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Commentary

Sequels to Remakes (and the Prequels That Love Them)

Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II,” which opens this week, is not a remake of the 1981 film directed by Rick Rosenthal. It’s an original sequel to the remake of John Carpenter’s original “Halloween,” and reportedly bears no more than a passing resemblance to its namesake, which took place largely in a hospital the same day as the first film.

In this age of remakes and reboots, this isn’t as rare a phenomena as you might think. There have been several reboots that raked in the jack, giving money-grubbing studio heads the brilliant idea to keep milking the cow until it withers and dies.

Here are a couple of notable examples:

“Cheaper by the Dozen 2″ (2005)/”Pink Panther 2″ (2009)

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Steve Martin has gone from legendary comic to the poster boy of the remake whores with these two entries, where first he takes over Clifton Webb’s 1950 role as the patriarch of a family with 12 kids, then apes the legacy of Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. Then he proceeds to do both again, in original sequels, neither of which did anything to undo what he did the first time around.

 

“Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior” (2007)

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Stephen Sommers’ “The Mummy” was more of an Indiana Jones take on the classic Universal horror film and proved to be a fun if somewhat watered down standalone version of the original classic. The sequel went off in a different direction, luring  The Rock from the squared circle to star as the Scorpion King, a hero-turned-villain. When they spun off that film as a prequel, showing The Scorpion King’s rise to greatness, they had a modest hit on their hands, leading to the direct-to-video prequel that tells of the rise of Mathayus…but, uh, isn’t that what the first “Scorpion King” was supposed to do? That makes “Scorpion King 2″ the prequel to the prequel/spinoff of the sequel to a remake. Got all that? Well here’s a little more: in 2008, they made a third sequel to The Mummy, in a film that didn’t have any mummies, but did have a bunch of abominable snowmen that helped O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) against the evil ancient Chinese Dragon Emperor (Jet Li).

102 Dalmatians (2000)

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When the live-action “101 Dalmatians,” starring Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, was a runaway hit in 1996, Disney sprung this sequel 4 years later, centering around Cruella getting out of prison and again chasing the pesky spotted dogs. It was a box office disappointment, collecting a modest $66 million domestically under a budget of $88 million.

The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)

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The remake to Wes Craven’s horror classic was actually relatively well-received by the horror community, and was certainly a disturbing, frightening film if not quite as good as the original. I haven’t seen the sequel, but this is another film with a corresponding “original,” and features a different director (Alexandre Aja tackled the first remake,” and Martin Weisz handled the sequel).

The Ring Two (2005)

The Ring Two

“Ringu” is considered a Japanese horror classic, and the first “Ring” remake sparked a massive run on J-horror remakes that just recently petered out (thankfully). “The Ring” was the first in that series of remakes, and was a dandy, with a tremendous twist, two creepy kids, one wicked frightening death video and a smokin’ hot Naomi Watts just post-”Mulholland Drive.”

The sequel had most of that stuff too, sans the twist, decent frights, and a coherent plot, making it just another dry, dull retread (with its own parallel, yet completely different, counterpart thriving in the J-horror canon).

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

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“The Beginning” is the prequel to a remake to a series that had already been rebooted (1994′s Matthew McConaughey/Renee Zellweger starring “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation”). To a degree slasher remake franchises aren’t as egregious as other films, since they’ve usually already been exploited to death, run into the ground, and had every idea bludgeoned like one of the slasher’s early victims. What do you think the result for this film? Yep, you guessed it.

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