eastwood film “A Fistful Of Dollars”. You also see Mad Dog Tannen in the Biff museum from the prior film. The film carries over some of the stranger elements of the sequel as well, since now for some reason Marty cannot take being called a “chicken”, and is easily goaded into conflict because of this. That was entirely absent in the first film.

The plot picks up mere seconds after the second film….and mere seconds after the first movie as well…time travel I guess. Marty has received a letter from Doc who has been sent back to the 1800s after the Delorean is struck by lightening. So Marty needs to go to Doc from the 1950s, and get him to fix the Delorean which is hidden within an old mine shaft. As they retrieve the car they find a tombstone that reveals Doc Brown dies mere days after sending Marty the letter, so instead of going back to the 1980s like Doc requests in the letter, Marty goes back in time in order to rescue Doc. Upon his journey to the past he damages the fuel line on the Delorean, and unfortunately fuel has not been invented yet. Instead they surmise a plan to utilize a train to get the Delorean up to 88mph, and get home. That is if they live to see the end of the week.

Back To The Future 3 is an immensely enjoyable sequel, that feels right at home with the rest of the franchise. They use the western setting to great effect, and the performances are top notch. On top of the always great Michael J. Fox, and Christopher Lloyd, we have an excellent performance by Thomas F. Wilson. Bufford Tannen is a decidedly meaner, and more gun happy threat than he was in the first two films. Each subsequent sequel pushes the Tannen’s to a new level of depravity, and this is by far his most vicious. True to character he immediately tries to kill anyone who opposes him, nearly hanging poor Marty Mcfly upon their first meeting. The second major addition to the cast is Mary Steenburgen who plays Clara Clayton, a love interest for Doc Brown. Steenburgen has great chemistry with Lloyd, and their relationship helps to flesh out Doc as more of a fully realized character. Steenburgen also has some excellent comedic timing, the best of which being the single word “Golly” during the final chase sequence.

Like any western worth its salt, Back To The Future Part 3 has some creative action sequences. There is a wonderful action sequence utilizing a pie plate, and in his first appearance Old West Doc Brown has an amazing rifle, with a telescopic lens. Speaking of technology this film goes all in with its steam punk ascetic. Doc Brown is still the architect of some wacky inventions, but they are all rooted within the technology of the past. The best example of this is the films final scenes in which Doc Brown shows up with a time traveling flying train. Something right out of classic steam punk. It’s worth noting in this scene there is the notorious sequence with Doc’s kids. In the scene where they are introduced you see one of the child actors point at his crotch, and make bizarre hand motions. Apparently this was in order to let the crew know he needed to go to the washroom, but even with the explanation the scene is still awfully unnerving. The exploits of Doc, and his family would be continued in the animated television series, which acts as a continuation of the series.

Verdict: Back To The Future is a fantastic trilogy that manages to tie in all its elements and the timeline extremely well. Time Travel films have a tendency to be extremely confusing, however Bob Gale, and Robert Zemeckis manage to make an extremely easy to follow, and heartwarming finale to the series. If you’re a fan of Back To The Future, then you owe it to yourself to enjoy the entire trilogy, and the more you watch it, the more you see how it all ties together as a cohesive whole.

Tremors 4: The Legend Begins

The original: Tremors is a film, and a franchise that has always resonated with me. Since my first viewing it quickly became an obsession, and as such I’ve seen the original a lot. The film is one of the most memorable monster movies from the 1990’s, and the effects hold up to this day. The cast is magnificent, and it works from start to finish. They play around with many of the popular tropes of monster movies, and it never gives you an outright explanation as to where the monsters originated from. It is well worth digging up if you haven’t seen it before, and the pack with the first four movies is relatively cheap.

The Sequel: This is not the first time I’ve seen this film, nor the second, in fact in high-school for some asinine reason I watched this film a lot. There is no real good reason for this, as the film even at its best is only an “okay” movie. This is one of those movies always brought along for road trips, and in all honesty the effects hold up a lot better if you see it on a small screen. I can vividly recall my grandfather laughing at the Bicycle gag early in the film.

The plot is as such, the mining town of Rejection (who the hell names a town that?) is essentially shut down after a mining incident drives away the prospectors. The mines owner Hiram Gummer comes into town to try to convince the remaining townspeople to reopen to mine. Unbeknownst to Hiram the culprit of the mining incident were baby Graboids called Dirt Devils in this film, and his expedition gets a lot of men killed when the monsters attack. Hiram and a miner named Juan escape back to town, and call in a hired gunman to take out the small creatures. Unfortunately by the time he arrives in town the babies have become full grown Graboids, the Graboids end up eating the gunman, leaving Hiram and the Townspeople to attempt to stop their rampage, and reopen the town.

What the film lacks in effects, it makes up for with a good cast. Everyone works together very well, and are all clear descendants of characters from the first movie. Michael Gross who plays the descendant of Burt Gummer gets to show off a completely different set of acting chops. Hiram Gummer is a refined, high society character, who in direct contrast to Burt is terrible with firearms. The performance is on the opposite spectrum from his work in the rest of the series, and for the majority of the film he is very unlikable. From the second he gets off of his carriage, he begins acting like a jerk. By the end of the film that character has been redeemed in the eyes of the viewer, in what is a surprisingly well done arc. The supporting cast are all relatively unknowns, and do their parts well. In particular Brent Roam, Ming Lo, Lydia Look, and Sam Ly are fantastic. The biggest name of the entire film is Billy Drago who plays the gunman they hire to take out the Graboids. His character is a slimy black hat who is willing to do anything for money. He makes his entrance during a thunder storm, and has a fantastic fake out moment when someone passes him an apple. The scene is constructed to make you think he is planning to shoot the apple out of the sky, instead he catches the apple, and takes a bite.

The film is directed, and written by S. S. Wilson, who previously directed the second Tremors film. If he’d been given a bigger budget this would most likely be a more well regarded film, but he does make the best out of what he has to work with. Wilson is the writer for the entire franchise, asides from the most recent entries Tremors 5, and 6. It appears he has done no other work in the industry since this film, which is unfortunate as he did write some fun scripts.

The biggest issue with the film, is the clearly limited special effects budget. They do not have a full Graboid puppet to work with, as you either see the full body of the creature, or you see the tongues, but never both in the same shot. In one sequence they use CG for the tongues rather than a puppet, and it looks horrendous. Asides from the cheaper effects, they do manage to make some interesting action sequences. At about the midpoint of the film our main cast is trapped inside of a mulling station with thick wooden floorboards that the creatures can’t break through. Instead of breaking through the floor the Graboids begin taking apart the floor plank by plank, leaving our heroes with less, and less ground to work with. There is another sequence in which they are fleeing from a Graboid in a stage coach, and you see a puppet fly under a bridge, and back into the ground beyond it. This effect works well, and there are sequences in the finale that match its quality. My favourite of the deaths being the use of a punt gun to blow through one of the creatures.

Unfortunately there are quite a few plot holes if you know the series history, like why the hell the townspeople never mentioned this to their ancestors? You’d have thought that Hiram would at least mention it to his future children who would one day inherit the mine, on that note it’s never mentioned in any of the previous films that the Gummer family are actually the proprietors of the town. They change the name from Rejection, to Perfection at the end of the film, but why would anyone ever call their town Rejection in the first place? There is a sequence in which Tecopa avoids death by having a Native American statue get eaten in his stead. At the end of the movie he asks for a proper statue that resembles him. This would be a nice callback if there had been a statue in any of the prior films, but there are no statues. Did Hiram just not give Tecopa a statue? What a jerk.

Verdict: Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, is not a terrible film, but it isn’t anything spectacular either. If you’re a big fan of the series, you should enjoy the further exploits of Michael Gross, and enjoy the sly tie-ins to the other movies. Unfortunately this is muddled by lackluster effects, that are a step down from the first 2 films, and about on par with the 3rd. If you want more Tremors, the fourth one is worth giving at least one watch, but if you don’t care about the franchise there is not a compelling reason for you to seek it out.

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter

The original: The original From Dusk Till Dawn has never been a film I particularly enjoyed. It is bogged down by a terrible second half that derails the interesting heist film being built up. The performances are all solid, however the vampire stuff all comes off extremely poorly. The creatures don’t follow many of the rules set by conventional vampires, which is all well and good if you explain the lore, however the closest we get to lore is the final shot of the film. Due to being unaware of the vampire limitations they can seemingly do whatever they want, leaving you with no sense of what the protagonists are up against. Overall if you are looking for an interesting crime film watch the first half of the movie, and stop the second they cross the border.

The Sequel: Imagine every problem mentioned about the first From Dusk Till Dawn, and imagine a film with all the same problems, but worse. This time our story takes place in the old west, starring an eclectic band of miscreants who end up at a vampire bar, and must survive the night. The old west location serves to have the film set up a Western film, rather than a Heist film this time around. We begin with an exciting sequence featuring an outlaw being hung by a particularly brutal Hangman. Before he can be hung he is rescued by a mysterious gunman. During his escape he snatches up the Hangman’s daughter and they ride off into the sunset. Concurrent to this we have a trio of Englishmen (we’re in Mexico remember) who are all traveling via stagecoach. Their ride breaks down after a robbery by the aforementioned escaped outlaw who has rassled up his posy. Somehow the walking Englishmen arrive at the same bar as the outlaw horsemen, and on top of this the Hangman with a group of lawmen enter the same bar. Does Mexico only have one bar? Then vampires appear, and they must escape or die.

Lets start out with a brief overview of our characters:

Ambrose Bierce (Michael Parks): An old soldier looking to deliver himself to Pancho Villa’s rebellion. He drinks a lot, and has weird visions. He claims to be clairvoyant but every single vision he has in the film does not come true. At one point during a chaotic scene he sees himself on a balcony. Naturally you’d think that going to the balcony would be the answer? Nope…no purpose at all.

Johnny Madrid (Marco Leonardi): The “supposedly” lovable outlaw. I say supposedly because the film really wants to make you cheer for this character despite him being genuinely awful. He wants to sell the Hangman’s Daughter into sex slavery, and hangs the young girl who helped him escape the noose. In the original From Dusk Till Dawn your sympathies are not with the insane Quentin Tarantino, it’s with George Clooney a character who is a thief, but at least a likeable one, Madrid is unlikeable in every single way. Despite his horrendous attitudes his romance with the Hangman’s Daughter is still played like we are meant to root for him.

Esmeralda (Ara Celi): The titular daughter of the film, she is extremely undeveloped, but seems likeable enough. Her father abuses her, and she wants to get away. Turns out she’s a half-breed vampire.

The Hangman (Temuera Morrison): A despicable character who whips his daughter, which is revealed to happen so that she doesn’t become a vampire. The movie seems to posit that he is justified in his actions. It is hinted at that he has been to the vampire bar before, and survived, although I don’t know why he would enter the bar if he knew this to be the case? Once his daughter does have the vampire blood going through her veins they make out.

On top of the main cast we do have supporting performances by Danny Trejo, and Orlando Jones, which are all fine. Morrison, Leonardi, and especially Parks all play their parts very well, they just don’t have a good enough script to work with. The core religious couple are awful (Rebecca Gayheart, and Lennie Loftin), and the core vampire cast is bad.

No character in this film is worth rooting for, but there are little character moments to be enjoyed. At one point Madrid the Outlaw quotes Robert De Niro’s “Are you looking at me” speech from Taxi Driver, entirely in Spanish. Danny Trejo at one point delivers a line directly referencing Treasure From Sierra Madre’s famous “We don’t need no stinking badges” quote. At the bar fans of the original film will notice other little character beats such as the mariachi band being the same band from the original film. More lore tying in with the original film, the character of Esmeralda is meant to be Selma Hayek’s character from the original. All of these tidbits however are simply examples of an analytical mind trying its hardest to scrape any interesting information from a truly awful film.

The film continues the trend of baffling vampire lore. The vampires in this franchise for the most part appear to have reptilian roots, giving them a more scaly, snakelike appearance. Which may explain why one vampire just gets a King Cobra head. That still doesn’t account for the fact that once Rebecca Gayheart’s character gets infected she can apparently shoot out her intestines and use them as weapons. Then in even more random vampire powers we see an older ancient vampire in the depths of the pyramid, open up her stomach which fires a bunch of bats into the air. What the hell, who thought of these things? Why can they be bats if they turn into snakes? Did that old Vampire have a bunch of normal vampires living inside her belly? Why don’t they hide the old vampire in the bar so they don’t have to bring down blood sacrifices? THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Verdict: Are you a fan of the original film? If so chances are you’ll enjoy this one. It has nods to the original, and tells an nearly identical story. If you’re like me however and don’t care for the first film, then this movie will only further annoy you. I’m glad this series exists however because it is giving work to a lot of Latino directors, and stars who rarely get work in mainstream Hollywood films.

Jason X

The Original: Friday The 13th (1980) is largely responsible for the slasher genre as we know it today. Sure Psycho (1960), Peeping Tom (1960), Black Christmas (1974) and Halloween (1978) all helped kick start the genre, but Friday was the one that cemented the tropes. However asides from starting the career of Kevin Bacon, it is not often talked about. The true legacy of the series begins with Part 2 and the introduction of Jason Voorhees. The film itself holds up well in the modern era, especially if you understand its importance. Betsy Palmer does a magnificent performance as Pamela Voorhees, and Adrienne King is a memorable final girl. If you’ve never seen it, it’s well worth a watch, especially on a warm summer evening with friends. Not especially terrifying, but the Tom Savini special effects hold up.

The Sequel: The Citizen Kane of “In Space” movies, Jason X is a true masterwork. My history of this film starts long before ever seeing it. My father, and I during the summer months would spend a few weeks at my Aunts cabin when I was a child. A cousin of mine who also used the cabin, had left a stack of his old magazines laying about the place. One such magazine included an article on Jason’s greatest kills throughout the ages. My father showed me one such kill, through a bought of laughter. That kill being Jason drowning a poor woman in some cryogenic fluid, and then smashing her now frozen head onto a metal desk. I was perturbed but the image always stuck in my mind.

Flash forward to my final year of high-school when I finally got the pleasure to see the cinematic masterpiece, and it definitely lived up to the hype. I now have had the pleasure of owning this film on VHS, DVD, and have written an extensive article all about the contentious commentary included on the disc. For fans of the Friday oeuvre this can sometimes be unfairly dubbed one of the worst of the franchise, and for those fans I say you’re taking Jason’s exploits much to seriously. Jason is not really scary, the idea of Jason can be frightening but the films themselves are more about creative decapitations, than they are about scaring you.

The film involves an imprisoned Jason breaking out of captivity at a secure army base. As he slowly slaughters the base staff an intelligent scientist manages to trap him in cyrostasis, unfortunately for her he breaks the containment with a machete causing the two of them to be frozen solid. Yes this is nearly the exact premise of Futurama, as low and behold the two are found in the future by a group of archaeology students. Once they are thawed out the scientist tries to warn everyone about Jason’s evil but her pleas fall on deaf ears as a now awoken Voorhees begins to wreak havoc on the ships crew. A dumb plot, but a damn fun one.

The characters in the film are a joy, all ramped up, and over the top. My favourite being the indelible Lisa Ryder who plays a kick-ass android, the only person capable of giving Jason a run for his money. Kane Hodder is the definitive Jason performer, so even when Jason has been cyborg’d (oh you bet your ass Jason becomes a cyborg) it still feels like the slasher we all love. The film introduces its future setting well, and fleshes out the premise. If there is a cliche in future media, and you’d like to see how Jason would handle it, chances are the film will satisfy that curiosity. VR, Androids, Zero Gravity, the vacuum of space and nanites all make appearances.

Okay before this starts to read like an advertisement you need to take all of my compliments, and praise in direct comparison to the other films in the franchise. No Friday The 13th movie (asides from 6) can really be considered a good film by conventional standards. If you hate the Friday series then you’ll hate Jason X as well. The major aspects of the series: good kills, humour, corny dialogue, characters making bad decisions; are in full swing, and executed splendidly.

Verdict: Jason X suffered a slew of rewrites, mishaps on set, and general chaos during production, but the end product is massively enjoyable. The director, and writer may have hated each other (seriously listen to the commentary they barely restrain their apparent hatred for one another), and mythbusters disproved the liquid nitrogen death, but in my heart of hearts Jason X is in the top percentile of the franchise. Silly, dumb, gory, everything my little horror heart desired. David Cronenberg has a cameo, and can any film with David Cronenberg really be all that bad?

Leprechaun 4: In Space

The original: A movie that only seems like it has quality because of how rotten its sequels are. However much I despise this film, I can’t knock Warwick Davis’s devotion. He truly goes all in, and just completely sells it. The titular Leprechaun has some fun kills, and interesting quips, but the rest of the cast is just not entertaining. For a ninety minute movie, you’ll check your watch plenty of times.

The Sequel: If horror mascots were given comedian analogs they would go as such: Freddy Krueger is Jimmy Fallon (always laughing at his own jokes), Chucky is Larry The Cable Guy (low brow, and offensive), and then at the very bottom of that list we have Leprechaun who is the really bad college comedian that opens up for some mid-tier comedian you actually came to see. In summation Leprechaun sucks. Warwick Davis the man behind the leprechaun seems like a lovely human being. He has brought life to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and unfortunately 6 Leprechaun movies (not however the 7th film which is an origin story starring WWE’s Hornswoggle).

Yet another fourth entry of a series to take place in space, and this is by far the worst of the bunch. The plot is as such: Leprechaun is messing with a mining operation, and has kidnapped a princess. The Leprechaun wishes to marry the princess so he can obtain power and riches. A bunch of space marines who are (due to exposition) linked to said mining company, but who only take orders from a German mad scientist who appears to have nothing to do with a mining company, attack the Leprechaun and save the princess. After blowing up the Leprechaun a marine decides to pee upon the beast of irish fantasy, the vile Leprechaun sneaks aboard the ship hiding in the genitalia of the officer who peed on him. The Leprechaun jumps out of the mans dick, and proceeds to massacre the crew as he attempts to reunite with the princess. The princess’s blood apparently has regenerative properties so the German doctor Mittenhands wants to use her blood to grow back his body (his body is half dalek, half Krangs robot from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Mittenhands refuses to release the princess, leaving the marines to fend for themselves. Leprechaun kills everyone, gets the princess back, turns Mittenhands into a spider monster, is turned into a giant, and then thrown out the airlock into space. The Leprechaun blows up, and his disembodied hand gives the audience the finger.

The last sentence really sums up this entire movie, we the audience are being given an hour and a half long finger. The plot is meant to be farcical, but it gives a lot of exposition that does not make any sense. They repeatedly state that the Princess is part of a very well known species, so her blood having special properties should be extremely well known, and would not have been a giant discovery. The universe, and the Leprechaun appear to operate under a Looney Tunes reality, which is fine when done right. Gremlins 2 for example operates with this same type of feel, but the movie still has an internal sense of logic. You are given no indication of what limits The Leprechaun has, he can seemingly do anything, but when he gets enlarged it is made out to be a new experience. He can constitute from explosions, transport himself through a mans urethra, but he is unable to enlarge himself? Moreover if your film doesn’t have any narrative sense to it, it best be actually comedic, and this film fails so hard at comedy you just feel bad for it. There is an extended sequence in the film that equates to “oh a man in drag isn’t that hilarious”, and Mittenhands messes up his speech patterns…oooh soo hilarious. If Leprechaun were after me, and created this film with the sole purpose of me face palming so hard that I push my hand through my skull, I’d believe it.

To give some props Warwick Davis is clearly not phoning in his performance as the Leprechaun. For some asinine reason he gives it his all, and director Brian Trenchard-Smith seems like a nice enough fellow from his appearances on the YouTube series “Trailers From Hell”. The rest of the cast really turns it up to eleven, and is hamming it up. The romance in the film between a biologist, and a marine is unbearable. There are attempts at breaking the stereotypes having the marine being more intellectually capable than he initially appears, but it all feels extremely forced. An easy defense for the majority of the criticism for the film is that all of this is intentional. It is supposed to be a dumb plot, the characters are supposed to have no basis in reality, you’re supposed to groan at the romance. That may be, but the film went all in at being as awful as possible that it forgot to be funny.

Verdict: No, just no.